Discovering the Museo del Capitolo
The very special setting of the Museo del Capitolo (Chapter Museum), embedded in the Saint Lawrence “Island” makes it a place worth discovering together with the many artifacts it houses. It would be possible to draft a story about each of those objects, from paintings to manuscripts – so, let us listen to what Time has to tell.
The History of a Centuries-old Building Site
Origins of the Cathedral of Saint Mary’s Assumption
The Cathedral is a sign of the presence of God, as well as of an active and industrious Christian community; it shows the relationship between God and His people’s yearning. The bond with the town history and its inhabitants is so strong that still nowadays the Cathedral is Orvieto’s very symbol, the monument that most shapes its identity.
Basilica of the Holy Savior in Spoleto
Although not included in the standard tours, the Basilica of the Holy Savior (San Salvatore) is surely among the “must see” things in Spoleto. The history of this church is still partially enveloped in mystery because of its very ancient origins, no documents existing of the same era as they started to build it. We anyway know for certain that it is dedicated to Christ, the Holy Savior, thanks to a document dating back to the year 815. Such an old “genesis” makes the basilica a rare witness of past eras.
The Church of the White-clad Brotherhood
The Oratory (smaller church) and Church of Santa Maria dei Bianchi, “Holy Mary of the [Brotherhood in] White,” are in downtown Città della Pieve. You may reach this monument by following a fascinating street, Via Pietro Vannucci, that runs from the Della Corgna Palace to a gate called Porta Sant’Agostino or Porta Fiorentina, the northern entry to the town.
The Church of Saint Francis
Near the imposing Fortress in Città della Pieve a Church of Saint Francis exists, now also renamed Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.
The Church of Saint Francis was built precisely by the Franciscans, just outside the town gate called Porta Perugina, in approximately the second half of the 13th century. It was then renewed, especially in its interior, in the late 18th century.
Della Corgna Palace: The Historical Context Right in front of the Cathedral, one of the most beautiful lordly mansions in Città della Pieve rises, the
A Museum inside a Church
It is quite unusual to find a church used as a museum. This is however the case with the Museo Civico-Diocesano, the Communal/Church Museum existing inside the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi (“Saint Mary of the Servants,” with reference to the religious Order of the Servants of Mary) in Città della Pieve.
A Cathedral in a Small Town
On walking in the streets of Città della Pieve, you will be noticing many fine buildings, both public and religious, that enliven the place. To whose who come from Gramsci Square, that is the downtown nucleus, one of the main monuments will immediately appear – the Cathedral, dedicated to the Saint Gervasius and Protasius. They were Christian martyrs whose story is in connection with the famous saintly bishop of Milan in the fourth century, Ambrose.
The Cathedral should be observed while keeping in mind that it is a very dynamic monument, the outcome and witness of pressing architectural interventions in the course of history.
A Brief Biography
The personage of young Ubaldo – who was officially declared a saint on March 5, 1192 – cannot be divided from Gubbio and the great love the town’s inhabitants still have for him. More than eight centuries later, in fact, its unique memory has not faded away: a sign of gratitude toward the Patron Saint for having been an inspirer of peace and reconciliation
Francis, the Man; and Gubbio
The story of Gubbio and Francis of Assisi means the discovery of an intense relationship, interwoven with travels, friendship, and feelings. Francis’ father, Bernardone (“Big Bernard”), had frequent trades with Gubbio, often taken care of by Francis himself, who therefore happened more than once to get there for business. In Gubbio the wealthy Spada familiy, a.k.a. Spadalonga (respectively = sword, and long sword), active in the field of wool and fabrics, also “provided” Francis with the friendship of their young sons, with whom he would spend his days over there. One of them was among his comrades in arms in the 1202 war between Assisi and Perugia.
A Giant in the Square
The Palace of Consuls (Palazzo dei Consoli), built in the years 1332-49, rises dramatically on the background of Piazza Grande, the Main Square. It is more than 60 meters (180 feet) high, including its originally shaped bell tower that still nowadays “calls” the citizens. In fact, thanks to teams of master bell ringers who activate the famous Campanone (Big Bell) by hand, the main civil and religious feast days enjoy a fascinating accompaniment.
To reach the palace gate you will go up a staircase built on a flying buttress and shaped like a fan, harmoniously opening on the square. The stone balcony used to be the most important place for the political organization of Gubbio. Here the leaders held their exhortations, or promulgated the decrees for the town’s governance.
At the Court of the Duke of Urbino
The Ducal Palace was built by decision of Federico da Montefeltro in a town area called Corte Vecchia (the Old Court) – right in front of the wonderful Gothic Cathedral dedicated to Saint Mariano and Saint Giacomo, martyrs of the 13th and 14th centuries. The palace was the very first example of Renaissance architecture in Gubbio, which it still overlooks.
Saint Peter’s Abbey in “Borgo Bello”
The way that starts from the Church of Saint Ercolano, and that in past times led directly to Rome, ends in Borgo Bello, the “Beautiful Suburb,” an area that developed thanks to the Benedictine abbey dedicated to Saint Peter.
As soon as you pass one of the monumental town gates, designed by Agostino di Duccio (1418 – ca 1481), you will notice the geometrical shape of Saint Peter’s belfry, with a sharp steeple that overlooks the low houses in the quarter. That belfry is one of Perugia’s symbols, along with the Etruscan Arch and the Great Fountain.
The complex currently includes – beside Saint Peter’s Church – the department of Agriculture of the Perugia University, and a Medieval-like botanical garden.
Perugia e San Bernardino
Telling about the beauty of Saint Francis Square, we cannot but start by mentioning Saint Bernardine of Siena, a friar from that town in Tuscany, who had frequent, influential contacts with Perugia – see below.
A Cathedral to Welcome Them All
The current Cathedral of Saint Lawrence replaced an older church, a Romanesque church, that therefore must have been built in the 12th century. In March 1300, the Communal authorities in a plenary session – after ascertaining that the size of the Romanesque cathedral did no longer fit the needs of Perugia, then in a phase of expansion – decided to start a new building from zero: a bigger one, and in the same place as the older. The architect chosen for this new, important public enterprise was Fra (Brother) Bevignate, a Benedictine monk of the Order of Saint Sylvester. He was also entrusted with some of the most meaningful monuments of Medieval Umbria, such as the Great Fountain and the aqueduct in Perugia, and the Orvieto Cathedral
The Saint Lawrence “Island”: the ancient district, heart of Perugia since Etruscans. It includes Perugia Underground, the Chapter Museum and the Cathedral.
When the Etruscans Founded Orvieto: From Sky down to Earth
A tour between earth and sky: this is how Orvieto can be visited and discovered because of both its geographic position (a town rising on top of a cliff, surrounded by a valley) and its history (from ancient Etruscans to nowadays). In Orvieto, in fact, tuff and human genius live indissolubly together since the era when the Etruscans founded it. But, who were the Etruscans? Even if their origin has still to be completely explained and many conjectures are made, they for sure were a people who existed in Central Italy between the ninth and the first centuries BC. Etruscans, basically, were skilled merchants in touch with the other civilizations of the Mediterranean Sea. The top expansion and power of their city-states took place between 800 and 600 BC, before they fell under Roman domination.Orvieto was among the last towns to be conquered by the Romans, namely when it was defeated in 264 BC.
From Freedom to Being Dominated
During the Middle Ages, Orvieto enjoyed a long period of welfare and independence as a “free Commune” – its rulers being autonomous from the Emperor, both politically and economically – in spite of the intestine clashes between the parties of Guelphs (who supported the Pope’s authority) and Ghibellines (who supported the Emperor). During the whole 13th century the town was a rich one, and organized itself through the basic communal institutions insofar as it was perfectly in a position to rule itself, control its own territory, and thrive.
Assisi’s Cathedral: info and story of Saint Rufinus and his church, from the Romanic facade to the “tug of war” conflict.
In the Assisi plain and among the olive trees of the countryside, there is a place much beloved with reference to the Franciscan origins: the Shrine of Saint Damian. Here silence and peace reign, wonderfully framing the view on Nature all around. We actually know little about the origin of this structure, possibly built among the seventh and ninth centuries; and little, too, about the reasons why the church was dedicated to Saint Damian, a medical doctor and martyr whose relics had been taken to Rome in the mid-fifth century. We can anyway say for sure that the history of this very small church, then kept by an old priest, started to be in the limelight in 1205, when one day a 24-year-older called Francis stopped here to pray