“Saint Sebastian between the Saints Roch and Peter” in the Church of the Assumption of Mary, Cerqueto In 1478 Perugino frescoed the Chapel of Mary
The “Virgin Mary and Christ Child” in the Church of the Annunciation in Fontignano: one of Perugino’s last works
The “Virgin Mary and Christ Child” in the Church of the Annunciation in Fontignano: one of Perugino’s last works In Fontignano, not far from Perugia,
The Bridge of Towers as Was Seen by Goethe
In September 1786, the great German poet, J. W. Goethe (1749 – 1832), left for a journey to the discovery of Italy, that would last nearly two years. This adventure, overfilled with beauty, would later inspire his Italian Journey. In the pages of that report, a memory of Goethe’s visit to the Bridge of Towers (Ponte delle Torri) in Spoleto is also included. He recalls, “I ascended to Spoleto, and reached the aqueduct, that is also used as a bridge to connect two mountains. Its ten arches, that cross the valley, are built in stone; they have been there for centuries, and carry water to every part of the town. This is the third monument of Antiquity I see; and, one more majestic one. The architecture of those times is almost like a second Nature, in accordance with civic needs. . .”
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 Cathedral during the Centuries
Surely outstanding in Spoleto is the Annunciation Church, that is also the Cathedral. A building so powerful in its beauty that will impress all those who take the staircase that suddenly opens up among the alleys. But, please do not trust the first impression: this, in fact, is not only a unique setting, but also and especially a place where the tracks of Time can be detected.
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.
The Rocca dei Perugini Nowadays
The powerful Rocca dei Perugini, “Fortress of Perugian (soldiers),” was built along the town walls near Porta Perugina, the town gate toward Perugia, in fact. This is whence, already in 1296, the road called Via Pievaiola started, that still nowadays connects Città della Pieve and Perugia.
The fortress, currently incorporated in the town center, faces Matteotti Square; and thanks to an intelligent restoration, has become a key factor for the development of tourism.
With reference to its structure, the stronghold is a noteworthy example of military architecture in Umbria. At the same time, its very presence makes an important chapter in the history book of the town, insofar as it reminds us of the time when it was controlled by Perugia. The village was then called Castel (castle) della Pieve; pieve meaning a country church.
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 Look at Our Ancestors
South of Gubbio’s Medieval quarters the Guastuglia Plain (pron. goo-ast-oo-Leah) lies, delimited west by the so-called vallum (military defense line), and east by a river called Camignano (pron. come-in-ya-know). From this area you can admire the Medieval town center, a little above, and the old buildings – the Palace of Consuls, first of all – that made the history of Gubbio.
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 Decentralized Center
Gubbio rises at the foot of Mount Ingino with a strong self-consciousness. Framed within a luxuriant Nature, rich in woods and trails, it is considered one of the most beautiful Medieval towns in Italy. A major feature of the old town center are the buildings in calcareous stone, that gives them a typically gray color. Stones that still envelope the secrets of past masters and masterpieces while filling one’s eyes and soul with awe and wonder.
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.
The Archaeological Area, at the very core of the so-called Saint Lawrence “Island”, will give you the joy of a discovery trip throughout the centuries. Quite unknown to the local people themselves, these places are hidden inside the hill on which Perugia is built. By entering them, it will become clear how, starting from the Etruscans and via the Romans, then the Papal residence, the town acquired its current shape. Going from the cloister of the cathedral down into the archaeological area can be likened to a time machine that synchronizes its clock with ours more and more as we cross the centuries toward the surface.
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.
The Intriguing Story of a Fortress
In Perugia’s old town center, at the southern end of Corso Vannucci (Main Street) there is an area with flowerbeds, benches, and fountains, where the Palace of Perugia’s Province and the equestrian monument to the first king of united Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II (1820-1878), also rise. This is where a group of buildings existed, called Rocca Paolina: a fortress built by decision of Pope Paul III in the mid-16th century.