To enter Gubbio and follow those very old, but still inhabited streets woven together on the slopes of Mount Ingino means to make a full immersion into the Middle Ages. Once out of silent alleys, there suddenly appear the lively, joyful squares of the town quarters – San Martino, Sant'Andrea, San Pietro, San Giuliano (respectively Saint Martin, Saint Andrew, Saint Peter, Saint Julian) – all worth a walk and a visit. The heart will then be caught by an original elevated structure, Piazza della Signoria a.k.a. Piazza Grande (Square of the Signoria, or the Big/Main Square). It is overlooked by the Campanone, the “Big Bell” whose voice echoes throughout the surrounding plain. Yes, really suggesting and moving is the sound made by this ancient instrument, that weighs 144 kilograms, some 320 pounds. Twice a year, on May 15 and August 15, bold bell ringers make it resound by mere force of legs and arms, 180 feet above the street level.
In the same square, inside the Palace of Consuls seven bronze panels called Tavole Iguvine have been preserved: a most important literary source, written in Ancient Umbrian language by using both the Latin and the Etruscan alphabets.
Just few hundreds of meters out of the Medieval town walls, everything tells a much older story: the Gorge of Bottaccione, a window open onto prehistory and the hypotheses about the extinction of dinosaurs, 65 million years ago; and the archaeological area, the so-called Roman Theater.
Here the wonderful remains of the Roman town, Iguvium, can be admired, whose theater dates back to the first century BC; and the foundations of ancient villas, whose refined mosaics are now on exhibition at the Antiquarium.
Gubbio, a town full of traditions and symbols, has been honoring its Medieval patron saint, Bishop Ubaldo, for a lot of centuries. His relics are kept in Saint Ubaldo's Basilica, that overlooks the whole town.
Dedicated to him is one of the most important folkloric traditions in Italy, the “Ceri” – a word that usually indicates big ritual candles, but in this case, 12-foot-high wood structures. Each May 15, a unique mix of passion, adrenaline, Christian faith, and joy invades the streets, all day long, with the yellow, blue, and black colors of the Ceraioli, the clubs respectively linked with Saint Ubaldo, Saint George, Saint Anthony. They were the patron saints of the main Medieval guilds (professional associations). The event, the Festa dei Ceri, cannot be conveyed by words, it will only be possible to say, “Come and see.”
Every year moreover, on December 7, the Biggest Christmas Tree Worldwide is switched on, with its hundreds of colored lights and a comet on top – the star alone covering some 1,000 square meters (25% of an acre) on a slope of Mount Ingino.
In late October, another important event takes place, namely the Truffle Fair (Mostra del Tartufo). Exhibitors come to Umbria from all over Italy.
Gubbio waits for you! And, it does know how to amaze you.