Città di Castello

History, art and spirituality, from Città di Castello to Gubbio

A cultural and artistic itinerary to take by bus, at the discovery of the jewels of northern Umbria. 

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This itinerary will lead us to the discovery of some of the most interesting places in northern Umbria. 

It starts from Città di Castello, the most important city in the Upper Tiber Valley.

Although it has a history that goes back to the ancient people of Umbria, walking through Città di Castello you cannot fail to notice how the artworks of the Renaissance period characterize the place, starting from the walls that surround it, the Renaissance palaces (it is mandatory to stop at palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera, which now houses the Municipal Picture Gallery and its collection, among the most beautiful in the Region), the churches that overlook the streets and squares of the city. Many of these places of worship were in fact built, expanded or rebuilt between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, adopting the styles of the time: this is the case for example of the churches of Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria delle Grazie, San Francesco, and San Domenico.

Among all, the Cathedral of Saints Florido and Amanzio stands out: the richness of its interiors and the splendid frescoes are truly suggestive. With still in your eyes so much wonder, then move a few meters, for a visit to the adjacent Museum and its collection of sacred art.

Città di Castello is also an unexpected world reference for contemporary art.  Between palazzo Albizzini and the former Tobacco Dryers you can admire an important collection of artworks by his most famous fellow citizen, Alberto Burri, one of the greatest figures of the international contemporary art.

To reach Umbertide, the second stop, it will take just half an hour by bus (the E119 does well for us). If a military and political structure like the Fortress of the fourteenth century, symbol of the city, now hosts exhibitions of contemporary art, you can perceive the artistic and cultural soul of this city in the Upper Tiber Valley.

The churches of Umbertide confirm this feeling: Santa Croce (now a museum) with the Deposition from the Cross by Luca Signorelli and a Child in glory between Angels and Saints by the Pomarancio; San Bernardino, where there is a wonderful Dinner with the Apostles by Muzio Flori; Santa Maria della Pietà, decorated by Pinturicchio with a fresco and an altarpiece depicting the Coronation of the Virgin (now in the Vatican Museums); finally, the octagonal church of Santa Maria della Reggia, repository of an artwork by Pomarancio.

One of the most beautiful villages in Italy is waiting for you about a quarter of an hour from Umbertide (by bus E115 or E119), on a hill at the confluence of the Tiber and Carpina rivers. That's Montone, birthplace of Umbria's most famous captain of fortune, Andrea Fortebraccio, better known as Braccio da Montone.

This small village has a strong relationship with the past and not only with its own: piazza Fortebraccio and the ruins of the Rocca di Braccio are an important legacy of its most famous citizen, the municipal historical archive (in the former convent of Santa Caterina) that preserves one of the richest documentary heritage of the region, while the museum complex of Saint Francis houses an ethnographic museum that focuses on the history of East Africa. In the Church of Saint Francis, it is possible to admire many frescoes and paintings of the Umbrian school.

We recommend, in the same area, a visit to the small village of Preggio.

Your next destination: in less than an hour, the E055 will take you to the last leg of the journey.

Gubbio is one of the oldest towns in Umbria (the finds dating back to the time of the Umbrians and the most recent Roman Theatre, of which you can admire the remains, are a remarkable testimony), but lived one of its periods of greatest splendour between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, a period in which many of the major monuments of the city were built: palazzo dei Consoli in the spectacular piazza Grande, the Cathedral of Saints Mariano and Giacomo, piazza Quaranta Martiri (dedicated to the 40 residents of Gubbio killed by the Nazis in 1944 but already seat of the market during the Middle Ages), Palazzo dei Priori, Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, the churches of Santa Maria Nuova, St. Peter and St. Augustine, the Monastery of San Marziale. Instead the refinement of the majolica working technique, which is still the pride of the city, dates back to the years between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Plan your trip so as to be in Gubbio on 15th May: on the day of the famous Corsa dei Ceri, symbol of the city and of the entire region, three large wooden candles surmounted by statues of the three saints of Gubbio (the patron saint St. Ubaldo, St. George and St. Anthony Abbot) are carried by men and women through the streets of the city, for then starting the race, cutting the festive crowd, in the direction of the Basilica of St. Ubaldo, on top of Mount Ingino. If, however, you can't make it don't despair, there is another characteristic but less scenic custom of Gubbio that can see you as the protagonist: just three rounds around the fountain in front of the Bargello Palace (and the presence of a Gubbio inhabitant) are enough to earn the always coveted “Patente da Matto” ("Crazy License")!