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L'Adorazione dei Magi, Pietro Vannucci
Art in Umbria

Perugino in Città della Pieve

Città della Pieve: the town that gave birth to the Divine Painter

Pietro Vannucci, also known as Perugino and as the "Divine Painter," was born in Città della Pieve in 1446. And it is here in his hometown that some of his beautiful paintings are preserved.

We propose a tour of the town and its near surroundings to discover them, places that will leave the viewer speechless.

Oratory of Santa Maria dei Bianchi

The oratory is owned half by the city and half by the Confraternity of the Bianchi. Only the first room of the oratory can be visited, the one containing Perugino’s impressive painting: it is a fresco seven meters wide by six and a half meters high dating from the year 1504. It is not to be confused with the better-known Adoration of the Magi, an oil painting on wood panel, which the artist had made in Perugia about 30 years earlier (c. 1470) together with Raphael and which is now in the National Gallery of Umbria.

Entering the oratory, the grandeur of the fresco amazes the viewer, with its colours that are so real, its perfect plays of perspective and above all the sweetness characteristic of faces portrayed in Perugino’s paintings. In this work, the story of the adoration is depicted in one of the largest landscapes devised by the Divine Painter. It is the ideal representation of a view stretching from Città della Pieve toward Trasimeno and the Val di Chiana. Here the characters fit in elegantly, recalling Hellenic poses. This is among Perugino’s last works; in fact, he was already keeping a keen eye on one of his pupils, for whom he had deep esteem: Raphael.

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Cathedral of Ss. Gervasius and Protasius.

Walking up to the central square, one sees the city’s cathedral, the beautiful Cathedral of Ss. Gervasius and Protasius. The church has pre-Romanesque origins and displays numerous works of art such as the Madonna and Child by Domenico Alfani and the Virgin Enthroned by Salvio Salvini. The presence of Perugino is also notable here with two splendid works.

  •  The first is found upon entering, on the left, The Baptism of Christ from 1510. Here again the perspective used by the Divine Painter is perfect and the two figures of St. John and Jesus Christ are in a pose reminiscent of Ancient Greek statues


  • The second is a panel depicting the Madonna in Glory between the patron saints Gervasius and Protasius, signed and dated 1514, "Petrus Christoferi Vannutii de Castro Plebis pinxit MDXIII." Placed behind the high altar, it shows the Madonna and Child in heaven within a mandorla of cherubim, while at her feet are the figures of the four saints: Gervasius and Protasius - the titulars of the cathedral and protectors of Città della Pieve - holding two banners with the city’s coat of arms (a castle in gold on a red field), Peter and Paul recognizable by their traditional attributes. The painting was commissioned from Perugino in 1507 by the canons of the cathedral: the artist did not, however, meet the delivery schedule, which called for the work to be completed within a year, delivering the panel seven years later, in 1514.
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The family home of Pietro Vannucci

Between piazza del Duomo and what is now via Vittorio Veneto stood the family home of Pietro Vannucci, now commemorated with a plaque. Nothing remains of the old house, but the plaque can be seen.

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Church of San Pietro

It is possible to visit the church of San Pietro just beyond the city walls. One of the city’s three parish churches, its front courtyard has a belvedere overlooking the Chiana Romana and views of Mount Cetona. Dating from the 13th century, the church is small but very beautiful, with a single nave. Inside, on the back wall, where the old altar used to be, is Perugino’s fresco of St. Anthony Abbot between Saints Paul the Hermit and Marcellus. The figures are portrayed within a rich portal-shaped architectural frame with a large lunette of remarkable illusionistic effect.

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Church of Santa Maria dei Servi

The church, open only by reservation and for guided tours, now houses the Museo Civico Diocesano and is the home of another important painting by Perugino. Although the painting is visible only in part, it is impossible not to notice its unique hand: it is the Deposition of the Cross from 1517, the most important work of the master’s old age (the painting, hidden by a cavity wall, was rediscovered in 1834). The fresco expresses the drama of the event, with the Madonna depicted on the ground, having fainted.

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