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In the lands of Perugino: The Divine Painter
Art in Umbria

In the lands of Perugino - From Panicale to Montefalco

An itinerary among splendid Umbrian villages to admire the works of the "DIVIN PAINTER"

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Panicale is a picturesque historic village set at 441m above sea level. Its appearance shows its medieval origins of which it still retains all the structural and architectural features. The plan of the village in concentric circles represents one of the most advanced systems of military defence typical of medieval times. Panicale is one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of Italy” and has been awarded the “Orange Flag” for the preservation of the historic landscape.

Just outside the walls you can admire the Chiesa di San Sebastiano, which contains two splendid frescoes by Perugino: The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian and the Madonna and Child among Saints

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Santa Maria degli Angeli

Our second stop is in the town of Santa Maria degli Angeli, home to the splendid Basilica, whose structure is built around the Portiuncula, a small church where St. Francis established his home, restoring it and founding the Franciscan Order there (1208).

On the rear wall of this delightful sanctuary the fresco of the Fainting of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, a work by Perugino, is still clearly visible, a fragment of the large fresco of the Crucifixion that decorated the primitive choir of the Portiuncula.

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Spello

An obligatory stop on your route is Spello, one of the most enchanting and strategic villages in Umbria, located at the foot of Mount Subasio. It was founded by the Umbrians and then named Hispellum in Roman times and declared Splendidissima Colonia Julia. Inside the wonderful Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore a Spello, on the pilasters flanking the apse, you will find two works by Perugino: la Pietà, San Giovanni Evangelista, e la Maddalena, and the Madonna con Bambino, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria e San Biagio.

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Trevi

Trevi is located between Foligno and Spoleto and is known as the city of olive oil par excellence; it appears, perched on a hilltop, shrouded in its mysterious medieval charm and distinguished by Romanesque-style buildings. Famous not only for its ‘yellow gold’ but also for its typical black celery and other precious products of the earth, Trevi preserves among its various artistic treasures an important work by Perugino, kept inside the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Lacrime. The religious building was erected to mark the occasion of a miraculous event linked to a painted image of the Virgin who was seen weeping blood on 5 August 1485.

Perugino’s work in the Church of Santa Maria delle Lacrime is the Adoration of the Magi, dating from 1522 and therefore one of the Maestro’s last works. The fresco depicts a marvellous Nativity scene, with the characters in adoration and the apostles Peter and Paul on either side. The setting of the painting consists of a simple wooden hut, showing the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in her arms, St. Joseph on the left, on either side of the throne two Magi offer two cruets with the third King standing next to them. The backdrop to the main scene is a characteristic country landscape with shepherds intent on grazing their flocks. You will notice in particular two shepherds in the distance in the central part of the painting looking upward sheltering their eyes; they are probably turning their gaze toward the light of the comet star, which today is no longer visible in the fresco.

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Montefalco

Not far from Trevi lies beautiful Montefalco, renowned for its excellent red wine, and also for its olive oil, cured meats and honey. Montefalco will offer you a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding area and that is why it is called ‘the balcony of Umbria’. In the historic centre, inside the Church of San Francesco, you can see Perugino’s magnificent Nativity, which occupies the space of an aedicule on the right side of the counter-façade. The fresco has as its subject three scenes framed by faux architecture: the Annunciation at the top, then God in glory among the angels, and further down, in the foreground, the Nativity scene. You will see Jesus surrounded by a green landscape that opens behind him into a wide horizon with an indefinite border. And it is precisely in this feature that you will recognize the imprint of Perugino, who in his mature stage sees his works marked precisely by this dominant presence of the landscape.

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