Rocca di Umbertide

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In the historic centre of  Umbertide stands the mighty tower of the medieval fortress designed in 1374 by Angeluccio of Ceccolo, also called 'Il Trucascio'.  It was completed in 1389, under the guidance of Alberto Guidalotti. The building consists of a massive square tower which is more than 30 meters high and three other smaller crenelated towers. The base is made up of thick walls and at one time there would have been gates with drawbridges.

Braccio Fortebraccio was imprisoned in the fortress dungeons in 1394,  but released after payment of a ransom; he then conquered it and resided there until his death in 1424.

After this event, the fortress came under the rule of the Church and in the following years saw a number of armies pass through it, until in 1478, the militias of Federico II da Montefeltro, devastated both the structure and the Fratta territory.

In 1521, Pope Leo X, entrusted the custody of the fortress to the higher authorities of Fratta (the ancient name for Umbertide) for seven years and this honour was delayed by Clement VII for another ten, in order to use the salary he would have otherwise had to pay the castellan and soldiers, for the restoration of the walls.

During this century, it also became the seat of a papal military garrison and its defensive equipment was expanded significantly.

The Perugian grant was abolished in 1798, when the Fratta became one of the thirteen cantons of the Department of Trasimeno. With the return of Pope Pius VII as the head of the Papal States in 1814, the fortress was destined to become a public prison, and continued to be used as such until 1923. From that time until 1974, the complex was used for residential purposes, having undergone some internal changes and the re-roofing of the two circular towers.

The rock is composed of an impressive keep, 7.60m long and a height of 31.60m, with three smaller crenelated towers of which two are circular and a third has a square footprint.  The walls, once equipped with gates and drawbridges, are impressively thick, measuring 2.20m at the base, giving the entire complex the feel of an indomitable fortress. It is possible to enter the building through a single door off Piazza Fortebracci; the other door, which has now been demolished, was in the direction of the Palace, called "The rescue".

In 1984, the Town Council wishing to restore the structure with a long and careful restoration agreed upon the restoration of its historical identity and static consolidation, which was completed in May 1986.

During the renovation, elements were discovered that have assisted in identifying parts of the complex which had been thought to have been lost: an ancient stone staircase, found in the first room of the fortress, on the first floor, and a trapdoor discovered on the ground floor, under 1.5 metres of soil, used for access to the underground areas, allowing for the vertical connection inside the tower to be re-established: from the dungeon to the battlements.

Changes were made to improve the use of the interior, removing some partition walls of the cells of the tower and the pavilion roof of the same, it was then replaced by a useful floor. Finally an entrance was created at the base of the left tower, to allow access between the Piazza del Mercato (market square) and the Piazza Fortebracci.

Currently, the city administration has allocated several rooms of the fortress for use as the Centre for Contemporary Art.

Bibliography
Amoni D. (1999), Castelli Fortezze e Rocche dell'Umbria, Ponte S. Giovanni, Perugia, Quattroemme.