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View of Gubbio
Gubbio
Gubbio
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HISTORY

Gubbio is an ancient town whose origins go back to the height of the Umbrian civilization, as can be seen from the Eugubine Tablets (seven bronze tablets with writing in the Umbrian language, preserved at the Civic Museum in Palazzo dei Consoli). The Romans gave it the name Iguvium, and later Eugubium.
Destroyed by the Goths (552), who were succeeded first by the Byzantines (592) and then the Lombards (772), it rose again in the 11th century, when it was established as an independent commune. In the 12th century, Gubbio, under the spiritual guidance of Bishop Ubaldo, the great protector of Gubbio, won a war against Perugia and other nearby towns. Thanks to its thriving industry (specialized in majolica pottery), it reached its greatest splendor in the 14th century, during which time many monuments were built and it took on the medieval appearance that still has today. In 1384 it became part of the Duchy of Urbino, and went with Urbino to the Papal States in 1631.

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

Gubbio is one of the most ancient towns in Umbria, remaining marvelously well-preserved over the centuries, with many monuments that bear witness to its glorious past. Architecturally it represents the zenith of medieval civilization and of society in the 1200-1300s, with the system of the guilds.

Evidence of its ancient origins is provided by the Eugubine Tablets, one of the most important archeological records in Italy – seven bronze tablets with writing in the Umbrian language preserved at the Civic Museum – and the Roman Theater standing just outside the city walls. The monumental Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo, which holds the remains of the town's patron saint, towers over Gubbio, with its architectural masterpieces that stand as symbols of the power of this medieval city-state.

Construction began in the early 14th century on the superb complex that includes the Palazzo dei Consoli, symbol of the town and home of the Picture Gallery and Archeological Museum, the Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Pretorio, which serves today as the Town Hall. Also deserving mention are Palazzo Beni, the Bargello with its famous fountain, and the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo. The Renaissance Ducal Palace, attributed to Francesco Giorgio Martini, documents the town's brilliant period under the rule of the Montefeltro dukes. Also interesting are the Cathedral (12th century), Santa Maria Nuova, with the Madonna of the Belvedere by Ottaviano Nelli inside, the Church and Convent of Sant'Agostino (13th century) with frescoes by Nelli, the Church and Convent of San Francesco, San Giovanni, characterized by the Romanesque façade and bell tower, San Pietro and San Domenico.
Also of interest are Piazza 40 Martiri with the Church and Ospedale dei Bianchi, the Loggia dei Tiratori and the Church of Sant'Andrea or Monastery of di San Marziale.

Sights outside the walls are the Roman Mausoleum, the Church of San Secondo, the Church of Madonna del Prato and the Church of the Vittorina.

Natural attractions include the Mt. Cucco Park nature area and the fascinating Bottaccione Gorge, with the rocks that, according to one theory, reveal the secrets of the disappearance of the dinosaur 65 million years ago

 


Fossato di Vico
Fossato di Vico
Fossato di Vico
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HISTORY

Fossato di Vico first developed because of its strategic importance on the Flaminian Way, but for this same reason, after the fall of the Roman Empire it was also the cause of violent clashes between the Goths and Byzantines and of later battles over control of the area which continued through the Middle Ages. In the 10th century it was a fief of the counts of Nocera, and in the 12th it passed to the counts of Marsciano who, after subjecting it first to Gubbio and then to Perugia, finally sold it to Gubbio. In the 13th century, after Perugia had conquered the area militarily, it established itself as an independent commune. In 1442 it succeeded in resisting against the attacks by the troops of Francesco Sforza, but in 1500 Cesare Borgia, son of the Pope, sacked and destroyed the town, as did the Duke of Urbino in 1517. In 1540 it became part of the Papal States and remained such, apart from the brief Napoleonic period, until the creation of the Kingdom of Italy (1860).

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

The municipal territory is divided into two parts, one linear and level along the Flaminia state road and the other perched on the hillside. The latter, called Fossato Alto, is a typical medieval village, with beautiful historic buildings, such as the Old Town Hall, the Clock Tower built by the Gricci brothers, the Crenellated Tower above the entrance gate, and old religious buildings such as the Church of San Pietro, dug into the rock and built in the French Gothic style imported by the Cistercians, the Church of San Benedetto, a Benedictine abbey and today a national monument, which has the remains of frescoes from the Gubbio school and a portrait of Urban V by Matteo da Gualdo.

Then there are the extraordinarily beautiful "Rughe", a street covered by round-arched stone vaults, a rare example of 13th-century castle architecture having a chiefly defensive function. Also of interest are the Chapel of the Piaggiola, with excellent frescoes by Ottaviano Nelli of Gubbio, the Camaldolite Church of San Cristoforo (13th cent.), the Church of San Sebastiano and the Monastery of Santa Maria della Fonte (13th century), a community of Benedictine cloistered nuns. Another sight deserving of a visit is the Municipal Antiquarium, which documents Republican and late Imperial Roman sites and artifacts.

Nearby is the Roman Bridge dating from the 1st century BC, the San Giovanni Bridge from the Augustan age situated along the Flaminian Way, and the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ghea, in the open countryside. Part of the municipal territory lies within Mt. Cucco Regional Park, a natural protected area since 1995. It has a very rich landscape and environmental heritage, both for its fauna (foxes, weasels, martens, wild boar, squirrels, hares) and its flora.


Costacciaro
Costacciaro
Costacciaro
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HISTORY

Roman in origin, the earliest records of historical importance regarding Costacciaro date from the 13th century, when the old castle on the Flaminian Way below Mt. Cucco was purchased by the Commune of Gubbio, to which it remained tied until being annexed to the Papal States (17th century) and later to the Kingdom of Italy (1860).

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

Among the monuments to be seen in the historic center is the Church of San Francesco (mid-13th century), with a Romanesque façade built using limestone from Mt. Cucco. Inside the church are frescoes in the style of Matteo da Gualdo and, underneath the high altar, the remains of Blessed Tommaso, a Camaldolite monk and the village's patron. Also of interest are the four gates that opened through Costacciaro's circle of walls (Porta dell'Orologio, Porta del Trióne [also known as Porta del Rivellino], Porta di Guerrino Gambucci, and Porta del Monumento [also known as Porta di San Lorenzo]) and the ruins of the fortress and of the walls with the 13th-century Civic Tower.

As regards nature and the landscape, Mt. Cucco Park is interesting not only for its meadows and woods, but above all for its cave system (karstic phenomena), beech woods, gorges, high elevation springs and pure streams. The area is a true paradise for hiking, spelunking and hang-gliding enthusiasts. There is a School of Speleology at the Centro Nazionale di Speleologia in Costacciaro, located in the former monastery of the Poor Clares, along with a museum of the karst areas of Mt. Cucco.


Cannara
Cannara
The ancient Roman municipium of Urvinum Hortense
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Cannara is located in the heart of Umbria, in the middle of the Valle Umbra plain on the left of the Topino river, facing Assisi and Spello. According to tradition, its name comes from the many cane thickets that once grew in the marshy areas along the Topino.

 

HISTORY

Cannara's origins go back to the ancient Umbrians and Romans, and after the fall of the Roman Empire and the Lombard invasion, Assisi and Perugia fought to control it for many years. In 1352 it became part of the Duchy of Spoleto, and in 1424 Braccio da Montone conceded it to the Baglioni of Perugia, who held on to it until 1684, when the entire area came under the dominion of the Church, until the birth of the Kingdom of Italy (1860).

 


ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

Places worthy of a visit in the medieval-walled historic center are the Town Hall and the Civic Tower (15th century). Also very interesting are the Church of San Biagio, an example of the late Umbrian Romanesque which has preserved its old 13th-century façade and portal in Assisi stone, the Church of San Matteo (14th cent.), with a triptych by Alunno and a wooden statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, and the Church of San Sebastiano, home of the Picture Gallery.

Cannara has three special sites of religious interest that trace the life of St. Francis: the Church of San Francesco commemorates the Institution of the Third Order with another precious painting by Alunno; Palazzo Majolica-Landrini, inside of which is the Sacred Hovel where Francis stayed during his visits to Cannara; and just outside the town is the Pian d'Arca Shrine, with a stone which marks the place where Francis made his famous Sermon to the Birds.

Essential sights nearby include the Church of San Donato, built in 1667 to preserve a miraculous image of the Madonna and Child with Saints Francis and Donato frescoed in a rural shrine, and the Church of San Giovanni Decollato, with frescoes attributed to Dono Doni of Assisi.

In the locality of Collemancio are the ruins of the ancient Roman municipium of Urvinum Hortense, where archeological excavations have unearthed a number of important artifacts, on permanent display in the Antiquarium.

Bettona
Bettona
Bettona
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STORIA

Antico centro etrusco alla sinistra del Tevere controllato dalla vicina Perugia, Bettona acquisì la cittadinanza romana nel 90 a.C.. Nel XII secolo, dopo le invasioni barbariche, divenne Comune autonomo ma, nel 1352, dopo un lungo assedio, venne conquistata e distrutta da Perugia.
Nel 1367 la Chiesa incaricò il Cardinale Albornoz di ricostruire la città, che per breve tempo entrò a far parte dello Stato Pontificio. Subito dopo tornò sotto il dominio di Perugia e dei signori Baglioni. Nel 1648 entrò definitivamente a far parte dello Stato della Chiesa dove rimase fino al 1860.

 

ARTE, CULTURA, AMBIENTE

Il borgo medievale coincide con il sito della città etrusca e romana ed è circondato per intero dalla cinta muraria di epoca medievale, che ingloba vari tratti delle mura etrusche. L'abitato è strutturato sullo spazio centrale formato dalle piazze Cavour, luogo dell'antico Foro, e Garibaldi, dove affacciano i principali edifici civili e religiosi. Tra questi ultimi la duecentesca chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore, trasformata nel corso del Seicento, con abside affrescata nel 1939 dal futurista Gerardo Dottori e dalla quale provengono molte opere conservate nel Museo della Città. Nella centrale piazza Cavour, luogo dell'antico foro, sorge invece il palazzo del Podestà (1371), oggi sede del Museo della Città che occupa anche alcuni ambienti della residenza della famiglia Biancalana: un edificio ottocentesco in stile neoclassico. Tra le opere in pinacoteca si segnalano: il Sant'Antonio di Padova e la Madonna della Misericordia con i Santi Stefano, Girolamo e committenti di Pietro Vannucci detto il Perugino e la terracotta invetriata raffigurante Sant'Antonio di Padova, riconducibile all'ambiente dei Della Robbia. Oltre a queste, opere di artisti come l'Alunno, Tiberio di Assisi e Dono Doni.

 

Non solo edifici di pregio e opere difensive: ancora oggi il centro storico si caratterizza per la presenza di case dotate di un piccolo orto-giardino recintato, di una cisterna per l'acqua piovana e il pozzo. Un insieme che crea un felice equilibrio tra l'edificato e gli spazi verdi.

Nei dintorni (frazione Colle) da vedere la tomba a camera etrusca (fine III – inizi II secolo a.C.) con ricco corredo esposto al Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Perugia. Uscendo dalla porta settentrionale del paese si possono raggiungere il monastero di Sant'Antonio e le chiese di San Gregorio e di San Quirico. Scendendo verso la frazione di Passaggio di Bettona si incontra la bella torre del Molinaccio (XIII secolo), vedetta di avvistamento nelle guerre contro Perugia. In pianura, la villa del Boccaglione, grandiosa residenza di campagna del XVIII secolo costruita dal Piermarini; poco distante, in Piazza Garibaldi, il complesso della Badia di San Crispolto al Piano, costruita prima dell'anno 1000 su un edificio romano. Sel pendio opposto, a Colle di Bettona, è visitabile la tomba etrusca con volta a botte (II-I secolo a.C.) con pregevoli oggetti di corredo oggi esposti al museo archeologico nazionale di Perugia.


Bastia Umbra
Bastia Umbra
Bastia Umbra
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HISTORY

In Roman times it was known as Insula Romana, because it rather looked like an island surrounded by the waters of the Lacus Umber, a large body of water that occupied the Umbra Valley which, in the 6th century CE was most likely a drained marshland.

It was very important in the 14th-15th centuries when, as a fortified city, it was continually contested by Perugia and Assisi. Perugia won, in the end, and Bastia became a feudal holding of the ruling Baglioni family until it died out in the 17th century. In the mid-1600s it went to the Papal States, which ruled over it until the Unification of Italy in 1860.

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

Although the town has a modern look, one can find evidence of its history in an old castle, of which many traces remain, and in various religious buildings, like the 14th century Church of the Santa Croce on the main Piazza Mazzini. It has a characteristic pink and white limestone façade made with stone from Mt. Subasio and is home to lovely frescoes of the Umbrian school and a triptych done by Niccolò Liberatore, known as l'Alunno. Also worth noting are the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, the Church of San Rocco, home to two canvases by Dono Doni, and the Church of San Paolo (11th century), once a Benedictine monastery in which St Claire sought refuge. Porta Sant'Angelo is also lovely, the only gate that corresponds with the western part of the castle. It is well-preserved and has a pointed arch and crenulated corbels.

Not far away, in Santa Lucia and Bastiola, are the bridges over the Chiascio River. Also of interest is the Church of the Madonna di Campagna and, in Costano, the Church of San Francescuccio, the temple of San Giuseppe and the Sanctuary of the Santissimo Crocifisso.


Foligno
Foligno
The city of the Quintana Joust
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HISTORY

Foligno was founded by the ancient Umbrians, followed by the Romans, who made it a municipium and an important post on the Flaminian Way. Later destroyed by barbarian invasions and subsequently rebuilt, it became an independent commune in the 11th century, but in about 1310 it came under the seigniory of the powerful Trinci family (vicars of the Church after 1336), under whose rule the town developed considerably. With the Trinci it extended its dominion over many neighboring towns (Assisi, Spello, Montefalco). In the 15th century it became part of the Papal States, remaining under its rule (except for the brief Napoleonic period) until 1860, when it became part of Italy with the birth of the Italian State.

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

Foligno's historic center has a number of beautiful religious buildings and noble palaces. Starting from Piazza della Repubblica, focal point of the town's civic and social life, worthy of a visit are the Cathedral, with its secondary façade, an architectural gem, by the masters Rodolfo and Binello (1201), the Town Hall, and Palazzo Trinci (1389-1407), seat of the Archeological Museum and of the Picture Gallery. Nearby is the new Municipal Library, which has over 600 drawings by the Imperial Regio Architect Giuseppe Piermarini. Other must-sees are: the Romanesque Church of Santa Maria Infraportas, with frescoes by Nelli, Ugolino di Gisberto, Alunno and Mezzastris; the Church of San Salvatore, with an 18th-century interior by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli; and the former church of San Domenico, today a splendid Auditorium. There are also the Oratory of the Nunziatella, a fine example of Renaissance architecture with two frescoes by Perugino, and the Church of San Francesco, which holds the remains of Blessed Angela of Foligno, a famous mystic and teacher of theology who was born near the present-day Porta Romana. Another important religious building is the Cathedral of San Feliciano, which according to tradition stands on the spot where the first bishop of Foligno is buried, a Christian martyr under the emperor Decius. The noble palaces include Palazzo Orfini, where Evangelista Mei of Foligno and Johann Numeister from Germany printed the first edition of Dante's Divine Comedy in 1472, Palazzo Cantagalli, Palazzo Deli, Palazzo Alleori Ubaldi, Palazzo Bartocci and Palazzo Candiotti.

Nearby are the very interesting Sassovivo Abbey (11th century), with its stupendous Romanesque cloister and unique mystical Benedictine atmosphere, the Church of Santa Maria in Campis, an early Christian basilica restored in the 19th century, and the Rocca dei Trinci fortress (15th century) in Sant'Eraclio. In Pale, an old village famous for the paper mills built there in the 13th century, there is a castle, as well as the churches of San Biagio and Santa Maria Giacobbe. Not far away is the Hermitage, a church dug out of the rock and decorated with frescoes. Worthy of a visit in Colfiorito are the archeological findings and the Church of Santa Maria di Plestia (10th century). The Colfiorito Regional Park is a vast tableland of great natural and environmental interest and worth: it comprises a marsh, home to rare species of plants, flowers and water birds, a mountain, and the archeological site of the ancient Roman town of Plestia.


Giove
Giove
Giove
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HISTORY

In the Roman Age the hamlet was of great importance because of the river port of San Valentino sul Tevere, as proved by the numerous archaeological finds discovered there: coins, tombs and ruins of Roman villas.

Neighbouring fiefs and the Giove district and castle, due to its position, were contested for many years by nearby communes, the Lords of Alviano and the Papal States, until 1328 when Pope Urban VI assigned it to the Anguillara family, thereby removing it from the dominion of Orvieto. In 1465 the inhabitants of Amelia occupied the castle and gave it to Paolo II Farnese whose family held it until the 16th century when the Mattei Seigniory took it over and had a stately ducal palace built there.

 

ART AND CULTURE

The historical centre is a classical example of medieval urban layout, still seen in the town walls and several towers.

On the gateway to the hamlet, known as Borgo Vecchio (Old Town), Saint Bernard's "IHS" monogram was engraved in honour of his evangelisation of these lands in the early 15th century.

The most well-known monument is Palazzo Ducale, the imposing ducal palace built on a square plan with two mighty corner towers, started in the 16th century in accordance with Duke Ciriaco Mattei's wishes to turn the medieval castle into a private residence. The reception rooms are decorated with mythological paintings attributed to Domenichino and religious paintings attributed to Alfani and Paolo Veronese. The palace belonged to Counts Acquarone until 1985, and is now the private residence of American film producer Charles Band.

An interesting fact: the building has 365 windows – one for each day of the year.

The parish church is of interest for the precious canvas of the Assunta attributed to Niccolò di Liberatore, called Alunno. Also worthy of a visit is the Chapel of San Rocco with 16th century frescoes depicting holy scenes painted by the Foligno School. On 21st September 1969 the chapel was named the Memorial to Fallen Soldiers from all Wars.


Avigliano Umbro
Avigliano Umbro
Avigliano Umbro
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HISTORY

Although it is one of the youngest municipalities in Italy, Avigliano Umbro has a rich and ancient history. Oral tradition speaks of human settlements in protohistoric (the Iron and Bronze Ages) and Roman times, confirmed by numerous archeological findings.

In the Middle Ages the area was subject first to Baschi and then Todi (after 1220), which fought over the town for many years in order to acquire its great agricultural resources and to gain control over its strategic position, which allowed them to maintain close ties with nearby Amelia. In 1366 it was sacked by Giovanni Acuto, a condottiere in the service of Cardinal Albornoz, as he passed through the area. Fortified once again in 1419, the castle was devastated by the Chiaravalles in 1500 during the siege of Acquasparta.

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

The historic center, with its medieval cylindrical tower standing tall, is reached through the Porta Vecchia, a gate which still bears the coat of arms of the Commune of Todi. Sights include the small Art Nouveau Teatro Comunale (Municipal Theater) and the Church of the Santissima Trinità (17th century), which has a Madonna of the Rosary by Andrea Polinori and frescoes attributed to Bartolomeo Barbiani of Montepulciano.

Nearby, in Sismano, are the medieval Castle and the Church of Sant'Andrea Corsini with canvases attributed to Polinori. Another place of interest is Toscolano, with the Church of the Santissima Annunziata (Toscolano Shrine), which has a fresco cycle by Pier Matteo d'Amelia.

In Dunarobba one can visit the Renaissance Fortress and, above all, the fascinating Fossil Forest. The Dunarobba Fossil Forest, with the fossilized trunks of trees that originally grew here three million years ago, is one of the most important paleontological sites in the world.


The Rock of Alviano
Alviano
Alviano
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HISTORY

Locations high on a militarily strategic hilltop are at the origin of most Roman settlements, but it was also the cause of bitter wars between Todi, Orvieto and Amelia.
In the 12th century, it became the feudal holding of the Alviano family, whose power reached its peak with Bartolomeo d'Alviano, a noble condottiero credited with the reconstruction and expansion, in 1495, of the ancient fortified castle, which then became a fort- cum-residence. When the Alviano family was finally left without heirs in 1654, the Rocca was purchased by Donna Olimpia Pamphili Maidalchini, the sister-in-law of Pope Innocent X. In 1920, the descendants of the Doria Pamphili family donated the castle to the town.

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

The town's main landmark is the fortress, the Rocca di Alviano: built in 1495 on the extant Castle, it has a square floor plan with corner towers. Inside there is a lovely Renaissance court yard with a double loggia on which the Rondini Chapel looks out. The Chapel has frescoes dating to the 1600s that depict the life of Saint Francis. The Rocca is home to the town's administration and the Museums of the Castle of Alviano. They include the Historical and Multimedia Museum of Bartolomeo d'Alviano and Umbrian Captains of Fortune – the Museum of Peasant Civilisation – and the Documentation Centre of the fauna of the Alviano Oasis.

Inside the town is the Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta (15th century), with a lovely Our Lady of the Assumption surrounded by glorifying angels by Niccolò Alunno.
In Pupigliano are the remains of a rustic villa dating to the first century CE.

The main environmental attraction here is the Nature Oasis, a reserve of some 900 hectares under the protection of the WWF. The trail that goes through it allows visitors to observe the flora and fauna of the area from up close, thanks to special bird watching huts, towers, walkways and even an open-air classroom.


Umbertide
Umbertide
Umbertide
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Umbertide is located in the Upper Tiber Valley in northern Umbria, in a green valley lying below Mt. Acuto made very fertile by the Tiber River, which runs through it for about 50 kilometers.

 

HISTORY
Evidence of the first settlements from the 6th century BC is provided by the Mt. Acuto bronzes, votive objects found at the top of the mountain, where an Etruscan sanctuary once stood. The earliest reliable documents on the town date from 1189, when Umbertide was subject to the jurisdiction of Perugia. Perugia maintained control until the 16th century, when it entered the Papal States, under the rule of which it remained until the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy (1860).


 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

Standing out in the historic center is the Rocca, a superb medieval fortress, which has always been the symbol of the town. The Rocca has been entirely renovated, and is now the home of the Contemporary Art Center.

Two fine buildings are the octagonal Church of Santa Maria della Reggia (16th century), and the beautifully restored Church of Santa Croce (1610), which has been turned into a Museum: inside are a Deposition by Luca Signorelli (1516) and a large painting by Pomarancio. Also interesting are the Church of San Bernardino (1556), the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà (1486), with a fresco attributed to Pinturicchio, and the Church of San Francesco, the oldest in Umbertide (1299): following meticulous restoration work to preserve it, it was reopened to the public and for worship in February 2005.

Worth a visit nearby are the castles of Civitella Ranieri, of Serra Partucci, Montalto, Ascagano, Romeggio and Polgeto, and the old medieval villages of Montemigiano and Santa Giuliana. The many churches include in particular the Abbey of San Salvatore and the Monte Corona Hermitage, built at an elevation of 700 meters in a beech and chestnut wood overlooking the Camaldolese abbey founded in 1008. It has a notable 11th-century crypt with Romanesque capitals and a fresco (14th century) of the Annunciation. Lastly, there is the exquisite medieval village of Preggio, with the ruins of the Rocca (fortress), the Church of the Santissima Trinità in San Francesco (13th century) and the Church of Madonna delle Grazie (15th century).

Pietralunga
Pietralunga
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HISTORY

The area was inhabited in prehistoric times, as is proved by the finding of "Pietralunga flute" made from a human leg bone, today on exhibit at the Archeological Museum in Perugia. The founding of Pietralunga, however, goes back to the ancient Umbrian people, in the same period as the rites mentioned on the Eugubine Tablets (2nd-1st cent. BC).

There are significant memorials of the Roman age in the area, such as traces of urban settlements with the ruins of villas, aqueducts and roads. Pietralunga's history is connected with that of Città di Castello, to which it submitted voluntarily in the 14th century until 1817, when Pietralunga became once again an independent commune and part of the Papal States until 1860, the year of the birth of the Kingdom of Italy.

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

The old heart of the town has preserved its fascinating atmosphere of a medieval village encircled by walls, with its characteristic vigoli (narrow streets), gathered around the ruins of the Rocca Longobarda, an old Lombard fortress built in about the 8th century. A sight of artistic interest is the Parish Church of Santa Maria, with an elegant Romanesque portal dating from 1279, which has a fresco of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian attributed to Raffaellino del Colle, and a copy of the Polyptych by Ottaviano Nelli, a work originally in the Convent of Sant'Agostino and now in the National Gallery of Umbria.

Worthy of a visit outside the walls are the Sanctuary of the Madonna dei Rimedi and the Parish Church of the Saddi, a typical example of an early Christian basilica, built around a crypt where the tomb of St. Crescenziano was originally located: inside there is a fine 8th-century bas-relief of St. Crescenziano Killing a Dragon. The Pietralunga area is crossed by various stretches of ancient Roman roads: the most important is the diverticulum, which linked upper Umbria (Città di Castello, Gubbio and Perugia), through Pietralunga, with the Flaminian Way near Cagli.

A must for tourists is the beautiful Candeleto complex, a large structure surrounded by greenery, with facilities for camping, refreshment and relaxing. Also in Candeleto is the Natural History Museum, which has an important bird collection: the museum, together with the Candeleto Oasis, rounds off an interesting tourist itinerary.


Lisciano Niccone
Lisciano Niccone
Lisciano Niccone
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Located in northwestern Umbria on the Tuscan border, Lisciano Niccone is a small village that rises above the valley of the Niccone stream, overlooking the road that links the Tiber valley with Lake Trasimeno and the Valdichiana.

 

HISTORY

The Etruscan and Roman archeological finds discovered in the area bear witness to the presence of human settlements in ancient times. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Lisciano became an important strategic point for passing through the Byzantine corridor, one of the main routes linking Rome with Ravenna, traces of which can be seen in the nearby castles and fortresses. In the Middle Ages the area was included in the dominion of Perugia, and later came under the control of the Papal States (1479) until the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy (1861).


 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

Interesting sights among the many art treasures the area has to offer include the Castle of Lisciano Niccone, built in about the 9th-10th century at the top of the hill that rises above the village, and, nearby, the Castles of Reschio, Sorbello and Pierle. Religious buildings worthy of a visit are the Church of San Tommaso, the Church of Santa Maria delle Corti and the Church of San Nicolò, which has an altarpiece by Eusebio da San Giorgio (15th century), a pupil of Raphael. Nearby, the road that leads to Tuoro offers stupendous views of Lake Trasimeno. Just a bit farther ahead one reaches the hamlet of Borghetto, site of the ferocious battle between Hannibal and the Roman army led by the consul Flaminius. The area is one of great environmental interest: the cool waters of the streams and hikes on ecological routes, together with genuine, wholesome foods prepared according to local tradition, offer visitors a natural environment that has remained intact.

Città di Castello
Città di Castello
The town where Alberto Burri was born
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Located in the northwestern part of Umbria, Città di Castello is spread out along the Upper Tiber Valley, at the border with Tuscany and not far from the Marche. The area holds many pleasant surprises for the visitor: steeped in history, it has a wealth of monuments and centuries of culture in an environment where respect for nature goes hand in hand with a thriving industry.

 

HISTORY

Founded by the ancient Umbrians, Città di Castello became a Roman municipium with the name Tifernum Tiberinum. After being subject to various rules and having been sacked and destroyed by Totila and the Goths (6th century AD), it was rebuilt and fortified and given first the name Castrum Felicitatis, followed by, starting in the 10th century, its final name of Castrum Castelli.

It established itself as an independent commune in the first half of the 12th century, and in the 15th century it was ruled by the Vitelli family. During the Middle Ages it went through periods of independence interspersed with other periods under the rule of the papacy, Florence, and Perugia. It was not until the 16th century that Cesare Borgia took the town once and for all for the Papal States, under the rule of which it remained (except for the brief Napoleonic period) until the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy (1860). 


 

ART AND CULTURE

Enclosed by long stretches of walls built in the 1500s, in Città di Castello one finds the breath of art in the enchanting atmosphere of the historic center, in the elegant Renaissance architecture, in the courtyards and loggias of noble mansions such as Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera (today the home of the Municipal Picture Gallery), in the cloisters and aisles of churches such as the monumental Cathedral (11th century), with the treasures of the Sacred Art Museum, or Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria delle Grazie, San Francesco and San Domenico. But it is also found in the masterpieces by Raphael and Luca Signorelli, as well as in the sacks, wood, plastic and cracks of Alberto Burri, one of the great masters of contemporary international art, who left all his works to the town where he was born.

Deserving of a visit in the historic center is the Municipal Picture Gallery, second in Umbria only to the National Gallery of Perugia for the importance of its collection. Recently enlarged with new rooms, it holds masterpieces by Raphael, Luca Signorelli, Ghirlandaio, Raffaellino del Colle and Pomarancio.

The complete collection of works by Alberto Burri can be seen at two fascinating exhibition locations, the Palazzo Albizzini and the Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco (former tobacco drying sheds). Other interesting visits include the Cathedral Museum, next to the Cathedral, which holds precious sacred art objects; the Weaving Museum, which covers the history of the Tela Umbra weaving mill, and the Grifani-Donati Printing Museum, with perfectly functioning printing machines from various periods in history.

Worthy of a visit nearby are the Oratory of San Crescentino in Morra, with stupendous frescoes by Luca Signorelli (the Flagellation and the Crucifixion) inside; the Basilica of Canoscio, one of the most important places dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Umbria; the Sanctuary of the Belvedere; the Abbey of Badia Petroia, a fine example of Romanesque architecture (11th-12th century); and the Villa della Montesca, surrounded by a centuries-old park with many rare botanical species. In Garavelle, the farmhouse across from Villa Cappelletti is the home of the Center for the Documentation of Popular Traditions, one of the first museums in Italy with a collection of objects from rural life.

Citerna
Citerna
The village and its underground cisterns
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Situated in northern Umbria on the border with Tuscany, Citerna is a delightful medieval hamlet set on a hilltop between the Cerfone River Valley and the plain crossed lengthwise by the Sovara Stream. It looks down onto the Tiber Valley. According to various authors the name Citerna could come from cisterns distributed within the town walls that long ago were used to store water.

 

HISTORY

Citerna's origins are Ancient Umbrian and Etruscan. After conquest by the Romans (coins and clay objects from this period were found between San Fista and Pistrino), the town experienced all those medieval vicissitudes that saw the alternation of various dominations: first the Barbarians and then the various local families.

In 1221, Citerna swore loyalty to Città di Castello in exchange for protection against the surrounding communes, and reflected the historical events of that town until Citerna became part of the Papal States (1463). In the early 1500s Citerna was given as a vicariate to the Vitelli family of Città di Castello, who held it until the end of the century. It then became the first Umbrian town to become part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.


 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

From the terrace of the Rocca, a fortress of Longobard origin, one can see Mount Verna and Mount Fumaiolo which is the source of the Tiber River: following the course of the river ones comes to the hamlet of San Sepolcro and other towns of the Upper Tiber River.

From the north-west facing tower, beyond the round Cassero keep, can be seen the Cerfone River Valley that leads to Arezzo. In the historical centre worthy of a visit, is the church of San Michele Arcangelo, that contains the excellent Crocifissione painted on a panel by Pomarancio; the 15th century Palazzo Vitelli with its rich furnishings; and the church of San Francesco (1316), with a tempera on board Deposizione by Pomarancio and Cristo in Gloria by Raffaellino del Colle.

On exiting the church we find the small Palazzetto Prosperi, with the 16th century Sala del Camino known as the "the lovers room". Beyond this is a small archway that leads to the charming medieval walk that follows the perimeter of the town walls.

To be seen in the vicinity is the ex-monastero del SS. Crocifisso (16th century) in Cerecchio; and the church of Santa Maria and Santo Stefano in Pistrino. Near to Citerna is the hamlet of Fighille that was an important ceramics production centre in the Middle Ages.

The roads that wind up the hill to Citerna offer fantastic views of the Umbrian and Tuscan Upper Tiber Valley and are a worthy introduction to this medieval hamlet.

Terni
Terni
Terni
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Located in southeastern Umbria, Terni is spread over a large plain at the confluence of the Serra and Nera rivers, surrounded by a natural amphitheater of hills. In the latter half of the 19th century Terni was one of the first cities in Italy to take part in the industrial revolution, and thanks to the enormous amount of power provided by Marmore Falls, it earned the nickname of "Manchester of Italy."


HISTORY

Terni's origins are very ancient, and the area became an important Roman municipium called Interamna Nahartium ("land between two rivers," the Nera and the Serra), as can be seen from the remains of the Fausto Amphitheater: it was also the birthplace of the emperor Marcus Claudius Tacitus and the historian Cornelius Tacitus. It enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity under the Romans, who drained large sections of marshland and greatly developed agriculture in the area.

Christianity was brought to Terni by its bishop and patron saint, Valentine; in the 6th century the town was attacked and destroyed by the Goths and the Byzantines, followed by the Lombards (755 AD), who added Terni to the Duchy of Spoleto.

In 1159 it was subjugated and destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa and rebuilt soon after. It came within the orbit of the papacy and the empire several times, and after centuries of struggles between factions and wars with nearby cities and outside seigniories, in 1420 it became part of the Papal States, under whose rule it remained (except for the Napoleonic period) until 1860.

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

The city's layout and architectural style is mainly modern and dynamic, mostly the result of reconstruction in the 1950s following the heavy bombing it suffered in World War II.

Today Terni shows visitors a decidedly modern face, although many traces of the past can still be seen, such as the ruins of the Fausto Amphitheater, a classic Roman circus where theater performances were held. Sections of its walls are still visible.

Religious buildings of interest include, among others, the Church of San Francesco (13th-century), with a fine bell tower by Angelo da Orvieto, Gothic mullioned windows, and the beautiful Paradisi Chapel; the Cathedral, originally erected in the 6th century and rebuilt in the 17th century to a design by Bernini; the old Church of Sant'Alò, a small Romanesque jewel; San Salvatore, probably built over a previous Roman temple of the sun; San Lorenzo and the Church of San Pietro, with an interesting apse and cloister.

There are many excellent palazzi, such as Palazzo Spada, the town hall, built in the mid-1550s by Count Michelangelo Spada to a plan by Antonio Sangallo the Younger; the medieval Palazzo Mazzancolli, home of the Terni State Archives; the 18th-century Palazzo Gazzoli, which formerly housed the Orneore Metelli Municipal Picture Gallery (with valuable works such as the Franciscan altarpiece by Piermatteo d'Amelia; the collection is now a few blocks away in the CAOS complex) and the Aurelio De Felice Museum; Palazzo Morelli (16th century); and Palazzo Bianchini-Riccardi (16th century).

The industrial archeology sites and monuments provide an occasion for an unusual and interesting visit among abandoned factories and plants that are now undergoing extensive restoration. Of interest in particular are the Great Maul, a giant hydraulic press used for working steel and now standing in front of the train station, and the Papigno plant, which has been converted into film studios.

Terni is also interesting for its modern art and architecture: Piazza Tacito with its magnificent fountain, Corso del Popolo and Largo Villa Glori were all designed by the architects Mario Ridolfi and Mario Fagiolo, and the sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro created Lance of Light, a gigantic, triangular-based obelisk made from 105 tons of steel.

One building definitely worthy of a visit in Terni is the Basilica of San Valentino, which holds the body of St. Valentine, patron saint of lovers, who was bishop of Terni and martyred in the 3rd century AD.

Essential stops nearby are Marmore Falls, the highest in Europe, and Lake Piediluco, lying amid ilex-covered hills at the border with Lazio, an ideal place for sailing, canoeing and water-skiing enthusiasts. A typical fishermen's village of colorful houses stretches out along its shore, and rising out of the lake is a conical mountain known as the Montagna dell'Eco (Echo Mountain) because of the incredible sentence-long echoes that can be heard there. The Recentino and San Liberatore wetlands are small oases frequented by flocks of migratory birds, an ideal ecosystem for flora and fauna.

Worthy of a visit in the immediate vicinity is the Carsulae archeological area, site of a Roman municipium along the ancient Flaminian Way. Excavations and research have made it possible to uncover a large part of the Forum, with the remains of a basilica and two twin temples, the Theater and Amphitheater and the superb Arch of San Damiano, beyond which are interesting burial monuments. The handsome medieval Church of San Damiano, built from materials taken from the ruins, stands next to the forum.


View of Gualdo Tadino
Gualdo Tadino
Gualdo Tadino
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HISTORY

Gualdo Tadino's origins stretch back in time. Under the Romans it was a prefecture, colony and then municipium. In 217 BC it was first laid to waste by Hannibal, and then in 49 – 48 BC by Cesar during the civil war with Pompey who was allied with Gualdo Tadino. During the Barbarian invasions it was one of the few towns able to resist Totila, King of the Ostrogoths, who was defeated and killed here by Narses, leader of the Longobards.

In 996 AD the troops of Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, destroyed the town that was later rebuilt for the second time. By the middle of the 11th century it was known as Gualdo (from the German word "wald" meaning forest). The third reconstruction of the town, after a devastating fire in 1237, came about when the inhabitants were helped by Benedictine monks and Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Shortly after, various vicissitudes led to domination of the town by Perugia and then by the Papal States, until the Unification of Italy.

 

ART AND CULTURE

Gualdo Tadino has many prestigious monuments and collections. The Rocca Flea fortress stands out at the top of the hill and is a superb example of military architecture originally built in the 12th century, reconstructed by Frederick II in 1247 and recently restored. Inside is the Museo Civico, municipal museum, with an a fine polyptych by Alunno, sculptures, ancient ceramics and archaeological finds.

Some of the religious buildings worth a visit are the cathedral of San Benedetto (13th century) with a splendid Romanesque-Gothic facade decorated by Matteo da Gualdo, an illustrious artist from the town and painter of the Crucifixion and the Madonna with Child and St. Francis; and the church of Santa Maria dei Raccomandati (13th century) containing the Madonna with Child and Saints Sebastian and Rocco triptych by Matteo da Gualdo.

On the main square can be found the Palazzo Comunale, town hall, featuring a fine 18th century facade; the Palazzo del Podestà, of which only the tower, Torre Civica (12th century) remains, while the other buildings were added later. A lane next to the Town Hall leads to the church of Santa Maria di Tadino, the oldest church in the historical town-centre, now headquarters of the Ente Giochi de le Porte, the organising body of a historical re-enactment held in September, which is a characteristic challenge between the town quarters in full period dress.

Also worth a visit is the Museo Regionale dell'Emigrazione, the Regional Emigration Museum, that was designed as a place of remembrance to provide not only information but also a sense of wonder and pathos.

 

EVENTS

Hawthorn flowering and feast day of Beato Angelo (15 January)
Sacred Portrayal of Good Friday
May Day festival – in Fraz. S. Pellegrino (30 April)
La Notte del Fuoco e "Guazza di San Giovanni", historical re-enactment and bonfires – in Fraz. Grello (23 June)
Corsa della Botte, wine barrel race – in Loc. Rigali (6 June)
Giochi de le Porte, historical re-enactment (last week of September)


Assisi
Assisi
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Assisi is located in central-eastern Umbria, nestled on the slopes of Mt. Subasio, overlooking the plain formed by the Topino and Chiascio rivers, tributaries of the Tiber.
It is the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare, and it has become famous throughout the world as a universal center for the Franciscan message of peace and brotherhood. Built in the typical pink stone from Mt. Subasio, Assisi lives in and shares with visitors its atmosphere of profound spirituality made unique in all the world by the history and faith of its saints.



HISTORY

Founded by the ancient Umbrians, Assisi was later taken over by the Etruscans. In the 1st century BC it became an important Roman municipium. In 545 AD it was attacked by the Goths led by Totila; they were succeeded by the Lombards, who incorporated it into the Duchy of Spoleto.

In the 12th century it acquired the privileges of an independent commune, but could not hold on to its independence for long: political and military instability continued until the 16th century, when, after various rules (the papacy, the Visconti, Braccio Fortebraccio and Francesco Sforza), Assisi became part of the Papal States and, except for the brief Napoleonic period, it remained under the rule of the pope until 1860, with the birth of the Italian state.

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

In the year 2000, Assisi, together with its historic center, the Basilica of St. Francis and other Franciscan sites, and almost the entire municipal territory, was declared part of the World Heritage of Mankind by UNESCO.

Among the many monuments that make Assisi one of the Italian tourist destinations most richly endowed with art are the Basilica of St. Francis, a cornerstone of world religious devotion, the Basilica of Santa Chiara, and the Romanesque Cathedral of San Rufino.

Standing on the main square are the Palazzo dei Priori, the 13th-century Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo with its Civic Tower, and the Temple of Minerva, a perfectly preserved Roman temple from the late Republican age (1st century BC).

Just outside the walls and dominating over the town is the superb Rocca Maggiore, a fortress built in 1367 by Cardinal Albornoz on top of an older structure (1174) from a feudal castle.

There are places connected with the life of St. Francis that can be visited in the immediate vicinity of Assisi, such as the Carceri Hermitage, set in a thick wood on the slopes of Mt. Subasio, the Convent of San Damiano, the imposing Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, built between 1569 and 1679 to protect the Porziuncola, the tiny church that welcomed the first community of Franciscans, and the Chapel of the Transito, where St. Francis died on 4 October 1226.

For nature lovers, there is the beautiful Mt. Subasio Regional Park, established to protect an area of great environmental value and permeated with a mystical atmosphere.


Penna in Teverina
Penna in Teverina
Penna in Teverina
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HISTORY

An important strategic site, the fortified village developed at the end of the Roman Empire: the Castle was built for the strategic purpose of controlling the trade on the Tiber River, as well as on the Via Amerina and the underlying valley.

In the Middle Ages the Orsini and the Colonna families fought for its control. In 1492 Stefano Colonna put the village under the jurisdiction of Amelia; ten years later, in 1502, he surrendered it to the Orsini, who ruled it until the dynasty died out in the 1700s. Penna in Teverina then came under the jurisdiction of the Papal States, which ruled it until the creation of the Kingdom of Italy (1860).

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

Penna in Teverina offers both the beauty of the Amerino countryside as well as a number of interesting monuments. The medieval village has maintained its original structure, marked by towers and gates: one enters through Porta Civica, which leads to Piazza di San Valentino with the Parish Church of Santa Maria della Neve.

An essential sight is Palazzo Orsini, which has an attractive Italian garden, and where one cans still see the coats of arms of the two families to which it belongs: the crushed rose of the Orsini and the Anguillara eel. Also worthy of note are the "Mammalocchi" Busts, original travertine columns with allegorical figures standing at the entrance to a private villa.

Nearby, at Castiglioni, there are the ruins of an ancient Roman bridge over the Tiber, and the ruins of a Roman villa at Pennavecchia.

The surrounding area, spreading out from the spacious balcony of the village into the Tiber River valley, enhances the natural stage that the historic center of Penna in Teverina becomes during the Grape Harvest Festival (first weekend in October), with starring roles given to grapes, grape must, wine and local sweets made with must.


Montecastrilli
Montecastrilli
Montecastrilli
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HISTORY

According to tradition, Montecastrilli's name takes its origin from the Latin "castra", i.e. "encampments," which, it is said, were supposedly set up here by Hannibal as he marched toward Rome.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Montecastrilli first became a garrison of the Lombards, the founders of the Duchy of Spoleto, and then of the Byzantines, who added the town to the defense system that protected communications between Rome and Ravenna.

In the early Middle Ages it became part of the Arnolfi Lands, which included Narni, Terni, Spoleto and Todi. The feudal unity of the Arnolfi family broke apart for good in 1093 AD, and Montecastrilli passed into the dominions of the Church.

It was not until 1810 that Montecastrilli became an independent Commune, but after the fall of Napoleon (1814), it returned to the Papal States until the birth of the Kingdom of Italy (1860).

 

ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT

In the village, the structure of the city walls framed by a series of crenellated towers can be seen, with two gates opening in the walls, Porta Amerina and Porta Medioevale.

Essential sights are the Parish Church of San Nicolò, which has a 15th-century wooden Crucifix, a 16th-century Madonna, a canvas by Bartolomeo Poliziano of St. Anthony and St. Lucy (1629) and a Madonna of the Rosary (1606) by Ricci da Urbino, and the Church of Santa Chiara (17th century), annexed to the monastery of the Poor Clares, which holds a large canvas of the Assumption dating from the 18th century.

There are several sites nearby that are worthy of a visit, such as the Church of San Lorenzo in Nifili, a notable example of the Umbrian Romanesque style.

In Quadrelli, we find the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, also Romanesque, and the Church of the Confraternita del Santo Rosario (17th century), with a truss roof made with terracotta tiles decorated with the coat of arms of Cardinal Nicola Canali.

In Castel dell'Aquila there is the Museum of Rural Civilization, with a permanent exhibition of agricultural tools and implements, and in Casteltodino the Church of San Bartolomeo (9th-10th century), reopened for worship following major restoration work.

Located at the center of an ecologically intact area with an enchanting agricultural landscape of large sections of cultivated land dotted with farmhouses, the area is well-known for its healthy climate.


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