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18 - Sep - 2019

Spoleto

Why to visit Spoleto

Spoleto in one of the most beautiful towns of the whole Umbria. It is located on the Sant’Elia hill and on the shores of the river Clitunno. Ancient capital of the Lombard dukes, Spoleto will leave you breathless because of its stunning landscape. In a postcard addressed to his wife Herman Hesse wrote: “Spoleto is the most beautiful discovery I made in Italy […], there is such a wealth of beauty almost unknown, mountains, valleys, forests of oaks, monasteries, waterfalls”. Spoleto, even if shows evident traces of the Roman era even in its urban structure, substantially maintains a medieval appearance, due to the period in which it was first a flourishing Longobard Duchy, and then an important city within the Papal State. It was built in the 14th century and today it is much loved from the tourists.

1) The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

 The Spoleto Cathedral, the city’s most important civil monument, originally built in the Romanic style during the 12th century, has undergone subsequent modifications with the addition of a portico in the Renaissance style between 1491 and 1504 and the remodelling of the interior in the 17th century.
In the upper part of the façade, which is hut-shaped and decorated with rose-windows and ogival blind arches, the great mosaic in the Byzantine style representing Christ between the Virgin Mary and St. Giovanni, and placed between the symbols of the four Evangelists, stands out.

The interior, made up of three naves on columns, contains, among many works of great artistic merit: in the first chapel on the right, a fresco with the Madonna and Saints by Pinturicchio; above the middle portal bronze bust of Urban VIII by Bernini, and in the right transept the tomb of the painter Filippo Lippi. In fact, this last-named personage had realized in the Cathedral, and to be exact, in the apses an important cycle of frescoes: Nativity, Annunciation, the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation.

Furthermore, in the left side of the nave, you can find one of the most precious relics of San Francesco d’ Assisi.

2) The Rocca Albornoziana

 The Rocca Albornoziana is on the top of Sant’Elia Hill, was built in 1359, for the will of Pope Innocenzo VI who wanted to restore the authority of the Pope in his territories.

The fortress took the name from the powerful Spanish Cardinal Albornoz, who wanted the building of the Rocca in 1359.
Until the half of the 17th century, the fortress was the residence of the Popes and the main figures of the time. During the 16th and 17th century a period of deep crisis affected the Rocca, since the governors preferred to move inside the town and the original building began to be modified.

In 1817 it turned into a prison up to 1983, after that, it was restored and took again the original shape.
The restoration brought several paintings from the 14th to 18th century to life. Inside the main tower you can find the “Camera pinta”, painted between 1392 and 1416 with scenes based on the courtesan and chivalrous life.
In the middle of the court yard there is a Renaissance pit with two pillars at the side, while on the architrave the emblem of the Pope Niccolò V is carved.
You can enjoy a stunning view on Spoleto from the avenues.
Apart from the historic value, the fortress also has a cultural value. Indeed, inside of the Rocca there is the National Museum of Spoleto, with materials from the civic collections.

3) The Bridge of the Towers

 The Ponte delle Torri of Spoleto is 236 m long and 90 m high. It is a huge ten-arcade work that connects Colle Sant’ Elia with Monteluco. It is constituted of a road and a water canal supported by ogival arcades and stone pillars. It can be reached after a long fine-view walk around the Rocca.
The Fortilizio dei Mulini and the Basilica of St. Peter can be visited while crossing the bridge. The historians have not come to a satisfactory agreement about its exact date of construction, yet. Some of them say it was built in the XIII century, probably over the remains of an ancient Roman aqueduct.

The bridge preserved the function of the previous structure to carry the water of the Cortaccione springs to Spoleto. Nevertheless, many think its origins more probably date to the XIV century. At that time, the cardinal Albornoz started its construction works entrusting Matteo Gattaponi with this task. Yet, its quite late-medieval characteristics, since its origin date to before the XIII century (as testified by its central Romanesque pillars), and the absence of any cardinal’s symbols on the bridge, mean that this structure was built before Albornoz. It is certainly acquainted that the name “pons inter torres” was given to it around the XVIII century because of the towers standing at its sides, one on the Fortilizio dei Mulini and the other near the Rocca Albornoziana. Yet, the question of the name is being much debated on, since some scholars think that its name derived from the big stone pillars the bridge lies on. In effect, its two central pillars are hollow on the inside and they have entrance doors. This means that they definitely were well-defended towers.

As a matter of fact, the Ponte had a remarkable strategic position, since it overlooked a vast area and was connected to the Rocca.

What is certain is that the Ponte delle Torri gives the chance to enjoy a much appreciated panoramic view over one of the greenest and purest areas in the territory of the Appenines, near Spoleto.

Without doubt, this view impressed Wolfgang Goethe, too. The XVIII-century German writer and dramatist dedicated one page of his “Viaggio in Italia” to this bridge. An ornamental plaque near the bridge commemorates his promenade throughout the city.

4) The Roman Theatre

 The Roman Theatre was built in the second half of the first century b.C. inside the town hall and was used for events in until the 3rd century, undergoing transformations and restorations. In the Roman Age a deep rift appeared in the staircase, maybe because of an earthquake. In1320 400 Guelphs were imprisoned and killed after two years, in the corridors of the theatre, used as a prison. In 1395 the Benedictine nuns settled there and the theatre became their monastery.

The theatre is built on a large artificial terrace and has a 70-metres diametre, delimited by a semicircular ambulatory. From here you enter the cavea through three entries, where the spectators sat.

The orchestra is the central semicircular space, which in the Roman theatres was occupied by the most important people. This area still keeps some polychrome marble slabs dating back to the 4th century and coming from several provinces of the Empire.

Today the Theatre is still used for different exhibitions and events. During the summer, especially in occasion of the festival “Due Mondi”, the Roman Theatre comes back to its original functions, hosting theatre and dance shows.

What to eat in Spoleto

Apart from all the traditional Umbrian dishes, there is one especially prepared in Spoleto: tagliatelle (noodles) with black truffle.

The tagliatelle with black truffle are ideal for a tasty and refined first course for the sweet tooth, thanks to the aroma and the unique taste of the truffle, a very appreciated mushroom from the connoisseurs. It is a dish easy to prepare and with a few ingredients, using thee black truffle as raw food, accurately chosen. It is the main element of this high-quality dish.

The truffle has a very strong and particular smell, therefore this dish will not be appreciated by everyone but only for the most refined palates.

How to reach and move in Spoleto

Spoleto is easily reached by train from Rome (the journey takes about an hour and a half), Ancona, Assisi and Perugia.

The train station is in the modern part of town, below the historic centre on its hill. The distance is walkable, but since it’s a fairly long walk uphill a good idea is to take the bus which runs from outside the station – buy tickets from a bar or newsstand first. The bus stops in Piazza della Liberta, close to the tourist information office.

18 - Sep - 2019

Spello

Why to visit Spello

Spello rises up between Assisi and Foligno, situated on a spur of the Subasio Mountain above a fertile and well-irrigated plain. Among the neighbouring cities, this is surely the one which preserves the major number of monuments testifying to the Roman era; for example, the town walls, which later became the foundations for the medieval walls, the ruins of the theatre and the amphitheatre, the thermal baths and the splendid town portals Porta ConsolarePorta Urbica and Porta Venere dating back to the Augustan era. In ascent, you’ll arrive at the Church of Santa. Maria Maggiore built between the 11th and 12th centuries, which, even if it can boast a beautiful facade reconstructed with antique materials in 1644 at the same time as other architectonic modifications were undertaken, keeps its most precious treasure inside.

1) The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

It is the most important church of this small town. Built between the 11th and 12th centuries, the Church of S. Maria Maggiore has a façade which dates back to 1644, made in the occasion of an enlargement of the building. The architrave is marvellous, as well as the frieze and the rose window.

The Church is built according to the Latin cross plan and has a nave with a cross cover. In the second half of the 17th century it was equipped with seven altars and a rich stucco decoration, on which there are lots of works.
Along the left side you can see the Baglioni Chapel made by the artist Pinturicchio. The floor is plenty of ceramic decorations from Deruta of the 18th century.

The chapel is totally decorated as fresco from the artist.
The high altar is covered by a ciborium of local stone (pietra caciolfa).Inside that there are 8 head in terracotta representing ancient gods. On the pillars at the side of the apse, there are two works of Perugino, at the left “Pietà, San Giovanni Evangelista, and Maddalena” and at the right “Madonna con Bambino, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria and San Biagio”.

2) The three Roman Gates

Spello has the best preserved town wall of the whole Italy, built by Romans. Along this wall there are several Gates, among which 3 have a specific importance. The first is Porta Consolare, with three entrances, three burial statues and a tower with an olive tree at the top, symbol of the most famous product of this area. The second one is Porta Venere with the Propezio’s Towers. Porta Venere was the main entrance gate in Spello: it took the name from the discovery of the Venus’ body in the near Fidelia’s Temple. The gate has three arches with two towers at the side, which have been recently restored. Last but not least is Porta Urbica, to which some legends are related. The most famous one is that of the defender Orlando (prisoner in a big room near Porta Venere) and the related symbols on the right wall of Porta Urbica, from which we can see elements linked to his prowess. Nevertheless, the interpretations of that signs are discordant: according to some, the hole in the wall was caused by the vehement knight while he was peeing, according to others, it indicates the height of his knee.

3) The flowery alleys

If you ever saw a picture of Spello, it surely showed a flowery alley or balcony.

Spello has a great tradition in the use of flowers to beautify the terraces and peak with the event “Infiorata”, which takes place every year in May. Then, in June and July, the whole town participates to the event “Finestre, Balconi e Vicoli fioriti” (flowery windows, terraces and alleys) in which the inhabitants compete to embellish with flowers terraces, alleys and corners of the town. The out come is wonderful, with very suggestive and scented corners, plenty of colours. An actual beauty for the tourists who stop there in those days.

4) The Infiorate of Spello

The town of Spello, the Christian tradition of covering the streets with flowers on the day of Corpus Christi, takes place from decades with devotion, originality and high artistic level, to make the Infiorate of Spello a unique and internationally famous event. The Infioratori of Spello work full months for the realization of these masterpieces that lasts only few hours. Beautiful and ephemeral, the Infiorate completed the early morning of Sunday and dissolves after the religious procession.

The great efforts made cause commotion among the most sensitive; it remains to them only the satisfaction for a well done work, a few photos, the memory of a hard, cheerful and a bit crazy night; they already dream up on the project next year.

The Infiorate, in fact, are not only a floral trail through the streets of this Umbrian village, built for the passage of the Body of Christ in the procession, but also a moment of aggregation and healthy competition between the factions of Spello. The strip of flowers 1.5 km long, composed of carpets (minimum length 12 meters) and frameworks (area of at least 24 square meters), is evaluated by a jury that chooses the best floral composition.

To win, the teams of infioratori care diligently the long preparatory phases of their masterpiece: the choice of the design according to the road surface available, the combination of colours and flowers, the pick of flowers along the slopes of Subasio, the selection and storage of herbs and petals, the preparation of sketch and moulds, the installation of protective tents and related lighting for night, the provision on the pavement of the executive drawing, the arrangement of petals and vegetables, the hydration of the design to keep the vegetation attached to the asphalt and prevent wilting.

The inhabitants of Spello during this event give a splendid example of participation, coordination and harmony of purpose; each of the thousands of participants performs the task in which he does best; for them, the huge influx of visitors each year, who admire the Infiorate, is the best satisfaction. The day before the feast of Corpus Christi it is undoubtedly the most exciting. In Spello, the streets, regarding the route of the procession, are closed to traffic since early afternoon. In that moment, it begins a relentless work that will continue for the entire night.

Curious citizens and tourists can peer closely artists at work; is the atmosphere of Leopardi’s “Sabato del Villaggio”.

On Sunday morning, everything it is finished, the protections are removed; the streets are covered with a carpet of polychrome and perfumed of 70 infiorate by the religious theme, ready for the passage of the Sacred procession led by Bishop.

Enjoy the atmosphere at the Infiorate flower festival every year in June.

What to eat in Spello

Try the Colfiorito potatoes gnocchi with goose or rapunzoli salad (radishes) but do not forget the legumes, which are the masters in Spello. The main ones are the chickpeas from Spello and a particular type called Cicerchia, a legume from very ancient origins. Another excellent local product is the Spello olive oil. You can try it on a bruschetta or made in soup. Try it in a salad or in soup and enjoy your meal.

If you visit the town you will see a lot of awesome little restaurants, inns and pubs. All of these will let you taste the specialities of this area and they are cheap too!

How to get to Spello by car

From Rome, take Autostrada A1 north, towards Florence, then exit at Orte. Take superstrada towards Terni and Spoleto. At Foligno, turn off towards Perugia, Cesena. When arriving from the north, follow road to Perugia, then take superstrada to Assisi and Foligno. Spello is the last exit before Foligno.

How to get to Spello by train

Train line Foligno – Florence, get off at Spello. All local trains arriving from Perugia or Foligno stop in Spello. Long distance trains from Florence and Rome sometimes stop in Spello (check schedules).

How to get to Spello by plane

From Perugia airport (flights from London, Milan, Tirana) take a taxi, or take a bus into Perugia, then the train. Or rent a car.

 

Average travel time (by car):

Ancona – Spello:     1h 50m    – 130 km

Firenze – Spello:     1h 55m    – 180 km

Roma – Spello:        2h 10m    – 175 km

Napoli – Spello:      3h 40m    – 365 km

Milano – Spello:     4h 45m    – 480 km

 

Average travel time (by train):

Ancona – Spello: 2h 00m – 2h 30m

Firenze – Spello: 2h 20m – 2h 40m

Roma – Spello: 2h 00m – 2h 15m

Napoli – Spello: 4h 00m – 4h 15m

Milano – Spello: 5h 40m – 5h 50m

How to move in Spello

It is best to leave your car at the bottom of the hill and walk up through town. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle bus from the new part through the historic centre (usually runs only in the morning).

18 - Sep - 2019

Gubbio

Why to visit Gubbio

Gubbio is a fine small medieval town, situated in the region of Umbria, a region located in the centre of Italy. It is at Gubbio that San Francis encountered and tamed the famous wolf.

Gubbio, positioned at a height of approximately 500 meters above sea level, is located at the base of Mount Ingino, a mountain which is about 900 meters high.

Since 1981, a group of volunteers from Gubbio foresee to the preparation of what is now known has the “Largest Christmas Tree of the World……”.

The Christmas Tree, positioned at the base of Mount Ingino, the natural background of the medieval town of Gubbio, is formed by various types of lights that create an absolutely particular and unique chromatic effect: more than 300 green coloured lights outline the shape of a Christmas tree that is more than 650 meters high with the centre filled with more than 400 multi-coloured lights. At the top of the tree, a star is installed with a surface area of approximately 1000 square metres and with more than 250 lights which outline its shape.

The Christmas Tree entered the Guinness Book of Records in the year 1991. It remains turned on during the entire Christmas period and is turned off after Epiphany.

Thousands come every year to Gubbio during the Christmas period to admire the tree.

1) The Dome

 Built on the site of a previous Romanesque church the Cathedral dates back to the 13th and 14th century.

Around the circular window the façade bears reliefs with symbols of the Evangelists and with the Agnus Dei. The interior, with a single nave, with no transept and with transverse arches supporting the pitched roof, is the result of renovation carried out at the beginning of the 20th c. The church is rich in paintings by 16th c. artists from Gubbio but also by non- local artists Most significant is the baroque chapel which opens up in the middle of the wall on the right: it contains frescoes and a canvas (“La Nascita della Vergine”- “Birth of the Virgin”). On the left of the high altar is the Seat of the Magistrates, with mock marquetry. In the choir can be found the Episcopal Throne, carved round about the middle of the 16th c.

The late Roman sarcophagus under the high altar contains the remains of San Giacomo and San Mariano, incumbents of the church. On the cathedral walls can still be seen traces of frescoes from the 14th and 15th century.

2) Palazzo dei Consoli

Built between 1332 and 1338 it is one of the most beautiful public halls in Italy.

Four big buttresses divide the façade on the square into thee parts; in the middle a fan-shaped staircase leads up to the portal flanked by centrally mullioned windows. On the first floor there are three pairs of cambered windows, decorated by a denticulate cornice. The top is crowned by small ogival arches and Guelph merlons.

On the left rises the slender bell-tower. The “Big Bell” (“Il Campanone”), which the bell-ringers ring with their feet, dates back to 1769 and weighs 2 tons. The other sides of the palace repeat the form of the façade, except for one facing the valley, where a narrow wing was added, with an air loggia on top, and an unfinished communication ramp at the bottom. Inside, the stately barrel-vaulted main hall and the rooms on the floor above are now home to the Municipal Museum.

3) The Bargello Fountain

 This is a characteristic and well-preserved 14thcentury Gubbio fountain. Located in front of Palazzo Bargello, residence of the magistrate of the city, it has been rebuilt several times in the last two centuries. It is also called “la fontana dei matti” (the fountain of mad people) and anyone who runs three time around it, receives the symbolic licence of “matto di Gubbio” (mad person of Gubbio) after being baptized by its water.

4) Palazzo Ducale

Standing opposite the Cathedral, it is the result of the enlargement and modification of a group of mediaeval buildings

In fact it was built, from 1476, in Renaissance form, by order of Federico di Montefeltro, according to the plans of Francesco di Giorgio Martini from Siena. The walls of the previous buildings, including the old town hall, are easily visible from the outside, especially on the side facing the valley.

Inside the palace one finds a stupendous courtyard, which corresponds to the area previously occupied by the old town hall square. Below, on three sides, run the slender arches of the portico supported by columns and pillars at the corners; the floor above is provided with elegant architrave windows divided by pilasters. At the moment it is possible to visit the rooms on the ground floor, where fireplaces and other architectural features can be seen, as well as the basement, where interesting archaeological finds have been made. Other wings of the palace are used to house temporary exhibitions.

5) Church of San Francesco

 Although the church was already in use in 1256, the decoration was not finished in 1291 yet.

The octagonal bell-tower was built in the 15th century. The interior of the building, which has three naves, was transformed in the 18th century when the church took on its vaulted aspect. Among the art works kept inside the church, the frescoes of the apses are of particular interest. In the central apse we can see “Cristo benedicente e quattro Santi” (“Christ blessing and four Saints”), by an anonymous Umbrian man by the end of the 13th century.

In the Sforzolini chapel (lower part of the same apse) there remain frescoes depicting six Saints, Christ blessing, and the Evangelists, work of the “Expressionist Master of Santa Chiara”, an anonymous Umbrian of the early 14th c. Next to the chapel we can see the remains of a very old house, traditionally identified as the home of the Spadalonga family, that gave St. Francis hospitality as well as his habit of poverty. Between the side altarpieces is an outstanding “Immaculate Conception” by Antonio Gherardi of Rieti (1st altar on the right). In the convent adjacent to the church it is worth looking at the cloisters, the refectory and the chapter room, which offer interesting remnants of frescoes. The convent is also home to a rich art collection of works related to the story of St. Francis.

What to eat in Gubbio

 The most noteworthy characteristic of Umbrian cuisine is its simplicity. It relies strongly on seasonal produce such as mushrooms and wild asparagus, on wild delicacies such as truffles, on vegetables, cereals, regionally reared meat – particularly lamb, pork and game – either cooked over the fire or worked into cured hams and salami.

Clearly truffles play an important part in many Umbrian dishes, starting from hors d’oeuvres such as crostini al tartufo – made with black truffles, crostini alla norcina – made using anchovies, truffles and chicken liver, and chicken liver crostini – made with chicken liver, capers and a squeeze of lemon.

The region’s bread varieties, such as pan caciato, pan nociato, pane di Strettura and the unsalted bread of Terni are also much appreciated.


Probably the most typical Umbrian pasta dish are spaghetti – or strangozzi – with black truffles. Other pasta course highlights include umbrichelli in salsa di Trasimeno – with perch filets, shallots, garlic and chilli pepper –, spaghetti col rancetto – with bacon, cherry tomatoes and fresh pecorino cheese –, pappardelle alla lepre – with hare ragout, bacon and cloves. Ciriole alla ternana is a variety of pasta made using just water and flour, and is usually served with a garlic, oil and chili pepper – a dish that appears also in the traditional cuisine of both Narni and Spoleto, only with the name of strangozzi. Besides an abundance of meat dishes, generally either grilled over the fire or cooked on the spit with an abundance of herbs, Umbria also boasts two particularly tasty soups: one made with chick peas and the other with chestnuts.

Among the region’s most typical main courses is Terni’s colombaccio selvatico, or palomba (turtledove), generally cooked on the spit. The area around Orvieto specialises in the so-called gallina ubriaca (literally, “drunken hen”) chicken cooked in plenty of good Orvieto wine. Specialities from Perugia include roast lamb’s head and torello alla perugina.

Generally reserved for special annual festivities or religious ceremonies, traditional Umbrian desserts are almost always baked in the oven, with a predilection for ingredients such as almonds, spices or candied fruit. Among the best known are the Torcolo di San Costanzo – a typically Perugian dish traditionally prepared on January 29th, the feast day of St Costanzo, one of the city’s three patron saints. Panpepato is a form of Christmas ‘biscuit’ common throughout Central Italy, while the ciaramicola is a speciality unique to Perugia and is traditionally baked for Easter. The Assisi rocciata, a spiral kind of pastry sausage vaguely resembling a strudel, is also made in slightly different versions in Foligno and Spoleto. The classic rustic bread known as brustegnolo derives from Umbria’s peasant tradition and can include dried fruit in the mixture, while the frittelle di San Giuseppe are typical of Orvieto and are baked for the city’s patron saint whose feast day falls on March 19th.

Gubbio is also the homeland of the black truffle, which is exported throughout the world along with the white varieties. These tubers are ideal both for the preparation of tasty appetisers and with pasta, and are also used in fresh and seasoned cheeses from the area – particularly in Umbrian pecorino cheese or the local cheese, seasoned in the soil.

How to move in Gubbio

 Gubbio is a little jewel to know and admire by foot. The town stretches on more levels and you can visit both the Roman part and the medieval one in the high side of the town. You’ll have to walk among the streets uphill, through the stairs that lead you to the main sight of the town. Several elevators will help you walk less and move from the different part of the town. Another solution can be renting an electric car and move freely. Furthermore, the buses A and B links the town efficiently. Choose what you like most, but if you will go on foot, you will not miss the slightest details.

 

18 - Sep - 2019

Foligno

Why to visit Foligno

 The third largest city of Umbria, situated halfway between the most famous Perugia and Assisi , Foligno is an excellent destination to discover!  Foligno is located on flat land , which makes it pleasant to visit the city by bike or on foot. In the city centre you’ll find the main tourist attractions: in Palazzo Trinci (Piazza della Repubblica), you’ll find the Pinacoteca and the main museums of Foligno. Adjacent to the palace is located Palazzo Orfini, former home of Emiliano Orfini , the printer who printed the first edition of the Divine Comedy in Italian.  In Largo Carducci we mention the Oratory of Nunziatella dated 1492, where you can admire a work of Perugino depicting the “Baptism of Jesus “.
Here you are the main sights:

Foligno Cathedral

Completely rebuilt by Bishop Marco in 1133, Foligno cathedral was then later remodelled several times until it assumed a neoclassical style with Luigi Vanvitelli (1700-1773) and Giuseppe Piermarini (1734-1808).

The two façades are of Romanesque style, the main one with a loggia surmounted by a large rose window, while the secondary, built in 1201, is more decorated – indeed, given the amount of decoration this could perhaps be considered the main facade. The oldest parts are situated at the bottom, where the portal opens, with five arches with bas-reliefs.

Also of great importance are a 14th century crucifix, sculpted by Nicolò di Liberatore (1433 c.1502 and called the Alunno) and the Sacrament Chapel, added in the 16th century to a plan by Antonio Sangallo the Younger (1484-1546).

Cloister of Sassovivo

Around 1229 the Cloister of Sassovivo was also erected, by Abbot Angelo, who entrusted the work to a “Master Peter”, who worked with great skill, as can be seen from the structure of the cloister.

The cloister is made from more than 100 marble columns, some twisted and others spiral, holding up small marble arches above which is a classical style frame decorated with mosaics and colored marble – a masterpiece of “Roman Art”.

Other monuments

In 1232, at the behest of Pope Gregory IX (1170-1241), the Church and Monastery of San Claudio were also erected here, although little of these buildings now remain. In 1251 the Church of San Salvatore was built, followed by the bell tower in the 14th century.

On the opposite side of the square you can see the Town Hall, which was built in the 13th century but now has a neoclassical façade added during the early 19th century.

Note also the Trinci Palace, a family who ruled until 1439. This Palace was completed in 1407 and is a work of art of great importance, especially for the frescoes that once decorated it, although some of them are now lost. Outside, the Gothic courtyard is also notable with its loggias and a staircase with three flights covered by cross vaults. The building now houses the Civic Art Gallery.

Foligno Art gallery and Renaissance art

The collections of the Foligno Art Gallery include various frescoes, altarpieces and paintings, mostly by local masters such as Nicolò di Liberatore, called the ‘Alunno’ [1430-1502] (you can see a statue of Alunno towards Porta Romana); Pierantonio Mezzastris (active between 1507 and 1533); and Dono Doni (1500-1575).

The ‘Alunno’ only painted frescoes and has left many works portraying tormented characters. Vasari wrote: […] The best painting that Niccolò made was in a chapel in the cathedral…a “Pieta and two Angels”, who…are crying so much that I believe any other painter, however excellent, could have done little better […]”

There are also some works by Bartolomeo di Tommaso da Foligno (1425-1454) and a painter born in Foligno, rediscovered recently and Giovanni di Corraduccio,  called the “Mazzaforte” (active between 1407 and 1417), who also seems to be the author of some of the frescoes in the Trinci Palace.

Continuing through Foligno along Via Garibaldi there is the Church of San Salvatore (with a 14th century façade), and an interior renovated by Vanvitelli.

See also the Church of Nunziatella, consecrated in 1494 by Bishop Luca Cybo (1489-1522). This church is rectangular with two altars in the bottom around which there are several fluted marble columns.

On the right altar there is the “Baptism of Jesus”, a fresco by Perugino (1450 c.1523).

Along the Via Mazzini you arrive at Piazza San Domenico which contains one of the oldest religious buildings in Foligno, the 11th century Church of Santa Maria ‘Infraportas’.

The church exterior has an imposing bell tower, while the interior has three naves, decorated mostly by local painters and still has some rare Byzantine style frescoes.

Foligno has a very long tradition in the arts using jewellery, pottery and iron. Among them, Emiliano Orfini (c.1420 c.1494) was “Vir acutissimi ingenii” (a man of a very subtle brain) according to Francesco Patrizi [1529-1597]. He was a jeweller who, among other things, was also a fine intellectual and brought the art of the press to the town around 1470.

Other activities in Foligno

For art and nature lovers Foligno has many other pleasant surprises, for example the famous Parco del Canapè which is a very old park dating from the 18th century.

Outside the city walls the area offers various cultural attractions, such as some excavations which recently brought to light new finds from ancient Foligno. Don’t miss the chance to also appreciate some of the local products such as truffles and mushrooms.

You will also find a fine selection of wines such as the red “Rosso di Montefalco” and the white Umbrian “Grechetto”.

Joust of Quintana

Foligno hosts every year the exciting “Giostra della Quintana” (Joust of the Quintana), ancient manifestation that has its roots in the local history of the city. The event revived in 1946 after a century break, keeping the traditional spirit of the part: it is inspired by the ancient equestrian competitions of the Medieval age.

Perhaps, the origin of this competition is event more ancient, as its name could suggests. The word “Quintana” refers to the fifth street of the Roman military camp, where took place the training of the soldiers. Armed with lances, they hurled against a puppet, commonly called “Saracino” (Saracen), trying to skewer them on a suspended ring.

During the Joust time, the city of Foligno is bringing back to the time to relive the glories of its medieval period, when women were “Dame” and men “Messeri”. The real competition is accompanied by many spectacular ludic events and historical re-enactments, from the taverns to the entertainment and the historical parade.

The Joust of Quintana is one of the best known and most popular horse races in Italy. In fact it is called also “Olympic Equestrian competitions”. Ten riders will represent the ten districts of the city, and on this occasion they will take on a “fake name”: the Ammaniti’s knight is “The Vigorous”, Badia “The Bold”, Cassero “The Pertinacious”, “The Furious” for Contrastanga, “The Faithful” Croce Bianca, “The Spirited” Giotti, “The Generous” La Mora, “The Bold” Morlupo, “The Black” Pugilli and “The Audacious” Spada. They will compete in armour riding a horse, in order to skewer the fateful 9 rings, 3 for each round.

At each turn, the size of the rings will change from 10 cm to 8 cm and then to 6 cm. The rider who will manage to make the highest score will be the winner of the Joust of Quintana and he will be awarded after the competition to the “Campo de li Giochi”.

The Joust of Quintana has two different competitions: the first one is held in June and it is called La Sfida (The Challange). The second one takes place on Sunday in September and it is called “La Rivincita” (“The Rematch”).

What to eat in Foligno

In the traditional cuisine of Foligno there are not particular dishes different from the cuisine of Perugia and the entire region, the only two are: spaghetti with rancetto and the fojata.

1) Spaghetti with rancetto

The spaghetti with rancetto is a popular key dish for the Umbrian cuisine, originated in Foligno and in the surrounding land.
It is a very simple and hearty meal, with bacon, tomatoes and marjoram that give the pasta a delicious scent and taste. The name “rancetto” comes from the light rancid taste that the bacon must have for the preparation of this plate, often replaced by the jowl, very similar in the taste.

As the other traditional food of this area, it is based on simple ingredients and local products. It is an essential dish, which highlights the flavours of the raw materials in the preparation. The working of the pig in Umbria is for example very common, as well as the production of cold cuts, like the bacon used especially in the area of Norcia.

The other “noble” ingredients, like tomato, extra virgin olive oil and onion are very spread in the traditional cuisine of Umbria and comes from an unpolluted land in the green heart of Italy.

2) The Fojata

Fojata, rocciata, biscio: 3 names used to indicate a speciality of the Umbrian cuisine with very ancient roots. It is a rolled-up savoury pie, made up of a very thick layer of pasta that wraps a tasty stuffing of chard, spinach, chicory and other vegetables, grated pecorino cheese and scrambled eggs.

Generally eaten as appetizer, street food or quick snacks, you can find it in every gastronomy, bakery and pizzeria of the region. Lots of people prefer to match it with meat or the excellent local cold cuts, like the boar or deer salami and the lard from Norcia. It should be cold or warm to taste it better, when the vegetables are cooked. The term “fojata” indicates comes from “foglia” (leaf) used for the filling.

The dough does not have egg and yeast, but only flour, water, olive oil and a pinch of salt, so that the vegetables make the difference in this tasty meal.

How to get to Foligno by car

  • Motorway A1: exit Valdichiana, highway E45, exit Foligno
  • From the south: motorway A1, exit Orte, go through the highway Orte – Spoleto – Foligno, exit Foligno
  • From Ancona: motorway A14, exit Civitanova Marche, proseguire in direzione Foligno lungo la S.S.77

Average travel time:

Ancona – Foligno: 1h 54m – 130 km

Firenze – Foligno: 2h 05m – 187 km

Roma – Foligno: 2h 10m – 170 km

Napoli – Foligno: 3h 42m – 358 km

Milano – Foligno: 4h 55m – 488 km

How to get to Foligno by train

  • From the North: Line Firenze – Roma – stop in Foligno
  • From the South: Line Roma-Orte – Firenze – stop in Foligno
  • From the Adriatic sea: Line Ancona – Foligno – stop in Foligno

Average travel time:

Ancona – Foligno: 1h 40m – 2h 00m

Firenze – Foligno: 2h 20m – 2h 40m

Roma – Foligno: 1h 40m – 2h 00m

Napoli – Foligno: 3h 50m – 4h 00m

Milano – Foligno: 5h 50m – 6h 00m

18 - Sep - 2019

The Marmore Waterfall

Why to visit the Marmore Waterfall

Marmore Waterfall is well worth a trip. Since it was created, more than 2000 years, the Marmore Falls is one of the most painted, photographed, described and praised in the world by the many visitors who had the privilege of seeing it in their path. From Virgil to the pilgrims on the road to Rome, by the nobles and by European intellectuals on the Grand Tour to tourists of the new millennium all over the centuries they have entered the Marmore waterfall as unmissable destination of their trip to Italy. Anyone who has not already visited, sooner or later will not be able to resist the magic of this place.

The Marmore Waterfall is unique because his jump of 165 meters is the highest in Europe. It is unique because a real river, the Velino, pounces on another great river, the Nera. Most of the opening of the waterfall is an event and its expectation is the opportunity to immerse themselves in a park equipped. You know the surrounding area, the Nera Valley, rich in history, culture, nature and pleasant culinary surprises.

The water from the Velino for many hours a day feeding one of Italy’s most important hydroelectric plants producing clean energy. In some hours of the day and night the water is released, creating the spectacle of the waterfall.  The well-equipped “Waterfall Park”, is always accessible and can be crossed and visited, both with entry from below. Access is along the Valnerina. Both the entry from above, from the village of “Marmore”, which is on the edge of the plain of Rieti, not far from Lake Piediluco.

The spectacle of the Marmore Falls can be enjoyed from various vantage points and, when it opened, you have time to reach them all. From the balcony of lovers at the end of a short tunnel excavated in the rock, you can even touch the water of the first and most impressive jump. A true immersion (essential to adopt waterproof) in a unique emotion.

However, even when the waterfall is closed, pending it is opening, the discovery of the Park is an enchanting experience. The vegetation that has developed behind the jump is lush and rich in rare species. There are also caves, lakes and guided trails that make the visit interesting and enjoyable. The park offers plenty of attractions for both adults and children. Experiences that can be done individually. Alternatively, accompanied by specialized guides in thematic routes.

The Park of the Cascade also offers the unique opportunity to practice sports disciplines. A few examples: trekking, caving, rafting, climbing and downhill. Inside the park,  can be practiced all these extreme sports under the guidance of qualified instructors and guides.

All services of the Marmore Falls are operated by 165 marmore falls (http://www.marmorefalls.it) by trained personnel. The offer is highly articulated. From the basic organization of packages hiking to a complete tour. For the little ones, there is also a path with professional entertainers.

The ticket office is at “Piazzale Felice Fatati”, along the SS 209 Valnerina, in the lower lookout. Inside the building is the Info point where to ask about all the tourist offers of the area and be able to organize an entire holiday.

In the same building also has its ‘head office the “Dit” (Integrated Tourist District).  Do not miss the 6D Cinema.

Experience the thrill of rafting of the waterfall.  In an entirely secure environment but still giving the opportunity to feel the emotion of a real descent.

Both, from the viewpoint:  the upper and the lower can set off with the bike for mountain biking or trekking bikes on different paths.  Various levels are available depending on the preparation and physical form, both in Valnerina that the trails around Lake Piediluco. You can rent bikes of different types as needed, and be accompanied by certified cycling guides.

The Marmore waterfall is the ideal place for water sports like rafting, Hydrospeed, Canyoning, Canoeing and Kayaking. These disciplines can be practiced at all levels and at the Center Rafting Papigno you can find a wide range of proposals suitable for young people and adults.

18 - Sep - 2019

The towns on Lake Trasimeno

Lake Trasimeno and its villages

 Lake Trasimeno is located in the green heart of Umbria, amidst beds of reeds and charming white water lilies. It’s a true natural paradise home to wild ducks, cormorants, kites and kingfishers. Beyond the downward slope, gentle hills form the backdrop to the lake, along with sporadic woods and sunflower and corn fields, vineyards and olive groves. Agriculture here is still carried out following traditional techniques. Several towns are located on Lake Trasimeno. Some of them directly face the lake while others are nearby and are affected by the charm and attraction of this sheet of water.

For example, Castiglione del Lago is located on a limestone promontory, above the ruins of several Etruscan tombs. The castle can also be admired from here, as well as the medieval walls of Palazzo Ducale, which is connected by a local pathway to Rocca del Leone fortress, one of the most important examples of Umbrian military architecture.

The narrowest alley in all of Italy is situated in Città della Pieve, a peaceful and characteristics medieval village once also inhabited by the Etruscans and Romans. The birthplace of artist Pietro Vannucci (also known as the Perugino), this town is home to several of the artist’s works of art, including his Madonna with Child, which is kept in the cathedral of SS. Gervasio e Protasio, and his magnificent fresco Adoration of the Wise Men in Palazzo della Corgna, a marvellous exclusive residence.
The small town of Panicale, which is just a short distance from Città della Pieve, is also home to two of Perugino’s frescoes: Martyrdom of St. Sebastian and Madonna in Glory, which are kept in the 15th-century Church of San Sebastiano.
Take a boat from the medieval village of Passignano site of the 14th-century Ponente tower, to reach Maggiore Island (which is still inhabited).

This magnificent place with a fishing village dating back to the 15th century is also the location of the Romanesque church of San Salvatore (12th century), the church of San Michele Arcangelo (14th century) and Villa Isabella of the Marquis of Guglielmi.
Maggiore can also be reached from Tuoro sul Trasimeno, an ancient Etruscan city that became well-known as the battleground for the decisive stages of the battle between Hannibal and Caio Flaminio. Renaissance Palazzo Capra was erected precisely on the tomb of the Roman commander.

The largest island on the lake (there are 3) is Polvese, which is not inhabited and is used as a public park. It is also the location of the S. Secondo monastery, the Church of San Giuliano and a 14th-Century castle which was recently restored.
About 10 km from Passignano is the small town of Castel Rigone, where one of the most significant architectural masterpieces of the Umbrian Renaissance is located: the Sanctuary of Maria Santissima dei Miracoli.
Not far from here is Magione, a village dominated by the majestic castle of the Knights of Malta and renowned for the production of embossed wrought iron.

Local Products

Food and Wine

Enthusiasts of good traditional food are in the right place. Flavoured with the fine oil from the Trasimeno hills, fish stock should be tasted, along with rice in a white sauce made with perch fillets and eel. It’s no coincidence the festival of fish held in September attracts many tourists. The largest frying pan in the world is used on this occasion, and can fry up to 2 tons of fish per hour.
We point out the following typical products: Pieve del Vescovo and Colli del Trasimeno quality olive oil and wine, Grechetto wine, Vin Santo dessert wine, Vino Novello (young wine), cheese and honey. Finally, visitors should try the typical fagiolina del Trasimeno (legume), which is recognized by the Slow Food Association, the sweet torciglione dessert and saffron.

 

Handicrafts

Craftsmanship is still very strong in this area. The entire world is familiar with lace from Maggiore Island and pottery and iron & copper objects from the Trasimeno Lake area.

17 - Sep - 2019

Assisi

Why to visit Assisi

The charming town of Assisi offers tourists a wealth of tranquillity and this is amongst the most attractive destinations that you are likely to encounter in Umbria. Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis (San Francesco), patron saint of animals and ecology, and its undeniable charm and appeal attracts huge numbers of visitors and religious pilgrims, who arrive here each year – literally millions.

Despite the somewhat surprising influx of tourists and thriving tourism industry, the town of Assisi successfully manages to more than retain its peaceful nature. Even during the very peak of summer, by simply taking a stroll away from the main streets you can be assured to find some personal moments. The Piazza del Comune is very much central to life is Assisi and it is here that you will find the tourist information centre, along with countless cafes featuring tables outside, on the paving stones.

1) The Cathedral of San Francis

Not even two years passed after the death of St. Francis, and already Brother Elias, the successor to the command of the Order, received the gift of a plot of land, outside of the western gate of Assisi, a steep rise of Mount Subasio where wrongdoers and criminals were hanged and was therefore called the Hell Hill (Colle dell’Inferno). On that already cursed ground would rise a great church that would receive the remains of the great saint.

From the Bishop’s palace, where he had been a guest of the Archbishop of Assisi, St. Francis had ordered to be brought on a stretcher to the Porziuncola in Santa Maria degli Angeli. He died on the ground of his favourite place. But his companions did not keep the body of St. Francis near the little church even for one day. On the morning of October 4 they brought him back to town, by S. Damiano, so Chiara and her companions could finally kiss the stigmata.

From S. Damiano he was taken to be buried in the church of S.Giorgio, which was located inside the city close to his home. In that little church on July 16, 1228 Gregory IX solemnly proclaimed the sanctity of the great son of Assisi and on the next day, invited by Brother Elias, the Pope went to Colle dell’Inferno to bless the first stone of the new large building in honour of the saint.

On May 25th 1230, less than four years after the death of the saint, the lower church was completed and the body of the saint could be brought to rest.

From S. Maria degli Angeli, looking towards Mount Subasio, at the western end of the city you can clearly see the massive construction of Brother Elias, supported by huge buttresses on the precipice.

It seems almost a fortified building and immediately evokes the idea of ​​a stronghold. And that erected by Brother Elias was the material and spiritual stronghold of the Franciscans, as well as being one of the most beautiful manifestations of art inspired by the glory of the Saint of Assisi.

The basilica complex is composed of two churches – the lower (1228-1230) and the upper (1230-1253) and a crypt dug in 1818, with the tomb of the saint.  The first one can be reached from the lower square, bordered by a 1400 portico. There is a beautiful twin portal surmounted by three rose windows. The plan is a double “T”. Inside it is decorated by the greatest painters of the 1200-1300s: Cimabue, Giotto, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini. There are the beautiful stained glass windows by Giovanni di Bonino and Puccio Capanna. The monastery houses a remarkable Treasury with rare illuminated manuscripts, paintings, reliquaries, tapestries, sacred furnishings and altar frontals. Also of interest here is the Perkins collection.

The great Italian painting  was born in the lower church: the nave preserves works of the Master of St. Francis; the Chapel of St. Martin presents the complete cycle of the Stories of St. Martin (1312 – 1315) painted by Simone Martini; the Chapel of Mary Magdalene was painted by Giotto after 1305; the right transept is a fresco by Cimabue (1280) and eight childhood Stories of Christ painted by Giotto. In the left transept Pietro Lorenzetti painted Histories of the Passion of Christ and the famous Madonna dei Tramonti. The cross vault above the altar is painted by the Maestro delle Vele and is the Glory of St. Francis and the Allegories of Obedience, Chastity, and Poverty.

The upper church, with one nave, has a simple façade, embellished by a Gothic portal and a beautiful rose window. The Gothic interior, with a nave, lit by large windows is the prototype of the Franciscan churches. And it is adorned by Giotto’s frescos illustrating the life of the saint. There are also works by Cimabue, Cavallini, Torriti and a wooden choir from the end of the 1400s, which still contains the most famous fresco: the presbytery was painted by Cimabue, the Maestro Oltremontano and Jacopo Torriti. The nave at the top was decorated with stories from the Old and New Testaments.

The lower section of the nave is occupied by a famous cycle of Giotto, which consists of 28 panels illustrating the highlights of the life of St. Francis.

The basilica complex includes a Romanesque bell tower of 1239 that stands majestically over the plains below. The convent houses the Theological Institute, a rich library of codes and sixteenth century manuscripts, the Treasury, exhibited in the Gothic Room, and the Perkins collection which consists of works by Italian masters, especially from Siena and Florence.

Tomb of St. Francis

Excavated between 1818 and 1824 with the mortal remains of the saint held in a rough stone urn built by Assisi architect Giuseppe Brizzi in neoclassical form and restored in neoclassical style by the architect Ugo Tarceva (1925-32). Above the altar, in the compartment of the ancient tomb, made of four rough walls, you see the simple stone urn locked by bars of two iron grates, in which was found the body of the saint and which still contains it. In the niches on the corner lie the remains of four companions of St. Francis: Rufino, Angelo, Masseo and Leone. Above is a bronze and alabaster lamp, offered in turn by the Regions of Italy to the “Holy Chief Patron of the Fatherland.”

Open hours: Monday to Saturday – 9 am to 12 am, 2 pm to 5 pm.
Admission: free, donations suggested

2) The Basilica of S. Chiara

A striking Romanesque landmark from the 13th century, the Basilica di Santa Chiara features a very recognisable facade, comprising a mixture of pink and white stones, which appear to almost glow when the sun shines and illuminates the church. The Basilica di Santa Chiara stands next to the Church of St. George, where the body of St. Francis was once buried before being moved to its current situation. St. Clare, the daughter of an important local nobleman, is actually buried within the basilica’s crypt.

Erected between 1257 and 1265 in Gothic style, according to the Franciscan model, it has a gabled façade, a nave, a polygonal apse and is divided into four bays. The plan is T-shaped, on axis with the door. There is a magnificent rose window. On the sides there are three large flying buttresses (1351), to support the thrust of the vaulted roof; those of the right side are hidden inside the monastery; others are projected on the square, giving it a distinctive appearance. The interior preserves the Crucifix which, according to tradition, spoke to St. Francis, has frescoes of the Umbrian school of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and in the crypt is preserved a sarcophagus statue with the bones of the saint inside. Next to the church is the monumental Proto-Monastery of St. Clare (the cloister is not open to public), built in on a slope between Borgo Aretino and Mojano, among the olive groves. In the cloister the crypt of the ancient Church of San Giorgio can be seen.

Visitors will always enjoy the many colourful frescoes and 600-year-old paintings, which adorn the walls and remain very impressive, despite their considerable age. The body of St Clare was brought here from San Damiano (above) in 1253, and the nuns of San Damiano established a new nunnery here soon after.  The relics of St Clare re-discovered under the high altar in 1850.  The nunnery remains one of the most important in Italy.

Open hours: daily, April to October – 6 am to 12 am, 2 pm to 7 pm; November to March – 6 am to 12 am, 2 pm to 6 pm.

3) The Temple of Minerva

It was built during the first century.

The façade is surprisingly well preserved, still in original condition; the six columns are topped by fine and complete Corinthian capitals and rest on plinths that, for lack of space, are placed on the staircase that leads into the vestibule.

In the Middle Ages the ancient Temple of Minerva was turned into a Christian church. The cella became the residence of the Chief Magistrate, except for a part which was used as a prison. In 1228 the municipality bought some houses in front of the Temple to expand the square. On the same occasion, the vestibule between the columns was released and became the headquarters of public assembly. Only in 1456 the building returned to its earlier religious destination.

Then in 1539 the original plan of the cella with its rectangular plan was destroyed and the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva was built and further modified in the Baroque style in the seventeenth century.

For Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, during his trip to Italy, this was the first intact monument of antiquity he had seen and was suitably impressed (1786).Today it commemorates the Roman period and symbolizes the values ​​of UNESCO.

Open hours: daily

4) The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli

Outside the ancient walls, 4 kilometres from the centre, stands the majestic and beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, built between 1565 and 1685 and designed by Galeazzo Alessi. The little chapel of the Porziuncola (the small plot of land where the small church was licensed for use by the Benedictines to St. Francis and his first companions) is preserved on its inside. The chapel has a simple rib vault, on the façade there is a fresco of F. Overbek representing the Forgiveness of Assisi of 1829; inside the wall of the altar there is a table, by priest Ilario da Viterbo (1393) representing the Annunciation and scenes associated with the granting of Forgiveness. Outside the building there is a fresco by Pietro Perugino depicting the Crucifixion (1486). Not far from there is the Little Chapel of the Transit, where Francis died on October 3, 1226. From the Basilica you can access the famous Roseto without thorns and the Chapel of the Roses with frescos by Tiberio of Assisi (1516); the premises of the thirteenth-century convent houses the Museum of the Porziuncola. An elegant dome 79 meters high, stands on an octagonal drum, onto which large windows with gables and alternating lunettes.

Interior: The Basilica, a Latin cross structure, is 126 meters long and 65 meters wide. The interior of the basilica, with three naves, has a simple and essential style. This is because of the great emphasis on the fact that it contains the most important work of art: the Porziuncola.

Transit: Also inside the Basilica is a chapel. It was originally the convent infirmary, its fame is due to the fact that, in this place, St. Francis died on 3 October 1226. On the same place, the Umbrian saint finished composing the Canticle of Creatures. To celebrate these events, in 1886, Domenico Bruschi created frescoes depicting the death of St. Francis and his funeral. There are also more frescoes depicting saints and blessed Franciscans, done by a student of Perugino: Giovanni di Pietro, called Spagna. In a reliquary is kept the cord of St. Francis, a gift from Pope Pius IX to brotherhood.

The Rose Garden: In a wing of the Basilica is preserved the rose garden. This place is famous for an incident involving St. Francis: one night, in fact, the Holy One, taken by strong doubts, and from sin’s guilt, he rolled naked in the thorny rose garden. This rose garden, according to tradition, upon contact with the Saint’s body, lost all the thorns so as not to cause him any harm. Even today, the rose bush blooms without thorns.

Open hours: daily – 09:00 to 18:00
Admission: free

5) The Rocca Maggiore

The first information about the Rocca Maggiore dates back to 1174, when it was rebuilt after the conquest of Assisi by the imperial troops led by Christian of Mainz (1174); but it perhaps already existed at the time of the Lombards. It is therefore likely that – on the remains of a pre-existing fortification – the fortress had been reconstructed by the Swabians, as feudal castle.

The fortress stands on a hill that overlooks Assisi: above its walls stands out the ‘Maschio’ tower, from where you can enjoy a magnificent panorama of the city and of the Umbrian Valley, from Perugia to Spoleto. Since ancient times, the location of the fortress was considered sacred and essential to defend the town.

In 1198 the castle was destroyed following a popular riot to prevent it from falling into the hands of a papal governor: not unreasonably, the Assisans saw in it a symbol of the imperial oppression.

The fortress was rebuilt in 1365 by Cardinal Egidio Albornoz (then engaged in submission of the main cities of the peninsula) as a lookout: a typical example of medieval military architecture. Since then, the fortress was involved in every attempt to be conquered, in alternation, between the various governments, of the lords of different cities and its defensive role ratcheted in time with changes in the structure and with the construction of towers and bastions.

Subsequent to the Albornoz, the fortress was enlarged and modified by Pope Pius II (1460), by Sixtus IV (1478), by Paul III (1535) and took on an impressive aspect. It is tradition that the peak of the hill was occupied by an acropolis since the ancient times, but it was devastated in 545 by the Gothic King Totila.

In the 1600s, the fortress was completely abandoned to remain almost intact until the present day.

The fortress built by the Albornoz was enlarged several times with the addition of the ramparts, but was devastated by the population as a result of the unification of Italy (1859).

Currently, it is open to the increasing number of visitors; its towers offer the most beautiful and charming panoramas throughout all of Umbria: Assisi gathered below and the splendid Umbrian Valley. The various halls within host reconstructed themes inspired by medieval life.

What to eat in Assisi

We are in the green heart of Umbria so you have to expect a genuine and hearty cuisine with delicious local products. Usually an ordinary meal begins with a chopping board with Umbricelli, honey, bruschetta with the excellent local olive oil PDO Assisi and the truffle.

Among the first courses the stringozzi and umbrichelli are very popular, these are kinds of handmade pasta usually accompanied by pork, hare or deer sauce. We are in the area where spelt is produced, which is the main dish especially in the winter.

Among the main courses you can try the excellent local meat and the pecorino cheese from Assisi. Assisi has a typical dessert, the Rocciata, a kind of strudel filled with apples. As far as the wine is concerned, the area of Assisi has an extraordinary oenological production with 5 wines above all: Grechetto, white, rosato, novella and red.

How to get to Assisi by car

Coming from North:
Highway 14 – Autostrada Adriatica
– Exit at Cesena (150 km from Assisi) and continue to Perugia (E45) until Assisi exit.
Highway Autostrada del Sole A 1
– Exit Valdichiana until you reach Perugia, continue towards Cesena (E45) until Assisi exit.

Coming from the South:
Highway 14 – Autostrada Adriatica
– Exit Civitanova Marche towards Foligno – Perugia until the Assisi exit.
Highway Autostrada del Sole A 1
– Exit Orte, continue on the E45 towards Perugia – Cesena until the Assisi exit.

How to get to Assisi by train

Coming from North:

the main line between Florence and Rome has a station at Terontola (on the branch line to Lake Trasimeno, Perugia, Assisi, Spello, and Foligno), so coming from Florence  take one of the dozen daily trains to Terontola/Cortona (1’/2 hr.) that meet up with a connecting train to Assisi/S.Maria degli ANgeli (45 to 60 min.).

Coming from South:

the main line between Rome and Ancona has a station at Foligno (on the branch line to Spello, Assisi, Perugia and Lake Trasimeno), so coming from Rome, take one of the nine daily trains on the line to Ancona, stop at Foligno (1 hr., 40 min. to 2 hr.), where you can transfer to a Perugia-bound train (10 to 15 min.).

How to move in the town

Assisi can be easily visited by foot, while for the further monuments you can take the bus or call a taxi.

The bus urban network of Assisi includes three lines (A, B, and C) which link the suburban areas with the centre of the town.
For more information, visit the website:
http://www.umbriamobilita.it/it/orari/servizi-urbano

For those who reach Assisi by car, the main problem can be the parking, so we recommend to leave the car here:

Car park Piazza Giovanni Paolo II
Cark Park Piazza Matteotti
Car park Porta Mojano
Car park San Francesco (Porta S. Giacomo – Via F. Francisco Remon Jativa)
Car park near the cemetery – Via Albornoz

18 - Jul - 2019

What to do in Perugia

Why visit Perugia

Perugia’s rich historical and cultural heritage demands a visit of more than one day, but with good planning one can admire its most precious treasures and its most authentic and unique, albeit minor, aspects. With a pristine medieval centre and an international student population, Perugia is the largest and most cosmopolitan city of Umbria. Its old town, seemingly little changed in more than 400 years, rises in a helter-skelter of cobbled alleys, arched stairways and piazzas framed by solemn churches and magnificent Gothic style. Reminders of its lively and often bloody past are everywhere, from ancient arches and medieval basilicas to Renaissance frescoes by the likes of Perugino and Raffaello. Here you find a short description of the main attractions.

1) La Fontana Maggiore

The Fontana Maggiore was created between 1278 and 1280 by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano to celebrate the completion of the new aqueduct. It was designed by Friar Bevignate, with the aid, for the hydraulic side, of Boninsegna from Venice.

It consists of two concentric polygonal basins, decorated with 50 bas-reliefs and 24 statues. The lower basin goes to relief scenes of the agrarian tradition, the months of the year with the zodiac signs of the liberal arts, the Bible and the history of Rome. The upper tank is made up of twenty-four plates, separated by statues of allegorical figures and historical sacred.

The two basins are surmounted by a bronze cup, in turn crowned by a group of three “nymphs” who represent the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity).

 

2) The Roman aqueduct

In 1254 the city of Perugia decided to build an approximately three km long aqueduct from Monte Pacciano to Piazza Grande, within the city. This square is now called Piazza IV Novembre. The aqueduct ran along Via del Fagiano (formerly Via dei Condotti), Via dell’Acquedotto and Via Appia.
The Venetian architect Boninsegna was commissioned to build the aqueduct.
The final part of the structure ran between the Conca area of town and the Etruscan town walls. In 1812 this became a popular walk, and the aqueduct was surmounted by railings along the top of its Medieval arches. Access into town was then through the Arco dell’Acquedotto gate or via the Arco di Via Appia.
The aqueduct ended at the Fontana Maggiore in Piazza Grande (or della Fontana, now Piazza IV Novembre), between the cathedral and Palazzo dei Priori.

 

333 ) The Cathedral of San Lorenzo

Lording it over Piazza IV Novembre is Perugia’s stark medieval cathedral. A church has stood here since the 900s, but the version you see today was begun in 1345 from designs created by Fra Bevignate. Building continued until 1587, although the main facade was never completed. Inside you’ll find dramatic late-Gothic architecture, an altarpiece by Signorelli and sculptures by Duccio. The steps in front of the facade are where seemingly all of Perugia congregates; they overlook the pink-and-white Fontana Maggiore.

4) The National Gallery of  Umbria

The National Gallery of Umbria is organised following a chronological exhibition itinerary structured in 40 rooms on a total surface of 4.000 square meters. It houses one of the most complete collection of artworks in Italy dated between XIII and XIX Centuries, with works by Duccio di Boninsegna, Benedetto Bonfigli, Bartolomeo Caporali, Gentile da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli, Piero della Francesca, Pinturicchio, Perugino, Orazio Gentileschi, Pietro da Cortona, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and others.

The first core, coming from the collection of the local “Accademia del Disegno” (Drawing Academy), has been successively enriched by donations and  following the Napoleonic and post-Unitarian closure of Religious Orders. The Gallery hosts over 3000 works including paintings, sculptures, pottery, fabrics and jewellery, treasuring seven centuries of Italian history and culture.

In 2015 the National Gallery of Umbria obtained the Martinelli Collection, enriching its artistic patrimony with more than 100 works mainly of Roman Baroque style.

5) Rocca Paolina

The mighty fortress, based on the design by Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane (1540-1543), encompassed the houses, towers and streets of an entire district, recognisable within the complex, and the consequential razing to the ground of the houses of the Baglioni family, of the borough of Santa Giuliana, of the church of Santa Maria dei Servi and of many other medieval buildings.

The architect Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane recomposed on the pediment of the fortress the upper part of  an Etruscan arch door: Porta Marzia (III Century B.C.)

The Rocca Paolina was five levels high, composed of a main construction and a smaller one, connected by a corridor. The first was built on Colle Landone and the second, the Rocca Minore, also called “Tenaglia” (tongs), was used as front garrison. The fortress, symbol of pontifical domain on the city, was partly destroyed in 1848, rebuilt in 1860 by Pope Pius IX and then razed to the ground in the same year  in the part occupying the present Piazza Italia.

All that remains are the basements, partly still awaiting excavation, of extraordinary charm and uniqueness, crossed through by the escalators and used for exhibitions.

Below the video “Rocca Paolina – La forma della memoria, la città ritrovata” (Rocca Paolina – The shape of memories, the refund City) relised by Paolo Camerieri and Francesco Miniati.

8) Perugina Chocolate Factory

To visit the Wonka-esque world of Perugian chocolate, sign up for a 1¼-hour guided tour (in Italian or English, times vary) of the House of Chocolate. After visiting the museum, you’ll wend your way through an enclosed sky bridge, watching as the white-outfitted Oompa Loompas, factory workers, go about their chocolate-creating business.

The Casa is located at Nestlé’s large, nondescript factory in the outskirts of town – drive through the factory entrance, or take the bus to San Sisto (€1.50, 25 minutes).

For a really hands-on experience, book a place on a three- to four-hour chocolate-making workshop. Held at 10 am and 3.30 pm on Saturdays, these cost between €50 and €70 – check the website for dates and details.

What to eat in Perugia

Thanks to Perugina and its world famous Baci, the city of Perugia is known for chocolates. But there’s so much more to Perugia’s culinary scene for food curious travellers. Umbria offers a bounty of “prodotti tipici” (regional products), linked to centuries-old peasant traditions that use raw ingredients in the most natural state possible. Here are some delicious foods to try on your next visit to Perugia.

1) Pecorino Cheese

Some say the cheeses of Umbria resemble its inhabitants—simple, authentic and boldly flavoured. From sweet and creamy to cave-aged and sharp, Umbria serves up a variety of Pecorino (sheep’s milk) and Caciotta (cow’s milk) cheeses to nibble on with a glass of local, dry wine or at the end of your meal before dessert. For a quick and friendly happy hour with a selection of local cheeses and a glass of Umbrian wine, head over to Caffe Dal Perugino in Piazza Matteotti.

2) Norcia’s ham 

Of course no cheese plate should be missing this savoury, cured ham. Prosciutto is famous all over Italy but certain designations stand out for their quality. One of these, Prosciutto di Norcia is an Umbrian staple from the town of Norcia, a place so famous for its butchery products that the term “Norcineria” is synonymous with quality meats and butchery products not only in Umbria but also all over Italy. To sample hand cut or sliced prosciutto di Norcia order a “tagliere” plate at Locanda del Bartoccio in Piazza Matteotti or stop by the deli counter at Umbrò on Via Oberdan.

3) Porchetta

Tracing its ancient origins to a city just outside of Rome, this savoury, herb-packed boneless pork roast takes centre stage as a street food that owes its unique central Italian flavour to a type of wild fennel that only grows in Umbria. Pick up a Porchetta sandwich at the stand (Antica Salumeria Granieri Amato) in Piazza Matteotti then enjoy it while people watching on the steps of the cathedral in Piazza IV Novembre.

4) Truffle

Known as a delicacy since ancient times, the humble-looking truffle was once considered a divine creation endowed with aphrodisiac properties. Highly prized truffles grow abundantly in the Umbrian countryside, where you can hunt for every variety just steps from Perugia’s old town. You’ll find them shaved on grilled meats, used to flavour cheeses and salami, scrambled into eggs, formed into dumplings, preserved in spreads and sautéed with butter to make a heavenly pasta sauce. To experience Perugia’s best truffles in all manner of savoury glory stop for lunch or dinner at Bistrot al Tartufo at the top of Via Ulisse Rocchi. You can also purchase fresh or preserved truffles at Perugia Tartufi in Piazza Danti.

How to get to Perugia by auto or bus

COMING FROM NORTH:
A1 motorway, exit Valdichiana, then junction to Perugia bordering Trasimeno Lake.

COMING FROM SOUTH:
A1 motorway, Exit Orte, then the junction Orte-Terni, Exit to Perugia to get into the E45

COMING FROM NORTH-EAST:
Dual carriageway  E45 (Cesena –Orte) all Exits of Perugia

How to move in Perugia

Minimetrò is our new urban transport system from and toward the city centre. We advise you to use this facility instead of using the car because of the several Limited Traffic Zone.

Stations:

Terminal Pian di Massiano

Cortonese Station

Madonna Alta Station

Fontivegge Station

Case Bruciate Station

Cupa Station

Terminal Pincetto

Timetable:

Minimetrò is open from Monday to Sunday, with a ride every 2.5 minutes and works in the following hours:

From Monday to Saturday

Opening time: 7 am

Closing time: 9.05 pm

Sunday and public holidays

Opening time: 9 am

Closing time: 8.45 pm

Last ride 15 minutes before the closing time

MAIN CAR PARKS OF THE CITY

Piazza Partigiani car park – Piazza Partigiani.
Price per hour: 1.50 €.
Pellini car park – viale Pellini
Price per hour: 1.50 €.
Mercato Coperto car park– via Augusta
Price per hour: 1.90 €.
Briglie di Braccio car park – Via Tancredi Ripa di Meana
Price per hour: 1.50 €.
Sant’Antonio car park – viale Sant’Antonio
Price per hour: 1.50 €.
Piazzale Europa car park – piazzale Europa
Price per hour: 1.10 €.
Porta Nova car park – piazzale Umbria Jazz – Pian di Massiano
car park free of charge

Information
SIPA Ltd – Societa’ Immobiliare Parcheggi Auto (Car park development company)
Address: Via M. Fanti 2/8
Please call: 075-5721938 – Fax 075-5732408
Website: http://www.sipaonline.it/
Write: info@sipaonline.it

OTHER PAID CAR PARKS

Marinelli Via Canali Station F.S. area
Autosilo – Station F.S. area
Station FF.SS.
Cortonese Station, Fontivegge

CAR PARKS FREE OF CHARGE

Bove Piazzale del Bove – Via Campo di Marte
for campers, buses and cars.

Cupa Piazzale della Cupa – Via A. Checchi

 

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