Archive for the Gubbio Category

Gubbio, Madonna della Cima Walk

The Madonna della Cima walk takes 4-5 hours and is in the hills behind the Umbrian town of Gubbio. The walk starts and ends in the Umbrian town of Gubbio.

The medieval town hall in Gubbio, Umbria

The medieval town hall in Gubbio, Umbria

After walking through the medieval town centre you use the funivia to get to the Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo, a church near the top of Monte Ingino where the body of the town’s patron saint is kept in a glass coffin. The funivia is a cross between a ski lift and a cable car – you have to scramble in and out of a moving metal cage. This may seem like cheating, but you have a long walk ahead of you and by the end of the walk I guarantee you’ll be pleased that you didn’t climb up. Right at the top of Monte Ingino is an old watch tower with marvelous views and you can also see much of the route from up here. The route follows tracks and narrow paths and, as you cross the road between Gubbio and Scheggia you pass the Madonna della Cima, a small shrine marking the highest point on the road. You can find instructions for this route in my e-book, Circular Walks on the Tuscany Umbria Border by Martin Daykin on the Amazon website.

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5 Umbrian Towns

When you stay on the Tuscany Umbria border you have the option to visit both these Italian regions, here’s a brief guide to some the larger towns in Umbria,.

Perugia

Perugia is the capital of Umbria, it is easy to miss out on thanks to the large amount of urban sprawl below the old city and a one way system that seems designed to confuse the visitor. Negotiating the one way system is easier these days thanks to the widespread use of GPS (I always go to the Partigiani car park). in addition, you can directly access the beautiful centro storico using the Mini Metro transport system (use the large car park near the Madonna Alta exit on the Super Strada).

The Palazzo de Priori in Perugia, Umbria

The Palazzo de Priori in Perugia, Umbria

Don’t miss:

  • Collegio di Cambio – beautiful frescoes by Perugino.
  • Galleria Nazionale del’Umbria – art works by Perugino, Piero della Francesca, Fra’Angelico.
  • Piazza IV novembre – stunning piazza with medieval fountain at the centre of the city.
  • Fontana Maggiore – the fountain at the centre of Piazza IV movembre.
  • Etruscan Well – enormous well constructed by the Etruscans.
  • Underground City – medieval streets that became the storerooms for the pope’s fortress.
  • Arco Etrusco – huge entrance to the city built by the Etruscans.

Also consider:

  • Via Maesta Delle Volte – impressive arches over this alley support the buildings.
  • San Severo – a half finished fresco by Raphael.
  • Sala del Collegio di Mercanzia – wood panelled meeting room for the merchants’ guild.
  • Sala dei Notari – frescoed meeting room open to the public if not in use.
  • Oratorio di San Bernardino – impressive carved facade on this church.
  • Via Acquedotto – medieval aqueduct that is now a pedestrian walkway.
  • San Pietro – a short walk away from the centre, visit the frescoed interior.
  • Museo Archeologico – lots of Roman and Etruscan artifacts.
  • Hypogea di Volumni – Etruscan tomb on the outskirts of the city.

Assisi

The home town of Umbra’s most famous saint, St. Francis, this town has millions of visitors every year so if you don’t like crowds, go early in the morning or in the winter. The town’s buildings have a pinkish hue because of the color of the stone from Monte Subasio, the mountain behind Assisi. Almost everyone is surprised to learn that the town’s patron saint is not St. Francis but San Rufino, an early Christian bishop and martyr. The Romanesque Duomo, rather than the Basilica of St. Francis, is the church built in his (San Rufino’s) honour.

The Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, Umbria

The Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, Umbria

Don’t miss:

  • Basilica of St. Francis – huge church & the world’s greatest collection of medieval painting.
  • Duomo (San Rufino) – Romanesque facade and inside the font used to baptise St. Francis.
  • Basilica di Santa Chiara – huge flying buttresses support this impressive church.
  • The Rocca Maggiore – vertiginous  views from the tower.
  • Tempio di Minerva – Roman temple converted to a church.

Also consider:

  • Roman Forum – under the Piazza del Comune, a collection of Roman remains.
  • San Damiano – small church outside the town walls where St. Francis had a vision.
  • Santa Maria degli Angeli – huge church below Assisi built over St. Francis’ original chapel.
  • Eremo Dei Carceri – monastery in the woods 6km from Assisi.

Gubbio

A medieval masterpiece of a town built on the lower slopes of Monte Ingino. If relatively small towns like Gubbio could build enormous civic buildings like the Palazzo dei Consoli, medieval Italy must have been a very wealthy place. Gubbio is relatively isolated and this means it is not overrun with visitors – another point in its favour. In recent years a lift (or elevator if you speak American) has been installed in the town making it easy to negotiate the steep streets. The first lift connects the lower part of Gubbio with the Palazzo dei Consoli and a second (not so easy to find) lift goes up to the Duomo.

The town of Gubbio in Umbria

The town of Gubbio in Umbria

Don’t miss:

  • Palazzo dei Consoli – huge medieval town hall on the Piazza Grande, worth a look inside.
  • Piazza Grande – large piazza built on enormous supporting arches.
  • Duomo – impressive interior with unusual supporting arches.
  • Funavia – cable car ride up Monte Ingino.
  • Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo – see the blackened corpse of Gubbio’s patron saint in a glass coffin.

Also consider

  • St Agostino – frescoes of the life of St. Agostino, also gruesome scenes of torture by demons.
  • Rocca – views from the very top of Monte Ingino (walk from St. Ubaldo).
  • Ducal Palace – Federigo di Montefeltro’s residence, now used for art exhibitions.
  • Roman Amphitheatre – below the town near the main car park.
  • San Francesco – frescoes of the Life of St. Francis and Life of The Virgin

Spoleto

A medieval town with Roman origins perched above a wide gorge, Spoleto rose to prominence as the capital of a Lombard ruled duchy after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Duchy of Spoleto lasted from AD576 to 1155 when Frederick Barbarossa captured the town.

The Rocca and medieval aqueduct, Spoleto, Umbria

The Rocca and medieval aqueduct, Spoleto, Umbria

Don’t miss:

  • Duomo – elegant facade and frescoes by Filippo Lippi and Pinturicchio inside
  • Ponti delle Torri – enormous medieval aqueduct, 76m at its highest point.
  • Arco di Druso – this Roman arch at the entrance to the forum (now the market).
  • Piazza del Mercato – lively piazza at the heart of Spoleto
  • San Pietro – Romanesque facade and views of Spoleto from across the gorge.
  • Roman Theatre –  the remains of the town’s amphitheatre.
  • Rocca – even if you don’t go in you can’t avoid seeing this impressive fortress.
  • Sant’Eufemia – Romanesque facade & unusual interior.

Also consider:

  • San Salvatore – early Christian church incorporating part of a Roman temple.
  • Museo Diocesano – the highlight is a Madonna & Child by Filippino Lippi.
  • Museo Archeologico – a collection of Roman & Etruscan remains.

Orvieto

Perched high on a volcanic plug in southern Umbria, Orvieto has one of Italy’s finest cathedrals with some apocalyptic frescoes inside. Originally Etruscan in origin and built mainly from tufa, a  soft volcanic rock, the town has a distinct appearance from other Umbrian towns.

The magnificent facade of Orvieto's Duomo

The magnificent facade of Orvieto’s Duomo

Don’t miss:

  • Duomo –  built from striped marble, it has a fine facade and spacious interior.
  • San Brizio Chapel – inside the Duomo, apocalyptic frescoes by Luca Signorelli.
  • Torre del Moro – climb to the top for a bird’s eye view of Orvieto.
  • Pozzo di San Patrizio – deep well with a double spiral staircase.
  • Orvieto Underground – tour the spaces carved out below the town.
  • Crocifisso del Tufo Etruscan Necropolis – Etruscan tombs outside Orvieto.

Also consider:

  • Funavia – ride up on a restored funavia from Orvieto station
  • Museo dell’Opera del Duomo – some interesting medieval paintings
  • Museo Archeologico Nazionale – Etruscan & Roman stuff.
  • Museo Emilio Greco – ceramics collection.

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A Visit to Gubbio

Last week we went to visit the medieval Umbrian town of Gubbio, the day had started off with blue skies but by the time we arrived it had clouded over, giving the stone buildings of this impressive town a rather austere look. The town hall, the Palazzo dei Consoli, dominates the town and served of a reminder of the town’s independence and civic pride before being swallowed up into the domain of Federico di Montefeltro, a mercenary captain and cultured Renaissance man from nearby Urbino.

The Palazzo dei Consoli

The Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio

The Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio

If you walk up from the Piazza Quaranta Martiri at the bottom of the town there is an elevator that will take you some of the way up to the Palazzo dei Consoli. Another elevator (turn right along Via XX Settembre) will take you up to the Duomo. Gubbio is unusual for an Umbrian town in that the Duomo and the town hall do not face each other across the main piazza, the Piazza Grande was created after the Duomo had been built by levelling a large area of the town and building huge supporting arches underneath.

The Duomo

The second elevator brings you up into the Duomo gardens, from where you can enter the Duomo. The interior has distinctive arches peculiar to Gubbio and known as wagon vaulting. I had remembered that there were several bodies in glass coffins but they they were either wax models, or the bodies had been repaired so often that there was nothing to see but a wax image. Across from the Duomo is Federigo di Montefeltro’s Palazzo Ducale, there are normally art exhibitions on disply here but we were limted for time and gave this a miss.

Inside the Duomo, Gubbio

Inside the Duomo, Gubbio

Sant’Agostino

Returning via the elevator we walked south along Via XX Settembre towards the church of Sant’Agostino. I wanted to see the frescoes of the Life Of Sant’Agostino by little known local artist Ottaviano Nelli. The frescoes are on the apse and can be illuminated for three minutes by pressing a switch. Ottivano Nelli’s frescoes were worth going to see but also high up on the front of the apse were scenes from the Last Judgement, I’m not sure who painted them but they were certainly quite entertaining to look at, thanks to my telephoto lens I managed to get some of the details.

A scene from hell in the church of Sant'Agostino, Gubbio

A scene from hell in the church of Sant’Agostino, Gubbio

While wandering around Gubbio I took a few random photos shown in the image gallery below:

 

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Good Friday Procession In Gubbio

Yesterday it was Good Friday and I decided to go to the town of Gubbio in Umbria for the evening procession. I had heard that it was quite spectacular and bonfires were lit in the streets.

Cross bearer on the Good Friday procession, Gubbio, Umbria

I arrived at around 8.30pm only to find that the procession had already set off around the town, a burning brazier in the centre of a piazza marked the spot where they had set off from.

Brazier  In Gubbio On Friday

However, all was not lost, I was in a great position to photograph the robed figures at the head of the procession as they returned down via Consoli.

Good Friday procession in Gubbio, Umbria

Good Friday procession in Gubbio, Umbria

The robed figures’ effect was quite spooky, one was even carrying a skull, presumably that of of a dead saint, although they must have been dressing up like this for centuries in Gubbio, I couldn’t help thinking of the Ku Klux Klan.

Robed figure carrying a skull in Gubbio, Umbria

Robed figure carrying a skull in Gubbio, Umbria

Once the procession had passed I joined the final stage towards the church at the bottom of the hill.

An effigy of the body of Christ, Gubbio, Umbria

An effigy of the body of Christ, Gubbio, Umbria

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