Perugia is first and foremost a city to walk around. There are alleys to discover, unexpected views from hills, uneven stairs, tiny restaurants in which to indulge in gastronomic pleasures. And it is a living city, rich in festivals, events, cultural life and artistic impulses, it is young and diverse.
Perugia is home to the Palazzo dei Priori, the Fontana Maggiore (dating back from around 1200 and embellished with tiles representing the fables of Aesop), the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, where the Capitularies Museum is situated in the cloisters. The Rocca Paolina, the Etruscan Well (37 metres deep and dug 300 years before Christ) and the Church of San Domenica, one of the largest in Umbria, with impressive cloisters and beautiful art work.
Assisi is a place of the spirit, of the soul, of man who, freely admitting his own imperfect condition, pushes the limits at the edges of perfection.
Hooked onto the slopes of the Subasio mountain, in white shining marble, for centuries Assisi has welcomed thousands of pilgrims in the name of Saint Francis, who was born in 1182. The message of Saint Francis miraculously reinvents itself in the peace of a little village that is invaded every day; the basilica was started in 1228: the frescos by Giotti, Cimabue and Simone Martini are now a part of the images everyone holds in their memory.
Assisi also has to offer the Piazza del Comune, the Temple of Minerva (first century BC), the Chiesa Nuova (built in 17th century on the birth home of Saint Francis), the Oratory of San Francesco Piccolino, in which according to legend the saint was born. And then there is Piazza Santa Chiara, with the Basilica, remains of the saint and the wooden crucifix which, according to legend, spoke to Saint Francis. At the top, the Cathedral of San Rufino, bishop, martyr and patron saint of Assisi. Just outside of Assisi, Saint Francis also lived at the Hermitage of the Carceri and Porziuncola, in Santa Maria degli Angeli.
The reputation of Cascia is definitely founded on the figure of Saint Rita (1381-1457) and her sanctuary, which is a place of pilgrimage...
The Basilica dedicated to the saint, in gleaming white Tivoli marble, in a half understood way, is home to works of modern art such as Giacomo Manzù. The body of Saint Rita, partially preserved through mummification, rests in a glass case, protected by railings. Saint Rita is celebrated during the month of May (on the anniversary of her death) with a 10 day party (Celebrazioni Ritiane - Festa di Santa Rita) in which the history and traditions of the saint are recounted.
Partly protected by the surrounding countryside, it is still real countryside today and still worked by traditional methods.
Amongst gentle hills and dense vegetation, Trasimeno Lake is a picturesque stretch of water on to which ancient towns and villages look out, such as Castiglione sul Lago, built on a rocky promontory, in an ideal area for windsurfing and water-skiing. Or Passignano Sul Trasimeno, with the church of the Madonna dei Miracoli. Or the town of Pieve, with one of the most panoramic views in all of Umbria.
Spello is spread out on a distinctive land, composed of hilly terraces, overlapping in series and embellished with olive trees.
To enter the city, one passes the Roman Walls, which are regularly interspersed with ancient doors: Porta Venere, Porta Urbica and Porta Consolare. Then you arrive at Palazzo Comunale, where the redraft of Constantine is kept (333-337 AD) which granted benefits to the citizens of Spello. The main church of the area is Santa Maria Maggiore, with an interior that is comparable to an art gallery, beginning with Baglioni Chapel with frescoes from 1501 by Pintoricchio, the famous Umbrian painter. The Madonna and Child are always present in the work of Pintoricchio, whilst two frescoes in the wooden choir are attributed to Perugino (1520).
In the third and fourth week of May, Spello is home to the Festa dell’Olivo and the Bruschetta Festival, with agricultural floats that crawl from the countryside to the historic centre, with the reconstruction of an olive tree filled with salami, cheeses and fruit which is a reward for the end of the harvest in Caposcala. Even more popular is a flower display in celebration of the Corpus Domini feast (ninth Sunday after Easter): the streets of the historic centre are carpeted and painted in flowers to honour the transition of the body of Christ, during a procession on Sunday morning. The show is 1.5km of perfumes and colours.
Città di Castello
City of the castle, but also...of bells: things have never been quiet between spiritual and temporal powers.
A double wall protects the historic centre, where one can admire the Palazzo del Podestà, enriched with a beautiful 17th century gallery, and all of Piazza Matteotti, with Palazzo Bondi-Mancini, Palazzo Vitelli-Bufalini, Palazzo Cappelletti and the side facade of Palazzo Bufalini. And the very unique prismatic shape of the Civic Tower of the 13th century. The Cathedral , San Francesco, the Madonna delle Grazie, the Convento di Santa Veronica, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Domenico are the main religious buildings in Città di Castello. Nearby, you can visit the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Belvedere, from where you can enjoy a breath-taking view, and the Hermitage of Buon Riposo, where Saint Francis occasionally stopped on his travels towards Verna.
Gubbio is a magnificent Medieval city, one of the most authentic and one of the largest: it is full of history and monuments.
In the Palazzo dei Consoli, the famous “Tavole Eugubine” can be found (third century BC – 7 bronze tablets with texts in Umbrian and Latin, essential for linguistic research) and the “campanone”, the bells that is rung out fearlessly. Here, in the Cathedral, are some interesting frescoes by Gubbio painters of the 16th century; in the Diocesan Museum you can find the “Botte dei Canonici”, dating from the early 16th century, that contained 20124 litres of wine. There are also many churches, and the Roman Theatre.
In Gubbio, on 15th May of each year, the chaotic “Festa dei Ceri” takes place.
Ancient capital of the Lombard duchy and home to the Two Worlds Festival (in June and July, Spoleto becomes a natural stage.
for music, dance, theatre, opera ballet, visual arts and performing arts), it is a picturesque city of Medieval and Renaissance architecture. On top of the Sant’Elia hill stands the Rocca Albornoziana, symbol of the city, guarded by walls and towers such as “spirited” and “painted room”, with frescoes from 15th century. And to join the Rocca and Monteluco, the impressive Ponte delle Torri has ancient origins and preserves frescoes from Pinturicchio and Filippo Lippi.
And then there is the Roman Theatre, the National Archaeological Museum, the city walls (or “cyclopean walls”), the Palazzo Comunale (Municipal Palace) and Monteluco, the sacred forest, place of Franciscan hermitages and unspoilt nature.
In Orvieto, the relationship between nature and architecture that characterises this part of Italy becomes clear...
The city and its beauty must correlate with the tuff stone on which it is built. And to find little ways to resist: but here the device becomes art. Orvieto preserves important remains of the Etruscan period like the Necropolis of Cannicella and the Crucifix of Tufo. The Palazzo Comunale, the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo and the Palazzo dei Sette are the most well-known constructions belonging to the public sphere; on the religious side there are the Cathedral, a triumph of polychrome marble, with sculptures and mosaics. Also of merit is the sculpture of the bronze doors: the Cathedral of Orvieto is also famous for the frescoes of the Last Judgement of Luca Signorelli, started by Beato Angelico.
Near to the city, there is the Abbey of the Saints Severo and Martirio, rebuilt in the 18th century by the Bendettini.