In Umbria it is a pleasure to find out how the combinantion of culture, peace, quiet, age-old rhythms can be enjoyed in a human dimension, where it is easy to move about, information and one’s days can be organised leisurely in the pursuit of one’s interests or just letting oneself be enticed by the many activities on offer.
Perugia – The great “Guelf strong-hold” rises up in the region’s heart, with its 5 historical quarters closed in by its Etruscan town walls. These enormous bastions formed by boulders square cyclopean, were constructed 22 centuries ago and are still visible for long stretches. Entering the city via Porta San Pietro, whose exterior was remodeled by Agostino di Duccio in 1475, you’ll arrive at the Basilica of St. Dominic on the right-hand side; the very important National Archeological Museum of Umbria is to be found in the adjacent cloisters and convent. Continuing along, you’ll reach the Piazza del Sopramuro, where the 15th century Palace of the Old University and the adjacent Palace of the People’s Captain look down on the square. Further on, after a short climb, you’ll find yourself in one of Italy’s most important squares, where you’ll see the Priors’ Palace, the Cathedral and the 13th century Major Fountain at the center. At the extreme end of “Corso Vannucci” you’ll find famous panoramic gardens built on the foundations of the “Rocca Paolina”, a strong-hold built by Pope Paul III in 1540.
Gubbio is a very old town founded by Umbrian people on the top of the Ingino-Mountain at the beginning of the first century B.C. The ancient “Ikuvium” is proved by the Tables of Gubbio which are now kept in the Consul’s Palace built from 1332 to 1349 and which is one of the most important civil buildings of Italy. A real curiosity is the world’s tallest virtual Christmas tree: “drawn” on the slopes of the Ingino-Mountain by using a long chain of electric lights which are switched on in the occasion of the “Immaculate Conception” (8th of December), it illuminates the slopes during the whole Christmas period.
BETTONA, TORGIANO, ASSISI
The town of Bettona can boast ancient Etruscan origins, insofar as its foundation is dated at around the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. The historical center is harmoniously balanced with buildings from the 1300s and the 1500s such as the Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzo del Podestà. Overlooking the main piazza is the church of S. Maria Maggiore restored in 1600s.
The symbol of the town of Torgiano, the Tower of Guardia (or Baglioni), built in 1274, is the only remaining structure of the ancient defensive fortification and still retains its original appearance. The Museum of wine in this building has a vast collection of ancient and modern objects connected with wine making, printed books, manuscripts and antique engravings on enological topics. Viticulture has become important to this area in the last few years and the production of quality wine has increased, thus making the name Torgiano internationally well- known. Assisi, stretches out on the slopes of the Monte Subasio, above the plain where the Topino and Chiascio rivers flow.
Assisi’s oldest nucleus, which is protected by a defensive apparatus made up of eight fortified entrance portals and a long belt of town walls, which are still perfectly preserved, is topped by two castles on peak of the mountain: the Major Castle, reconstructed by the Cardinal Albornoz in 1367 and the Minor Castle. Apart from religious buildings too important to not be considered solely the heritage of Assisi such as the basilica of St. Francis, the tourist can also visit the churches of St. Clare and St.Peter.
BEVAGNA, SPELLO, SPOLETO
Bevagna of Roman origin and surrounded by rivers which have always represented its first natural defense, organizes the “Mercato delle Gaite”, a joyful challenge among artisan shops divided into the former medieval districts.
Spello, more than in any other Umbrian places, you will find traces of the ancient Romans. You should not miss visiting the Baglioni Chapel with its precious floor of Deruta majolica (1566). Every year on the occasion of Corpus Domini the town celebrates the “Infiorata” where flower petals are used to create beautiful pictures on its charming lanes.
Spoleto will fascinate you because of its many buildings but also due to its special relationship with nature which acts as the scenery of the history of the town. If you have some time you can drive from Spoleto towards Terni where you can visit the Cascate delle Marmore (the Marmore Falls) (165 m – the highest in Europe), artificial falls dating back to Roman times.