SOMES UMBRIAN CITIES
Perugia, the great "Guelf strong-hold" rises up in the region's heart, with its 5 storical quarters closed-in by its Etruscan town walls. These enormous bastions formed by cyclopic square masses, were constructed 22 centuries ago and are still visible for long stretches.
When the city of Rome was little more that an encampment of huts, one could already enter the etruscan Perugia Italy using one of 7 portals, among which one was particularly mighty, the Porta Pulchra or of Augustus, dating back to Etruscan times. Entering the city via Porta San Pietro, whose exterior was remodelled 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.
Assisi in Italy stretches out on the slopes of the Monte Subasio, above the plain where the Topino and Chiascio rivers flow.
Although it can boast Roman origins, its present-day appearance, because of the buildings and also the urban structure, is surely due to the city's development during the Middle Ages.
The ancient small town of Roman origin called Bevagna is to be found on the western fringe of the Foligno plain, at the foot of the group of hills where Montefalco rises up and near the loop of the river Timia.
Its modern-day appearance is surely the result of its developement during the Middle Ages. In fact, even if the Roman had constructed the ancient Menania in such a way that the Flaminia Road was the decuman axis of the town, the town's center is now placed more to the South. In Piazza Silvestri, you absolutely should not miss the Gothic Palace of the Consuls, situated singularly slantwise to the streets, amd the churches of St. Sylvester (1195 d.C.) and St. Michael Arcangel; the fountain which completes the scene of this exceptional public area is, however, an adaptation dating back to the 19th century. Even today, the medieval town portals, even after reconstructive measures such as those of the Porta San Venanzo in 1797, and long stretches of the old town walls, are in a good state of preservation. Other monuments testifying to the more ancient origins of Bevagna are not lacking: the ruins of a temple of the 2nd century A.C. on which the medieval church of the Madonna of the Snow was subsequently erected, the Roman theater (2nd century A.C.) which remains to serve as a foundation for a circular block along the course of the ancient Flaminia Road and the impressive remains of mosaics representing marine animals perhaps belonging to a thermal baths building. Among the most important manifestations taking place in the city we should absolutely mention the Market of the Gaite.
The origins of Deruta remain for the most part obscure. Of certainty are its links to Perugia, which has always been a valid bastion to the south, toward Todi, whose role is to this day witness of its fortified castle appearance.
During the 13th Century Deruta had its own statute, followed by, in 1465, a new document in vernacular which foresaw the presence in the castle, in addition to a podestà envoy from Perugia, of four "boni omini", elected from amongsts the residents. In the second half of 1400, the residents of this small town, were exterminated from pests, so that the city walls came down. In addition, during the Guerra del Sale" (1540), Deruta, which had aligned itself against the Pope, experienced ambushes and devastation. The submission of Perugia to the Church brought also to the small town a long period of peace, during which time the maximum development of works of art of the artistic majolica, activity which, throughout the Centuries, allowed Deruta to become known all over the world. Accessing the historical centre of Deruta from the door Porta di S.Michele Arcangelo, are immediately visible testimonies of ancient furnaces. In the small Biordo Michelotti Square are exposed the sober lines of roman-gothic of the S.Arcangelo Church. In front of which is situated the Fontana, with a polygonal plan, which was realized in 1848.
Laying on the slopes of Monte Ingino, Gubbio is one of the most ancient towns of Umbria, extremely well preserved during centuries and rich of monuments testifying its glorious past.
Two important witnesses of the past are the Tavole Eugubine, one of most important documents referring to the ancient people called Italici and the Roman Theatre just outside the walls of the town. Dominated from the top by the Basilica on which the rests of St. Ubaldo are buried, Gubbio keeps architectonic masterpieces testifying the beauty and the imprtance of what used to be during the Middle ages, a real town-state.
Montefalco, which is placed in a dominating position looking down on the valleys of the Topino and the Clitunno rivers, offers the viewer of a sweeping panorama of the Umbrian countryside.
The buildings inside the ancient town walls which are definitely worth visiting are, without doubt, the Town Hall, which dates back to the 13th century, as does the church of St. Augustine, the Romanic church of St. Bartholomew with the Portal of Frederick II (1244) to be found near-by and the church of St. Chiara where, inside, you'll discover paintings by the Umbrian school. You absolutely should not forget to visit the 14th century church of St. Francis, which is now the seat of the Pinacoteque; in fact, inside, you'll find many paintings of great artistic value such as the "Nativity" by Perugino and the extraordinary cycle of frescoes: " The Stories of St. Francis by Benozzo Gozzoli. Near the inhabitated area you'll find the 16th century church of St. Illuminata and the 15th century church of St. Fortunato which contains, in the lunette of the portal and in the altar to the right, works of art by Benozzo Gozzoli.
The first historical references to the town of Narni, which at that time was called "Nequinum", go back to the year 600 A.C., but the zone had already been inhabited from Neolithic times. In 299 B.C. Narni became a Roman colony named Narnia, and in 233 B.C. it became an important fort for the construction of the "Flaminia Road".
In 90 B.C. it became a township. Narni was exposed to the barbaric invasions because of its dominant position, and became a free township in the 11th century. Narni reached its period of major splendour during the 12th and 14th centuries. During the Renaissance, the town was frequented by artists of primary importance such as Rossellino, Ghirlandaio, Vecchietta, Antoniazzo Romano and Spagna. In 1527, due to treason, it was taken by the Lanzichenecchi, who burned it. Artists such as the Zuccaris, Vignola, Sangallo and Scalza participated in restoring the town, and in 1664 the municipal library was founded. Among illustrious persons born at Narni are recorded the Roman emperor Cocceio Nerva, Gattamelata, the beatified Lucia, Berardo Eroli, Galeotto Marzio and Cassio of Narni.
Situated at 604 meters above sea level between the Sordo and Torbidone rivers, the town of Norcia, in ancient times known as "Nursia",is the region's largest town.
The city's origins go back to ancient times: already during the Punic wars between the Romans and the Phenicians, Norcia was of great importance as has been recorded by Roman historians. Later, during Roman times, the town gained political importance: first, as prefecture and then as a township. Upset by the Longobards and then by the Goths, it later recovered and became an active town during the Middle Ages. Its storical treasures have been damaged for the major part by the very frequent earthquakes with have devasted the town during the centuries. The first recorded earthquake in fact dates back to the first part of the 6th century. However, due to a very meticulous restoration, the city is now able to show its original structure, with its splendid medieval and lordly architecture.As with the town of Cascia, Norcia was the birth-place of a great religious personage: St.Benedict, who was the first monk of Christian faith and the founder of the Benedictine order. He lived at the end of the 6th century between prayer and the humility of work, as he himself synthetized in his famous words: "Prayer and Work".
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 theater and the amphitheater, the thermal baths and the splendid town portals Porta Consolare, Porta Urbica and Porta Venere dating back to the Augustean era. In ascent, you'll arrive at the church of St. Mary Maggiore built Between the 11th and 12th centuries, which, even if it can boast a beautiful facade riconstructed with antique materials in 1644 at the same time as other architectonic modificatione were undertaken, guards its most precious treausure inside. In fact, the marvellous Baglioni Chapel is to be found on the left-hand side of the nave. with its paintings by Pinturicchio showing the "Annunciation", the "Nativity" scene and the "Dispute at the Temple", among other frescoes by the same painter which are to be found the chapels under the cross vaults and paintings by Perugino on the pilasters of the entrance to the presbytery. Close by, it is possible to visit the church of St. Andrew (13th century), which contains the painting of the "Madonna and the Saints" by Pinturicchio. Don't forget to take a look at the Town Hall in Piazza della Repubblica with its beautiful ogival portico, and the church of St. Laurence with the remains of the older building dating back to the 12th century. Looking out from the ruins of the Castle (14th century) which is situated on top of the hill, one dominates the valley of the Topino river and all of the surrounding hillside. Just outside of the inhabited area you'll find the Romanic church of St. Claudius and the "Chiesa Tonda" which was built during the Renaissance period in the form of a Greek cross with an octagonal cupola.
Spoleto, even if shows evident traces of the Roman era even in its urban structure, substantially mantains 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.
The Arch of Drusus (23 A.C.) to be found near the Romanic church of St. Ansano , the Roman theater, whose construction goes back to the first years of the Empire, and the paleocristian basilica St. Salvatore of the 4th century (at about 1.2 km's distance to the north), are testimonials of Spoleto's earliest origins. Close by, the church St.Gregorio Maggiore,(12th century), characterized by its evocative apsis zone and by the elevated presbitery, a Roman bridge (also called "the Bloody") consisting of three arches in travertine stone blocks and the amphitheater of the 2nd century A.C. can be found. More modern monuments which are as fascinating are the churches of St. Dominic and St. Ponziano, both of which were built during the 12th century. The church of St. Peter is surely of great interest because of its extraordinary bas-reliefs which decorate the facade which dates back to the 12th century.
Orvieto origins go back to the Etruscan civilization: the first Etruscan settlements, going back to the 9th Century B.C., infact, were found inside the tufaceous caves in the bedrock upon which today rises the city.
Annexed in the 3rd Century B.C. to the territories of Rome, it remained under the Roman domination until the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Afterwhich it became a free municipality, and during the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, was a valiant opponent of Barbarossa, remaining faithful to the Pope. Riding on the support of the Papal State, it was allowed to prosper through the entire Medieval Period, reaching the top of its development in the 13th Century with the constitution of the General Council of the 400 and the election of the Captain of the People.
There are several theories on the origin of the name: the word Todi or from the etrurian "tudicolare", or even from "tutus" ("a fortified place").
Beside the legends about the origins of Todi, the town was founded by the Umbrian people on 2700 before Christ. Later on, before the etrurians and after the romans held the power of the town, and building up a number of monuments, most of which can still be admired, like the Nicchioni Romani, on Mercato Vecchio square, which at the beginning were probably part of a basilica. On 88 b.C. Marco Crasso took for himself all the wealth of the town, and during the fall of the roman empire the town was robbed and destroyed. During this time bishop Fortunato bacame the protecting Saint of the town. During the Middle Ages, Todi was always in fight against the close Orvieto. On the XII century it bacame free commun, being this the onset of a very positve period, and marvelous monuments like Capitain Palace, il Priori Palace, the Dome and the very remarkable St. Fortunato Church were built. On 1236 Jacopone da Todi was born here, one of the firts poets to write in italian dialect and not in latin. On 1500, after a long dark period, the town rised again under the Renaissance influence; dated during this time has to be found the marvellous Consolazione Temple. Many of the public buildings rised during this time are due to the bishop Angelo Cesi.
Trasimeno lake, the forth italian lake for dimension, offer the opportunity to have boat trip to visit Major Isle and Polvese Isle, where visit the the ruin of the castle and of the Church.
The lake is surrounded by small village like Castiglione and Passignano, with a very beautiful walk along the lakeside and where will be possible to taste the fresh fish, of see and of lake, in one of the various restaurants
At the lake the are also sailing schools, 2 waterskiing schools, 2 kite surfing schools, many tennis courts, soccer fields, skeet shooting and archery ranges.