Marcus Travel Journal
2023 - Umbria
It was great to return to the Montefalco area. I find the landscape in this area to be bery appealing.
Montefalco is a relatively small town with a population of under 6,000 that sits on a hill with its walls and a gate for protection. It has been in existance from pre-Roman times and still has made of its historic medieval buildings. It was for over 400 years part of the Papal States. Today it h olds the I Borghi più belli d'Italia designation (most beautiful villages of Italy).
This year met friends from Vancouver who were also in Italy for lunch at ther excellent restaurant L'Alchimista, located on the Piazza Comune., This restaurant is worth a detour to enjoy!
As I drove the area I did additional research and found that the Romans had two of their roads cross, just South West of Montefalco. The Roman Roads became Medieval roads and the area has a number of old medieval towns and castles.
One of the old towns I visited was Montecchio (Province of Perugaia) located along SR316.. There are a few other towns with the same name,
This small ancient town was build on the Roman Consular road build by Censor Caio Flaminio in 220 BC to connect Rome and the Adriatric ports. There is a sign by the old gate through the wall referencing Caio Flaminio. I think from what I have read, this was the western branch of the famous Roman road.
Not only were the old villages interesting to see, but then I started to look up the locations of abandoned castles. After the Roman Empire ended, the routes were used for medieval travel. and there is a network of castles for defense purposes.
The Castello di Spelta1 is a 13th Century castle. As with many castles, they became the shell for people to live in. In 1857 there were 69 people, in 13 families in 12 houses living within the walls of the castle. No one lives there now, it is privately owned and there is some, very little, restoration work being done.
Convento di San Fortunato
I somehow never made to the Convento di San Fortunato this year. I have it on my list for the next visit. It is located about a kilometer away from Montefalco. on the road that goes from Montefalco to Castello di Fabbri and Trevi. It was built on the site where, in the 4th century, a Roman basilica once stood. The convent is small but with impressive frescoes.
San Terenziano is an ancient village located just under a half an hour from Montelfalco. It dates back to the 1st Century of the Roman era when it was called "Locus Petrosus" from the Latin stony place due to its abundance of Travertine quarries and Calcareous stones.
I stopped by the town on a Sunday morning, enjoyed a cafe and walked through the small historic area of the castle. The town has an authentic feel. The historic area is very small and you have to leave the main road to find it.
I planned on returning to t Montone - about 40 minutes from Gubbio. Just was not there long enough so we will place this on our "next visit" list. It holds the status of one of the most beautiful villages in Italy - I Borghi più belli d’Italia, and the prestigious Orange Flag of the Italian Touring Club - a status given to small towns of 15,000 people or less with excellence in tourism, hospitality and the environment. I liked the town, although I was there very early in the morning so it was pretty quiet. Piazza Fortebraccio, pictured above, is the heart of the village. The former Convent of San Francesco is now the Municipal Museum.
This is an outing we can do on our next trip About an hour Montelfaco is the town of San Giustino, it is near the boarder of Umbria and Tuscany and noted for the imposing castle in the heart of the village. Originally a fortress, the Castello Bufalini was turned into a grand castle by the Bufalini family. What we see today are the results of renovations in the 16th Century. The gardens were added in the 17th C. The castle is open for visit on the weekend.
Museum Complex of San Francesco
A prestigious museum in Umbria. Via Ringhiera Umbra, 6
It is composed of: Church of San Francesco with rich internal decoration and the first nucleus of the convent. Civic Art Gallery, Archaeological section, cellars of the friars and exhibition spaces for temporary exhibitions. The frescoes are noted as being impressive.
Tucked under Lago Trasimeno, it is about 1 1/2 hours from either Gubbio or Montefalco.
On top of a 170 metre-high hill, the village medieval origins has keep the ancient Longbard military architecture with medieval walls, towers and small alleys.
It was about a thirty-minute drive from Montefalco to reach Collepepe. The hill-top town is noted for the medieval historic centre. I have a hard time accepting that. Yes it was an old town but there was not much of a feeling about being there. It could have been the weather, a coldish grey day that dampened my feeling towards the town.
For our next trip to this area I will have to visit Canalicchio, located about 45 minutes from Montefalco, It is described as a magical antique castle-town in Umbria. The charming stone buildings and cobbled streets were built in the Middle Ages, sprouting up around the characteristic Castello di Poggio. The castle itself was constructed in the 10th and 11th centuries by the Longbards as a rural outpost near Peruvian.
Today it's a compact but cute town with flower boxes and pretty panoramas. It perfectly preserves the ancient architecture, and hosts an upscale vacation resort complex and spa.
A small town with a year round population of ten people!
Campello sul Clitunno
I do not know why I did not visit this town on our 2023 travels to this area. It is on the list for our next visit. The intriguing village of Campello sul Clitunno, about 12 minutes from Montefalco, sits squarely on the hilltop above the Via Flaminia, just north of Spoleto. I have seen some references to the town as being named: Pissignano. The walled town stands like a medieval relic, beckoning to be visited and well worth the short detour up the hill to see the Old World atmosphere that it preserves. Still cradled within its stone protective walls, the village still looks basically like it did in the 1300s. The castle that created the hamlet is still there, along with a polygonal shaped tower. Campello could be used for a movie set in the Middle Ages!
About an hours drive from Gubbio or Montefalco, Citerna is a charming Umbrian town that sits right at the border where it bumps up with Tuscany. It is between Citta di Castello (Umbria) and Sansepolcro (Tuscany), and is very close to the lovely art city of Arezzo.
Named one of Italy's prettiest villages, it retains intact its Medieval character with its typical lanes, stone buildings, encircling walls, and city gates.
A unique feature of Citerna is the "Camminamento Medievale" - or medieval walkway. The arcaded covered passageway dates to the Middle Ages and still provides a romantic stroll with overlooks through the arches.
Porta Romana and Porta Fiorentina, for the directions they faced (towards Rome and towards Florence). The hexagonal shaped Monastery of St. Elizabeth is interesting, and Piazza Scipioni is a must, with its overlook of a natural amphitheater below in the Tiber Valley. A 'don't miss' monument is the Church of San Francesco, which is a church-museum.
Fossato di Vico
About a 25 minute drive from Gubbio and visited last time in the area.
The hamlet of Fossato di Vico has two distinct zones - the lower valley section along the Via Flaminia and the upper historic borgo on the hill. The narrow lanes preserve the medieval character of the old town, a joy to walk around and step back in time. I remember visiting this town a few years ago.
A medieval town about 45 minutes from Montefalco, the town is now known for olive oil The town did not live up to its description. I had a pleasant walk through the historic centre. A town to visit if you are passing by but not a destination.
Located about 50 minutes south of Montefalco. Arrone is a lovely-looking hamlet on a hill in southern Umbria. It is divided into two distinct parts. Around the base is the newer Santa Maria quarter, home to the Chiesea di Santa Maria Assunta, a 15th-century church bearing head-turning frescoes by artists including Vincenzo Tamagni and Giovanni da Spoleto. As you ascend Arrone’s steep, meandering streets you’ll come to its oldest part, La Terra, where history reverberates about the encircling walls of this beautifully preserved medieval village.
An half an hour from Gubbio is the town of Umbertide. I had high expectations but we missed the historic centre. I had read there was a broad new development that surrounds the old centre. So broad, I never saw the centre. We will have to do another take for this town.
It is said to be so well-preserved are some of its historic buildings that if someone led you here blindfolded and whipped it away, you may think you have been transported in time. The immaculate Rocca di Umbertide: a medieval castle that formed the guarding entrance to the citadel. Other highlights include the church of Santa Maria della Reggia, an unconventionally octagonal building housing paintings by Niccolò Circignani; see, too, just beyond town, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation – a dramatic castle and artists’ residence.
We will have to wait until our next trip to the area to revisit Assissi. It has been a few decades since we have been there.
It has been a long time since we have been in Spello. It is a scenic hill town, and don't pass over the word hill. You will be climbing up and then down as you visit the scenic strees. It is also well noted and crowded.
The Cassero di Porta Sant'Angelo
This may be on our list for the next trip. The e Cassero di Porta Sant'Angelo, the largest of the city's medieval gates, is one of the last remaining intact defensive towers in the city, as well as being another privileged observation point over Umbrian sunsets. Located at the beginning of Corso Garibaldi, the Cassero di Porta Sant'Angelo offers a rare view once you climb to the top. If the Keep is closed or inaccessible, you can always enter the green Sant'Angelo Park, which lies behind the tower, and from there enjoy the beauty of the valley below.
Chair Lift to Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo
This year I took the chair-lift, called the Bird Cage, to visit the basilica at the top of Mount Ingino, that sits above Gubbio. Church and adjacent convent built in the 1500s. There was much damaged during the bombing of WW II but you would not know it once you are there. It is a beautiful setting and the ride up and down in the open cages is a great experience and provides great views.