This is an excerpt from the book “Umbria“
The townscape is dominated by the massive structure of the Palazzo dei consoli, symbol of Gubbio’s medieval power and one of the most beautiful public palaces in Italy.
Built between 1332 and 1337 and attributed by some critics to Gattapone and by others to Angelo da Orvieto, the building, elegant and majestic, has plain and simple walls decorated by a row of windows in its upper storey; above there are a series of hanging arches and a Guelph battlement.
Notable is the fan shaped staircase leading, through a Gothic portal, to the large entrance hall, used in the Middle Ages for city assemblies. Now the Palazzo dei Consoli houses the Civic Museum and the important Picture Gallery, containing works by local painters as well as by Tuscan masters.
Another building of great interest in Gubbio is the Palazzo Ducale: of very ancient Lombard origin and restructured at the end of the 15th century by order of Federico da Montefeltro, it is an important example of Renaissance architecture. The inner courtyard, built of stones and bricks, is splendid, and the interior is extremely elegant: unfortunately when the palace became a private property the furnishings were dispersed and today one may admire the Duke’s studio – made of inlaid and carved wood – at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
In front of this building stands the Cathedral, a Gothic 14th century church built where there was an older one; the facade, restored in the 16th century, has a beautiful Gothic portal and is decorated with the symbols that represent the Evangelists and the Mystic Lamb, the latter a testimony to the older structure. Its interior has a nave characterized by ten great Gothic arches that support the roof. This church contains interesting paintings and a splendid Flemish cope made of golden brocade.
In the Piazza 40 Martiri is situated the Church of S. Francesco, built in Gothic style in the 13th century and attributed, but not definitively, to Fra’ Bevignate; the facade, uncompleted and altered, has a Gothic portal, a row of hanging arches and a small rose-window coming from the church of S. Francesco in Foligno. The interior has a nave with two aisles, and contains a rich painting decoration; the chapel in the right apse is dedicated to St. Francis and they say it was built above the Spadalongas’ house, where the Saint took the habit.
In Gubbio, near the square there is the austere Mausoleum of the 40 martyrs, erected in commemoration of the 40 citizens of Gubbio executed by the German Nazi forces on the 22 June 1944.
In the low-lying part of Gubbio can be admired the Roman theatre, a large and well-preserved building – the cavea measures 70 meters – built of square blocks; thanks to the good restoration important cultural events, especially classical theatre performances, are held in it.
In Gubbio there are many other buildings of historic and cultural interest: the Palazzo Pretorio, situated on the Piazza della Signoria opposite the Palazzo dei Consoli, built at the half of the 15th century by Gattapone in the Gothic style; the Palazzo del Bargello, very elegant medieval house; the Church of S. Maria della Vittoria, the so-called Vittorina: near a Franciscan monastery, it was one of the places frequented by St. Francis and, according tradition, it was here that took place the meeting between the Saint and the savage wolf, the famous wolf of Gubbio; the beautiful Gothic Church of S. Giovanni Battista; the Church of S. Domenico, with notable paintings; other small churches, noble palaces or simpler houses, the alleys, the wonderful landscape; and also the famous Fountain of the mad: they say that it’s sufficient to run round it three times to be admitted in the category.
The Basilica of S. Ubaldo: the church, dedicated to St. Ubaldo, bishop and patron Saint of the town of Gubbio, has a medieval origin, but was enlarged in 1514 by order of the Duchesses Elisabetta and Eleonora Della Rovere. It has a fine 16th century portal and a delightful Franciscan cloister. Its interior is divided into five aisles and on the major altar is placed the Renaissance urn that preserves the relics of St. Ubaldo, brought here in 1194. In the aisle on the left are housed the Candles.
The Basilica may be reached either by road or by a cable-car: departure from the center of Gubbio, near Porta Romana, and in few minutes’ trip one arrives at the Basilica, on the slope of the Mount Ingino, enjoying a magnificent panoramic view of the town and the valley below.
Corsa dei Ceri (Gubbio, May)
The Corsa dei Ceri is one of the most spectacular fascinating folk events in Umbria: the three teams devoted to St. Antonio, St. Giorgio, St. Ubaldo (Gubbio’s saint patron) have to run among jamming crowds, spurred on by their shouts and cheers, whilst carrying high wooden columns on top of which the saint statue is held, until they reach the church of Saint Ubaldo.
Where to stay in Gubbio
Hotels, farm stays, apartments and villas in Gubbio: search and reserve here.