Key to Umbria: Città di Castello

Other Vitelli Palaces

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Vitelli Palaces:  Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera    Other Vitelli Palaces

There are four surviving Vitelli palaces in Città di Castello: Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera has its own page and the other three are described here.

Palazzo Vitelli in Via Mattonata (16th century)


This was almost certainly the site of the first palace of the Vitelli family in the 15th century.  It seems to have been subsequently rebuilt.  The family is commemorated by their arms on the architraves of the first floor windows, and by the arms of their Medici allies on the facade.

Palace of Giulio Vitelli (15th century)

This palace at number 1 Via dei Casceri belonged to Giulio Vitelli, who was bishop of Città di Castello in the period 1499-1503.  He is commemorated by the inscriptions on the architraves of the first floor windows, where the initials “V  I”  (Vitelli Iulius) flank the Vitelli arms.

Palazzo Vitelli in Piazza (late 15th century)


This palace stands in Piazza Matteotti, which was originally known as Piazza Vitelli  and which was laid out shortly after the completion of its main facade in the the 16th century.  However, its history is best understood if you follow the detour at the start of Walk I by walking along its left side (Via Sant’ Apollinare). 


The opening on the right leads to a courtyard, which is usually open:

  1. the main wing of the palace, which you saw in Piazza Mateottoi, is now on your right; and

  2. an older wing, which is known as Palazzo Vitelli all' Abbondanza, is on on your left.

This older wing takes its name from the fact that it was adapted from a number of buildings that included a grain store.  It was probably begun in 1487, when Camillo, Paolo and Vitellozzo Vitelli sought the permission of the Commune to build a residence on land that they owned in the city.   

The rear facade of Palazzo Vitelli all'Abbondanza is in Via del Popolo. Its ground floor was originally split into separate properties that were rented out:
  1. the first portal belonged to the church of Santa Luciola, the headquarters of the Università dei Fabbri (blacksmiths’ guild); and

  2. the unit at number 14 was a workshop belonging to the Ubaldini della Carda family.

The imposing portal of this part of the palace is at the junction with Via Cerboni. 

Turn right at the end along Via Angeloni: Supermercato all’ Abbondanza at this junction is named for the palace.  Turn right again to return to Piazza Matteotti to see the main facade of the palace, which was completed by Alessandro Vitelli after 1546. 

The palace passed to the Bufalini family at some time in the 18th century.  

Palazzo Vitelli a Porta San Giacomo (early 16th century)

According to tradition, Cardinal Vitellozzo Vitelli (died 1568) commissioned this palace for his mother, Angela (Paola) de’ Rossi, who was reputedly unhappy at Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera because of the presence there of the mistress of her second husband, Alessando Vitelli.  It is however possible that her first husband, Vitello Vitelli (died 1528) had commissioned it before his death.  

When Angela de’ Rossi died here in 1573, she was buried in the nearby church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.  The palace seems to have been completed by the cardinal’s older brother, Paolo II, Marchese di Cetona (died 1574), for whom the street along its left wall is named.

The palace passed to the Marchesi del Monte Santa Maria in the 18th century.  They created the pensile garden of Casa Battocchi opposite on the site of the original stables.

Art from the Palace

Culla di Putti (ca. 1540 ?)

In his life of il Parmigianino, Giorgio Vasari recorded a “ ‘culla di putti’ (cradle of baby angels), which was painted by il Parmigianino for “Signora Angela de' Rossi of Parma, wife of Signor Alessandro Vitelli ..., [which is] at Città di Castello”.  It seems likely that this painting was once in Palazzo Vitelli a Porta San Giacomo

Palazzo Vitelli a Porta Sant' Egidio (1535-71)

Detail from the plan (ca. 1675) of Città di Castello

by Filippo Titi (Biblioteca Comunale “Giosue Carducci”)


A document of 1535 records that Gentilina della Staffa, the widow of Nicolò II Vitelli, commissioned the construction of this palace from a local stonemason, Bernardini di Pietro.  It is named for the nearby city gate that was demolished to make way for Piazza Garibaldi.  It was presumably the home of her son, Chiappino (Giovanni Luigi Vitelli) although it is principally associated with her nephew, Paolo Vitelli (above).

The subsequent history of its construction is unclear, although at least part of it was in use in 1544.  It must have been largely complete by 1571, when Paolo Vitelli commissioned the Bolognese artist Prospero Fontana to lead a team of artists on its frescoes.  These were to be completed in time for a visit by Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma.

A fire destroyed much of the main reception room of the palace in 1686.

The palace belonged to the Cassa Risparmio di Città di Castello until May 2013, when it was transferred to the Commune.  It is now closed for internal restoration, but will in future be used for exhibitions and musical events.  This video takes a tour around the palace after the first phase of its restoration (May 2013) and records a concert held to mark the occasion.

The rear facade of the main wing of the palace opens on what formerly was a wonderful Italian garden enclosed on one side by a wall along Via san Bartolomeo and on the other by the city walls.  This garden, which was probably inspired by the Boboli Gardens, Florence, is divided by a row of 14 statues in niches. 

Walking along Via San Bartolomeo, one passes two old religious buildings that have been incorporated into the garden, just beyond the right end of the row of niches:

  1. the ex-church of Santa Maria delle Neve (15th century) [48]; and

  2. a building described by Filippo Titi in the key to the plan above as the old place of the Capuchins [21]. 

Continuing along the garden wall takes you to the Palazzina Vitelli, which is built around a medieval tower in the city walls. 

Art in the Palace

Frescoes (ca. 1545-56)

The frescoes in the loggia of the Palazzina are attributed to Cristofano Gherardi, il Doceno.   He was documented as in the service of Paolo Vitelli in a letter to his mentor, Giorgio Vasari that was written in Rome in 1545.

Frescoes (1571-4)

As noted above, Paolo Vitelli commissioned the frescoes of the palace from the Bolognese artist Prospero Fontana.  These were to be completed in time for a visit by Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma.

  1. The frescoes on the facade, which no longer survive, were attributed to Prospero Fontana: so too are the frescoes in the atrium.

  2. Frescoes in the rooms on the piano nobile mainly attributed Prospero Fontana.  However, others can be attributed to younger members of his team, including Orazio Sammacchini and Nicolò Circignani, il Pomarancio.

The frescoes in the Sala dei Fasti, the main room of the piano nobile, depict:

  1. Paolo I Vitelli at the head of the Florentine army that drove the Venetian Army from the Casentino in 1499;

  2. Pope Julius II welcomes [the cousins Giovanni, Vitello and Chiappino Vitelli] as replacements for the dilatory Francesco Maria della Rovere and Fabrizio Colonna at the siege of Mirandola in 1510;

  3. Emperor Charles V creates Alessandro Vitelli as Lord of Amatrice in 1529, in the aftermath of the sack of Rome;

  4. Election of Cosimo I de’ Medici as Grand Duke of Florence. in 1537.

The chapel is frescoed with scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

Read more:

C. Galassi, “ ‘Maestri di Contado’ e Pittori Foresti: i Soffitti Intagliati e Dipinti di Palazzo Vitelli a Sant' Egidio in Città di Castello”, in

  1. L. Giordano (Ed.), “Soffitti Lignei: Convegno Internazionale di Studi”, (2005) Pisa, pp 111-45

Return to:

Walk I (Palazzo Vitelli in Via Mattonata; Palace of Giulio Vitelli; Palazzo Vitelli in Piazza);

Walk II (Palazzo Vitelli a Porta San Giacomo; Palazzo Vitelli a Porta Sant' Egidio) 

Return to Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera.

Return to Monuments of Città di Castello.