Key to Umbria: Foligno

Palaces in Walk I

Palazzo Elisei


Palazzo Giusti Orfini (ca. 1600)

This Giusti family, whose arms are above the portal, restructured this imposing palace  in the 1690s: an inscription on the balcony gives the date as 1693 (or perhaps 1699).  The Orfini family bought the rooms on the piano nobile in 1799 and subsequently acquired the rest of the palace.

Frescoes (17th century)

Some of the frescoes in the rooms of the piano nobile are attributed to Louis Dorigny.

Palazzo Gregori (16th century)

This palace belonged to the Gregori family.

The Teatro Apollo, which opened here in 1827, was renamed Teatro Piermarini, in honour of the architect Giuseppe Piermarini, after its restoration in 1891.

The building was destroyed in the bombardment of 194, and only its facade survives.   This now forms part of a modern building that houses an excellent café.

Palazzo Piermarini (early 19th century)

The architect Giuseppe Piermarini lived here from 1798, the year in which he returned to his native Foligno.  He held an influential salon here and probably still lived here at the time of his death in 1808. 

The palace was subsequently sold and rebuilt using materials from this earlier building.  The portal has the inscription “NON NOBIS DOMINE NON NOBIS” (Not unto us, Lord, Not into us), which is from Psalm 115 and formed part of the motto of the Templars.  The connection if any between the site and the Templars is unknown.

The palace now belongs to the Commune and houses the Scuola Giuseppe Piermarini, a junior school with its entrance at 21 Via Piermarini.

Palazzo Varini (15th century)

This palace (on the left in this photograph, with the canonical palace of San Salvatore to the right) was built across an opening between what is now Piazza Garibaldi and the Canale dei Molini. 

The arms on the 1st floor are those of the Varini family.  A Gothic window from an earlier building have been reused on the 2nd floor (on the extreme right).

The palace housed the Conservatorio delle Convertite, a refuge for fallen women, in the period 1740-1816 and an orphanage in the period 1823-64.  It was restored after the earthquake of 1997, and has housed the Camera di Commercio since 2005.

Palaces in Walk II

Palaces in the Insula dei Vitelleschi

Reconstruction of the palaces in Via Gramsci, by Vladimiro Cruciani (Archeofoligno, 2006)

The Insula dei Vitelleschi originally occupied much of the block bounded by:

  1. Via Antonio Gramsci,

  2. Via Scuola dei Arti e Mestieri,

  3. Via Palestro and

  4. Via del Liceo.

According to tradition, the buildings here belonged to the Vitelleschi family until it was expropriated by the Trinci family at the end of the 14th century: Cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi retrieved them when he drove the Trinci from Foligno in 1439.    According to Gabriele Metelli (referenced below, at p. 429), the property was divided between four members of the Vitelleschi family in 1501.

The most interesting part of the complex is at 46-54 Via Gramsci: according to Vladimiro Cruciani (see the link above):

  1. structures A-C (now part of Palazzo Vitelleschi) were unified in the middle of the 15th century; and

  2. structure D (now part of Palazzo Piermarini Prosperi Valenti) was incorporated into it in ca. 1700.

As described below, these interconnected structures remained in Vitelleschi ownership until the 18th century.

Palazzo Vitelleschi


Palazzo Vitelleschi has its main entrance at number 52 Via Gramsci and its subsidiary entrance at number 54.   An inscription in the atrium of the piano nobile records the residence here of Cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi. 

According to Gabriele Metelli (as above), it passed to Valerio Vitelleschi in the split of 1501 and was rebuilt by his descendants, Giustiano and Girolamo, in 1694-6.

This part of the complex now belongs to the Comune di Foligno.

Palazzo Piermarini Prosperi Valenti


Despite its grand appearance, the main entrance at number 48 Via Vitelleschi leads only to the garden of Palazzo Piermarini Prosperi Valenti:  the main entrance to this palace is at number 50, to the left (which is actually in the facade of Palazzo Vitelleschi). 

The part of the complex between the portals at numbers 48 and 50 was originally a tower.  If the door at number 50 is open, you can see that the left side of this tower (i.e. the wall on your right) incorporated a stretch of walls some 7 meters long by about 2 meters high made of travertine blocks that were probably cut in the Roman period.

According to Gabriele Metelli (as above), this residence passed to Achille Vitelleschi (a brother of Valerio) in the split of 1501.  He apparently bought the nearby Cappella di Santa Maria Maddalena, which seems to have belonged originally to the Trinci family.

This line of the family died out in 1773 and the residence was sold two years later to Vincenzo e Ludovico, the sons of Gregorio Piermarini.  The complex took on its present form after it passed to their nephew, Gregorio Onori Piermarini (1772 -1844).  This sale seems to have includes part of the ground floor of Palazzo Vitelleschi:

  1. as noted above, the main entrance to Piermarini Prosperi Valenti is at number 50; and

  2. the intertwined letters G and P, probably the initials of Gregory Piermarini, can be seen in the frame of the window to the right of the portal at number 52.

The fresco above, which comes from what seems to have been the studiola of Gregorio Onori Piermarini, depicts, Villa Fidelia, Spello, which he bought in 1822. 

This part of the complex passed by marriage to Filippo Valenti of Trevi, whose family owned it until the late 20th century.  It has been recently restored.  (There is further information on this palace in an article by Luigi Sensi in the webpage on this restoration).

Palazzo Vallati Montogli

This palace has retained some of the features of the earlier Renaissance building.  In particular, the windows in Via Palestro are inspired by those of Palazzo Ducale, Urbino.

Palazzo Gigli

Unlike the other palaces, which have their entrances in Via Antonio Gramsci, Palazzo Gigli has its main entrance in Via Palestro.  According to Gabriele Metelli (as above), this residence passed to a third of the Vitelleschi brothers, Giustiniano, and passed to the Gigli family when Agnese Vitelleschi married Giuseppe Gigli.

Palaces in Piazza XX Settembre

This piazza contains three important Patrician Palaces:

Palazzo Monaldi Barnabò (1620-8)

The inscription over the portal of this palace records its first owner, “MAXIMILIANUS MONALDUS”.  This was Massimiliano Monaldi di Spello, who amassed a fortune by acquiring a monopoly over the sale of salt in Umbria.  He began acquiring property here in 1620 and construction on his new palace was complete by 1628.

The palace passed to the Barnabò family in the early  18th century and then to the Commune.   It housed the Liceo Federico Frezzi until it was damaged in the earthquake of 1997.  It has recently been restored. 


                         Adelaide Cairoli                      Giuseppe Mazzini                      Giuseppe Garibaldi

                      and Anita Garibaldi             and Maurizio Quadrio

A series of inscriptions on the facade commemorate important figures of the Risorgimento.

A detached fresco (15th century), which is attributed to Ugolino di Gisberto, was discovered in Palazzo Barnabò in 1908.  It depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Michael and Francis.  The baby Jesus lifts His tunic to show his genitals, presumably to emphasise his humanity.  It is now in the Pinacoteca Civica.

Palazzo Jacobilli Carrara (ca. 1565) 

The inscription over the portal of this palace records its first owner, “FRANCISCUS JACOBILLIUS”, who belonged to the family of the famous historian, Ludovico Jacobilli. The palace subsequently passed to the Carrara family of Terni and then, in 1859, to the Commune.

Palazzo Gherardi (remodelled in the 16th century)

This is the oldest of the three palaces.  Traces of the original Gothic structure survive at the rear.  The asymmetric front entrance is also evidence of the fact that the palace was remodel[ed rather than rebuilt.

The inscription over the portal reads, “PIER ALOYSIUS GHERARDUS MILES S. PETRI”.  This records Pier Luigi Gherardi, who was Master of Horses to Pope Paul III.

Other Palaces in Walk II

Palazzo Alleori-Ubaldi (16th-18th century)

According to Gabriele Metelli (referenced below, at p. 430), a palace here owned by the Ciadelli family was acquired in 1617 by Maria Ciadelli, the mother of Cosimo, Giulio and Antonio Jacobilli.  The interior was remodelled in 1670, and it took on its present form in 1712-24.

Casa degli Atti (14th century)

According to Gabriele Metelli (referenced below, at p. 428), Atto di Mattiolo degli Atti acquired and here in 1370, on which he built a a sumptuous residence with gardens.  The palace passed to Francesco Jacobilli in 1563 and to the Cataleni family in the 17th century..  It has been largely rebuilt, but the arms of the Atti family survive, embedded in the original ground floor loggia.

Palazzo Barnabò alle Conce (ca. 1510)


The Borsciani Cibo family probably built this palace.  The facade has two entrances, one of which bears the Cibo arms.  It passed to the Elmi family in the middle of the16th century.  It was subsequently divided:

  1. part passed to the the Elisei family in 1629; and

  2. part passed to the the Orfini family in 1636).

Palazzo Brunetti Candiotti (1781)

The Brunetti family were wealthy merchants who built this palace to establish their social status in the city.  It subsequently passed to the Candiotti family. 

You can walk through the portal to see the rear of the palace, which has a series of plaques that commemorate the many notables who stayed here “in the grand manner”.  These include:

  1. the French General Giocchino Murat in 1801;

  2. Duke Amadeo Ferdinando Maria of Aosta in 1882; 

  3. Duke Emmanuel Philiberto of Savoy in 1889; and

  4. King Umberto I of Savoy in 1899.

Palazzo Cibo Nocchi (1497)


Bishop Luca Borsciani Cibo probably built this Renaissance palace. 

  1. The date is inscribed on the portal. 

  2. The arms of Luca Borsciani Cibo are above it.  He was actually called Luca Borsciani but was given the right to use the name and arms of the Cibo family by Pope Innocent VIII (Giovanni Battista Cibo). 

Annunciation (ca. 1420)

This fresco, which is attributed to Andrea di Cagno, was painted in the piano nobile of the palace.  It was detached and sold to the Commune in 1958, although the sinopie apparently still survives in situ.  The fresco itself is now in the Pinacoteca Civica.

Palazzo Gentili Spinola (16th century) 


The original palace on this site belonged to the de Comitibus (later de' Conti) family, who were descended from the Conte di Antignano e Coccorone.  According to tradition, the original palace survived a lightening strike in the early 16th century, an event that prompted Sigismondo de' Conti to commission the Madonna di Foligno (ca. 1511) from Raphael.  (This important altarpiece was originally in Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome.  In 1565, Sigismodo's niece, Anna de' Conti arranged for the altarpiece to be moved to Sant' Anna.  It is now in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome.)

The de' Conti line became extinct in 1561 with the death of Cecilia de' Conti, and the palace passed to her husband's family, the Seggi.  Sebastiano Spinola da Savona bought it in 1586:  the inscription "Sebastianus Spinula Savou" on the architrave of the portal suggests that it was rebuilt between 1586 and Sebastiano's death in 1596.  The palace passed to Flaminia Spinola, who married into the Gentili family.  The arms above the portal are those of Sebastiano Gentili Spinola, who was Bishop of Terni in 1656-67. 

If the door is open, you can see the lovely inner courtyard.  The octagonal well there bears the arms of the de' Conti family.

Palazzo Nuti Deli (1510-6)


The palace was built at the time of the marriage of Francesco Nuti of Assisi and Roderica Varini of Foligno  The lovely portal bears the coats of arms of the Nuti and Varini families.   It passed to the Deli family  in the 17th century, and subsequently to the Comune di Foligno.  It now houses the State Archives.

The palace incorporates the tower of an earlier building on the site.  A recent restoration has revealed its original pink stone of the facade.  A number of large travertine blocks at the base of the tower were probably cut originally in the Roman period.

Read more:

G. Metelli, Sviluppo Economico-Urbanistico di Foligno nei Secoli XV-XVII”, Bollettino Storico della Città di Foligno, 20-1 (1996-7) 425-44

Return to the page on Monuments of Foligno.

Return to Walk I:  Palazzo Varini;  Palazzo Gregori/ Teatro Piermarini;

Palazzo Piermarini; Palazzo Elisei; Palazzo Giusti Orfini.

Return to Walk II:  Palazzo Nuti Deli;  Palazzo Cibo Nocchi;

Casa degli Atti;  Palazzo Gentili Spinola;  Palazzo Brunetti Candiotti;

palaces in the Insula dei Vitelleschi; palaces in Piazza XX Settembre.


Patrician Palaces of Foligno

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