Key to Umbria: Gubbio

Walk I: Inside the Walls

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The walk begins in Piazza dei Quaranta Martire, which is the point of entry for most visitors to Gubbio.  This has been the city’s market square since the Middle Ages.  Following the unification of Italy in 1860, it was named for King Victor Emanuel II (1861-78).   The piazza was given its present name after the Second World War to honour 40 citizens who had been executed by the Germans in 1944.  (They are buried in a mausoleum that is visited in Walk II.)

he walk begins at the war memorial, which was erected at the centre of the piazza in 1924.   If you stand with this memorial behind you, the imposing apse of San Francesco is on your right.  (This church is visited when you return here later in the walk).

Cross the road to your left and bear left along the north side of the piazza, under the the colonnade of the Ospedale della Misericordia, with the Loggia dei Tiratori above.   

The colonnade continues to the left, along the right wall of the church of Santa Maria dei Laici, which has its facade in Via Ambrogio Piccardi.

Turn right along Via Ambrogio Piccardi and right again along Via dei Battilana: this second street is named for the woolworkers’ guild, which owned the Loggia dei Tiratori.  Take a short detour by turning right at the end (along Stretta del Fondaccio) to the back of the Loggia dei Tiratori and the Camignano torrent. 


An ancient brick structure that has been excavated under the loggia (in the premises of what is now the Unicredit Banca) seems to have been associated with this stream, albeit that its precise function is unclear (city gate, bridge, channelling structure?).  A cippus (1st century BC) that remains in situ on the right (lower) bank of the Camignano (now in the basement of the Unicredit Banca) contained the inscription (EDR 158581) “F(ines) P(ublici)”, which dates to the period 70 - 30 BC.  This suggests that the torrent marked the southern (lower) boundary of the urban settlement at this time.  (You can ask at the bank to see this excavated area and the inscription - I have picked out the inscription on the cippus for clarity).

Retrace your steps along along Stretta del Fondaccio and continue to Piazza San Giovanni, which is dominated by the church of San Giovanni Battista

This church was probably built in the 13th century on a site that was within a circuit of walls that had existed from at least 921.  This enclosure probably contained:

  1. the first Duomo of San Mariano, the Canonica and an associated hospice; and

  2. the “plebem ... S. Johannis de civitate” (parish church of St John), which was the predecessor of the current church and which was was documented as a possession of the canons of San Mariano in 1137.

Walk to the far end of the piazza, on the bank of the Camignano torrent, and look back at San Giovanni Battista.  You can now get an idea of the extent of this 10th century episcopal enclosure:

  1. its lower boundary was probably marked by the Camignano behind you;

  2. it was probably bounded on the left by Via Piccardi (visited above);

  3. its upper boundary coincided with Via dei Consoli (on the far side of Palazzo dei Consoli, which you can clearly see in front of you); and

  4. it was probably bounded on the right by Via della Repubblica (below).

As you will see below, the ancient city of Ikuvina had probably extended down the slope of Monte Ingino as far as  Via dei Consoli.  The episcopal enclosure thus occupied an area below this, which had been settled by the 1st century BC.

The piazza, which was at the heart of the medieval city, took on its present appearance in 1870.  This urban development involved the demolition of a mill on the Camignano, “posto sotto la pieve di San Giovanni” (below San Giovanni) that St Ubaldus had given to the canons of San Mariano in 1114. 

Leave the piazza along Via ? to the right, and continue to the junction with Via della Repubblica.  The Porta San Giovanni, a gate in the walls surrounding the old Duomo, probably stood to your right.  This can be deduced from a document of 1274 records a road that  left the enclosure “ad portam sancti Johannis” and continued to the Camignano.  Both the gate and the walls were subsequently demolished, probably soon after this document was written.

Turn left along Via della Repubblica to Via Baldassini at the end of it.  The church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami is immediately on the right.  

Takes a short detour by turning right , to see:

  1. Palazzo della Porta, at number 16 on the right; and

Walk back and continue along Via Baldassini, which is named for  the family of St Ubaldus: the house (14th century) at number 34-8 is traditionally said to stand on the site of the family home. 

The massive substructure (1321) that supports the Piazza della Signoria (below) is opposite. 

The Chiesa della Misercordia is further along,  at number 22.

Continue to Largo del Bargello, which is named for the Palazzo del Bargello on the left.   The original fountain here, Fonte di San Giuliano, was documented in 1274.  The present Fontana dei Matti (16th century) in front of the palace owes its name to the fact that anyone who runs round it three times and then jumps in can claim to be mad.  This fountain was remodelled in ca. 1900.

The church of San Giuliano (illustrated here) is opposite Palazzo del Bargello, with its façade on Via dei Consoli.  Documents suggest that this was the site of a gate in the 10th century walls of Gubbio called Porta San Giuliano.  It was probably also the site of the Ikuvine Porta Tessenaca.  A tract of ancient wall containing an opening for pedestrians is apparently visible from what are now the premises of the majolica outlet of Maestro Leo Grilli at number 1, Largo del Bargello (the door of which is in the right wall of the church).  Blocks that were reused in the foundation of the building at 39 Via dei Consoli (at the junction with Largo del Bargello and Via Remosetti) probably came from the wall.
Turn right along Via dei Consoli.  As noted above, this street (and its continuation, Via XX Settembre - see below)  probably marked the lower boundary of ancient Ikuvina.  An ancient necropolis (11th - 10th century BC) that was discovered during roadwork here in 2007 probably pre-dates this city, and probably served the older settlements that have been discovered in the surrounding uplands.  The excavations uncovered some 40  impasto (clay) lidded cinerary urns, some of which are exhibited in the Museo Archeologico, Perugia.  Grave goods from the necropolis are exhibited in the Antiquarium.  The area of excavation was necessarily limited, and it seems likely that other graves survive nearby.


                                        Palazzo del Podestà                                           Palazzo dei Consoli

Continue to the magnificent pensile Piazza della Signoria on the right, which began to take shape in 1321, when the Consiglio Generale (ruling council) of Gubbio resolved to build two new public palace shere:

  1. Palazzo dei Consoli on the right houses the Museo Civico and the Pinacoteca Civica; and

  2. Palazzo del Podestà (later del Pretorio) is still used as the town hall.

Palazzo Ranghiasci-Brancaleone is on the opposite side of Via dei Consoli: the present neo-classical facade (1841) masks a number of much earlier structures that were consolidated to form the palace.

Continue ahead, along what is now Via XX Settembre to the junction with Via Mastro Giorgio on the right.  The house on the right just after Albergo Bosone apparently belonged to Ottaviano Nelli: a fresco (15th century) of the Coronation of the Virgin that is attributed to him once occupied the aedicule on its wall.

Continue past Largo Vescovile on the left, which is named for Palazzo Vescovile.

Continue along Via XX Settembre, past two interesting monuments on the left:

  1. the Collegiata di Santa Cristina, at number 35; and

  2. the long facade of the Conservatorio delle Orfanelle di Gubbio, beyond it.

Via Colomboni, a narrow street on the left, is signed to the nunnery of Sant’ Antonio da Padova (below).  It also marks the start of the nunneries of San Marziale and Santa Chiara, which merged in 1787.  The combined nunnery extended along Via XX Settembre to their church of San Marziale (illustrated here).

The Arco di San Marziale on the right probably stands on or near the site of the Ikuvine Porta Vehia and seems to incorporate fragments from it. 

Complete the circuit around the complex of San Marziale by turning left along the side of the church (Via Appennino) and left again along Via del Monte, to the junction with Via Colomboni. 

Continue along Via del Monte, past the Dominican nunnery of Sant’ Antonio da Padova (mentioned below) at number 4.   The road continues past the orchard of the Duomo and the apse of the church on the left.  A fork in the road to the right leads to Porat Sant’ Ubaldo (visited in Walk II), which is the highest point of the walled city.

Continue (steeply downhill) along the left wall of the Duomo and into the small piazza in front of its facade.  From ca. 1188, when the “new” Duomo and adjacent Canonica were built here, this was the “novam civitatem” or new civic centre of Gubbio.  A document of 1203 was notarised “sub tracandam palatii communis Eugubini” ( under the covered loggia of Palazzo Comunale) here.   Both the civic and ecclesiastical buildings opened onto the new “platea communis”, which was bounded by the new city wall and a gate, the Porta Sant’ Agnese (named for the nunnery outside the walls).  This gate, which was closed in ca. 1480, stood on or near the site of the Ikuvine Porta Trebulana,which probably marked the upper limit of the ancient city.

The old civic centre became redundant when the present public buildings were built, following a decision taken in 1321 (see above).  The space in front of the Duomo was transformed in ca, 1476, when Palazzo Ducale was built opposite: the lovely inner courtyard of this palace stands on the site of the old civic square and excavations under it have revealed the remains of the old civic buildings. 

Continue steeply down what is now Via Sant‘ Ubaldo to the point at which it turns through  90° to become Via Ducale:

  1. Palazzo dei Canonici on the left of Via Ducal now houses the Museo Diocesano;  

  2. the vaulted street known as the  Voltone on the right runs under Palazzo Ducale, and the openings in the left lead to its hanging gardens (which contain a welcome café). 

After visiting Museo Diocesano, walk through the Voltone and continue along what has become Via Cattedrale.  Parco Ranghiasci-Brancaleoni (visited in Walk II) is on the right.  The tower on your right is all that remains of the monastery of San Luca, which was largely demolished when the park was laid out in ca. 1830.

The road passes over the Camignano torrent.  The overpass behind it was built to provide a new entrance to Parco Ranghiasci-Brancaleoni from Via Gabrielli (below).

Turn left along Via Gabrielli to the junction with Via Capitano del Popolo.  Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo is on the right. 

The oval marked out by four marble slabs in the pavement in front of the palace is known as il Pietrone.  The bier on which the statue of the dead Christ that carried during the annual Good Friday procession is laid here for a few moments, repeating a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages.  Tradition has it that these slabs featured in the ancient rites of urban purification that are described in the Iguvine Tables.

Continue along Via del Popolo, passing Teatro Comunale at number 17.

Turn left along Via Cleofe Borromei and follow it turns through 90°  and runs along the left wall of he church of San Domenico.  The first church here, which was dedicated as San Martino, gave its name to this administrative district.  The square in front of San Domenico is usually called Piazza San Martino, albeit that it was re-named as Piazza Bruni in the anti-clerical period following the unification of Italy .  This was in honour of Giordano Bruni, who renounced the Dominican Order in 1576 and was executed as a heretic in 1600. 

On leaving the church, take a short detour by turning right along Via Cavour to see Palazzo Beni, he first palace on the left.

Walk back  across Piazza San Martino, and along Via Nicolò Vantaggi (previously Via Gabrielli):

  1. Palazzo Benveduti, at number 24 on the left, has a memorial on its wall to the anarchist Pietro Gori.  This quotes from his poem “Addio a Lugano” (Farewell to Lugano), which relates to his period of exile in Switzerland in 1895.

  2. Palazzo Gabrielli, further along at number 25, has the tallest surviving medieval tower in Gubbio).

  3. The remains  of the Fonte di San Verecondo (originally Fonte di Ser Baglioni) are opposite: this fountain was named for the Ospedale di San Verecondo, which was documented “iuxta Fontem ser Baglionis” in the 14th century, and which belonged to the Abbazia di San Verecondo di Vallingegno.

Turn right along Vicolo Onedei and right again along Via del Camignano, along the right bank of the Camignano torrent.  Continue to the next bridge, Ponte San Martino, the junction with Via dei Consoli.  As noted above, this road probably follows the line of the lower boundary of the ancient city.  The bridge here was certainly in existence in Roman times and perhaps even earlier, albeit that it was rebuilt in the Middle Ages. 

Continue along Via del Camignano, which now follows the left bank of the torrent.  Cross the torrent again at the next bridge and turn left along the right bank (Via Toschi-Mosca).  The three bridges after Ponte San Martino are called collectively the Ponti dell’ Abbondanza, and the surrounding buildings housed the city’s grain store, the water mill and two public bakeries.

This street leads back into Piazza 40 Martiri, with the facade of Santa Maria dei Battilana (16th century) immediately on your right.  This deconsecrated church, which once belonged to the Università dei Lanari (woolworkers’ guild), now houses an American restaurant called “The Village”. 

Walk across the facade of this church and continue anti-clockwise round the piazza.  The public gardens on your left were laid out in 1881.  The large complex on your right houses the ex-hospital, which was developed in two phases:

  1. the Infermeria Nuova (1628), which extends from the present Farmacia Comunale to the “Speziaria” (old apothecary) with its distinctive portal; and

  2. the Ospedale Grande (1746-66), which has its facade in Via degli Ortacci.

The facade of San Francesco is on the opposite side of Via degli Ortacci.   

Continue anti-clockwise round the piazza on leaving San Francesco and turn right along Via Mazzatinti.  The fresco in the niche of the facade of the first building on the left on the left is all that remains of the church of San Bernardino

Continue to the junction with Via Cairoli and Via Reposati. 

[A fresco (15th century) of the Annunciation that is attributed to Ottaviano Nelli survives in a private house in via Mazzatinti/ via Reposati.  A fragment of a figure of St Louis of Toulouse with the same attribution, which was detached from this house in 1898, passed to the Perkins Collection and is now in the deposit of the Galleria Nazionale, Perugia]

Take a short detour along Via Cairoli:

  1. The ex-Seminary is on the right, before the junction with Via Gioia: it moved here in 1638 to what had been the site of the Monastero di Sant’ Elisabetta.

  2. The church of San Filippo Neri is further along on the right, just after the junction.

[Centro Pastorale San Filippo: 18 via Cairoli - Piccola Accoglienza Gubbio - a service for tourists and pilgrims]

Retrace your steps,  passing the ex- Monastero di Santo Spirito on the right.  The now the  closed Cinema Italia occupies the ex-church and the Post Office beyond it is in part of the ex-nunnery.  [The complex also houses the Centro Convegni Santo Spirito, which has its entrance in Via Gioia ??].  Walk into the car park in Piazza Arturo Frondizi on the right (at the junction) to see the back of the complex.  The nuns’ chapel, the Cappella del Rosario, is at the far left: its lovely frescoes can be seen through the glass door.  (They were in restoration at the time of my visit in April 2014, but visible behind the scaffolding.

The piazza is named for Arturo Frondizi, who was born in Argentina to parents from Gubbio and who was President of Argentina in 1958-62.  He was made an honorary citizen of Gubbio in 1960 and the square was named for him 1999 on the 90th anniversary of his birth.  (He died in 1995).

Turn left along Via Reposati to Via Falcucci at the end.  The Fonte di San Pietro (1536, restored in the 17th century), which is immediately in front of you, is fed by water that is carried from the Cavarello Torrent by the so-called Acquedotto Minore.   The relief (1955) of the Madonna and Child that decorates it is by Antonio Maria Rossi.

The double gate of Porta San Pietro (visited in Walk II) is on the right: the grounds of the Abbazia di San Pietro used to extend as far as its inner arch, and the small room above it was a punishment cell.  The abbey itself is to the left, in Piazza di San Pietro.  [It was closed for restoration at the time of my visit in April 2014].  Turn right on leaving the church and right again along Via Armanni, which runs along its left side.   Via Fonte Avellana leads to the entrance of the the Biblioteca Sperelliana, which moved to the ex-monastery in 2010
Continue along along Via Armanni  and turn right atthe junction with Corso Garibaldi.  Continue to the Monastero di Santissima Trinità, which is on the corner on the left.  The tabernacle beyond houses a statue (18th century) of St Ubaldus.

Continue along Via Dante Alighieri, along the right wall of SS Trinita.  The so called Fonte di Dante (1863-4) is set into the wall of the nunnery.  The fresco (15th century) above it, which depicts the Madonna and Child enthroned with saints and angels, is attributed to Ottaviano Nelli.  (Porta Romana, which opposite the fountain, is visited in Walk II).

The loggia beyond on the right belongs to a row of houses that once formed part of the Ospedale Vecchio di Sant’ Agostino.

Turn left along Via Savelli della Porta, to see:

  1. San Giovanni Decollato, immediately on the left;

  1. Santa Maria Nuova further along on the left, with its facade in Via Nelli; and

  1. Palazzo Marini, just across Via Nelli. 

Continue to the junction with Via Francesco Fabiani.   Palazzo Fonti stands at this junction, with its main entrance at number ???, with its chapel, the  Cappella di San Francesco di Paola, behind it in Via Fabiani.   This is now the headquarters of the Famiglia dei Santantoniari.

Continue along Via Fabiani to Corso Garribaldi.  Take a short detour by continuing ahead along Via Maffei and taking the 2nd left along Via Cantalmaggi to Largo Domeniconi.  Look back to see the small church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Return to Corso Garibaldi and take another short detour at turning left to see Palazzo Barbi at number 79-81.  

Walk back along Corso Garibaldi, to Santa Maria dei Servi on the right (at the junction with Via Palmerucci and Via Aurelio Saffi).

Continue past Piazza Sant’ Antonio on the left.  This was an important civic square, particularly during the period in which Gubbio was part of the Duchy of Urbino.   The church of Sant’ Antonio Abate, which was documented here in 1359, was demolished in 1549 with the intention of rebuilding it and developing the piazza.  The current loggia was built around the piazza soon after, but the rest of the project was subsequently abandoned.   This loggia forms the backdrop of this fresco (1652-4) by Francesco Allegrini above, which is in the Cappella del SS Sacramento of the Duomo: it depicts the procession in which Bishop Alessandro Sperelli translated of the relics of St John of Lodi to a new altar in the Duomo.

Continue past Palazzo Accoromboni (at number 26 on the left).

Turn left along Via della Reppublica into Piazza 40 Martiri, where the walk ends.