Key to Umbria: Perugia

Fortezza di Porta Sole (1372-5)

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                                          Terrace to the north                              Terrace to the east

                           under what is now Piazza Rossi Scotti            in Piazza Piccinino

The papal legate Gérard du Puy, Abbot of Marmoutier, (known to the Italians as “Monmaggiore”) commissioned this fortress to secure papal control of Perugia.   Matteo di Giovannello, il Gattapone is documented in relation to the project in 1374, when he was mandated to secure the economic assistance of the  Commune of Assisi.  He was referred to as “generalis offitialis operum cictadelle”and “generalis superstite cictadelle”.

This citadel enclosed a number of residences, including that of the papal legate in what is now Piazza Biordo Michelotti (see Walk II).  Chronicles at the time described it as “le più magne e le più forti forteze del mondo” (the largest and strongest fortress in the world) and “la piu bella fortezza che fosse in Italia” (the most beautiful fortress in Italy).

The construction of the fortress necessitated the demolition of a stretch of the Etruscan wall and probably an ancient gate known as the Porta Sole.  The structure extended:

  1. as far north as and Piazza Rossi Scotti (see Walk II and the photograph above);

  2. along Via Bartolo (see Walk V) as far as Piazza Danti (see Walk I), which was formed in 1389 when the moat in front of the main entrance was filled in;

  3. across Piazza Piccinino (see Walk VI), where the huge buttresses that supported the structure survive (see the photograph above); and

  4. east as far as Via Raffaello. 

Gérard du Puy raided the construction site of the new Duomo for building materials for this project.  He also demolished the ancient campanile and perhaps also the chapel dedicated to St John the Baptist in order to build a corridor linking the fortress to the Palazzo dei Priori, which he had commandeered.

A second corridor was built above the city wall to connect it to a smaller fortress at Porta Sant’ Antonio:

  1. this view of the wall shows the route of the corridor from Porta Sant’ Antonio (in the distance) to the main fortress (to the right and behind the viewer); and

  1. these vestiges of some of the the buttresses that were built on the inner side of the wall to support this corridor survive in Via Cane (see Walk VI).  

A third corridor was planned to link it to another fortress at Porta di Sant’ Angelo.  A bastion of this fortress survives at the junction of Via Cialdini and Via Brugnoli (see Walk VI).  Its brick reinforcement dates to 1516, when Duke Francesco Maria della Rovere of Urbino threatened Perugia. 

When the Perugians revolted and expelled the legate from the city in 1375, most of the new defensive structures were demolished, providing building materials for projects such as the reconstruction of the Duomo.  The fortress at Porta Sant’ Antonio was demolished in 1424, providing materials for the paving of Piazza Sopramuro (now Piazza Matteotti - see Walk II).

The residences in the main citadel survived until 1463, when they were destroyed by fire.

Return to Monuments of Perugia.

Return to Walk I (Piazza Danti);

Walk II (Piazza Biordo Michelotti; Piazza Rossi Scotti);

Walk V (Via Bartolo); or

Walk VI (Piazza Piccinino; Via Cane).