Key to Umbria: Perugia

Valentino Martelli (ca. 1550-1630)

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Valentino Martelli in:  Bevagna    Montefalco    Perugia    Todi

Valentino Martelli, who was born in Perugia and registered in the artists’ guild there in 1572, became the city’s leading architect.  He may well have trained in Rome, and was influenced by architects there such as Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola.  He supervised the remodelling of the Abbazia di San Pietro (below) over a long period from 1591 until his death in 1630.


Porta Eburnea Nuova (1576)


The first gate was opened in the medieval walls here, probably  in the 13th century.  The inscription above the arch on the exterior wall records that the papal governor Antonio Santacroce rebuilt the ruined Porta Eburnea Nuova in 1576.  It became known as Porta Crucia at this point.  Its design is attributed to Valentino Martelli.

Oratorio del SS Crocifisso (1581)

Valentino Martelli designed this oratory, which adjoins Santa Maria Nuova

Extension of Palazzo dei Priori (ca. 1582)

The extension of Palazzo dei Priori along what is now Corso Vannucci was undertaken to accommodate the substantial library that Prospero Podiani donated to the Commune in 1582.  This last phase of expansion of the palace was carried out under Valentino Martelli, following the acquisition of the house of Ottaviano Boncambi.  The palace now extended to the no longer visible Via dei Pentolini, a narrow street that marked the boundary between the Rione di Porta Eburnea and the Rione di Porta Santa Susanna.  (This extension is the block to the left of the drainpipe in this photograph).

Palazzo Graziani (1585)

Local tradition attributes the design of Palazzo Graziani to Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, although it was built some twelve years after his death.   It was actually designed by Valentino Martelli.

Apse and Oratories of the Chiesa del Gesù (1586-1603)

Valentino Martelli built the rectangular apse of the Chiesa del Gesù and the three oratories below it to a design by Giovanni de Rosis.  This extraordinary structure was necessitated by the fact that the church had been built on the edge of the precipice in Piazza Sopramuro. 

Porta San Costanzo (1586-7)

This new gate in the 15th century walls (Porta San Costanzo) became necessary in 1587, when the original road from Perugia to Rome was diverted for the convenience of the monks of the Abbazia di San Pietro.  In return, they financed its construction.  Valentino Martelli designed it and decorated it with the arms of the Abbazia di San Pietro and of Pope Sixtus V.

Arco di Sisto V (1591)

This arch was designed by Valentino Martelli as the central arch of a portico that Pope Sixtus V ordered to be built along the front of the Palazzo dell’ Università Vecchia.  The portico was never completed.  The arch was removed in the middle if the 18th century and used as the entrance to another part of the university in Piazza di San Francesco (see Walk III).  A bronze statue of Sixtus V that was originally above the balustrade was melted down in 1797.

Via Pinella (1591)

The papal legate Cardinal Domenico Pinelli  created this street (now Via Calderini, see Walk IV) as a link between Piazza Grande and Piazza Sopramuro (now Piazza IV Novembre and Piazza Matteotti).  The planning of this urban development is attributed to Valentino Martelli.  It required the demolition of part of the ex-Collegio dei Notai.   An old street sign on the pilasters that were added to the truncated palace still records the earlier name, Via Pinella.   

Work at San Pietro (1591-1630)

In 1591, Abbot Giacomo di San Felice da Salò appointed Valentino Martelli to supervise the remodelling of the church of the Abbazia di San Pietro, a post he held until his death.  The most important requirement was that the monks' choir should be moved from the nave to its current position behind the high altar.  He also arranged for the gilding of the ceiling of the nave and supervised a comprehensive programme  of pictorial decoration. 

Valentino Martelli designed the present high altar (1592-1608).   Perugino’s polyptych was dismantled in 1608 and the altar was re-consecrated in the following year.  The present tabernacle (1627-35) on the altar was made in Rome to Martelli's design.


His work in the grounds of the Abbazia di San Pietro included:

  1. the design of the entrance (1614); and

  2. the cloister behind it, which contains the entrance to the church.

Oratorio di San Benedetto (1598)

The Oratorio di San Benedetto belonged to the Confraternita di San Benedetto, which was first documented in 1320.  Valentino Martelli designed the present oratory, which now houses a branch of Centro Turistico Studentesco (CTS).

Work in the Duomo

Campanile (1606-12)


The new campanile of the Duomo, which replaced an earlier one that was demolished in 1462, was built by Valentino Martelli to a design by Bino Sozi.  Its four bells were rung for the first time on 24th July, 1612.

Altare di Santo Stefano (1608)

The inscription on the cornice of the marble altar in the Duomo records its construction in 1608 for the protonotary Stefano Salvucci.  Its design is attributed to Valentino Martelli.

Portal of Palazzo Pasini (17th century)


The Baroque portal of Palazzo Pasini (at number 24 Via dei Priori) is attributed to Valentino Martelli, who possibly lived here.  It has two flamboyant griffins above its lintel and the Latin inscription “ AVARITIA TURBAT DOMUS” (avarice disturbs the house). 


Model of Santa Maria delle Grazie (1583)

Valentino Martelli submitted this wooden architectural model (in the Pinacoteca) prior to the construction of Santa Maria delle Grazie outside Bevagna.  In fact, many changes were made during the subsequent construction, and the dome and campanile in particular differ from the original intention. 


Valentino Martelli was awarded citizenship of Montefalco in 1603.

Santa Maria della Consolazione

He was probably associated with the design of the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Consolazione (1588) at the behest of Bishop Clemente Bontadosi, who was the Franciscan Provincial Minister for Umbria in 1568-71 and Minister General of the Order in 1584-6.  The Greek cross plan based on the Sistine Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome was used again in 1592, probbly by Martelli, for the Tempio del Santissimo Crocifisso, Todi (below).

Bontadosi Chapel, San Francesco

He may well have designed the Bontadosi Chapel (1589) in San Francesco for Clemente Bontadosi.

Santa Chiara

The design (ca. 1615) of the rebuilt church of Santa Chiara da Montefalco is also attributed to him.


Tempio di Santa Maria della Consolazione

Valentino Martelli  provided advice on the design of the central drum and cupola of  the Tempio di Santa Maria della Consolazione in 1585-7 and was paid for designs for the windows of the cupola in 1589.

Tempio del Santissimo Crocifisso

When a fresco (14th century) known Maestà delle Forche (of the gallows) in an aedicule outside Todi performed a miracle in 1589, Bishop Angelo Cesi commissioned the Tempio del Santissimo Crocifisso to house it.  A number of architects submitted designs.  That of Valentino Martelli, which was based on the circular Tempietto di San Pietro Montorio, Rome, was judged to be the best.  Payments relating to this project were made to Martelli in 1989-92, but his original design was then abandoned in favour of a Greek cross plan based on the Sistine Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.  This design had also been used in 1589 for the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Consolazione, Montefalco, and it seems likely that Valentino Martelli was responsible for both.

Read more: 
S. Nessi, “Il Tempio della Consolazione di Montefalco”, Periodico dell’ Accademia di Montefalco , 18 (2004) 7-35  
(See pp 26-9 for a biography of Valentino Martelli) 

S. Magliani, “Architettura e Urbanistica dopo la Guerra del Sale”, in 
R. Rossi (Ed.) “Storia Illustrata delle Città dell’ Umbria: Perugia”, Volume II, (1993) Milan, pp. 465-479. 
(See, in particular, pp 468-72 for the work of Valentino Martelli in Perugia)
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