Key to Umbria: Città di Castello

This walk starts in Piazza Matteotti, with the Baroque mock-façade of Palazzo del Podestà (below) in front of you.  This piazza, which was originally known as Piazza Vitelli or Piazza di Sopra, was laid out in the 16th century in front of Palazzo Vitelli in Piazza (at number 2 on the right).   

Take a short detour by walking around Palazzo Vitelli in Piazza.  Leave the piazza along the left side of the palace (Via Sant’ Apollinare).  The opening on the right leads to a courtyard, which is usually open:
  1. the back of the main wing of the palace (which you saw from the front in Piazza Mateottoi) is on your right; and

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


                       SS Apollinare e Lucia                    San Sebastiano               Chiesa di Buon Consiglio

Continue to the junction with Via del Popolo:

  1. the ex-church of SS Apollinare e Lucia is on the right;

  2. the ex-church of San Sebastiano is on the left, at number 7; and

  3. the Chiesa di Buon Consiglio is just beyond it, at number 9.

Turn right at the junction, along the rear facade of Palazzo Vitelli all'Abbondanza.  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 housed 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 of Via del Popolo, along Via Angeloni: the Supermercato all’ Abbondanza at this junction is named for the palace.  Turn right again to return to Piazza Matteotti, where this detour ends.

As noted above, the mock-façade of Palazzo del Podestà is at the far end of the piazza.  Walk along Corso Cavour, to the right of it, to see its original facade. 


There are two interesting buildings on the opposite side of the street:

  1. The  ex-church of San Paolo al Macello (at number 6, illustrated above) was suppressed in 1807. 

  2. Its ground floor housed the fish market from 1862 and was adapted to house a more general market in 1958. 

  3. The Tipografia Grifani Donati in its upper part can be visited.

  4. The ornate facade (1908) of the palace next door (at number 4) was commissioned by the Ricci-Valenti family from Vincenzo Rossignoli.  It now houses the excellent Caffé Cavour.

Walk through barrel vault under Palazzo del Podestà on the left: the entrance to the palace is on your right as you walk through it.  Continue to the open portico (17th century) against its rear facade, in Piazza Fanti.

Rione San Florido (del Prato)

Turn right and walk diagonally across Piazza Fanti and then continue along Via del Rialto.


This street passes Piazza dell’ Incontro on the left.  A local tradition has this (somewhat improbably) as the site of a meeting between SS Francis and Dominic in 1217.  The Monastero di Santa Margherita operated here in the period 1574-1773.  The site then housed the Teatro Bonazzi, which was renamed in 1918 as ex-Teatro Vittoria after the “victory” of the First World War.  It became a cinema after the Second World War and is now (2013) being adapted as apartments. 

Continue along Via delle Legne (past Caffé Academia).  You can detour here, by turning left to see the magnificent circular campanile of the Duomo, although you can also reach it from a door inside the church (below). 

Otherwise, walk past the portal on the left, which is one of the entrances to the crypt of the Duomo (below), and continue into Piazza Gabriotti.


                                           Palazzo Vescovile                Palazzo dei Priori and Duomo

The piazza is named for Venanzio Gabriotti, a military hero and prominent anti-Fascist from Città di Castello who was executed by the German SS in 1944.  It was possibly the site of the Roman forum and became the civic and ecclesiastical centre of the medieval city.  Turn left to cross the piazza and look back (perhaps from the terrace of Caffè Magi) to get the best view of :

  1. Palazzo Vescovile on the left, with the Torre Civica beyond it; and

  2. Palazzo dei Priori on the right, just beyond the left wall of the Duomo (below).


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

by Filippo Titi (Biblioteca Comunale “Giosue Carducci”)

It is best to do the next part of the walk using the map above, because most of the interesting buildings here no longer exist.  Walk along Via Santo Stefano, to the right of the Torre Civica, (ie from left to right along the bottom of the map), passing what is possibly part of the original wall of Palazzo Vescovile on your left.  This street was named for a now-demolished church of Santo Stefano) [47], after the junction with Via Braccina.   According to tradition, the original church of this dedication was the first duomo of Città di Castello, until it was destroyed by Totila in the 6th century.    

Turn left along to Via Braccina, behind Palazzo Vescovile, to the junction with Via Cacciatori del Tevere.  Take a short detour by tuning left, with Palazzo Vescovile still on your left: the old portal in its wall might have belonged to the baptistry, which was documented here in the 14th century.  

Walk back along Via Cacciatori del Tevere, with the Istituto Salesiane on your left, which stands on the site of the Monastero di Ognissanti.  This complex [32]and the adjacent church and convent of Sant’ Agostino [11] were almost completely destroyed in the earthquake of 1789.  The rebuilt nunnery now belongs to the Oblate Sisters of St Francis de Sales, who run a primary school here.  

The nuns also own the “new” church of Sant’ Agostino, which was built here after the earthquake, and the part of the ex-Convento di Sant’ Agostino beyond.  This latter part of their complex houses the Residenza San Francesco di Sales, an old people’s home that is run by the nuns.

Continue along Via Cacciatori del Tevere as it swings to the right.  It runs along what was the left wall of the original church of Sant‘ Agostino [11].  Turn left into Via Borgo Inferiore: the facade of the original church of Sant’ Agostino was at this junction. 

Continue past the ex-convent of of San Filippo Neri, on the other side of the street.  The Oratorian Fathers of St Philip Neri built the complex in 1622 on the site of the ancient church of San Pietro.  This part of it now houses  primary school.  Take a short detour by turning right along Via Antimo Marchesani to see the ex-church and adjacent Oratorio degli Angeli.  (This complex is also  visited in Walk II). 


                                Via della Scatorbia                    Via Antimo Marchesani, with

                                                                                         Pomerio Sant’ Agostino to the right

Retrace your steps and continue along Via Antimo Marchesani to the city wall, passing two interesting streets on the right:

  1. Via della Scatorbia follows the line of the ancient torrent of that name.

  2. Pomerio Sant’ Agostino, which runs inside the city walls, probably continued to the left, behind the Convento di Sant’ Agostino, until the earthquake of 1789. 

Walk through the gap in the wall ahead, which  was opened in 1944 to allow people to find safety during the bombardment of the Second World War. 

Turn left and follow the walls.  You will re-enter the city by the pedestrian opening on your left. 


However, first take a short detour by continuing around the outside of the walls to see the remains of the Cassero (1375), which now support the Giardini del Cassero (below).

Retrace your steps and re-enter the city by the pedestrian opening mentioned above.  A sign here points to the Istituto Salesiane (above) to the left.  If the gate to the nuns’ garden is open, you can get a fine view of the left side of the “new” church of Sant’ Agostino (above) and its campanile. 

Turn right (signed Centro Storico) and take the “scala mobile” (escalator).  (If the gate to the nuns’ garden mentioned above was closed, you can still see the side of Sant’ Agostino by looking back from the top of the first escalator, as in this photograph).

The second escalator takes you into the Giardini del Cassero, which were laid out in 1877.  As explained above, this terraced garden above the city wall stands on the site of the Cassero (1375).  The monument (1906) by Vincenzo Rossignoli depicts the standing figure of King Victor Emmanuel II, with a relief of his son, King Umberto I on the tondo below.  It was moved here from Piazza Matteotti in 1937. 

As you leave the garden, you have a fine view of the facade of the Duomo.  The ex- Canonica to the right of it (in Via della Pendinella) houses the Museo del Duomo

Turn left on leaving the Museo del Duomo.  Palazzo della Porta closes the piazza ahead.

Walk along the left side of Palazzo della Porta, (along Via della Pendinella) to the junction with Via San Florido.  The inscription on the house on the right ahead of you records this as the birthplace of Venanzio Gabriotti (above).

Take a short detour by continuing along Via della Pendinella, which becomes Via dei Casceri.  The palace of Bishop Giulio Vitelli is at number 1.

Retrace your steps along Via San Florido and continue along it.  The Chiesa di Santo Spirito, at number 37a, originally belonged to the Confraternita della Santo Spirito. 

Continue to the junction with Via Pomerio San Florido: the Porta San Florido originally stood just beyond it. 

Take a short detour by continuing ahead and across the roundabout to the bridge over the Tiber.  Excavations in 1910 of a  site between the city wall and the river uncovered a large public building with at least four rooms paved in black and white mosaics (now lost).  An inscription (1st century AD) in Palazzo Comunale, which was probably also found here, records a temple dedicated to Venus Victrix (Venus the Conqueror) that was built by Lucius Arronius Amandus, a sextum vir augustalis (one of the six priests of the city who presided over the cult of the Emperor Augustus).  Cristina Migliorati (referenced in the page on Roman Città di Castello) has suggested that this building and the temple were associated with a river port analogous to that at Pagliano, near Orvieto.

Retrace your steps to the junction with Via Pomerio San Florido and turn right along it.


Take a short detour along Via della Rotonda on the left to the building at number 12.  The remains of the circular building known as la Rotonda were found here in 1988 (although its existence was already known from the city plan (ca. 1675) by Filippo Titi illustrated above, where the structure is labelled 64).  The original purpose of this building is unknown, but it apparently dates to the late 12th century.

Return to Via Pomerio San Florido and continue to the junction with Via dei Casceri.  The image of the Madonna and Child in the aedicule in the wall of the house on the right (at number 7a Via Pomerio San Florido) records the Cappella della Madonna dei Casceri (53 on the plan above).  This chapel, which was built in 1339 to celebrate the end of the Tarlati occupation, was demolished in 1941.

Return to Via Pomerio San Florida and turn left along it to Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera, which houses the Pinacoteca Comunale

Rione Santa Maria (della Mattonata)

Via Pomerio San Florida continues as Via Borgo Farinario.  Continue to the junction with Via Guglielmo Oberdan and turn left along it. 

The site of the now-demolished Fattoria Autonoma Tabacchi on your right is bounded by Via Guglielmo Oberdan, Borgo Farinario and Via delle Santucce (below).  Excavations of this site have unearthed what are probably the remains of a small amphitheatre (1st century AD).  Two inscriptions found here commemorate prominent men who (like most of the citizens of Tifernum Tiberinum) belonged to the Clustumina tribe:
  1. Gaius Palius, son of Gaius, a member of the equestrian order to whom the urban plebs dedicated honours, probably after his death; and

  2. Gaius Tussidius Marcianus, an aedile (magistrate).

These men presumably contributed to the cost of building the amphitheatre or to that associated with the spectacles that were held here.

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

by Filippo Titi (Biblioteca Comunale “Giosue Carducci”)

Turn left along Via Guglielmo Oberdan.  The Oratorio di Santa Caterina [36], which stood in the orchard of the convent of San Domenico (below), was demolished 1942 to make way for an extension to the tobacco factory.  An area of black and white mosaic (2nd century AD) that was discovered nearby in the 1950s was apparently recomposed in a nearby house.

The Ospedale di San Florido [57], further along on the left, was extended in 1773-85 to form the Ospedali Uniti.

Continue into Largo Muzi, with two entrances to the convent of San Domenico (below) on the right.  This space is named for Monsignor Giovanni Muzi, who was the city’s bishop in 1825-49 and who is depicted in fresco above the entrance to the right.  It was created in 1832, when the church of Santa Maria della Carità [50] (the Dominicans’ earlier church) was demolished to provide an open area in front of the hospital.

The facade of the church of San Domenico [13] is beyond it.


         Santa Croce:   Facade in Piazza del Garigliano        Campanile seen from Via Signorelli

Turn right on leaving the church, and walk to the junction with Via Luca Signorelli (which runs along its left wall).  Take a short detour by turning left here.  The campanile visible behind number 13a on the right (on the extreme right of the picture above on the left) belongs to the ex-church of Santa Croce.  Take the next turn on the right and turn right again into Piazza del Garigliano to see its facade.

Return to Via Luca Signorelli and continue along the left side of San Domenico, into Piazza San Giovanni in Campo on the left.  The original church of San Giovanni here was documented in the 13th century as a possession of the Abbazia di San Giovanni di Marzano.  It was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1789. 

Turn right at the far end of Piazza San Giovanni in Campo into Via del Borghesi and continue to the junction with Via dei Gauri, on the right.  The mosaics (1st century BC) that have been found at number 4 Via del Borghesi (just beyond this junction) are the oldest Roman objects surviving in the city.

Turn right along Via dei Gauri  and continue to the junction with Via Luca Signorelli.  Take a short detour by continuing along Via della Mattonata.  Before the widening of Corso Vittorio Emanuele, this was one of the main arteries of the city.  The first Vitelli palace was at number 11a on the right. 

Return to Via Luca Signorelli, and turn left and left again along Via del Gemignano, which runs behind the apse of San Domenico.  Fragments of Roman mosaics (2nd century AD) have been found in private house at number 2, on the left.

Turn right along Via delle Santucce, which swings to the left.  This street is named for the  now-demolished Monstero delle Santucce, which was built outside Porta Santa Maria (below) in ca. 1271.

As noted above, Via delle Santucce along the north side of the excavated area of the  site of the now-demolished Fattoria Autonoma Tabacchi:

  1. fragments of Roman mosaics (2nd century AD) have been found in private house at number 26; and

  2. the remains of what seem to have been the public baths have been unearthed at the south west corner of the excavated site (illustrated above), at the junction with Via Borgo Farinaria.

Turn left along Via Borgo Farinaria.  The ex-Oratorio di Santa Barbara is at number 10A on the right, at the junction with Via della Mattonata. 

Continue to the junction with Corso Vittorio Emanuele: Santa Maria Maggiore  is on the right.

Turn right on leaving the church and walk through Porta Santa Maria (14th century). 

Vestiges of the Rocca (1423) built by Braccio Fortebracci survive to the right.  This first structure was destroyed in 1428 but rebuilt by Pope Sixtus IV in 1474.  [Gasparino di Antonio?] It was destroyed again when Nicolò Vitelli recaptured the city in 1482. 

Detour to Convento di San Giovanni Battista (Zoccolanti) - about 40 minutes return

Walk ahead on leaving Porta Santa Maria, along Via Rignaldello, to the roundabout.  The ex-Seccatoi del Tabacco (ex-drying sheds of the tobacco factory) ahead of you, on the left, houses part of the Collezione Burri.

Turn left on leaving the ex-Seccatoi del Tabacco, along Via Luigi Pirandello and turn left at the end, along Viale Stelio Pierangeli.  Continue for about 1 km to the Convento di San Giovanni Battista (Zoccolanti) on the left.

Retrace your steps to Porta Santa Maria Maggiore, where the detour ends

Retrace your steps along Corso Vittorio Emanuele.  Santa Maria Nuova is on the right, at the junction with Via San Paolo.

Take a short detour along Via Santa Margherita, to the junction with Via dei Santiquattro: the Corporazione dei Falegnami e Muratori (the guild of carpenters and stone masons) built the Chiesa dei SS Quattro Martiri here in 1612.  It apparently stood on the site of the nunnery of Santa Margherita, which was documented in a will of 1306.  According to tradition, the Blessed Margherita of Città di Castello lived here for a short period in ca. 1300 after her parents had abandoned her, but the nuns soon expelled her.

Return along Via Santa Margherita, passing two houses on your left whose portals (at number 1, illustrated here, and number 3) bear the relief of the Lamb of God, which was used as the arms of the Arte della Lana (guild of woolworkers).


Turn right to continue along Corso Vittorio Emanuele and take another short detour along Via Guglielmo Marconi, to the left to see the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà (16th - 18th centuries) at number 4a.   The inscription records the foundation of the Società di Mutua Cristiana Beneficenza in 1846 and names its founder, Giovanni Battista Rigucci and other contributors.  Traces of frescoes are visible around this inscription.

Return to Corso Vittorio Emanuele  and continue into Piazza Matteotti, where the walk ends.

Return to Walks in Città di Castello.

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Walk I: Rione San Florido and Rione Santa Maria

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Walks and trips: Walk I    Walk II     Outside the City