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A little Umbrian town: Montefalco, Torgiano, Corciano Deruta, Bevagna, Bettona Relais dell'Olmo

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A little Umbrian town: Montefalco, Torgiano, Corciano Deruta, Bevagna, Bettona

Montefalco, which is placed in a dominating position looking down on the valleys of the Topino and the Clitunno rivers, offers the viewer of a sweeping panorama of the Umbrian countryside.

The buildings inside the ancient town walls which are definitely worth visiting are, without doubt, the Town Hall, which dates back to the 13th century, as does the church of St. Augustine, the Romanic church of St. Bartholomew with the Portal of Frederick II (1244) to be found near-by and the church of St. Chiara where, inside, you’ll discover paintings by the Umbrian school. You absolutely should not forget to visit the 14th century church of St. Francis, which is now the seat of the Pinacoteque; in fact, inside, you’ll find many paintings of great artistic value such as the “Nativity” by Perugino and the extraordinary cycle of frescoes: ” The Stories of St. Francis by Benozzo Gozzoli. Near the inhabitated area you’ll find the 16th century church of St. Illuminata and the 15th century church of St. Fortunato which contains, in the lunette of the portal and in the altar to the right, works of art by Benozzo Gozzoli.
Among the most important typical products in the city we should absolutely mention the Sagrantino of Montefalco wine.

The town of Torgiano still preserves its typical medieval appearance and the remains of its ancient walls.

The Museum of Wine is of great interest, containing a precious collection of storical documents regarding various sectors: the art of wine-growing and wine-making, and artistic, folkloristic and bibliografic documentation on the subject. You may also admire a very precious collection of maiolica dating back to th 17th and 18th centuries. The fortified part of the town is siuated between the middle of the Tiber valley and that of the Umbrian valley. Here, the cultivation of the vine is an ancient art as is evidenced by the testimonial of archeologicals finds, and by a sketch dating back to the 14th century. The zone is characterized by agriculture, consisting in the coltivation of various food-stuffs, and by craftsmanship, above all, the pottery trade. The Museum of Wine is the most qualified in all of Italy, with its collections of tecnical instruments, prints dating back to various times, specialized craftsmanship and folkloristic documents.

According to an ancient legend, Corciano owes it name and its origins to Coragino, mythical friend of Ulysses. Its Etruscan-Roman origins are documented from the discovery of a small etruscan necropolis and from numerous finds located at its municipal offices.

In 1242 Corciano was a free city, although very closely related to the nearby and dominant city of Perugia. The renaissance period was very flourishing for this town, which allowed it to adorn itself with characteristic buildings and prestigious works of art.
Upon entering Corciano from Porta S. Francesco, you gain access to the Corso Cardinale Rotelli, the main street of the historic centre. Immediately to your right is located the Palazzo municipale (16th Century), originally the residence of the two dukes of Corgna, which preserves prestigious decorations and designs. Of particular importance are those of the Ceiling of the Council room (end of 16th Century), produced by the Zuccari. Continuing on one reaches the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo (15th Century), ancient residence of the representative from the dominating city of Perugia, with on its side the Palazzo dei Priori and of the Mercanzia.
Continuing one arrives at ‘piazza Coragino’, where one finds a lovely round well from the 16th Century. To the right appears the Santa Maria Assunta, a church from the 13th century. Inside are preserved two picturesque works of art of high value: the Gonfalone by Benedetto Bonfigli, (1472), and the Assunta by the Perugino (1513). Farther along one comes to the small church of San Cristoforo, from the first half of 1500, which hosts a collection of sacred art. Of particular interest is the Museo della Corsa Contadina which reproduces, with authentic household and work objects, the typical corcianese dwelling of the preindustrial period. Also noteworthy is the ancient ‘Spedale’ of the town, which preserves an affresco from 1494 attributed to Andrea D’Assisi, known as the ‘Ingegno’. A touch farther along one finds the Torrione di Porta Santa Maria, the Corciano emblem, built in 1482, followed by a beautiful promenade built on top of the ancient walls, from which one can admire two Romanesque sculptures of lions. The San Francesco Church, gothic, contains several works of art, including a crucifix from the fifth Century, a Bandiera canvas, a statue of San Bernardino dell’Orsini, and a table of the Caporali, in addition to affrescos from the umbro-senese discipline from the 14th and 15th Centuries. Among the most important manifestations taking place in the city we should absolutely mention the Festival of Corciano.

The origins of Deruta remain for the most part obscure. Of certainty are its links to Perugia, which has always been a valid bastion to the south, toward Todi, whose role is to this day witness of its fortified castle appearance.

During the 13th Century Deruta had its own statute, followed by, in 1465, a new document in vernacular which foresaw the presence in the castle, in addition to a podestà envoy from Perugia, of four “boni omini”, elected from amongsts the residents. In the second half of 1400, the residents of this small town, were exterminated from pests, so that the city walls came down. In addition, during the Guerra del Sale” (1540), Deruta, which had aligned itself against the Pope, experienced ambushes and devastation. The submission of Perugia to the Church brought also to the small town a long period of peace, during which time the maximum development of works of art of the artistic majolica, activity which, throughout the Centuries, allowed Deruta to become known all over the world. Accessing the historical centre of Deruta from the door Porta di S.Michele Arcangelo, are immediately visible testimonies of ancient furnaces. In the small Biordo Michelotti Square are exposed the sober lines of roman-gothic of the S.Arcangelo Church. In front of which is situated the Fontana, with a polygonal plan, which was realized in 1848.
Immediately following opens out the square Piazza dei Consoli, where one finds the Palazzetto Municipale from 1300, in whose atrium are collected archaeological finds, neolithical and etruscan. IThe Palazzo hosts, in addition, the Pinacoteca and the Museum of Ceramica. In the former one finds an important collection of paintings originating from the churches of S. Francesco, S. Antonio, the Defunti di Ripabianca, and the hospital of S. Giacomo, and a part from the rich collection of Lione Pascoli. One can admire, among other things, paintings of the Alunno, of the Baciccio, from Stendardo, from Amorosi, from Fiorenzo di Lorenzo and a Guido Reni. In the latter, one can admire magnificent ceramic works of art from the period encompassing the archaic and our modern times. In front of the Palazzo Municipale is the S. Francesco Church, in gothic style, from its interior.
Adjacent to the Church one finds the former Franciscan convent with an ancient cloister. At the end of the narrow Mastro Giorgio road rises the S. Antonio Church, which preserves important affrescos of Bartolomeo and Gian Battista Caporali. At the height of Piazza Cavour is situated the small church of Madonna del Divino Amore, today known with the name of Madonna della Cerasa. Along the Tiberina road one sees the small church of Madonna delle Piagge from 1601, whose facing is adorned with a beautiful maiolica. Close by to this church one may visit an interesting Museo of majolicas.
The ancient small town of Roman origin called Bevagna is to be found on the western fringe of the Foligno plain, at the foot of the group of hills where Montefalco rises up and near the loop of the river Timia.

Its modern-day appearance is surely the result of its developement during the Middle Ages. In fact, even if the Roman had constructed the ancient Menania in such a way that the Flaminia Road was the decuman axis of the town, the town’s center is now placed more to the South. In Piazza Silvestri, you absolutely should not miss the Gothic Palace of the Consuls, situated singularly slantwise to the streets, amd the churches of St. Sylvester (1195 d.C.) and St. Michael Arcangel; the fountain which completes the scene of this exceptional public area is, however, an adaptation dating back to the 19th century. Even today, the medieval town portals, even after reconstructive measures such as those of the Porta San Venanzo in 1797, and long stretches of the old town walls, are in a good state of preservation. Other monuments testifying to the more ancient origins of Bevagna are not lacking: the ruins of a temple of the 2nd century A.C. on which the medieval church of the Madonna of the Snow was subsequently erected, the Roman theater (2nd century A.C.) which remains to serve as a foundation for a circular block along the course of the ancient Flaminia Road and the impressive remains of mosaics representing marine animals perhaps belonging to a thermal baths building. Among the most important manifestations taking place in the city we should absolutely mention the Market of the Gaite.

The town of Bettona can boast ancient Etruscan origins, insofar as its foundation is dated at around the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.

Being too small to be able to follow its own politics, Bettona’s fate followed that of other more important towns0 nearby. In fact, after the barbarian invasions which destroyed its Forum, its Temple and its town walls, the vicissitudes due to the battles between the Guelfs and the Ghibellins, Bettona, which surrendered to the superior forces of army of Perugia, lost its independence at around the 14th century.Its reconstruction took place a few years later on the orders of Cardinal Albornoz, who had already inaugurated the building yard of the Castle of Spoleto, in Umbria. From that time on, the fate of the town remained tied to that of the Papal State, until the end of the latter’s existence. Worth visiting are the church of St. Mary Maggiore, the small art collection in the Palace of the Podestà and the remains of the Etruscan and medieval town walls.

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