Medieval Gubbio

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Pietralunga to Gubbio

Breakfast was the usual fare of pastries, cereals, meats and cheeses, fruit, juices and coffee. The clouds were clearing and the temperature was perfect for walking. Yet there continued to be a severe storm warning and so we ultimately determined to set out somewhat cautiously by cutting our walking short and shuttling to Gubbio in two trips – the first group going straight away, the second group setting off to walk perhaps 3 to 5 miles until they would be picked up in the second go round. We were slated to walk 16 miles with the now to be expected very steep hills, mostly up, and also a couple of sharp and rocky descents. Given the strong rains of two days ago and in some areas yesterday, what to expect of the terrain in these mountainous areas is an unknown.

St Francis and The Wolf at the Church of San Francesco

“Everyone loves medieval Gubbio, the town of the Ceri races, the wolf tamed by St. Francis and acrobatic funicular that ascends to Basilica San Ubaldo above the settlement.” (Sandy’s guide biok).Gubbio is a good sized, medieval city with lots to discover so now we would get there in time for some sightseeing as well as perhaps a longer walk in the afternoon incorporating some of the sites. However, the rain is in the forecast there, too.

The first group wasn’t even to our overnight accommodations when the walking group was stopped by “the authorities” suggesting evacuation and taking passports in case we went missing. A short time later they hunted our tribe down and required immediate evacuation so Mauro headed immediately out in the van to comply after dropping group one.

We will use as our base camp and rest our heads at Bosone Palace located in the heart of the Old Town Center, just a few blocks from Piazza Grande with its magnificent and far reaching views over the valley, to the mountains and beyond – over barbed walls! The Palace of the Consoli is located at Piazza Grande, too.

Bosone is warm and inviting and is filled with historical art, precious frescoes and furniture of ages long ago past. From the hotel website, “Located in a magnificent historical palace which dates back to the 15th century, almost all rooms are completely frescoed. Gubbio, the most beautiful medieval city. It is a jewel jealously preserved by its inhabitants, strongly attached to its history and traditions. The streets, palaces, churches, and the entire urban body are perfectly preserved and represent the best testimony of a glorious period, which saw it throughout the Middle Ages as a thriving city, politically powered and persevering in defending its municipal liberties. The attachment of the people of Gubbio to its history is witnessed by historical and folkloristic manifestations, unique in their kind, which attract tourists and Eugubini scattered throughout the world, such as the Festa dei Ceri, the Good Friday procession and the Palio della Balestra. The visit of the city through the alleys, it’s squares, churches and palaces allows you to retrace its history and the values of its tradition. The quality of the building fabric is matched by the presence of traditional craft activities (ceramics, wrought iron, wood, lutherie, restoration) that testify to the intense and authentic link with the past. The Bosone Palace was built inside the ancient Raffaelli Palace, ancient residence of this patrician family.”

I wandered around these ancient and winding alleys, down steep corridors and managed to visit two of the several churches in this small historical center. First, Chiesa di San Francesco. “The church was built by 1256 . The site belonged to Giacomello Spadalunga who clothed St Francis after an encounter with a robber. It is a Gothic style church with frescoes. Under the altar are the remains of a blessed nun Franceschina who died in 1255.” (a Trip Advisor review from Phil O of Bolton, UK). Just outside the structure is a bronze statue of Saint Francis and the Wolf, a tribute to a treasured story that people love to share. It is said that a wolf was terrorizing the town of Gubbio, attacking livestock and eventually preying on the people. Knowing of Saint Francis’ ability to relate to animals, they asked him if he could intercede on their behalf with the wolf. Townsfolk gathered round and witnessed Saint Francis talking to the wolf and their handshake to conclude. Saint Francis walked out to the people with the wolf and explained that the wolf would no longer menace them if they would feed him. The people agreed and witnessed Saint Francis and the wolf shake hands once again. Both sides kept their agreement until the wolf died a few years later and his remains were buried in honor.

Wandering

I tried to get into Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Laici yet was unsuccessful. There was a three euro charge and they didn’t have change for my ten euro note. I was sad because the art pieces that I could see from the door were exquisite! The second church that I entered was Chiesa Collegiata di San Giovanni Battista, built in the 13th & 14th centuries with its Gothic facade and bell tower in dedication to St John the Baptist. They were just concluding a baptism as I enjoyed the beauty inside.

There are about 30 churches in Gubbio and though I had hoped to see more, there was an off and on torrential downpour as well as very strong winds. I sheltered in the churches that I did visit and under doorstop overhangs as I hastened my way back to the hotel! Later in the day I also walked to the old Roman Theatre, this time under sunny and blue skies!

Dating from the reign of the emperor Augustus, the Roman theater of Gubbio in Umbria was the second-largest in the Roman Empire, second only to the Theater of Marcellus in Rome.

The theater of Iguvium (Iguvium was the name given to Gubbio at that time) is the chief relic of the ancient town, testimony of the importance of Gubbio at that time. The ancient town extended much farther into the plain, including the area where the Roman theater is situated.  Often cited as the ‘Roman amphitheater of Gubbio‘, the theater of Iguvium is not actually an amphitheater. Ancient Roman amphitheaters were either oval or circular in shape with a central stage surrounded by seating tiers, while Roman theaters – like the theater of Iguvium – were semi-circular in plan. They differed not only in lay-out and characteristics, but also in function. While amphitheaters would feature racesgladiator combats and executions, Roman theaters hosted events such as orationsplays and choral events. Therefore, Roman theaters sought to enhance the natural acoustics through their structure in semicircular form, while amphitheaters did not need superior acoustics and concentrated more on space and visual impact. Besides its historical value the Theater of Iguvium is also architecturally important because it is one of the earliest theater built entirely upon two-storey hollow substructures.

Often described as virtually ‘intact’, the monument has in fact suffered significant damage through the centuries. After the fall of the Roman Empire the town of Gubbio was sacked by the Goths and what was left of the theater was further dismantled because of the need for stone to rebuilt the medieval town.

Today concerts and classical plays are staged in the ruins of the Umbro-Roman theater.” (http://slowitaly.yourguidetoitaly.com/2012/06/roman-theater-of-gubbio-umbria/)

We had a Very Fine dinner at Dulcis In Fundo Di Manucci A&A! The presentations were beautiful and the food perfectly prepared! We had a fluffy egg dish with truffle and even some steamed spinach! This is a renowned truffle area. I still managed to walk 11.6 miles in spite of our “rain day” cancellation!

“ Traces of prehistoric settlements in the Gubbio area are documented as far back as the middle Paleolithic period. Recent archaeological digs have led to the identification of sites dating back to the bronze era, very close to the town. Gibbia was an important centre for the Umbrians, as is demonstrated by the Eugubine Tablets (3rd-1st century B.C.), the most remarkable epigraphic heirloom of pre-Roman Italy. They consist of seven bronze tablets which offer ritual directions for particular ceremonies, and also give indications as to the organization of the Eugubine city-state.”

The Biggest Christmas Tree in the World is displayed from 12/7-1/10)” – from a map that I picked up from the tourist office, stating info@iat.gubbio.pg.it, also http://www.ilikegubbio.com and http://www.comunegubbio.pg.it

Tomorrow we are back to a long and steep climb, getting us closer to Assisi.

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