Città della Pieve

HISTORY

Città della Pieve is situated on a hill at 508 metres above the sea level, on the borders between Umbria and Tuscany and dominates the Chiana Valley and the area of the lake Trasimeno. From the top of the hill you can see as far as the Mount Cimino on the southern side, the Mount Peglia on the South-East, the Sibillini mountains, the Montarale in the East, the Nestore Valley and the Subasio, the Trasimeno hills on the northern side and the Pratomagno, in the province of Arezzo. In the west the Mount Cetona and the Mount Amiata. The area surrounding Città della Pieve belonged to Chiusi in Etruscan and Roman times, as Chiusi was one of the most important cities in the Etruria region. Its archaeological findings discovered during the XIX century witness its Etruscan past and are still visible throughout Europe. The Etruscan obelisk dating back to the V century B.C. inside the historical Residence of Palazzo della Corgna, on the ground floor and an Etruscan tomb, found 2015 and dating back to the end of the IV century B.C. which contains two sarcophagi and three urns made of marble with its dowry, at the Civic museum of the Diocese of Santa Maria dei Servi. There is no clear evidence of the historical centre of Città della Pieve as an Etruscan or Roman settlement. It could be possible that the old fortified camp developed around the VII-VIII centuries A. C. near a parish church, dedicated to the two Patron Saints, Gervasio and Protasio, two twin brothers from Milan. The church was probably built by people coming from the North of Italy. In the Pieve the last local heathens were forced to baptism in order to become part of the Christian local community. The castrum (fortified military camp) turned into a medieval castle in the following centuries. The village was therefore named after the parish church and the castle, Castel della Pieve.

During the middle Ages, Castel della Pieve gained its medieval features that are still visible while strolling down its streets and its narrow alleyways. The Gothic “Pieve”, the Civic tower, the Priori Palace, the Bishop tower and the magnificent Rocca Perugina all belonged to this age. The minor friar orders founded the most important churches in town: The Church of Saint Agostino, the church of Saint Francis, the church of Santa Maria dei Servi and the cloistered convent of the Order of Saint Damiano of Saint Lucia. Castel della Pieve has always been divided into three quarters, called terzieri. During the Renaissance period, it was the home of one of the greatest Italian and local painters: Pietro Vannucci known as “Il Perugino”. He made important works in his hometown, among them, the amazing “Adoration of the Magi” dating back to the year 1504 and housed at the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Bianchi.

After the decision of Pope Clemente VII de’ Medici in 1529 to put Castel della Pieve under the direct rule of the Papal States of Rome, Castel della Pieve was governed from that moment on by religious Governors, mainly Cardinals, who were appointed directly by the Pope.
In 1600 Pope Clemente VIII Aldobrandini turned the old Pieve into a Cathedral and changed the town’s name into Città della Pieve with the meaning of Diocese, the main seat of the Bishop. 

 

TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

ROCCA PERUGINA > The Castle of Città della Pieve, also known as Rocca Perugina was built in 1326 by the city of Perugia with the aim of controlling and supervising the whole surrounding area. The residents of Castel della Pieve felt really frustrated under the rule of Perugia, because of the high fees they had to pay. The castle is situated on the highest point of Città della Pieve and dominates the whole area with its towers. During the centuries, it has changed its function, from a military post it soon became in the 1500 a private residence of religious Governors, appointed by the Pope. Among them, we should not forget: The Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici and the Marquis Ascanius della Corgna. The towers turned into prisons. It was inside one of the five towers where the crime of the brothers Orsini took place. Cesare Borgia killed both of them in 1503. The Rocca houses the Tourist information centre and it hosts some of the main summer events in town, like exhibitions and meetings.
Guided tour of the castle on demand. For bookings and fares, please mail to  info@cittadellapieve.org

THE CATHEDRAL OF SAINT GERVASIO AND PROTASIO > The Cathedral rises in the heart of Città della Pieve, where the old Pieve was once situated. In the VII century A.C. the old parish church was built, and all around it a fortified military camp developed. Its aspect has changed a lot during the centuries and the changes are still visible if we look at its façade. From its Romanic- Gothic style, fragments made of stone, to the XVII centuries’ bricks. Today it is a Baroque-style church and inside it is possible to see two paintings by Perugino: one over the main altar, “the Virgin with the Patron Saints Protasio and Gervasio”, and the other one in a side chapel, the “Baptism of Christ”. Other paintings are by Pomarancio (Antonio Circignani from Città della Pieve, whose father was the great Niccolò Circignani) and by Savini, two Mannerist local painters; they are worth to be seen.
The cathedral is free and open to public every day.

PALAZZO DELLA CORGNA > Palazzo della Corgna is situated opposite the Cathedral and used to be a private residence of the Corgna family during the Renaissance period. The controversial figure of the Marquis Ascanio della Corgna, who was appointed Governor and Signore of Castel della Pieve and Castiglione del Lago and of the Chiugi Perugino between 1550 and 1564 is remembered not only for being the nephew of the Pope and a famous warrior and swordsman, but also for having some criminal records behind him. The rooms inside are decorated with frescoes, among them the “Concert” in the ground floor painted by Pomarancio, “the Banquet of the Gods” and “the Love scenes of the Gods” painted by Savini in the private rooms on the first floor. Always on the first floor, it is also possible to visit the Museum of natural Sciences where there is a collection of minerals, fossils and a reconstruction of the geological evolution of the area.
The Corgna Palace is open to public every day and the entrance is free. The Museum of natural sciences is open only at the weekend.

ORATORY SANTA MARIA DEI BIANCHI > In 1504 the Confraternity of the Disciplinati or Bianchi commissioned a work to Perugino called the “Adoration of the Magi” in the church of Santa Maria dei Bianchi, today an Oratory. The work is considered a masterpiece due to its elegance and its gentle lines. It took him 29 days to finish it off, but first he had to make a deal to get the money he owed. He asked for 200 florins, but the Confraternity did not agree on this high sum of money. He finally opted for a payment of 75 florins plus a donkey, to help him carry his colours and brushes from Perugia to Castel della Pieve.
To get more information about the oratory’s opening times, please go on the internet page dedicated to the museums of  Città della Pieve

SPAZIO KOSSUTH > It is situated inside the former Bishop’s Palace. It houses the contemporary artwork collection by the contemporary artist Wolfgang Alexander Kossuth (1947-2008). The exhibition’s topic changes every year, as the famous artist used to work on different subjects and topics. It mainly contains sculptures made of resin and bronze, the artist’s favourite materials. Together with the statues, oil paintings and charcoal drawings are also displayed there.
To get more information about opening times, please go on the internet page dedicated to the museums of Città della Pieve

THE BACIADONNE ALLEY > According to the legend, a never-ending quarrel between two neighbours led to the construction of this alley, known as one of the narrowest alleys in Italy. Due to its narrowness, it was a perfect place for men to come closer to women in an attempt to kiss them.

THE SHRINE OF THE MADONNA OF FATIMA > It is also known as the Church of Saint Francis and as the Oratory of Saint Bartolomeo. The church built just outside the city walls dates back to the XIII century and it is the first Shrine in Italy dedicated to the Virgin of Fatima. It displays works by Antonio Circignani and Domenico Alfani. Next to the church, you can see the oldest fresco in Città della Pieve. A medieval “Crucifixion” also called “ the Angels’ crying” that dates back to the XIV century and that is attributed to the School of Siena and to Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio. This fresco oxidized, especially the sky, which faded into a rusty-red colour.
The complex building is open to public every day and the entrance is free.

THE CIVIC MUSEUM OF THE DIOCESE, SANTA MARIA DEI SERVI > The church was built by the outside the city walls in the 1200s by a group of friars who belonged to the religious order of the “Servi di Maria”. The church is a museum today. From its interior it is easy to spot the traces of its past, from the Gothic apse to its present Baroque-style aspect; some of the remaining parts of its Renaissance paintings are still visible though they had been hidden during the Baroque period. The “Descent of Christ from the cross” is the main one in the church. It was commissioned by the Compagnia della Stella and was painted by il Perugino in 1517. Even if the fresco is partly damaged and some parts of it are missing, it is considered a work of great importance and it reveals figures and lines that were not typical of the Renaissance period. In the crypt there is a collection of Altar paintings dating back to the XVII century that come from the Diocese of Città della Pieve and some Etruscan remains of the tomb of Saint Donnino which was discovered in 2015. There are three urns and two sarcophagi with its original dowry dating back to the end of the IV century and the beginning of the III century B. C.
To get more information about opening times, please go on the internet page dedicated to the museums of Città della Pieve

THE CIVIC TOWER > It is the oldest monument in Città della Pieve . With its squared, shape it rises above the roofs of Città della Pieve. The Romanic-style tower has undergone several restoration and renewal works during the XIII e XIV centuries due to the presence of different materials, from sandstone to bricks.

THE CASALINO WELL > Of medieval origin, the well is located at the end of Via Vannucci, the main street in town. It is 36 metres deep and is connected to a water spring through a 100metre-long walkway, just outside the city walls. The well underground features a limestone and stalactite ceiling and it is considered one of the top tourist attractions and the only one attraction underground in Città della Pieve
Open by reservation only and in certain periods of the year.

THE CHURCH OF SAINT AGOSTINO > It was built in the middle of the XIII century outside the city walls, near the gate of Saint Agostino. Its interior dates from the end of the XVIII century and was painted by Andrea Vici. The church was deconsacrated and became a place for exhibitions, concerts and meetings. A large number of works dating back to the XVI and XVIII centuries are also displayed there, together with paintings by Niccolò Circignani and Salvio Savini.

THE CLOISTERED CONVENT OF SAINT LUCIA > The cloistered convent of Saint Lucia is situated at the end of a large avenue renamed after Icilio Vanni, outside the walls. It was one of the first cloistered convents to be built in town and hosts the nuns of the religious Order of Saint Damiano. The original building was built when Saint Clare was still alive. It is made of bricks and dates from the year 1252 even though it had been renovated during the previous centuries; the last renovation was during the 1700s. The nuns who live there were popular for their weaving abilities with wool and hemp. The nuns got the woven fabric by the local farmers and made out of it bed covers and fabric for shirts and other pieces of clothing.
The cloistered convent of Saint Lucia is not open to public.

THE CHURCH OF SAINT PIETRO > Another place where it is possible to admire Perugino. The church is situated outside the walls at the final part of the Terziere Castello. The church dedicated to Saint Anthony houses a fresco, which depicts Saint Anthony Abate between the two Saints Paolo Eremita and Marcello, that dates from 1508. In front of it there is a nice square, where you can enjoy a wonderful view on the Chiana valley and on the Mount Cetona.
The church can be visited the whole year, on holy days and on holy days eves, in the afternoons.

PALAZZO DELLA FARGNA > A unique example of a Rococo-style palace in Città della Pieve, Palazzo della Fargna is the seat of the local authority. The italo-French family of Laval della Fargna wanted it to be built in the XVIII century.

TEATRO DEGLI AVVALORANTI > Built in 1835 by the architect Santini, the present theatre replaced a former wooden structure dating back to the 1700s. The theatre degli Avvaloranti represents a classic example of a typical Italian theatre, with an orchestra, three galleries and an upper gallery. Mariano Piervittori painted the stage curtain in 1870. It depicts the famous painter Perugino with his wife Chiara Fancelli together with a group of his scholars, among them a young Raffaello.
Open by reservation only. For more info and fares, please contact info@cittadellapieve.org