UMBRIA: GUBBIO&CITTA’ DI CASTELLO

Hello!Finally today I’ve some time to go on with our quick tour of Umbria, in the heart of Italy. The area of Gubbio is located in the nord east of Umbria region, adjoining Marche region. The whole area, tipically mountainous, is delimited by Appennini mountain chain in the east, and by the Tevere valley in the ovest. You sure know that the area is rich of historical treasures and cities of art.

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We arrived in Gubbio from Perugia, following the road signs, driving on a beautiful hill road. At first sight, you’ll see the particular position of the city, which lies on the hills, with the Roman Theater located on its feet. City of Gubbio is strictly connected to the history of San Francesco, and especially to his meeting with the Wolf, one of the most well-know miraculous event whereon researchers have extensively discussed.

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While visiting Gubbio is impossible not to be charmed by the narrows street and the ancient stone houses. The main point is Piazza Grande, where stands out the Palazzo dei Consoli, in which is located the town museum. The Palace rises up on a terrace where you’ll have an outstanding view of the underlying town.

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We followed by walking the road to Monte Ingino – Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo: we arrived to the cable railway of Colle Eletto which in only 6 minutes will take you on the top of the hill to the S.Ubaldo Church. I must say that it’s not really suitable for who suffers dizziness: the climb is on a “metallic cage”, where only two people can standing. Arrived at destination, at 900 meters, the view all around the valley is just outstanding.
Inside the Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo, patron of the town, you can admire three majestic wooden structures. The patron saint’s festival is celebrated on 15th may and it’s called “La Festa Dei Ceri” (Race of the Candles).The statues of St. Ubaldo (patron of bricklayers), St. George (patron saint of haberdashers) and St. Anthony the Abbot (patron saint of donkey breeders and peasants) are placed on these three tall, heavy wooden “ceri” or pedestals (meant to represent candles).

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The Ceraioli (pedestal bearers) carry the “ceri” on their shoulders and run down the city streets and then up to the basilica of S. Ubaldo on top of Mount Ingino. A charming ritual precedes the race. The spectacular raising of the “ceri” (l’alzata dei ceri) takes place in Piazza Grande at noon and then “ceri” are toured around the piazza 3 times. It’s a fearless run, because the candles are carried up and they swing dangerously while the men are running, brushing against balconies and windows, followed by an enthusiastic crowd. After the race, the ceri are stored in the basilica of Sant’Ubaldo, while the statues of the 3 saints are brought back into the city  singing with a torchlight procession.

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In the same day, we made a short walk in Città di Castello, a typical village near Gubbio. After being pillaged and destroyed by Totila during barbaric invasions, the town was rebuilted and took several names during ages. (Castrum Felicitatis, Castrum Castelli). During late Middle Age, it was under the influence of Perugia, then of the Church and also of Florence. During XVI century, with Cesare Borgia, it passed finally under the Pope. It’s just a short promenade, but quite characteristic.

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to be continued..

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