Umbria Blog | visit museum Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria in Perugia

Perugia is a lovely city with many cosy squares and tiny alleyways. It is the chocolate-capital of Umbria. In the historical centre you can’t miss the antique churches, parks and medieval buildings with nice boutiques, good coffee bars and many shops.

Perugia houses the most important art history museum of Umbria: La Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. This museum has magnificent works, including important paintings ranging from the 13th to the 19th century. A visit to this museum is a must for Renaissance art lovers.

The museum is in the medieval building “Palazzo dei Priori” on the main street Corso Vannucci 19 in Perugia. The entrance is on Corso Vannucci through a thirteenth-century portal, decorated with the symbols of the town of Perugia, the statues of the griffin and the lion.

The Palazzo dei Priori is built between 1293-1443 in Gothic style. This building houses the City Hall, the Sala dei Notari and the museum itself is on the upper floors. To get there one can take the stairs, but there also is an elevator.

The entrance is 8,00 Euro, but every first Sunday of the month, the museum is open with free admission for al visitors. One can get the entrance tickets on the ground floor. All national museums in Italy have free entrance on the first Sunday of the month, it can be quite busy that day.

The museum in Perugia includes various masterpieces from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Much space is given to Umbrian painters: Il Perugino, Pintoricchio and Caporali. The works range from painting on wood, canvas and murals, to sculptures in wood and stone to goldsmith’s art and fabrics. The itinerary starts with the collections of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

A wonderful masterpiece created by Bartolomeo Caporali “Madonno col Bambino e Angeli entro una ghirlanda” which means “the Virgin with child and Angels in a Garland”. This painting is completed between 1470-1479.

Painting (1467 – 1469) “Polittico di Sant’Angelo” from the early Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca. Piero della Francesca is born in the decade between 1410 – 1420 in Borgo San Sepolcro. He has spent a lot of his time in Arezzo and in San Sepolcro Tuscany.

If you want to see some other masterpieces of Piero della Francesca, in the museum Uffizi in Florence one can admire the famous portrait panels of Battista Sforza and Federico da Montefeltro.

The itinerary in the museum continues with paintings and sculptures from the 17th, 18th and 19th century in Umbria. It is a wonderful museum “La Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria” and worth a visit when you’re in Perugia. During the year there also are special exhibitions, keep an eye on the museum’s website to know more about these.

After a visit to the museum we have a nice tip for an authentic espresso: the “Sandri” bar. Sandri is in the city centre and has a long history dating back to 1860. It originally was a Swiss family. Their chocolate and coffee are of high quality. Sandri is just on the opposite side of the museum in the Corso Vannucci 32. Don’t forget to look above your head in the bar. The paintings on the ceiling are amazing!

Umbria Blog | Visit Civic Museum in Montefalco

Montefalco “Mount of the Falcon” is a town of churches and convents. This hamlet is situated 11 km north west from Foligno and is perched on a hill top, boasting magnificent views over the green hills. Montefalco is also known as the balcony of Umbria. Outside the Gate of St. Augustine there’s ample parking. Enter the gate and proceed up the Corso G. Mameli with its small shops and restaurants to the Piazza del Comune.

The area around Montefalco is famous for its Sagrantino wine. This wine is made of 100% Sagrantino grapes which have been cultivated for centuries on the hills of Umbria. Following the wine route “Strada del Sagrantino” one can stop by some local wineries to  taste and buy the local wines.

Besides the famous Sagrantino wine the medieval walled town offers a mix of picturesque streets and historic churches and museums. A must see in Montefalco is the museum in the Chiesa di San Francesco, the church of Saint Francis. You can reach this museum by walking down from the main piazza to the Via Ringhiera Umbra. This museum is divided into three sections: the church, the gallery and the crypt.

The church houses important works of the Renaissance painter of Florence Benozzo Gozzoli, il Perugino, Melanzio and some other painters. The famous painter Gozzoli, painted in the apse of the church brightly coloured frescoes all on the life of San Francesco. These frescoes in the chapel are of great importance and are comparable with the cycle by Giotto in the church of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Pietro Vannucci, also known as Il Perugino, made two master pieces in the church: the “Nativity scene” and the “Annunciation with the Eternal in glory between angels”. Tiberio d’Assisi instead painted the frescoes “Madonna and Child with saints”  and “The descriptive Madonna del Soccorso”. All are interesting works by artists known all over the world.

Video Civic Museum Montefalco.

In the basement of the church is  a medieval wine cellar where monks brought their locally grapes, pressed them in wine presses and prepared wine for local consumption.

The gallery contains important works and wooden sculptures of the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The entrance for this museum is 7,00 Euro. Children from 6 to 14 years pay 2,00 Euro each and children under 6 years are free. With your entrance ticket you can visit other musea in Umbria for free. This offer is valid for two weeks after the date of your visit to the Civic Museum in Montefalco. For more information visit this website: Umbria Terre Musei.

From Montefalco you can head up to the medieval walled town of Bevagna. The distance is about 8 km, a 10 minutes drive.

Ristorante della Mura is situated on the Piazza Garibaldi 14a in the centre of Bevagna. In this restaurant they serve traditional local Umbrian dishes. Really recommended!

Umbria Blog | Prehistory and the Abbey of Farneta

On a beautiful sunny day in April I participated in a guided walk in the area of the Abbey of Farneta. Farneta is a small hamlet in the valley next to the Trasimeno lake in Umbria, the Val di Chiana. Coming from the A1 or from Siena, driving towards Lake Trasimeno and Perugia many times I just drove by and never bothered to take the exit for “Abbazia di Farneta”. But now I did …

In a landscape of gentle hills, typical of the Val di Chiana, stands an old Romanesk Church. Once it was a Benedictine Abbey of which one can still see some remaining walls. For 65 years, from 1937 to 2002, the church belonging to the abbey has had the same pastor. Don Sante Felici was a very unique man who not only led his parish with much verve. He was also very interested in ancient times and made sure that the Abbey of Farneta was preserved from downfall.

The Etruscans left many remnants in this area and the pastor made sure that the cellars underneath the church were dug out. And he was right: nowadays one can visit the crypt underneath the altar dating back to pre-roman times. Legend goes that when digging they found enormous amounts of human skeletons and living snakes; an image of Dante’s inferno.

Our walk continued from the Abbey to the former school building of Farneta where to my surprise a small paleontology museum is made with … yes … prehistoric fossils, all found near Farneta! Who would have thought: a million years ago the Val di Chiana valley was a savannah where elephants, hyenas and rhinoceros lived. Even longer ago, the whole environment was a sea. In the museum you can see many fossil shells, but also bones of prehistoric elephants, fossilized feces of hyenas and more.

But why in Farneta? That certainly involves the pastor – through the stories of our guide I imagine a kind of Don Camillo. In the 1950s and 1960s the construction of the A1 took place for which a lot of sand was needed. In later years the same happened again with the construction of the highway Siena-Perugia. In the area one excavated a lot of ground for the construction of these new roads.

Don Sante made arrangements with the workmen: they had to warn him if they found bones or other valuable relics. In this way, even two whole skeletons of prehistoric elephants were found, which are now in the paleontological museum of Florence. To this day farmers in the area or workmen during new construction projects find prehistoric bones or Etruscan remains.

It is thanks to the erudite priest Don Sante that many relics found around Farneta can be seen today. His heritage is now managed by a voluntary organization.

Our guide was Laura Gremoli. If you would like more information about the Etruscans and the history around the Val di Chiana, then let yourself be guided by Laura. She has an incredible knowledge and is a passionate story teller. I already experienced this at a guided tour about Etruscans at the Maec museum of Cortona. She is an inexhaustible source of information. You can call her on + 39 3494949604, or email info@cortonatouristguide.com. She speaks English.