The small town of Bettona is situated on a hill in central Umbria, a short distance south-east of Perugia. Elliptical in shape, Bettona is still surrounded by medieval walls and it has also preserved some parts of the ancient Etruscan walls.
The centre of Bettona is crossed by the ancient Via di Mezzo which connects the two city gates: the Porta Vittorio Emanuele to the northwest and Porta Romana to the southeast.
The main streets meet at Piazza Cavour, where you will also find the Oratory of Saint Andrew, built in the 13th century but today, because of various renovations, presenting a baroque style. The interior of the oratory is decorated with a coffered wooden ceiling with carved rosettes, and the walls are decorated with a series of paintings depicting the "Passion of Christ" by the school of Giotto [1267-1337], painted in 1394 but only rescued and restored in recent years.
The Oratory is in front of the Town Hall, itself dating from the second half of the 14th century and holding a 16th century wooden choir and various paintings of landscapes and portraits of famous people.
Next to the Porta di San Crispolto is the church built by Benedictine monks in the early 15th century in honour of the patron saint of the city. The building plan is in the form of a Latin cross, changed over the centuries because of numerous renovations and the walls of the church are decorated with several cycles of paintings, among which stands out the "Legend of St. Crispolto", a copy of a work by Cesare Sermei (1581-1668) performed when the church was restored in the 18th century.
In 1352, during the siege of Bettona, the Perusians took possession of the remains of the saint from this church. Around 1371, at the command of Pope Gregory XI (1329-1378), they returned the relics to the inhabitants of Bettona.
Among the other notable buildings in the city are the Baglioni Palace and the Palace of the Podesta, built in the second half of the 14th century and now housing the Municipal Art Gallery.
Bettona Municipal Art Gallery: highlights
Among the works of art in the Bettona art gallery we particularly mention some pictures by Pietro Vannucci (called Perugino, 1450-1523), including "St. Anthony of Padua and devoted".
Perugino was considered by his contemporaries to be "the best artist in Italy" and one of the best Italian Renaissance artists of all. The gallery also has another work by Perugino, the "Madonna of Mercy with Saints Jerome, St. Manno and customers".
We should also highlight the painting "St. Rocco" by Tiberio d’Assisi (1470-1524), a fresco from the Church of San Simeon at Tor D'Andrea, and another remarkable work is the the "Adoration of the Shepherds" by Dono Doni*.
Other Bettona sights and highlights
Several works in the Gallery were once located in the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Built in the early days of the Christian era, the church was restored in the 15th century and then again in the 19th century but all that now remains is a Chapel dedicated to Saint Rita of Cascia. Of great interest is the altar, adorned with a canopy-shaped temple with a dome, the apse and stained glass windows.
Pictures taken from the church to the Bettona art gallery include "Virgin Enthroned" by Taddeo Gaddi*. In the apse there are also some contemporary paintings by Gerardo Dottori*.
Finally, take a look at archaeological finds in the area of Bettona. Coming from Porta Romana you can see several blocks of the ancient Etruscan walls, while on the road to Perugia, in the place called "Colle", there is an Etruscan tomb entirely built with local square sandstone.
In the context of the Umbrian landscape, which has inspired so many artists, you should also sample the excellent cuisine of Bettona, with local products such as tagliatelle with goose sauce, bruschetta with tomato sauce or truffle, the traditional pork roasted whole on a spit, and the local wines.
* Artist notes can be found at historic Italian painters