During the two centuries from 1200 there was a major amount of building development in the city, especially with the construction of a fortified wall. Start your visit in the Republic Square in Foligno, which includes many of the most important buildings of the city including the Cathedral.
Completely rebuilt by Bishop Marco in 1133, Foligno cathedral was then later remodelled several times until it assumed a neoclassical style with Luigi Vanvitelli (1700-1773) and Giuseppe Piermarini (1734-1808).
The two façades are of Romanesque style, the main one with a loggia surmounted by a large rose window, while the secondary, built in 1201, is more decorated - indeed, given the amount of decoration this could perhaps be considered the main facade. The oldest parts are situated at the bottom, where the portal opens, with five arches with bas-reliefs.
Also of great importance are a 14th century crucifix, sculpted by Nicolò di Liberatore (1433 c.1502 and called the Alunno) and the Sacrament Chapel, added in the 16th century to a plan by Antonio Sangallo the Younger (1484-1546).
Cloister of Sassovivo
Around 1229 the Cloister of Sassovivo was also erected, by Abbot Angelo, who entrusted the work to a "Master Peter", who worked with great skill, as can be seen from the structure of the cloister.
The cloister is made from more than 100 marble columns, some twisted and others spiral, holding up small marble arches above which is a classical style frame decorated with mosaics and colored marble - a masterpiece of "Roman Art".
In 1232, at the behest of Pope Gregory IX (1170-1241), the Church and Monastery of San Claudio were also erected here, although little of these buildings now remains. In 1251 the Church of San Salvatore was built, followed by the belltower in the 14th century.
On the opposite side of the square you can see the Town Hall, which was built in the 13th century but now has a neoclassical façade added during the early 19th century.
Note also the Palace of the Trinci, a family who ruled until 1439. This Palace was completed in 1407 and is a work of art of great importance, especially for the frescoes that once decorated it, although some of them are now lost. Outside, the Gothic courtyard is also notable with its loggias and a staircase with three flights covered by cross vaults. The building now houses the Civic Art Gallery.
Foligno Art gallery and Renaissance art
The collections of the Foligno Art Gallery include various frescoes, altarpieces and paintings, mostly by local masters such as Nicolò di Liberatore, called the 'Alunno' [1430-1502] (you can see a statue of Alunno towards Porta Romana); Pierantonio Mezzastris (active between 1507 and 1533); and Dono Doni (1500-1575).
The 'Alunno' only painted frescoes and has left many works portraying tormented characters. Vasari wrote: [...] The best painting that Niccolò made was in a chapel in the cathedral...a "Pieta and two Angels", who...are crying so much that I believe any other painter, however excellent, could have done little better [...]"
There are also some works by Bartolomeo di Tommaso da Foligno (1425-1454) and a painter born in Foligno, rediscovered recently and Giovanni di Corraduccio, called the “Mazzaforte” (active between 1407 and 1417), who also seems to be the author of some of the frescoes in the Trinci Palace.
Continuing through Foligno along Via Garibaldi there is the Church of San Salvatore (with a 14th century façade), and an interior renovated by Vanvitelli.
See also the Church and Oratory of Nunziatella, consecrated in 1494 by Bishop Luca Cybo (1489-1522). This church is rectangular with two altars in the bottom around which there are several fluted marble columns.
On the right altar there is the "Baptism of Jesus", a fresco by Perugino (1450 c.1523).
Along the Via Mazzini you arrive at Piazza San Domenico which contains one of the oldest religious buildings in Foligno, the 11th century Church of Santa Maria ‘Infraportas’.
The church exterior has an imposing bell tower, while the interior has three naves, decorated mostly by local painters and still has some rare Byzantine style frescoes.
Foligno has a very long tradition in the arts using jewellery, pottery and iron. Among them, Emiliano Orfini (c.1420 c.1494) was “Vir acutissimi ingenii” (a man of a very subtle brain) according to Francesco Patrizi [1529-1597]. He was a jeweller who, among other things, was also a fine intellectual and brought the art of the press to the town around 1470.
Other Foligno activities
For art and nature lovers Foligno has many other pleasant surprises, for example the famous Parco del Canapè which is a very old park dating from the 18th century.
Outside the city walls the area offers various cultural attractions, such as some excavations which recently brought to light new finds from ancient Foligno. Don't miss the chance to also appreciate some of the local products such as truffles and mushrooms.
You will also find a fine selection of wines such as the red “Rosso di Montefalco” and the white Umbrian "Grechetto".
See also history of Foligno
Selected places to visit near Foligno, Italy
See the Umbria guide for more travel ideas...