Todi is a town in the Umbria region of central Italy containing numerous historical and interesting buildings and monuments.
There is also a great deal of art to enjoy - Todi and the surrounding region have a wealth of art among the richest of Italy partly because this Diocese, in the 18th century, controlled more than 500 churches and still today has works of art of inestimable value.
We suggest you start your visit in the centre of Todi at the Church of Saint Mary of Consolation.
Church of Saint Mary of Consolation
This Renaissance style church was built to a design attributed to Bramante although other important artists also worked in it. The interior is very bright thanks to the numerous windows and soaring dome.
The building has a Greek cross plan, with four apses and two rows of Corinthian pillars, with capitals carved by Francesco di Vita, Ambogio da Milano and Filippo da Meli in the 15th century. The dome is attributed to Francesco Casella (16th century), while among the works of art, there are statues of the Apostles by the Ippolito Scalza school.
Continuing along the Via della Consolazione you reach the historic center of Todi.
Church of San Fortunato
On the right you can see the wide stairs and terraced gardens that lead to the Church of San Fortunato. The church was built by the Franciscan Friars starting from the 13th-14th century with the construction of the choir and two of the four arches. Work then resumed and the church completed in the 15th century.
The church, dedicated to the Patron Saint of the city, is characterized by an unfinished façade, a work by Giovanni Santuccio da Fiorenzuola, with a large central door, two side, and a bell tower, surmounted by a pyramidal spire. The interior has three naves.
One of the most important Italian poets of the Middle Ages, Jacopone da Todi* (1230-1306), is buried in the crypt.
* Together with Saint Francis (1182 ca.-1226), Jacopone Da Todi was the initiator of religious poetry in Italy.
Among the works of art in this church we should highlight the "Madonna and Child with two Angels", 1432, by Masolino da Panicale, some frescoes by Giotto's school and a beautiful 16th century wooden choir by Antonio Maffei.
Around the Monastery of San Fortunato
In an adjacent building, the Monastery of San Fortunato, the Library and Archives are located, which hold more than 200 manuscripts from the 12th century.
Around the church you can see parts of the first Roman city walls - follow the avenue which leads from the Porta Libera to the public garden in Piazza IV Novembre, where there also the remains of the "Fortress of Albornoz", built in the second half of the 14th century and then demolished in the early 16th century.
Beyond the Porta Romana is the Church of the Crucified, with a Greek cross plan and built by Bishop Angelo Cesi at the end of the 16th century, a project by Valentino Martelli (1550-1630) in collaboration with Ippolito Scalza. The building has a Greek cross plan, with a round dome, and it holds the original fresco of the Crucifixion by Giovanni Baglioni (1566-1543), and some frescoes attributed to Andrea Polinori.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is one of the most imposing religious buildings of Todi and probably dates from the 12th century. The façade is square and divided by pilasters and cornices, and has three portals surmounted by rosettes. The interior has a Latin cross plan and three naves.
Inside there are many works of art including a painting of “Our Lady of Pian di Porto” and a crucifix by an unknown Umbrian Master (both 13th century). To the right of the baptismal font a fresco of the Trinity stands out: this is by Giovanni di Pietro, called the “Spagna” (1450 ca.-1528).
The inlaid and carved choir is by Sebastiano Bencivenga (1521-30) while on the front counter there is the "Last Judgement", by Ferraù Fenzoni da Faenza (1562-1645).
From the Cathedral, passing through the portal of Vignola, we reach the Bishop's Palace, built by Bishop Angelo Cesi and with frescoes by Andrea Polinori and Ferraù Fenzoni (16th-17th century).
Next to it there is the Cesi Palace, built to a project by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (early 16th century) and the private residence of Bishop Angelo Cesi.
The best preserved parts of the Palace are the ceilings on the first floor (the chapel, library and parlour), as well as the 16th century frescoes in the "Hall of King Solomon", by Niccolò Martinelli (1540-1610) and Tommaso Laureli (1530-1602).
Nearby, there is the “Palazzo Atti”, unfinished, that belonged to a noble family of Todi.
Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo
On the left side of the square, the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo stands out, built in the late 13th century and with a large loggia on the ground floor, governed by a central pillar, and triple-lancet windows upstairs. A wide staircase leads to this palace and that of the Podestà.
The ground floor consists of a large hall with two aisles. Upstairs in the “Sala delle Pietre” is the Lapidary Museum with Roman materials found in the surrounding area, while the other building on the first floor is the “Sala del Capitano del Popolo”, with some remains of medieval frescoes, including a "Crucifixion" of the 14th century.
On the third floor, added at the end of the 13th century, there are the Art Gallery and Etruscan-Roman Museum.
Etruscan-Roman Museum and Art Gallery of Todi
The museum has five main rooms, divided between the second floor of the Palazzo del Capitano and the first floor of Palazzo del Popolo. The museum has many ancient artefacts from Todi including ceramics, textiles, and remnants of objects found in Todi and in the vicinity. The main sections include:
- The first of the five rooms retain many ceramics and everyday objects, bearing witness to the ancient trade between Todi and Orvieto.
- The numismatic section contains about 1,500 ancient and modern coins.
- The third section has a vast collection of fabrics, especially vestments, dating from different historical periods.
- The fourth section is devoted entirely to ceramics and contains items from the period between the 8th and 18th century.
- The fifth room is occupied by the City Art Gallery, which contains a "Coronation of the Virgin" by Giovanni di Pietro (aka Spagna). A whole section is occupied by works of Ferraù Fenzoni* (aka Faenzone), an artist with a great reputation and known for his work in Rome for Pope Sixtus V (1520-1590).
* Fenzoni was called to Todi to decorate the Bishop's Palace and the Cathedral. From the stylistic point of view, the "Faenzone" trained in Rome and art critics consider him to be one of the most representative painters of the Italian Mannerism style.
Palazzo dei Priori
The Palazzo dei Priori is one of three major public buildings in the city. It was started towards the end of the 13th century but was renovated several times over the years and completed only in 1347. From the beginning of its construction it was the residence of Priors, and other governors of the city.
Its structure was modified during the 16th century by order of Pope Leo X (1475-1521), and the two rows of windows that open onto the main façade of the building date from this period.
On the same façade you can see a bronze eagle, made by Giovanni Giliaccio towards the mid-14th century and that later became the symbol of city.
Other Todi attractions
After visiting the historical treasures of the city the surroundings of Todi are also worth a trip, being an area rich in historical evidences, especially of castles. Many of these were destroyed and many are now only ruins, but a great deal of them still exist, scattered in several villages around Todi.
The region is also rich in craft traditions dating back to medieval times, and which excel in the production of inlaid articles and in the restoration and manufacture of furniture.
It's also worth learning a little about the local wines such as the “Grechetto” and “Trebbiano” wines which were already known in ancient Etruscan, Roman and medieval times.
You can also sample some typical dishes in Todi, such as the “panzanella”, a kind of 'bread wheat of medieval flavour, soaked in water and salt, vinegar and accompanied with many and varied vegetables; the 'sweet macaroni’, and perhaps the local game such as the so-called “palombacce”.
See also history of Todi
Selected places to visit near Todi
See the Umbria guide for more travel ideas...