The town of Umbertide is found towards the north of the Umbria region and north of Perugia, in central Italy.
You will find an interesting mix of monuments to explore in Umbertide, including a ancient fort and others spanning the period from the middle ages to the 18th century.
The old city centre of Umbertide stands out above all for its fortress. This was built between 1374 and 1390 and had strategic importance because it defended Fratta against the expansion of Città di Castello. The fortress was designed in 1374 by Ceccolo Angelucci (known as Trucascio and a citizen of Fratta), and finished in 1389 by Alberto Guidalotti acting under orders from Perugia.
The fortress has a square main tower and three lower towers with battlements. At the base the walls are more than two meters thick, and the entrance doors were originally fitted with drawbridges. The fortress has now been renovated and today it is used for exhibitions and conferences.
Very important from the artistic point of view in Umbertide is the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà, dating from the 16th century and which holds a fresco by Pinturicchio* (1452-1513) and Giovanni Battista Caporali* (1476-1560)
The Church of Santa Croce in Umbertide is now home to a Museum that contains works of considerable importance. Built in 1610 in the Baroque style, on the main altar is the 'Deposition from the Cross' by Luca Signorelli (1445-1523) and described by B. Berenson as 'perhaps the most beautiful of Umbria'. In the side altars there are paintings of religious subjects dating from the 17th and 18th centuries and a wooden sculpture of 'Saint Roch' by Romano Alberti (called Nero and active from 1521 to 1568) from Sansepolcro.
In a room on the first floor there is the 'Madonna and Child in Glory with Angels and Saints' by Niccolò Circignani (aka Pomarancio, 1570-1630), which comes from the Church of San Francesco. On the upper floors you can see some votive bronzes found at the Shrine of nearby Monte Acuto and dating from the 6th and 5th centuries BC.
Also very interesting at Umbertide are the archaeological remains on Mount Acuto, a site which exercised control over the territory in ancient times. Here we find the so-called "Castellieri", which were essentially watch towers. Materials have been discovered here dating back to the 10th-13th centuries BC, including fragments of pottery vessels that were used for cooking.
The Castellieri were abandoned as places of military defense around the 10th or 11th century BC and by the 6th century BC they were used as a place of worship by the Umbrian people. Mount Acuto was also inhabited in Hellenistic and Roman periods, as shown by some fragments of black-painted pottery and some coins found here.
Another site worthy of a visit is the castle located a few miles from Umbertide along the road towards Preggio, in a very strategic location. The castle has a circular shape, is about 70 metres long and 50 metres wide and has two circular towers, while inside there is a courtyard with two underground cisterns.
The area surrounding Umbertide has various other sites of interest to visitors, such as a medieval castle in Preggio that rises about 650 metres above sea level and dominates the entire valley.
Finally we must mention the beautiful ceramics of Umbertide - ceramic production is a very ancient tradition here. Another ancient tradition is the local cuisine, based on dishes such as “polenta alla cacciatora”, the noodles with chicken “rigagli”, the Cappelletti “alla fratteggiana” and many typical products based on the local truffles.
See also history of Umbertide
* For notes about the artists mentioned see artists in medieval Italy