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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.
Although Bettona seems rather overlooked by most guidebooks we found it to be very pleasant to explore with an interesting historic centre and a pleasant main square where you will find most of the important historic monuments.
Explore Bettona: tourism and travel guide
The centre of Bettona is crossed by the ancient Roman road called the Via di Mezzo which connects the two city gates: these are the Porta Vittorio Emanuele to the north-west and Porta Romana to the south-east of the centre
Resident comment: The town was destroyed (by the Perugian army) in 1352 leaving only the churches. Little remains of the earlier city although several parts of the original Etruscan wall are visible. We have a beautiful historic center and a lovely main piazza with two large churches, a museum, and 19th-century fountain. There are now three restaurants in town, one hotel, and several B&B's. It is well situated from which to explore Umbria.
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, in the 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 containing a 16th century wooden choir and various paintings of landscapes and portraits of famous people.
Next to the Porta di San Crispolto is a church built by Benedictine monks in the early 15th century in honour of the patron saint of the city. The church 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 the "Legend of St. Crispolto" stands out. This is a copy of a work by Cesare Sermei (1581-1668) that was painted when the church was restored in the 18th century.
In 1352, during the siege of Bettona, the Perugians took possession of the remains of the Saint from this church, as well as destroying most of the town. 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 home to the Municipal Art Gallery.
Bettona Municipal Art Gallery: highlights
Among the works of art in the Bettona art gallery we must particularly mention some pictures by Pietro Vannucci (called Perugino, 1450-1523), including "St. Anthony of Padua and the devoted".
Perugino was considered by his contemporaries to be "the best artist in Italy" and one of the best of all the Italian Renaissance artists. 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 "Saint 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 "Adoration of the Shepherds" by Dono Doni*.
Other Bettona sights and highlights
Several of the artworks in the Bettona Gallery were previously 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. The altar is the item of most interest, 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, those with an interest in history will want to see the archaeological finds in the area around 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 sandstone.
The Umbrian landscape, which has inspired so many artists, has also inspired the local cooking and you should be sure to 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.
Where is Bettona?
Bettona is in the Umbria region of Italy (that is, in the centre of Italy and to the north of Rome), just a short distance south of Perugia and Bastia Umbra. The town is well placed to visit several places of interest in the region such as Assisi (of Saint Francis of Assisi fame) and several other small towns and villages such as Montefalco.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Umbria guide.