Photo of Citta di Castello

Visit Citta di Castello

Citta di Castello is a large town situated to the north of the Umbria region of central Italy, between Umbertide (to the south-east) and Sansepolcro (to the north-west)..

It is a town that is rich in history and art and has a small historic centre that is pleasant to explore. Much of the artistic heritage in Citta di Castello dates from the rule of the Vitelli in the 15th century, with the palaces and churches having a Tuscan influence, a result of the close bonds between the Vitelli family and the Medici of Florence.

Great artists of the 15th-16th century such as Signorelli, Raffaello, Rosso Fiorentino and Raffaellino del Colle have enriched the city with prestigious works of art and it is these that are the highlight of your visit.

Explore Citta di Castello

We suggest you start your visit along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele in the historic heart of Citta di Castello.

On this street you can find the 14th century Church of San Domenico, with a nave and chancel roof. This church holds important 15th century frescoes, including the "St. Anthony Abbot "(1426) by Antonio Alberti da Ferrara (1400-1449 circa) in the apse.

painting of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Signorelli in Citta di Castello, Umbria

Of particular interest in the church are some altarpieces by Antonio Alberti da Ferrara (1390/1400-1449) such as a fresco depicting 'San Antonio Abate', and by Antonio Vivarini (1420-1476) you can see the "Madonna Enthroned" that combines the gothic and renaissance styles. We should also mention a very important work by Luca Signorelli called 'the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian' painted in 1498.

A palace worthy of special mention in Citta di Castello is the Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera, so called because of the cannon foundry which was next to the palace when the city was under the sovereignty of the the French.

This Palace now houses the Municipal Art Gallery (Pinacoteca), with some impressive 15th century paintings including paintings by Raphael, Lorenzetti, Ghirlandaio and Signorelli and a sculpture by Ghiberti. This is the principal museum to visit in Citta di Castello if you are interested in art.


Continue along Corso Cavour to reach the Palazzo dei Priori, designed by Angelo da Orvieto and built in 1332 which is characterized by its ashlar façade, portal and mullioned windows.

The Cathedral of Saint Florido is in the Renaissance style, with a romanesque bell tower from the 12th- 13th century and a gothic portal (although the stairs are from the 18th century).

The interior of the cathedral contains frescoes by Pomarancio (1570-1630) ["Fall of St. Paul"], and the "Transfiguration" by Rosso Fiorentino* (1494-1541)

The Cathedral Museum in Citta di Castello contains the so-called "Treasury of the Canoscio", dating from the 5th-6th century that includes a collection of dishes, pots and liturgical objects found by chance in 1935 at Canoscio, near Citta di Castello.

Side entrance to the cathedral

Among the important paintings in the museum are the “Madonna and Child with St. John”, attributed to Bernardino di Betto (known as Il Pinturicchio, 1454-1513), a pupil of Perugino.

In Via del Popolo is the 14th century Church of Saint Francis, in the form of a Latin cross with a single nave and polygonal apses. The interior of the church was built in the Baroque style.

On one side of the altar there is a copy of the "Marriage of the Virgin" by Raffaello (the original work is now kept at the Accademia di Brera in Milan). The Chapel was designed by Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), as was the altarpiece with the Coronation of the Virgin, painted by Vasari for the Vitelli of Citta di Castello.

For more recent artworks you can visit the Albizzini Palace where there is a permanent exhibition of more than 100 works of great colouristic charm by Alberto Burri (1915-1995)  - Burri was a contemporary master painter born in Citta di Castello.

The 16th century Palazzo Vitelli in St. Egidio, which already existed in 1544, once belonged to Vitellozzo Vitelli (1458-1502), the eldest son of Alexander.

Inside there are frescoes attributed to Cristofano Gherardi* (1508-c.1558), and other works here are by Prospero Fontana* (1512-1597) and collaborators, including the Apotheosis of Hercules.

The northern façade of this palace has a large garden fountain and a loggia by Cristofano Gherardi.

Fresco in the cathedral dome

Palazzo Vitelli

The palace is eloquently described in 1906 in the 'Handbook for Travellers':

“Near the gate of Saint Egidio is the Palazzo di Paolo Vitelli, erected about 1540 and looking out upon the extensive gardens which once constituted the pride and ornament of the city. The grand staircase is worthy of a royal palace which with its lofty vault was painted by Doceno - the upper part represents various mythological subjects and the other portions are covered with grotesque figures quadrupeds fish birds &c thrown together by the most extravagant and capricious fancy.

The saloon was decorated by Prospero Fontana with the most brilliant achievements of the family. It has been barbarously divided into small chambers to the serious injury of the paintings indeed many of them are entirely ruined by neglect. They represent events in which the Vitelli bore a part. These frescoes are stated by Malvasia to have been painted by Prospero Fontana in a few weeks.

Another large saloon has a roof painted by Doceno with mythological subjects a third with subjects from the Old and New Testaments. Another has a rich roof of gold and bas reliefs and grotesque figures in the midst of which is the Banquet of the Gods supposed to be by Prospero Fontana"

Museums and traditions

Among other important cultural institutions in Citta di Castello we must mention the Museum of Popular Traditions in Villa Cappelletti which has a vast collection of objects related to the traditions of the region, with furniture, furnishings, equipment and work tools from daily life and agricultural tools of the 18th century.

In the Textile Collection at the Palace Tommasini there are works of great craftsmanship that document the history of weaving in the Upper Tiber Valley.

Finally we mention the Museum of Typography, as the town is linked to an important and prestigious publishing tradition that started as early as the 16th century.

tower in Citta di Castello, Umbria

Eating out and culinary tradition

With regard to the traditional dishes to enjoy during your visit to Citta di Castello we suggest you sample the appetizers and pasta dishes prepared with the prestigious local truffles and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil produced in mills of the area.

As long ago as 100 AD Pliny described the the famous white truffle and the so-called "Boleti" mushrooms of Citta di Castella as a gourmet dish, which surely guarantees you are sampling a traditional product!

* See notes about Italian artists in Citta di Castello and also history of Citta du Castello

You can find more local travel ideas in the Umbria guide.

See also: 

Map of Citta di Castello and places to visit


Citta di Castello places to visit



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