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This area has been settled for at least 2000 years and the ancient Roman Villa of Cerqua reminds us that there were many settlements along the Flaminia Road (Via Flaminia) in this region in Roman times, as confirmed by archaeological excavations.
Explore Valtopina: tourism and travel guide
The small town of Valtopina is now the 'capital' of ancient villages such as Giove, Poggio, Santa Cristina and several others. These are all settlements of medieval origin, rich in history, and especially to be seen in the historic architecture.
The territory of Valtopina is composed of small communities surrounded by oak woodlands (from which derives the name "Cerqua") and which is typical of the whole of the Topino Valley. The town of Valtopina itself consists of small houses along the Flaminia Road and has largely developed since the early 19th century.
In the attractive environment around Valtopina there are several castles and ancient villages such as the Castle of Poggio (11th century), Castle of Serra (10th century) and Castle of Gallano (12th century).
In addition there are some interesting artefacts from Roman times, such as the place called "Ponte Rio," with the remains of Roman bridges. Along the road leading to Santa Cristina you an also visit the excavations of a Roman villa dating from the 2nd century BC.
The combination of scenery, tiny medieval villages and historic landmarks, although each is quite small, together make for a very enjoyable region to explore.
Where is all the art?
Touring the local churches you will find they contain less artworks than lany regions of Italy. In part this is because the local monasteries in the region around Valtopina, that had previously been rich, suffered a severe crisis in the 16th century. Those which suffered include the Monastery of Santo Stefano, which stood near Gallano and supported several of the local churches. See also history of Valtopina.
Despite the deep-seated crisis of the various ecclesiastical patrons who were the only real customers of sacred painting it is still possible to find some significant examples in Valtopina.
Because of the medieval religious crises in the region you will find that artworks are more unusual in the churches and monuments of these mountain areas than in many parts of Umbria - although this scarcity does not mean the total absence of works of art. This relative lack of art is also due in part to the remoteness of the mountain areas.
There were many painters who worked in Foligno and its environs, especially of the School of Niccolò di Liberatore called “L’Alunno” (1430-1502), who had his "Bottega" [studio] at Foligno and one painter who worked in Valtopina was Valerio da Foligno*.
In the parish church of Valtopina, dedicated to Saint Peter and rebuilt in 1945 as a result of wartime bombing, there is a painting by the school of Caravaggio (1571-1610) dating from the end of the second decade of the 17th century. The church of Valtopina originally had other works of art dating from the 16th-17th centuries but because of damage caused by earthquakes to the bell tower and roof, many of these works have been transferred elsewhere.
Examples of painters of the School of Caravaggio have also been identified at Poggio, a small village near Valtopina and in Ritaldi Castle, in the Parish Church of St. Marina, is a work by Lattanzio di Niccolò*. In front there is a niche with a fresco by Tiberio di Assisi (1470-1524) from Perugia.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Umbria guide.