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There is a serious risk of losing our identity: the earthquake that hit central Italy in 2016 destroyed everything. There is a feeling that, while passing through the state of emergency and reconstruction, something must be done to counteract the loss of ties, links and territorial knowledge in Umbria as well as the other regions, in particular about cultural, historic and artistic heritage.

This exhibition has this precise aim and it has been inaugurated on March 5th, in Rocca Albornoz of Spoleto, and it has been organised by the Region of Umbria, the Ministry of Cultural Assets, Activities and Tourism, the Archdiocese of Spoleto – Norcia and the town of Spoleto, and it will last until July 30th, 2017.

Ospiti in Rocca

The event is part of Discovering Umbria project, made by Sistema Museo and promoted by the Region of Umbria to support and enhance museum activities. The exhibit Treasures from Valnerina opens with Ospiti in Rocca. All the works on display have a very high symbolic significance, such as a XVI century wooden Crucifix from the church of Sant’Anatolia di Narco, the XVI century Madonna with Child from Avendita di Cascia and the Annunciation by Andrea della Robbia from the beginning of the XVI century, which is composed of two sculptures in glazed terracotta – the Virgin and the Archangel Gabriel – which originally were placed in the Church of SS. Annunziata and kept in Castellina Museum of Norcia, from where the odd Magistrate’s ballot box, made in the XV century, also exhibited, is from. From other regions there are the refined painting on wood of Madonna with Child by Nicola di Ulisse da Siena from the Diocesan Museum of Ascoli Piceno and the San Sebastiano from the second half of the XVII century from Scai, the area surrounding Amatrice.

Another selection of works rescued from the damaged churches and museums in Valnerina will be on display from April 9th, in order to enhance the exhibition including items recovered and restored in the months since the events of August 24th, 2016.

Other Projects

«After the shakes of August 24th and, in particular, those after October 30th, I have convinced that since Rocca and the Museo nazionale del Ducato (National Museum of the Duchy) had escaped damage, they should assume the role of a point of reference for the territory and for activities that are temporarily experiencing difficulty», says director Rosaria Mencarelli.

But there are many other initiatives, including Lightquake: Donate for reconstruction, a crowdfunding campaign started in February within the artistic project named LIGHTQUAKE, promoted by MiBACT and the National Duchy Museum of Spoleto, in collaboration with the Municipality of Spoleto, The Faculty of Design of the Milan Polytechnic, and the Association of Rocca Albornoziana, in order to support the restoration of works damaged by the earthquake as well as the launch of a shared project to regenerate the area at a regional level, with culture at its heart. Lightquake represents a beacon for reaction and rebirth, “a tremor of light” to instill positive energy and break the darkness of destruction, reigniting the cycle of life and creativity in a land with a rich heritage of masterpieces and artistic excellences. Fundraising contributions, developed in collaboration with the Progetto IMMaginario, may be made through the specialised Starteed platform.

A Necessary Restoration

Hope and commitment; knowledge and understanding for the future. The exhibition is an appropriate reaction to the urgency of cultural assets, in order not to risk to lose our heritage all together. Buildings, churches and works of art must be all restored as soon as possible, otherwise, as I already had occasion to write in the special edition of Predella dedicated to the earthquake, citing Mario Calabresi from La Repubblica of October 29th, 2016: «We will be poorer, as we had lost a piece of our soul».


For further informations on Spoleto





When, now more than one year ago, a group of communication and information professionals met to give life to Aboutumbria, there was nothing that portended that a real network of different professional experts would have been created. A network whose only aim was to pool together experiences and expertise in order to create an organization that would be able to promote the brand of “Umbria” in a timely, comprehensive and innovative manner.

Photo by Giovanni Bicerna

What about the reasons? Undoubtedly a sense of respect and gratitude to their own land, a sublime form of dedication to showcasing of their roots, but also more than a hint of vanity. A desire to to do something for our dear and beloved Umbria, to be able to do something for her, or at least to ensure that everyone is able to know her deeply and love her for what she really is.

Aboutumbria’s mission therefore is to enhance the communication capacities of the Umbrian territory by the knowledge of the areas and buildings of a historical, artistic and architectural value, the dissemination and promotion of its excellences, events, exhibitions, and cultural initiatives in general.

But a second and no less important goal is that of creating a new territorial communication format by exploring different media languages and the limitless potential of technologies, in order to exalt a land that is rich in symbols, culture and history -but also of creativity.

What does better represent a multi-media today, than being able to capture emotion through an image or living it through the representation of an event?

Yes. The idea is to build a true multimedia communication environment within which Umbria and its excellences is able to be told, to be lived; a kind of Communication 2.0 course, where the concept of network turns into the Community in which the human experience further enriches the value of this land, reinterprets its and interacts between the past and present, and lays the ground for a new future.

Spring is coming: we can already feel in the air new smells and see the first flowers, everything comes back to life, emerging from hibernation. Including us, who have passed the winter moving from a house to another, to a pub, to a cinema: finally we’re going out. Why not to come and see an outdoor sight that starts again?
In the heart of Valnerina, Marmore Waterfalls are waiting for us.

Marmore Waterfalls | Pic by Giovanni Bicerna

An Ancient Engineering Project

Maybe not everyone knows that the Waterfall is an engineering project dated back to 290 b.C., when the roman Consul Manio Curio Dentato ordered to dig a channel to make Velino River flow in the valley of Rieti, directing it until the cliff of Marmore, where the waters thrown down and merged into Nera River, throughout a drop of 165 meters. This project was made to reclaim Velino River, which formed a brackish marsh so it was possibly dangerous for the people because of malaria.

The Waterfall Now

Today the Fall is used to generate electricity by the powerhouse of Galleto and that’s why the water’s release is controlled;in specific days and moments of the year we can admire it in all its beauty, in particular from March to October, including festivity days in the other months. It’s interesting to discover that the place hots one of Centers of Environmental Education, scattered from there to the valleys of Nera River and Piediluco, areas that fall into the European Ecologic Net Natura 2000 by Project Bioitaly, which is working to promote an eco-sustainable tourism, with the knowledge, the preservation and the promotion of the territory, supprting the development as better as they can.

Curiosity: the name Marmore comes from salts of calcium carbonate that settle on the rocks, making them look like marble crystals. What increases magic, besides the enchanting landscape, is the Fall’s pixie Gnefro, who tells the legend of Marmore to the children that will begin the Enchanted Walk with him.


But in the park, we can find footpaths that adults can do too: six routes, different for name, for environment and for difficulty.
The Ancient Passage links the two entries to the Fall, the Belvedere Inferiore with the Belvedere Superiore and it isn’t so simple to go along, but throughout this way you can go to the Lovers’ Terrace. So put on trekking shoes and let’s go!


Marmore Waterfall | Pic by Enrico Mezzasoma


The Ring of the Nimph is the easier one, it lets us approach to the Fall as possible as it can, because there are small stairs and small wood bridges, and then we can admire one the 300 natural caves scattered in the area.

The Meeting of Waters is a way that follows the canyons that Nera River hollowed in the rock until the confluence with Velino River and it is the way used to realize the Enchanted Walk. Furthermore, it’s the best place to see canoeing and rafting lovers who challenge the waters.

The Magnificence is the only route that lets us see the three drops that create the Fall, so this way is defined the touristic walk par excellence. There’s a complete vision of the show.

The Man and the Cliff is the longest route, which starts from Belvedere Superiore and develops along the edges of Marmore cliff, showing different views like the basin of Terni and the clefts of Ferentillo. With tour guides, we can visit some the most evoking natural caves.

Finally, the Wise Holm Oaks, only for experts because it goes from the bottom to the top and vice versa, throughout steeps and disconnected paths, and it’s the unique way that doesn’t allow us to see the Fall, but only the old power station pipes.

May I tell you when you should go to Marmore Waterfalls? In summer, in the hottest moments. You will be stunned by the microclimate made by the union of the dense nature and the water. Believe in magicalso in Gnefro!


For further informations on Terni

A renewed interest in quality and healthy food has grown over the last 20-30 years and Umbria finds itself in the middle of a Renaissance that includes heritage, biodynamic and organic foods.

Ancient Tastes

Heritage or heirloom foods refer to cultivars that have been re-discovered after years of non-use or little use. Seeds have been traced back for generations and sowed to produce fruits and legumes that had been “lost” due to newer varieties or hybrids. Often times you can no longer find these fruits in commercial stores. Some might not as aesthetically attractive as their modern counterparts but they possess a unique and delicious taste.

For almost 30 years, growers near Città di Castello have been hunting down and creating a collection of heritage fruit trees—their orchards include apple, pear, cherry, plum, fig and almond. All the trees have been catalogued and the seeds preserved. Along with promoting heritage fruits, they sell their historical trees to the general public, via Azienda Agricola Archaeologia Arborea.

Let's Staring at the Stars

Biodynamic, instead, refers to a way of farming that believes in a very close partnership with the rhythms of nature. Based on the principles outlined by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s, its goal is to restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. Important tenants include crop diversification, the use of complimentary crops such as clover or barley to re-introduce nitrogen into the soil, frequent crop rotation and even considering the position of the moon and stars in terms of your sowing and reaping.

In Umbria you can find a number of different products, including biodynamic wines by Azienda Fontesecca in Città della Pieve, by Fattoria Mani di Luna in Torgiano, or by Raìna, whose headquarter is placed in Cannara. Similarly, some farms produce biodynamic oils – such as Azienda Agraria Hispellum in Spello or Fonte Vergine in Terni – or grains – e.g. Azienda Biodinamica Conca d’Oro in Gubbio or Torre Colombaia in San Biagio della Valle (near Marsciano). Local Umbrian dairies also produce cheeses milked from goats raised under biodynamic principles, such as Fattoria Il Secondo Altopiano, placed in Orvieto.

One can apply for membership into various biodynamic associations, of which Demeteris recognized world wide and theAssociazione Nazionale per l’Agricoltura Biodinamica, a national Italian group, has it’s Umbrian seat based in Spello.

The Matter of Organic

Organic is perhaps the most strictly controlled, yet mis-understood name that can be found on many tables today. Just a decade ago, the term “organic” was placed on products loosely, and without certification, but now very strict labelling requirements mean that you can only use the word “organic” if you have received certification from government controlled agencies. Acceptance into organic involves strict control over the amounts and types of fertilizers, prohibits the use of pesticides and herbicides, and dictates that you treat your crops sporadically—and only when rain or climate indicates it is necessary.

The famous Green Leaf guarantees organic and indicates that a product has met the controls set by a comprehensive European law referred to as 834/2007. There are a number of entities that can award the green leaf in Umbria, including ICEA, Ecocert (French), Suolo e Salute, Bioagricert.

A Delicate Method

To qualify as organic, you must also harvest or prepare your product on organically approved tools.

So, a grain farmer will need to send his crop to an organic mill, such as the Molino Silvestri in Torgiano. The Molino grinds and sells a number of grains and flours for private use and restaurants in Umbria and Tuscany.

Likewise, to produce organic olive oil you need to press in a mill that has obtained organic approval. Often you are the first to press in the morning so that you are on clean machinery, with no residual from non-organic fruit.

Every product of the Earth can be organic: we can have wine, such as the one produced by Azienda Agricola Di Filippo in Cannara or the one by Cantina Antonelli in Montefalco; we can have saffron, like the one by Azienda Agricola De Carolis Adelino in Civita di Cascia, jams from Azienda Agricola Sibilla in Norcia, cheese from Azienda Agricola Rossi Rita, which collects and processes organic milk from cows breed in several farms placed in Valnerina.

«The scenery of the region is perfectly pleasant, just imagine it: an immense anfitheatre as only nature could design. An open vast plain land surrounded by mountains; which are covered by grand and old woods up to their summits, where game is rich and abundant. On the sides of the mountains coppices gently slope down into humous-rich and fruitful hills that can compete in fertility with the fields wich lay on the lowlands […] Below, the wide vineyards hemmig from every side the hills make more smooth the face of the landscape, and which lines, disappearing in the distance, half-reveal graceful thickets. Then meadows everywhere,and fields which only powerful oxen with very robust ploughs can break up; that land so hard, at first cutting through, precisely gets up in such clods so large that you need nine ploughing before it can be completely tamed. The meadows, fat and rich in flowers, produce clover and more herbs always soft and tender as if they had just come up, since all those fields are wet from perennial brooks. Still, though the abundant water, there are non marshes, and that is because of the sloping land pouring into the Tiber all the waters it couldn’t absorb… […] Add to this, of course, the health of that area, the serenity of the sky, and the air, purer than elsewhere.»

(Letter from Plinio il Giovane to Domizio Apollinare, Book V, epistle 6)

The History

The first settlements of San Giustino, the further north municipality of the region, trace back to Umbri as evidenced by the discovery of numerous small bronzes. In Roman times – under the name Meliscianum taken from nymph Melissa, whose name stands for “honey producer” and recalls an area where beekeeping was surely widely practiced– San Giustino became an important trade centre along Via Tiberina. The same Roman time is evidenced by the great country-style villa Plinio il Giovane wanted to be built around 100 A.D. Later on, the villa was flattened by Totila’s Goths.

Archaeological reveals in Colle Plinio, pic kindly given by the City of San Giustino

Today’s name of San Giustino, coming from the Saint martyred at Pieve de’ Saddi during the time of Emperor Marco Aurelio, appears for the first time in a diploma dated 1027. Its territory has been challenged for centuries by Arezzo, Città di Castello and San Sepolcro. Oddone and Rinaldo di Ramberto were the first local lords, before bending to Città di Castello in 1218. Following their submission, in 1262 Città di Castello fortified it, but during the vacancy of the Holy See, after Clemente IV’s death, San Sepolcro ravaged the territory, destroying the fortalice. After its rebuilding, in 1393 the Castle was left to Dotti family, which were political exiled from San Sepolcro, under the pledge to use it to defend Città di Castello. After changing fortunes, because of the destruction and reconstruction of Dotti Palace, the family gave it back to the town of Città di Castello in 1841. At this point the papal governor of Città di Castello called his brother, Mariano Savelli, skilful architect, to draw the project to change the steep fortress in a strong palace in order to make it impregnable, protected by a grand moat too. Works had started, but given the unavailability of the funding to carry them out in 1487 Città di Castello gave it to a rich landowner, Niccolò di Manno Bufalini, doctor of utroque iure and Sisto IV, Innocenzo VIII and Alessandro VI’s relative, so as to complete the works. The Holy See received so many favors and services that in 1563 Giulio Bufalini and his son Ottavio were given the title of count, the feud and territory of San Giustino. During the Napoleonic time San Giustino became an independent town from Città di Castello and, after being suppressed at the end of that period of time, it was finally recognized by Leone XIII’s motu proprio in 1827. San Giustino was the first Umbrian town the Piemontese troops led by General Fanti occupied on September 11th 1860.

Bufalini Castle

Bufalini’s Castle, pic kindly given by the City of San Giustino

Castello Bufalini is the emblem of San Giustino beyond any doubt. The castle sees its origins in the Dotti family’s military fortalice. Restored by Città di Castello in 1478, after being attacked and destroyed again and again, in 1487 the legate of Città di Castello donated it to Niccolò, son of Manno Bufalini, so that he could accomplish the rebuilding, started on the project by Mariano Savelli, governor’s brother, assigned, in case of war, to defend Città di Castello and to provide accommodation for commanders and troops sent by the municipality to protect the place and the people. Bufalini, on the basis of Camillo Vitelli’s new project, changed the old fortalice in an actual fortress surrounded by a ditch, overlooked by four towers and a keep, embattled walkways and a drawbridge.
But it was the Renaissance which led that the transformation of the fortress into a manor. The authors of the transformation were the brothers Giulio I and Ventura Bufalini, owners and residents of the building since 1530. The works, carried out between 1534 and 1560, concerned both the exterior renovation of the building and the new spatial layout out, together with the modernisation of the inside. The initial project, which concerned the refitting of the inner courtyard, the building of the kneeling windows, the construction of two spiral staircases and a new internal spatial distribution, probably owes to Giovanni d’Alessio d’Antonio, called Nanni Ongaro or Unghero (Florence 1490-1546), Florentine architect belonging to the Sangallo circle, in the service of the Gran duke of Tuscany Cosimo I, but the works continued even after his death. From 1537 to 1554 Cristoforo Gherardi (San Sepolcro 1508-1556), called Il Doceno, was appointed to paint the pictorial decorations of five rooms with mythological stories and grotesques. At the end of XVII century the castle was affected by a new phase of the works at Filippo I and Anna Maria Bourbon di Sorbello’s behast. The palace was changed into a countryside villa with Italian garden on Giovanni Ventura Borghesi’s (Città di Castello 1640-1708) design. The last event of the construction history of the castle took place after the Second World War, because it didn’t endure to the bombings which struck the area.
In 1989 Giuseppe Bufalini gave it to the Italian State. Thanks to the excellent condition of the furniture, today the castle represents a rare example of historic stately home.

Villa Magherini Graziani di Celalba

Pic kindly given by the City of San Giustino

The Villa, built on a pre-existing Roman fortalice, was designed by architects Antonio Cantagallina from San Sepolcro and by one Bruni from Rome, commissioned by Carlo Graziani from Città di Castello. Construction works started at the beginning of XVII century and were carried out in 1616. The quadrangular structure stretches on three levels surmounted by a turret 17 metres high. The ground floor is decorated by walled-up arches in the which centre niches and windows open up evoking the evenness of a portico. The first floor has a large porch with elegant banisters and pietra serena pillars. The side entry introduces to the carriage passageway, barrel vault designed, which enabled direct access for carriages into an indoor space and connected the farmhouse and the chapel dedicated to Santa Maria Lauretana. The building, which represents an outstanding example of aristocratic late-renaissance villa, is immersed in a recently recovered 6 hectars park and you can enjoy a wonderful example of Italian garden. Since 1981 it is a property of San Giustino municipality that has functionally refurbished the building. Today the farmhouse is used by the Municipality for socio-cultural activities, while in the little church are officiated civil marriages. Villa Magherini Graziani hosts Museo Pliniano and since February 2016 it has hosted also the permanent exhibition Iperspazio by Attilio Pierelli (Sasso di Serra S. Quirico 1924-Roma 2013). The artist, founder of Movimento Artistico Internazionale Dimensionalista, spent a large part of his work in visualizing the concept of space, concerning the fourth geometric dimension and the non-Euclidean geometry and, at Villa Magherini Graziani, it is possibile to go through the various creative seasons of his production from inox Slabs, to Knots, to Cubes through which the artist interacted with the hyperspace.

Historical Scientific Tobacco Museum

Historical and Scientific Museum of Tobacco, pic kindly given by the City of San Giustino

It is one of the seven Italian museums dedicated to tobacco. Built in place of the former Consorzio Tabacchicoltori’s offices, thanks to the homonymous Foundation (set up in 1997), its mission is to disseminate the knowledge and the historical importance the tobacco growing had -and has- in the social and economic development of that area. Actually, in the Upper Tiber Valley tobacco cultivation is a tradition that is meant to be handed down and spread. It is no accident that a museum dedicated to tobacco exists just in San Giustino, because in Italian peninsula the first cultivation of some account for commercial purposes of erba tornabuona – so called as the first seed had been brought to Tuscany by bishop Niccolò Tornabuoni at the end of XVI century – date back to the beginning of XVII century and laid just in the Repubblica di Cospaia land, a small territory which is a hamlet of San Giustino today.
The Museum includes offices, sort units, drying kilns, which have great charm and evoke a long story made of working hours and fatigue, but they also evoke emancipation because in this story the main character has been played by the XIX century women. As a matter of fact, the tobacco female workers -as well as the female textile workers- were among the first women who, after leaving the traditional ‘home-working’, become the workforce for the major industries of the country.

Tabacchine, pic kindly given by the City of San Giustino

Il museo comprende uffici, essiccatoi, sale di cernita: luoghi di grande fascino dove si rievoca una lunga storia di fatica e lavoro, ma anche di emancipazione, storia che ha avuto nelle donne del XX secolo le principali protagoniste. Le lavoratrici dei tabacchi, infatti, al pari delle operaie tessili, sono tra le prime donne che, abbandonato il tradizionale lavoro casalingo, vengono inserite nelle grandi industrie.


The Republic of Cospaia

The hamlet of Cospaia, today part of the municipality of San Giustino, is the most northern Umbria locality. Its history – which is the history of a tiny independent state surrounded by three great powers (State of the Church, Duchy of Urbino and Grand Duchy of Tuscany) a long time fighting each other – deserves to be mentioned.
Cosimo dei Medici had granted a 25.000 florins loan to Eugenio IV for the ecumenical council, which was announced to be held in Basilea in 1431, demanding the jurisdiction over Borgo San Sepolcro for guarantee. When the pope died, the loan had not been repaid yet, so the two states sent their own land surveyor to define their boundaries. The surveyors worked without ever meeting directly face to face. As a result, the Tuscans established the border at the Rio della Gorgaccia, while the papal experts at the Rio Ascone. Therefore the area between the two streams, that is to say the hill of Cospaia, remained independent. From 1441 to 1826 Cospaia “for a period of four centuries had neither leaders nor laws nor councils nor statute nor soldiers nor army nor prisons nor courts nor doctors nor taxation. It outlasted according to the elders’ common sense. It used no weights and measures. Even the position of the parish prest, who took care to keep the register of the few souls up to date and who was involved to act as teacher of the town, was a symbol of independence because he wasn’t bound to any bishop.
The agreement of February 11th, 1826 between Leone XII and Leopoldo I, with which they shared out the territory, ended with the independence of Cospaia. In une 28th, 1926 Cospaia did obeisance to the Papal States and each inhabitant received one papetto as award for the lost freedom, a silver coin depicting the effigy of Leone XII.

Still today, on June 28th each year the “ex Republic of Cospaia” is remembered.


For further informations






Storia – Bibliografia essenziale
San Giustino, in M. Tabarrini, L’Umbria si racconta, Foligno, s.n., 1982, v. P-Z, pp. 265-269.
E. Mezzasoma, S. Giustino, in «Piano.Forte», n. 1 (2008), pp. 43-49.
S. Dindelli, Castello Bufalini. Una sosta meravigliosa fra Colle Plinio e Cospaia, San Giustino, BluPrint, 2016

Castello Bufalini – Bibliografia essenziale
A. Ascani, San Giustino, Città di Castello, s.n., 1977.
G. Milani-P. Bà, I Bufalini di San Giustino. Origine e ascesa di una casata, San Giustino, s.n., 1998.
S. Dindelli, Castello Bufalini. Una sosta meravigliosa fra Colle Plinio e Cospaia, San Giustino, BluPrint, 2016

La Repubblica di Cospaia – Bibliografia essenziale
Cospaia, in M. Tabarrini, L’Umbria si racconta, Foligno, s.n., 1982, v. A-D, p. 447.
A. Ascani, Cospaia. Storia inedita della singolare repubblica, Città di Castello, tipografia Sabbioni, 1977.
G. Milani, Tra Rio e Riascolo. Piccola storia del territorio libero di Cospaia, Città di Castello, Grafica 2000, 1996
E. Fuselli, Cospaia tra tabacco, contrabbando e dogane, San Giustino, Fondazione per il Museo Storico Scientifico del Tabacco, 2014


Is there a way to make an ethical journey and in great harmony with the places: is hot air balloon.


Peter Kollar is a Hungarian balloon pilot who has lived for a long time in New Zealand and four years ago came among the rolling hills between Bevagna and Assisi. He takes care of its passengers by involving them in a unique and totalizing experience. It all starts six o’clock in the morning, with clear weather and the moderate winds. The departure from Cantina Dionigi with a minibus service that leads to the nearby runway. The crew gets ready for the inflation operation, with industrial fans that produce the wind, we witness the rebirth of the huge orange ball that seems to wake up with the sun.

Time slowly flows

High, Swells and full of people is ready for takeoff. Light up the burners and slowly rises. At that moment you realize the magic that pervades all around, is silence, it is slow. Nature comes and embraces the enormous balloon, indicates the route heading towards Assisi, sometimes you can see Lake Trasimeno, with a sudden change of scenery and colors. Suspended, is flying over the vast expanses of wheat and then the yellow sunflowers, olive groves and grape vines. A panoramic trip that, like a flashback, back to origins. In that time the silence is the master, while the voracious glances collect everything that happens down below trying to interpret every detail. It ‘s all so slow that you forget the time that passes and, while you goes down on the first field not cultivated, identified by the pilot, you find the protagonist of that landscape Once landed, the minibus waiting and you reach the winery where you started.

A prepared Banquet

The experience continues, does not stop there. To wait, in the winery, a table full of delicious scents and flavors from the typical products of these areas and accompanied by excellent wine made right here. In the eyes again those overflown landscapes, which are in the flavors, all the earth just across. In some cases, especially in the most exclusive events, breakfast is served outdoors, in the nearby church of Madonna Pia with cloths woven by artisans of Montefalco and Deruta ceramics decorated by hand. The season from May to September it has a range of colors so rich that every trip is different, nature gives emotions and the traveler will feel part of the environment, outside the contemporary, almost like being part of an old painting.



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In the register of Umbrian personalities, we couldn’t mention Fabio Melelli, whose kind and smart figure hosted us in the spacious rooms of Palazzo della Penna.

The interview you are going to watch talks about a research, a passion and a unique set: Umbria.




In the decades between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century, the Italian winemaking was on the way towards modernisation.

Poor Quality Wines

At that time the reviews on Italian wines were unanimously merciless. The methods of manufacture were antiquated and the result, except for rare exceptions, was the prevalence of poor quality wines that spoiled easily.
The main reasons accounting for the lack of quality in wines were the physical and environmental conditions of the facilities, which were described as damp, unhealthy places, full of mould and completely inadequate for the processing of grapes.

Utilità ed eleganza

This negative situation slowly began to change towards the end of the XIX century with the birth of the first industrial factories that set up wine production in a rational way with the systematic recourse to machinery and equipment. Modern wine cellars, in addition to elegance, had to demonstrate they were practical and suitable for the production of good wines. The ideal solution was that which foresaw the existence of three-storey buildings, one of which is below ground level, intended for use in the ageing process and as a storage. The access between the floors is made through openings in the vaults, where tubes carried the must after crushing. This was the start of the rise of installations suited for the needs of science and the best oenological practice in Italy, bringing together a wise fusion of usefulness and elegance.

A Model of Winemaking Technology

The best example of this modern technology is the cellar built by the Roman Prince Ugo Boncompagni Ludovisi in Scacciadiavoli (Montefalco), at the end of the XIX century. It was the beginning of spacious facilities being constructed specifically for modern wine production. The winery of the Prince had a production capacity of 2,000-3,500 hectoliters and the management was entrusted to Carlo Toni. The establishment struck a chord as it was a clear example of modern scientific oenology. Toni was joined by his son Giuseppe, who was educated at the Alba and Avellino School of Viticulture, which was also an innovation for the industry. At the end of the century, the father and son ran a shop in Foligno specialized in the sale of «fine red Montefalco table wine» and pure pomace grappa. Carlo Toni was competent: it was demonstrated by the fact that in 1894 he was called to take part of the commission for the study of the phylloxera in the province of Umbria.
Boncompagni vineyards covered an area of over a hundred hectares, with over a million strains; the average yield per hectare was equal to 80 hectolitres. The machines were designed by Carlo Toni. Boncompagni’s wine was sold not only in the main Italian cities but also abroad: in Germany, in the United States and even in Japan.

The Architecture

Deviating from the traditional underground cellar or located in the foundations of some religious building, the cellars of Boncompagni winery had (and have) a slender main façade divided into two areas. The internal set up was to be admired: divided over four floors, one of which was in the basement, with the floor supported by an effective system of columns and beams in cast iron brought from the town of Prato. These columns still bear the initials of the Prince.
In the rear part of the building, nestled against a slightly inclined hill, there is the access to the vat cellar, placed at a higher level than the storage areas. The grapes were brought to the vat cellar using an efficient mechanism of carriages, that flowed on rails up to a bascule used for weighing; the grapes were then sent to crushers placed above the mouths of the vats. After fermentation, which lasted from six to eight days, the must from the vats was lowered to the third floor, reserved for the barrels. An element that imprinted an image of great and efficient modernity on Scacciadiavoli winery was the installation of reinforced concrete tanks covered with glazed tiles. The storage solution -which is still in use today- allowed a considerable save in space, but also had the advantage of ensuring the conservation of the wine, avoiding the need to sell off the product in the case of abundant crops.

In today’s society, struggling with socio-cultural breakdown imposed by the paradigm in the crisis of industrialisation, viticulture has been asked to contribute to the creation and the preservation of the “beautiful landscape”, that has to be associated also with the harmonic layout of the rows of vines along the hilly slopes. This is about the acknowledgement of the role played by viticulture in defining territorial identity –concerning Unesco instrucitions – and a long term operation that must include the ability to pass on a heritage made both by buildings and places of work, in order to attain a status like the one of the winery made by Prince Ugo Boncompagni in Montefalco.


Further readings on the topic:
Vaquero Piñeiro, Storia regionale della vite e del vino in Italia, Umbria, Volumnia, Perugia, 2012

This huge garden, nowadays property of the Province of Perugia, has behind its realization the name and the story of an English woman: Sarah Matilda Hobhouse for whom the love of his husband, the count Francesco Ranghiasci Brancaleoni from Gubbio, lead to the progressive and masterly acquisition of the lands and the vegetable gardens for the realization of the park according to her desires.

Ranghiasci Garden, pic kindly provided by Gubbio City

A Keen Courtship

Sarah Matilda Hobhouse was the daughter of Sir Benjamin, and sister of John Cam, baron of Broughton, minister of the United Kingdom. She grew up in the Duke’s House within the beautiful setting of Whitton Park in Richmond, where she attended his brother’s close friend, Byron, and where she had been courted by Foscolo. Ugo Foscolo had also sent her a tome of Petrarch’s Rhymes with a dedication to the «Gentile giovine», the kind young; he asked for her hand in 1824, but he received a sharp and bitter refuse from her brother because the poet, exiled, penniless and sick, at the age of fourty-six dared to propose to «one of the prettiest girl in England».

Pic via

The Arrival in Gubbio

Sarah Matilda will marry, three years later, in Rome, the 27-years-old Francesco Ranghiasci Brancaleoni, young, rich and moreover noble. In the same year she was lead in Gubbio by her husband, during the Feast of the Ceri, the city’s most festive time, so she could see the Umbrian town under the best light. Her arrival arose curiosity in the town because the beautiful English girl brought, as a dowry, the huge sum of sixty-thousand ecus.

Wineyards, houses and orchards

Sarah Matilda should have felt immediately the lack of her beloved gardens, of the colours and the scents of the plants of the English park where she grew; so her husband, since December 1831, began to acquire vineyards, houses, orchards and, within twelve years ,he became the owner of the lands and the tenements stationed along the huge elliptical floors situated in the declining plot of land.

The creation of the park starts between September and October 1841. As it can be read in the memoirs of the Armanni Acreage «it was demolished San Luca’s Church at the ground floor of Rosetti’s house that was the ancient San Luca’s monastery, it was demolished from top to bottom all but the tower that remain standing, although isolated». The testimony is important to understand the modus operandi of the Count that, faithful in his job of realising the so desired park for Sarah Matilda, did not even spare the historical buildings where they cannot be integrated in the comprehensive plan.

The works for the fitting-out of the English garden continued until 1848: neoclassical buildings were built between limes, horse chestnuts and oaks and medieval ruins were positioned there.

A Pleasant Grove

Ranghiasci Garden, pic kindly provided by Gubbio City

Entering the park from the main entrance, overlooking the actual Via Gabrielli, it is possible, even today, to see two columns that should have been placed near the terracotta statue of a Roman deity, now lost. Through the covered bridge on the creek Camignano, from whose windows can be seen the landscape on the medieval city, we come to the big avenues that walk up the slope creating an ellipsoidal hairpins game. Looking at the city from the boundary wall deliberately not covered by vegetation, Gubbio shows all its undeniable charm. Walking on the hairpins, delimited by different plants that create a yellow and red pattern in autumn, we come up a cottage paved with bricks on example of the scheme of Palazzo Ranghiasci in town. Over there, a fountain, once graced by marble columns, collects water from tanks on the top and channels them towards the inferior hairpin that leads to the most hidden and privileged place of the park; from there it can be seen, in an elevated area, a classical small temple. In the middle of the tympanum there is the coat of arms of the Ranghiasci with their motto «Virtus omnia vincit».

Ranghiasci Garden, pic kindly provided by Gubbio City

Beyond the temple there is, in a place hidden by trees, the tower of San Luca. There were also greenhouses in the park, where plants and exotic flower were cultivated. A contemporary, Stefano Rossi, decribes the just finished park: «a pleasant grove […] that nowadays is really liked by the touching literature lovers, or by those who love dramatic sensations».

This great tribute of love was not enough to let Sarah Matilda enjoy Italy and she did not have a pleasant life in Gubbio: her two children, Edoardo Latino and Federico Latino, died at an early age, she felt melancholic about England and the echoes of her far motherland. She died in England after her comeback together with the daughter, Anne Amelia Latina, in 2 Eaton Square County, Middlesex, a few days after December 9th, 1853, date of her testament.


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This article previously appeared in «Piano.Forte», n. 1 (2008), pp. 54-55.


White marbled skin, covered by duster and webs. Semiopened mouths seem sometimes whispering, or singing. A walk in the Cemetery of Perugia offers an interesting experience through a quite and fascinating atmosphere, meeting sculptures as angels in a pensive mood or melancholy spirits.

Silent Guardians

The cemetery, built over an ancient Etruscan necropolis, close to the ancient Church of San Bevignate, was opened in 1849 and enlarged later, according to the projects of the architects Filippo Lardoni and Alessandro Arienti. Visiting the cemetery means to have a wide panorama of the funeral sculpture in Perugia between XIX and XX centuries.

The monumental entrance takes to three paths, passing trough chapels and mausoleums of different styles and features, fascinating for their variety and their occasional eccentric accents, well shown in the Vitalucci Chapel, a pyramid-shaped monument projected by Romano Mignini in 1892, enriched with two sphinxs placed in front of the door.

Two beautiful starry ceiling vaults, projected by Alessandro Arienti, rise up at the sides of the graveyard: here series of commemorative graves adorn the walls; the light, seeping through the arcades, makes enchanting effects.

Un gusto raffinato

A moltitude of white winged statues and dead effigies seems to look at you with doubtful eyes; others have a vitreous gaze, as they had been petrified. Different works represent angels with young features and curly long hair, taken in gentle attitudes, wearing flowing drapery.

The Liberty style, between XIX and XX centuries, quietly embraces the funeral sculptures in Perugia, thanks to different artists who were born and then had worked in Umbria: most of them studied at the Accademia delle Belle Arti.

Different works are signed by Giuseppe Frenguelli, a sculptor from Perugia (1856 – 1940): placed at the corner of Vicarelli’s monument (1895) there is an angel, making the gesture of silence, while the wind seems to gently blow his curly hair. The same artist realized the music angels on Rossini’s tomb, dated 1905: they look like they are drown in a soft and quiet music, arranged in a complex flowing composition.

The indistinct and undefined atmosphere resulting from a walk through the galleries is given by gestures and attitudes of the paralyzed sculptures. Another example is the angel lazily sitting on the top of the Nottari family’s sepulchral monument, who sustains his head with an hand over a pile of books, looking nowhere with a vague and motionless expression. The work was realized in 1888 by Raffaele Angeletti (1842 – 1899) and Francesco Biscarini (1838 – 1903): the two artists founded a workshop in Perugia in 1861 that later became an active laboratory with a factory of decorative terrecotte.

Allegories of the Hereafter

There are legendary and epic allegories too: two greek sphinxs, substaining Maria Alinda Bonacci Brunamonti‘s monument (1914), have the sembiance of two elegant winged women with powerful leonine paws; a laurel crown passes through their hair, braided with ribbons moved by the wind, echoing undulating liberty motifs. The author, Romano Mignini, helped by his son Venusto, who studied in the Accademia in Perugia and in the Angeletti-Biscarini’s laboratory.

In the cemetery, there are different representations of children: the one with angelic traits, sleepy or melancholy set on the sepulchral monument realized by Giuseppe Scardovi (1857 – 1924), while, on the central walkway of the cemetery, another child, expressing pleinfully the deadly feeling, was carved by Giuseppe Frenguelli in 1915 for Pagnotta family‘s Chapel. This little spirit has fixed and languid eyes; he is properly sit in a cold and static pose, while a great attention is given to clothing details.

The visit at the monumental cemetery of Perugia shows the sculptural interpretation of the deadly unconscious during the XIX e XX centuries, where symbols and allegories go along into a silent tour: a walk into a silent open-air museum.


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