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Giuliano Giubilei, Perugino DOC, journalist and former deputy editor of TG3, tells his Perugia, where he was born and where he took his first steps as a columnist for Paese Sera; the city with which it maintains a strong bond, despite the forty years of distance: «I have been living in Rome for a long time, but I will never forget the wind of Tramontana in Corso Vannucci. The relationship with these places has never stopped: a Perugino will always remain a Perugino».


Giuliano Giubilei

So I can only ask you this question: what is your connection with this region?

I was born in Perugia and, although I have not lived in the city for more than forty years, I have maintained a strong bond: I have a relationship with these places that has never stopped. In Perugia I had my first experiences, including work; I had my first friends and I lived my training as a man: after all, when I moved, I was twenty-five. A Perugino by birth will never become a Roman by adoption.

You are president of the Festival delle Nazioni of Città di Castello: how important are these kinds of events for the region?

They are very important, they make Umbria known in Italy and in the world. Three of them are fundamental: I’m talking about Umbria Jazz, the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto and the Festival delle Nazioni in Città di Castello. These are the manifestations which make the territory alive and allow it to be appreciated outside. Each edition is dedicated to a nation and this allows you to bring in Umbria artists who otherwise would never have come. The festival is also very popular with foreigners, who in summer live in the Upper Tiber Valley and in other areas of the region.

How was this last edition of the festival?

A great success! Last year we celebrated fifty years with a record number of spectators and collections. Well, this year it went even better. The next edition will be the twelfth under my direction and we plan to host China. In the past only on two occasions, we came out of Europe, hosting Israel and Armenia. With China, we want to expand even further.

What does Umbria need to make the leap forward and get rid of the reputation of Tuscany’s younger sister, both in the infrastructural and in the cultural field?

I do not think that Umbria is the younger sister of Tuscany, it is not inferior to any other region. Regional policy has invested heavily in culture and in promoting various festivals and events; obviously it is always possible to do more. As far as infrastructures are concerned, the railway structure must certainly be strengthened: Rome seems far away, in addition to the fact that it takes two and a half hours to reach it from Perugia. In addition, we it is necessary to improve the airport: Umbria cannot be isolated!

Through your journalist’s eye, what is your opinion on Perugia and the region? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Its greatest weakness is its closure. I tell you an anecdote: I graduated in Contemporary History with Professor Fiorella Bartoccini, who was a prestigious name and she was leading figure at the University of Perugia. One day she said to me, «Do you know I’ve never been invited to dinner by a Perugino?» This is to make people understand what I mean speaking about closure. Among the strengths instead there is the concreteness and the solid character of the Umbrians.

Do you have any significative story related to your work and to Perugia?

I’d like to tell how I started my career as a journalist. In 1973 I joined Paese Sera: the newspaper had an office in Perugia. One day, while I was walking along Corso Vannucci, a friend of mine said to me: «I am working as a journalist at Paese Sera but I do not like it, would you like to take my place?» Obviously, I accepted without hesitation. Firstly, I dealt with news in the judicial area, eventually with local political issues. Perugia, in the seventies, was a very lively city, full of culture; there was a close relationship between the community and the foreigners who lived here. Unfortunately, it went through a deep change like all other Italian cities, but it should return to play the role of capital of an important region, both in cultural and social fields.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

People who visit it want always to come back, it is serene and characterized by landscapes shaped by man.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…

The cold mornings, lashed by the Tramontana in Corso Vannucci.


In Umbria the numerous castles of the territory represented the border line between two worlds: the Romans Empire and the Longobards Kingdom.

In the area of Todi there are many evidences of this past. Between the XII and the XIII century, the town of Todi started to become very powerful. It was necessary both defending its borders and expanding its territory; for this reason a solid defensive barrier was built. The defence line ran from Todi to Marcellano and from Massa Martana to Gualdo Cattaneo. All the castle were under the dominion of Todi, firstly of the Atti family and then of the archbishopric, which marked them forever by affixing its coat of arms: an eagle with a grifagno eye and turkey legs.
The highland castles have resisted time and earthquakes, many are still inhabited, others are restored and others have been transformed into residences. Finding them is like a treasure hunt. Most of them are characterized by the presence of only the main road, which roses them and the silence of nature.


Castle of Pozzo

The hidden castles

One of the castles hidden between hills and woods is the one of Viepri. The village has only one entrance door, dominated by the coat of arms with the eagle of Todi, an unique narrow street and a small church dedicated to Saint Giovanni. The Assignano Castle is not easily found. From Pantalla, following the indications, you arrive in a place so isolated and silent that invites to walk on tiptoe. The walls are a bit shabby, due to the great battle in which Perugia was defeated by Braccio from Montone. Passing from the only door, with an eagle, you enter a pleasant and well restored village.

Towering castles

The Frontignano Castle is impressive, it can also be seen from Todi. The XIII century square tower stands out from afar. The village was so important that it required the intervention of Cesare Borgia and eventually, that of Julius II to ensure its possession to the Church. Todi also left its mark with the eagle above the entrance door. The Torri Castle remembers a bit Frontignano, but much more towers are present. From them it derives its name. On the front, the high walls raise, inside them, pigeons find a shelter. Following the well paved path, it turns around to the entrance door with the unmistakable eagle.

A romantic place: the petroro castle

The road that goes up to Petroro follows backwards the route that ran along the pilgrims who descended from the North to reach Rome and stopped to pray in small chapels dedicated to local martyrs. The Petroro Castle, was one of the small fortified village along the way. A large internal courtyard and the Todi coat of arms on the front door are still visible. Once, the travellers found food and a place where sleeping and, even medical assistance. The castle has returned to new life after the damage caused by the earthquake in1997. Today it is inhabited by a group of Orthodox monks, who contributed to transform the village into a place, where pilgrims are welcomed, as in the ancient times. In summer in the courtyard of the castle, theatre performances are staged by Todi Festival.


The eagle out of place

The Barattano Castle passed through various lordships but for a long time it remained under the jurisdiction of Todi, which marked it with an eagle, which however is not above the entrance door, but out of the medieval walls.

The Cisterna Castle: fields, olive trees, hills, vineyards and finally Cisterna. A formwork with Guelph merlots overlooks the valley, a small road and that’s all. Braccio from Montone and his army spared the Cisterna of today. Eventually Todi took the village under the protection of its archbishopric. In this case too there is the eagle but also in Cisterna it is not where it is supposed to be.


Ruggero Iorio, Le origini della diocesi di Orvieto e Todi, alla luce delle testimonianze archeologiche (1995) 
Emore Paoli, Marcellano indagine su un castello medievale umbro (1986) 
Vincenzo Fiocchi Nicolai, Umbria cristiana, dalla diffusione del culto al culto dei santi (2001) 
Atti del convegno internazionale e studi sull’alto Medioevo
Paolo Boni, San Terenziano e il suo altopiano 
Maurizio Magnani, Il signore di Collazzone (2010) 
Italia – Umbria: Istituto geografico de Agostini (1982) 
Alexander Lee, Il Rinascimento cattivo 

«The job of journalist gives you the opportunity to tell stories and each story is different, it enriches you and brings something into your life».

Alessio Zucchini, journalist, correspondent of Tg1 and former conductor of Unomattina, takes a picture of Umbria, where he was born and where he keeps memories related to his family and his childhood friends.


Alessio Zucchini

What is your bond with Umbria?

I have been living in Rome for 18 years, but Umbria is, and will always be, the place of my family and my childhood friends. I do not go back as often as I would like, but it’s always in my heart. I was born in Umbertide and stayed there until the end of high school, then I went to Turin for the university and I came back to Perugia to attend the Rai Journalism School.

As a journalist and observer of reality: what is your opinion on this region?

I consider it as a happy island, a still peaceful place and a true explosion of colours. Of course, it must be said that it should begin to open its eyes a little: it should become more dynamic on some areas. It is closed on itself and the media do not help.

Do you live in Rome, from the outside how Umbria is perceived?

Obviously, as always happens, those who do not live in a place always find it very beautiful. The Romans, for example, have a positive opinion of Umbria.

Your parents have a radio, Radio Free Wave, so you have always lived in the world of information. Why did you decide to do this job?

I was born in radio. As a kid I used to spend Sunday afternoons with radio commentators, then I talked, recorded and mixed. I had a lot of fun. Obviously this also helped me to choose the profession of journalist. But above all it was my curiosity and the desire to tell the world. I’ve always been a curious guy with a passion for travel.

Is there a work experience that particularly affected you?

In my life I have done many jobs, from the waiter to the night porter in a hotel when I was studying in Turin, but journalism is the job that gives me the opportunity to tell stories every day. Every time you go out for a service or do an interview, discover something new: a life, a story, an experience. I could say that the last service I did was very engaging and a strong experience: I was in Libya in the detention centres for migrants. They are real prisons, claustrophobic places. When you come back from these places you are richer in experiences that you will hardly forget.

You were presenter of Unomattina, and correspondent too: what is the role you likes best?

The envoy certainly, because you can tell stories. But I admit that I like to vary, so the role of presenter, both of a television program and of the news program, were fun and interesting.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Charming, calm, sly.

The first thing that comes to mind thinking of this region…

Affections, family and friendship.

Italy is considered an open-air museum by UNESCO. Churches, palaces, Greek, Etruscan, Arab, Longobard Roman, bridges, paintings, frescoes, statues. In Italy everything is art.

Italy hides an artistic heritage that few know and that summarizes in itself the stories of every era: the stones. The stones are obviously made of stone, they do not move but they speak in silence.
Through their paths, they tell stories of travel, of betrayals, of love and curiosity. There are smooth or chiseled stones and stones with inscriptions or even with bas-reliefs, imported stones and bare stones and stones on stones. Then there is color, grain and texture. In short, what looks like a simple piece of construction encompasses an infinite story.

The color of the stones

Perched on top of the hills of central Italy, stone mountains shaped like towns and cities are visible. Each region has a different color. It starts from the gray of the “pietra serena” in Tuscany to get to the brown of the tuff in Etruria. Assisi is pink like the stone of the Subasio that dominates it so as the plateaux of San Terenziano has its pink stone. Moreover, there is the travertine in Lazio and the white stone of Lecce and so on. Simple, just know what is the stone of the area and there is nothing else to see. It is not exact, this is just the beginning.


Gualdo Cattaneo

The Mother Church

Cinema and TV have made us know the House on the prairie or the American terraced houses strictly made of wood, swept away by hurricanes or burned from top to bottom. Italy, on the other hand, has marbles and stones that can’t burn, or fly, which have been still standing for 2000 years and that have been distributed like a deck of cards.
To learn how to look and under stand them, it is better to start from a small town like Gualdo Cattaneo that overlooks the Puglia valley and stands above the Umbrian valley. From the fortified tower of Gualdo Cattaneo, Spello, Foligno and also the fortress of Spoletoare visible. If you see, you are seen then you are coveted. Gualdo Cattaneo was the object of desire of the cities in that area, and Pope Alexander VI Borgia bought it to build the fortress. Strong point, impregnable by the dreadful warriors of Perugia. The ascent toward the keep, then the square and the Mother Church, the center of the village is reached.
It starts from the church, even from the foundations of the church that are visible from the street behind the apse. The church lays on gigantic and heavy stones, brought there by the legendary Cyclops so firm that no earthquake has never demolished them. Difficult to find more solid foundations. They were the ancient walls of Gualdo Cattaneo. Why did they build a church on the ancient walls? Because nothing is thrown away and because if it is solid and ready it is usable If it is beautiful and decorative, it is moved to another place. On the facade of the church are the symbols of the four evangelists. Two are white and two pink. All imported stone: the pink ones from San Terenziano and white ones from Giano dell’Umbria. Then you enter the church and descend into the crypt.
The crypt, like almost all the crypts, is built with ancient materials. Columns and capitals that once layed somewhere abandoned, remains of the imposing buildings of Roman times, were used there. This was the best reuse of them, because the Roman marbles, even the imperial ones, were fused together to obtain bricks.

A tour among the stones

 Poverty and fundamentalist religions caused incalculable damages. We have lost an infinite number of works of art, but we still have them, even if they are not in their original shape. Leaving the Church and walking through the village, there are gothic or modified gothic windows, travertines, existing only elsewhere – perhaps in Giano – inserted as a point of support in the buildings. Here and there are stones with inscriptions from every era, from Roman times onwards, inserted because of the lack of a brick or simply because they were decorative or because they remembered an event. Ancient entrances hidden in the walls are discovered one and a half meters above the ground, but with the floor level unchanged. The fear of the rats suggested to build in safety. It was used a flying wooden ladder, which in the evening was retired inside the house. A little like the Walsers, who lived in the Alps, and built their wooden houses on stone mushrooms.
If you’d like toh ave a trip among the stones, and learn more, you can contact the municipality of Gualdo Cattaneo, which organizes guided tours under the supervision of dr. Andrea Peruzzi, a true expert in lapidary art and epigraphy. You will have fun!