The medieval town of Gubbio
At the foothill of the Ingino Mountain rises the ancient medieval town of Gubbio. Like Deruta, Gubbio is known for its majolica ceramics. Gubbio was founded by the Umbrians in the 3rd century b.C. before becoming a Roman city in the 1st-century a.C. In the 11th century, the city gained its independence and has had its times of glory during the Middle Ages. In this city, you really feel as if time stood still: the Roman and medieval remains give the city a very special atmosphere.
Attractions in Gubbio
In Gubbio there are many historical buildings and the Palazzo dei Consoli dominates the city. The Via dei Consoli is the main street with many shops that show old crafts and sell ceramics.
Gubbio undoubtedly has the reputation of being the gastronomic destination of Umbria. Many restaurants in the historical centre serve traditional home made dishes based on truffle, beans and dried ham. With a glass of Umbrian white wine on a terrace or at a restaurant with a relaxing garden, you’ll surely feel like being in heaven.
On the main square, the Piazza Grande, is the Palazzo dei Consoli and the views from the square are one of the most charming aspects of Gubbio. The wide views over the medieval houses and countryside are wonderful. From a distance, just outside the town, you can see the Roman amphitheatre. The Roman amphitheatre is in a park where many concerts and other cultural events are organized.
To do in Gubbio
Visiting Gubbio is a discovery trail you can really only do on foot. Walk through the narrow alleys and the steep slopes of the historical centre to fully enjoy the medieval atmosphere. Up and down the town centre there are numerous shops and cosy terraces.
The Roman Theatre was built from local limestone in the late 1st century BC. There’s always free entrance and during summer open-air performances are organised. The stairs in the theatre are still intact and offer place to spectators of the festival.
The Palazzo dei Consoli
The entrance of the museum of the Palazzo dei Consoli is at the Piazza Grande where often temporary exhibitions are displayed. On the first and second floor of the palazzo, medieval collections have taken up permanent residency. The seven Iguvine bronze tables are the highlights during your visit in the museum. They date back to 300-100 BC and were discovered close to the Roman theatre. Each bronze table is engraved with long liturgical texts in the Umbrian language, that has now disappeared, and in Latin. It is the longest liturgical text from antique Italy.
For further information about the museum visit the website.
The Christmas Tree
Since 1981, a group of volunteers from Gubbio each year prepare the biggest Christmas tree of the world. On the slopes of the Mount Ingino, a tree of more than 650 meters with over 800 colourful lights and a star on top doesn’t go unnoticed. Therefore, the Christmas Tree of Gubbio entered the Guinness Book of Records as “The World largest Christmas Tree”. Every year on the eve of the Immaculate Conception on December 7th, the Christmas tree is lit by an important Italian political figure or even by the pope. The tree remains visible during the holiday season.
At the top of the Mount Ingino is the Sant’Ubaldo church. Sant’Ubaldo is the patron saint of Gubbio. The church is open every day.
From the centre, it is a considerable climb of about 40 minutes. For those who prefer not to walk there also is a cable lift that brings you up. The views from here are outstanding and it is especially fun for children: it is a standing lift with small gondolas.
In the church is the embalmed body of the patron Saint Sant’Ubaldo at the main altar. On your right-hand side, you’ll find the 3 famous ceri -wooden candles- used for the Festa dei Ceri. The three statues of the saints are in the church of San Francesco della Pace “the Masons”.
From the Mount Ingino the views over the Umbrian landscape are outstanding. There’s a restaurant and a bar close to the church from where you can relax and enjoy the panorama views. The restaurant is open only in the summer season.
The Festa dei Ceri
Every year on the 15th of May is the Festa dei Ceri. This event involves the whole town of Gubbio and is in honour of the local patron saint Ubaldo. The Festa dei Ceri and the Corsa dei Ceri is a religious procession.
The three heavy wooden ceri are surmounted by statues of St. Ubaldo (Patron of the Masons : yellow), San Giorgio (protector of Mercants : blue) and Sant’Antonio Abate (Patron Saint of Farmers and now also of students : black). The weight of each ceri is about 300-400 kg. All participants wear colourful clothes, and they carry the wooden statues (ceri) of their saints through the city up Mount Ingino and into the basilica where the ceri remain until the following May.
If you’d want to attend this spectacle, make sure to be early to have a good spot to view the race.