The June day when I visited the small Umbrian hill town of Todi was unusually cool and rainy. I did, briefly, work up a sweat climbing up, up, up from the parking lot to the main square, the Piazza del Popolo. I suspect this is a beautiful medieval piazza -- most of the time. Alas, the Sunday morning when I was there, the piazza shook with the sounds of a motorbike competition.
The entire square had been turned into a track and an unbelievable din was created by the roar of the motorbikes. The noise bounced off the three stunning buildings that all face the piazza -- the Palazzo del Capitano, the Palazzo del Priore and the Palazzo del Popolo -- as well as Todi's Duomo.
I have read that this piazza is one of the most picturesque in all of Italy and is often used as a movie set. I believe that, although I couldn't get a good sense of this from my one visit. Further, Todi has been dubbed the world's most livable city, based on a report in the early 1990 by Richard S. Levine, a professor of architecture at the University of Kentucky, who chose Todi as the model sustainable city, because of its scale and its ability to reinvent itself over time.
I didn't hang around the square long, but instead walked to the next hill and the church of San Fortunato, which is pictured above with reliefs from its unfinished facade. I found San Fortunato to be quite beautiful. Wikipedia reports that it was originally a 7th century Palaeo-Christian temple and two lion sculptures from its earliest days stand guard near the entrance portal.
I was intrigued by the reliefs showing humans, carved around the main doors.
The crypt beneath San Fortunato houses a sepulchre containing the remains of St. Fortunatus of Todi and other saints, as well as the tomb of Jacopone da Todi, a Franciscan poet.
Todi, which is incredibly hilly and steep, has many interesting sites but rain discouraged me from much exploring. I did get a chance to pop inside the beautifully domed Renaissance church of Santa Maria della Consolazione, which was begun in 1508.
The photo just above I borrowed from Bill Thayer's excellent Umbria website, because I loved the way it captures the steepled building of San Fortunato on the highest point of the hill while the domed building on the lower left is S. Maria della Consolazione.
Below are my closeups from the latter church.
The interior is much less spectacular than the exterior, but the apse is surmounted by a square terrace with four eagles at the corners, from which the dome rises. The altar houses a reportedly miraculous image of the Madonna, which, according to tradition, was discovered by a worker during early construction.