In several weeks’ time, I’ll be back in Italy. Where I belong! As usual, I mix some favourite places with a few new spots. One of the latter will be the Umbrian town of Città della Pieve, perhaps best known as the birthplace of the artist Perugino who is the region’s most renowned artist.
Perugino was born in 1445 in Città della Pieve and baptized Piero di Cristoforo Vannucci, but history knows him as "Il Perugino," the man from Perugia. For a brief moment, he was the most successful painter in Italy, according to the helpful website InItaly.com, and several of his masterpieces can still be found in this town of 5,000 inhabitants.
The top photo is a fragment from Perugino’s fresco of the "Madonna and Child", found in Montefalco’s Museum of San Francesco (an old favourite that I’ll be sure to visit again this year.) The second photo is from Bill Thayer’s website and shows the altar inside Città della Pieve’s Madonna di Fatima.
In 1481, Pope Sixtus IV summoned Perugino to Rome to participate in the most important commission of the late 1400s, the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel walls. All the great artists of the day contributed; Perugino's Charge to Peter, which stands out from the others in the extreme clarity of its composition, was, in many ways, the epitome of his style, says InItaly.com.
Below is another photo from Bill Thayer’s website taken inside Città della Pieve’s S. Bartolommeo.
I will, of course, be in the Sistine Chapel this year. But will it be as beautiful as Città della Pieve? The town, famed for its beautiful brickwork, sits on a hill overlooking the Tiber River on the western edge of Umbria, about 20 kilometers from Lake Trasimeno and just 8 kilometers from Chiusi, just inside the Tuscan border (I only know Chiusi as a train stop to get to Cortona!) It is, apparently, modeled after Siena in Tuscany, which is truly stunning.
It’s apparently quite quiet, being off the tourism path, with narrow streets including what is supposed to be Italy’s narrowest, the famous Via Della Baciadonna, so tiny that it’s possible to kiss a neighbour woman in the home opposite just by leaning out your window. That, however, is not high on my to-do list. Unless she was a he -- and George Clooney.
The town has many churches and some interesting towers to explore, including the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Bianchi and its Perugino: "The Adoration of the Magi" (1504) and the Cathedral of Santi Gervasio e Protasio which boasts a "Madonna in Glory" by Perugino, above the high altar.