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The hermitage of Santa Maria delle Carceri, evoked, and evokes now, appealing and leading emotions, and feelings for the writers that in the past went there. Now it does that for the people that go there ether to study or to create a guided tour.

A charming place

Once, a Franciscan Belgian priest, of whom we don’t know the true identity, visited this hermitage at the beginning of the XVIII Century, and it defined it «a very devoted desert».[1] A century after his visit, the journalist and writer, Thomas A. Trollope, wrote: «The monastery […] an overhanging ledge of rock, harder and offering greater opposition to the action of the weather than the stratum immediately below it».[2] At the beginning of the XX Century, the poet Olave M. Potter, described the place as «a wrinkle on the side of the mount Subasio, […] a little world of dreams and sweet memories».[3] And again, today Enrico Sciamanna, couldn’t resist making a poetic description of the hermitage: «the Carceri are a white eye in the green of the holm oaks of the woods of Subasio. An always opened eye on the world towards the sky».[4]

hermitage in assisi umbria

The Name

The name of this place though, that should represent and hermit for ascetic, may be in contrast with all the poetic feelings and suggestions that we see described by the visitor of ancient times: “Carceri” that means “prisons” from the Latin carcer as a synonym of “heremus”, translated in “hermitage” has been used in some documents from the XIII Century, meaning the will for a spiritual “imprisonment” that Saint Francesco and his followers wanted. But the name can also come from the hermitage that looks much like carceres, meaning prisons.[5]

The History

The history of the hermitage of Saint Maria delle Carceri begins with the place where it is build, chosen by Saint Francesco. He found these karstic caves, a perfect place for mystic ascesis and meditation, and they were near an oratory, that the Saint dedicated to Virgin Mary.[6]
In the second half of the XIII Century, they started to build humble constructions, near the hermitic caves, that can be found by the high horizontal section, parallel to the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Since then, Carceri represents an important place for the Franciscan religiousness.

The Structure

mystical places in umbria

The cell

From a big vault you get in a suggestive triangular terrace called “Il chiostrino dei frati” translated in “the little cloister of monks” that overlooks on a rock cliff, where the Carceri is build, shaped in two rimmed arms. Above the door of the monastery, you can see a monogram of Saint Bernardino, on the inside you can find the refectory and, upstairs, the dormitory, and the monks’ cells.
From the cloister you can go to the chapel of Saint Bernardino, and above its door you can see an inscription of the name given by Saint Francesco to the original chapel. In the chapel you can find only one window, closed by a French glass from the XIII Century, but moved in here only recently, where the Virgin Mary with the child is represented.
Then, you can see the original chapel of Saint Maria delle Carceri, engraved in the stone. Above the altar we can see a fresco of the Virgin Mary with the child and Saint Francesco, over a Crucifixion of the XIII Century, done by Tiberio d’Assisi in 1506. Close to it, we have the choir, where the wooden stalls form the Saint Bernardino period. Going down from a staircase, you arrive in Saint Francesco cave, now divided in two rooms, one is a stone bed where the Saint used to rest and the other is a little cell where the Saint used to pray and meditate.
On the outside you can see a fresco of the Predica agli uccelli, while on the floor you can see a slab, with a little window from which you can see the end of the cliff. Legend has it that the cliff was made by the devil, once expelled from monk Rufino.
Going up from there, you can go in the chapel of Maddalena, where Barnaba Manassei rests. In the woods over the place you find the caves of Rufino and Masseo. Over a bridge you can see a bronze sculpture of Saint Francesco, represented while he frees some turtle-dove birds, the sculpture was made in the late XIX Century, by Vincenzo Rosignoli. From here you can see a long boulevard and, at the end of it, there’s a theater, engraved in the stone, used for liturgical functions, for the pilgrims. Going down on a steep path, you will arrive to the hermitic caves of monk Leone and the first followers of Saint Francesco.[7]

Reference Texts

Guida di Assisi e de’ suoi dintorni, Tip. Metastasio, Assisi 1911, pages 47-49.
Gatti, Le Carceri di San Francesco del Subasio, Lions Club di Assisi, Assisi 1969.
P.M. della Porta-E. Genovesi-E. Lunghi, Guida di Assisi. Storia e arte, Minerva, Assisi 1991, pages 175-178.
Lunghi, Santa Maria delle Carceri, in Eremi e romitori tra Umbria e Marche, Cassa di Risparmio di Foligno, Foligno 2003.
Sciamanna, Santuari francescani minoritici. I luoghi dell’osservanza in Assisi, Minerva, Assisi 2005, pages 60-68.
Zazzerini, Eremo di Santa Maria delle Carceri, in L. Zazzerini, In ascolto dell’Assoluto. Viaggio tra gli eremi in Umbria, Edimond, Città di Castello 2007, pages 2-9.

[1] The unknown Belgian Franciscan, visited the hermitage between 1726 an 1733, he left a memory, and we can find in a book written by A. Sorbini in Assisi nei libri di viaggio del Sette-Ottocento, Editoriale Umbra – ISUC, Foligno 19, page 46.
[2] T.A. Trollope, A Lenten journey in Umbria and the Marches, London 1862
[3] O.M. Potter, A little Pilgrimage of Italy, London 1911, translated from the quote of A. Brilli-S. Neri, Alla ricerca degli eremi francescani fra Toscana, Umbria e Lazio, Le Balze, Montepulciano 2006, pages 23-24
[4] E. Sciamanna, Santuari francescani minoritici. I luoghi dell’osservanza in Assisi, Minerva, Assisi 2005, page 68.
[5] Look in M. Sensi, L’Umbria terra di santi e di santuari, in M. Sensi-M. Tosti-C. Fratini, Santuari nel territorio della Provincia di Perugia, Quattroemme, Perugia 2002, page 75.
[6] An inscription from the fifteenth century, on the arch of the church door sais “Sancto Francesco puose a q[u]esta chapella el nome di Santa Maria” meaning “Saint Francesco gave at this chapel the name of the virgin Mary”. Look at M. Gatti, pages 35-36
[7] For a better description of the Carceri, look at P.M. Della Porta-E. Genovesi-E. Lunghi, Guida di Assisi. Storia e arte, Minerva, Assisi 1991, pages 175-178.

The Associazione Priori of Perugia, presents Inverso by the artist Danilo Fiorucci, an unusual hanging installation inside the Torre degli Sciri, that will be open until the 31st of August 2017.

A site specific project

The Torre degli Sciri is the only remaining tower of the many medieval towers of Perugia. It is the first time that the building hosts an art installation. About this event the Associazione Priori  says: «We decided to open a dialogue between the culture and the creativity of the tower, making the most of its history through new expressive languages: a contemporary site-specific art project that aims at promoting a new interpretation of the tower heritage through the unconventional sight of the artist».

Inverso - The Absent Space

From his evanescent and ethereal paintings, with fluffy and fast brushes, Fiorucci comes to realize his painting in a sculptural gesture as fast as polystyrene. Shaped, then cut and overlapped layers form abstract sculptures, compound vortexes, eliminating «the material that hides form.» Emptiness, not as simple denial of the full, but as an existing entity itself, space between the things that identifies and distinguishes them. New matter that aristotelically, fills the absence. In a reverse way, the memory of a loved one fills his absence. Inverso, therefore, is the inner voice that does not use words, an unnamed body, the absence of the art that becomes presence, the sign of poetry that teaches us the way for the comprehension of nothingness. Immersed in an enigmatic and suspended silence, Fiorucci’s sculpture inside the Tower is like the white cloth lying on an inexplicable footstool on Pino sul mare by Carlo Carrà, like the white Suspended Sphere of Alberto Giacometti, with a color that evokes «The absence of color, the feeling of emptiness, the archetype of the absolute and the light.»

The Tower's Deal

The Sciri Tower is the only survivor of the seventy medieval towers that went to Perugia for the nickname of turrita. Built in the second half of the 13th century, the tower, 46 meters high, is probably one of the 12/14 towers built by the Commune for defensive purposes. It then went to a private destination, being the property of the noble family of the Sciri from which he named it. The coat of arms of this family stands above the main entrance of our building. The family disappeared in the fifteenth century and the tower had to go into properties at Oddi, which had possessions not far away. In 1680 Caterina della Penna, Oddi’s widow, gave the structure and its annexes to Tertiary Franciscan Sister Lucia Tartaglini from Cortona, who instituted an Educated for poor girls. He then went to the Oblate Sisters of San Filippo Neri, who held her until about 2011.
Today, the property of the Municipal Administration, has been restored and subsequently reopened to the public by Associazione Priori. In addition to guided tours, there are artistic, musical and theatrical events.



Inverso – Lo spazio assente
Setting by Danilo Fiorucci
Sciri Tower, Perugia
July 6th– August 31st, 2017
Edited by Claudia Bottini
Openings in July
From Monday to Wednesday: 10:30 – 12:30 | 18:00 – 21.00
From Tuesday to Saturday: 10:30 – 12:30 | 17:00 – 21:00
Sunday: 18:00 – 21:00
Openings in August
Fridays: 10:00 – 12:30 | 19:00 – 21:00
Sundays: 19:00 – 21:00
August, 12th: from 21:00 (Event: staring at the sky by Starlight. For groups of 22 people every 30 minutes. 5 € fee, free for kids up to 12 years old).

«More eco-friendly public transports and less private vehicles»: this is the conclusion of European Commission’s debate that produced the Leipzig Card, to point out European transport guidelines.

sustainable transport in perugia

Moreover, as we know, cities represent the territory where men and women tend to gather; we need an increasingly integrated urban policy that covers many aspects, from the environmental to the economic-social-technological ones.
Minimetrò of Perugia, for its technical features and for the services it offers, is aligned with the new ways of urban public transport, that can provide adequate responses, in line with European transport targets.

A Matter of Urban Mobility

Environmental respect is the key for the future and we cannot forget that transports have had the worst performances corcerning pollution for the last twenty years. European guidelines, with the Green Paper of 2007 on urban transports «towards a new urban mobility culture», followed in 2009 an Action Plan and in 2011 by the new White Paper on transports, have repeatedly stressed the need to find less polluting means of transport.

In Perugia, the answer was Minimetrò, a mean of mass public transport, consistent with European guidelines, able to contribute, thanks to its technical characteristics of power supply, to the containment and reduction of Greenhouse Gases emissions, particulates’, carbon dioxides’ and nitrogen oxides’. Using public means instead of private ones, as well as improving air quality, helps improving life’s quality in a city with less traffic and noise.

Liveability and Sustainability

And this seems to be critical if you think about the awareness of citizens themselves to life’s quality, paired with environmental sustainability and urban policies. Just do an introspective analysis: what is the first element that makes us define a city liveable? Transports. Their efficiency, their capillarity, their ability to facilitate life; but also their integration with existing elements, e.g. the other means of transport and the road system itself, distinctive of a place. Administrations’ purpose is clearly plural: they do not want to limit citizens’ freedom, but they also want to reduce traffic congestion, improve the aforementioned air quality and avoid the exponential dilation of travel times. No less important are fuel savings, the ability to facilitate people with reduced mobility and lower incidence rates in traffic. Here’s the circle closes: once again, environmental respect improves not only itself, but also community’s well-being.

minimetrò perugia

An innovative mean of transport, such as the Minimetrò of Perugia, lies exactly halfway between Community policies, administrations’ and citizens’. It is a link aimed to give citizens a better transport experience in the urban fabric, to reduce public financial effort, and to elevate the Perugia to the empyrean of the most livable cities, reaching first the level of the other national ones, where sustainability goes through the enhancement of green areas, participatory policies and urban mobility, and then to reach the European ones, which have been reinventing  in an eco-sustainable way for years. Perhaps we are still far from been awarded the European Green Capital prize, but the Minimetrò is undoubtedly the first step to create a healthy and sustainable urban environment.


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Who knows what the great biographer Giorgio Vasari would have written about the art of Giovan Battista Salvi (1609 – 1685), called Sassoferrato. The question arises by visiting the exhibition at the Tesori d’Arte Gallery, inside the medieval Abbey of St. Peter in Perugia: Sassoferrato. From Louvre to St. Peter. The reunited collection. open until October 1st, 2017.

An interesting itinerary allows the visitor to discover the painter’s skills, acquired through the example of previuos artists, without omitting epithets and depictions that critics gave to him.
Probably Vasari would have defined him a good academic painter, or perhaps he’d have remarked a lack of creativity. Without any doubt today is taking place an important revaluation of the artist: another exhibition dedicated to his grafic skills have been set up in Sassoferato, the discrict where the painter was born.
Thanks to the collaboration between public institutions and private collectors, the exhibition in Perugia combines pieces coming from italian and international loans: as the title underlines, the biggest thanks goes to the french museum for the temporary concession of the Immaculate Conception, painted originally for the Benedectine Abbey of Saint Peter.

Sassoferrato, Saint Apollonia

The itinerary guides the visitors by partition walls and changing direction corners, while the intense red color of the panels confers a solemn and celebratory atmosphere. Paintings are under spotlights. Watching at the long corridor expository walls, you will understand how the lesson of XV and XVI Centuries predecessors is the foundation for Salvi’s compositions and contents. Some great masters works had flanked Sassoferrato’s paintings, following one another in constant comparison. Often accused by the critic to be only a formal copier, «Sassoferrato doesn’t believe in the evolution of art»: those are the words of Vittorio Sgarbi, one of the exhibit curators.[1]


In Sassoferrato’s art the inspiration from popular models contributes to the definition of a personal artistic growth and style.
His reactionary attitude takes him close to the formal purity of Perugino’s style: Giovan Battista Salvi elaborated, since the beginning of his career, a plain tone, a pious and devonational reverence, easy to find in saints’ figures.
Young ladies with fine oval visages embody deferential saints, fixed by the painter in static poses: their simple and academic lineaments, soft shapes and firm gazes, contribute to a contemplative and prayerful appearence.
Among the various paintings of saints realized by Sassoferrato there are two representations of Saint Apollonia. The saint holds in the hand the pincers with the extracted tooth, symbol of her martyrium, in the same position painted already by Timoteo Viti, in his XV century version of the subject. Sassoferato represents Saint Apollonia with a kind of mute and still expression, as he would remind us the sad fate she encountered.

Tintoretto, The Penitent Magdalene

A beautiful piece representing The penitent Magdalene is borrowed from the Musei Capitolini, painted in 1598 by Domenico Robusti, son of Jacopo Robusti called Tintoretto. The enchanting young woman shines with brilliant light touches: glints on her amber curly hair unveil the powerful Venetian treatment of light, as appears also from the fascinating contrast between the moonlight on the background and the divine ray beautifying the sensuous Redeemed.
In his own depiction of the saint, Giovan Battista Salvi recalls the formal composition of Domenico Tintoretto, avoiding however that languorous and romantic tone, in favor of a misurated and quite manner.

Above: Sassoferrato, Hope with two Angels. Below: Faith with two Angels

Continuing on the path, the eye is captured by three big canvas, decreasing in sizes, all copies of The Deposition by Raphael: the third one is realized by our painter. Hanging up on the red wall, the same scene is repeated in slow motion, as one would stand at the mirror of time, watching the art remembering herself.
The exercise of copyng by Raphael is not ended: the vibrant colours of the Deposition are softened then by two little paintings represented the Hope and the Faith with two little angels, taken from the same altarpiece commissioned to Raphael by Baglioni family of Perugia.
Traditionalist and academic, Sassoferrato realized different versions of the Madonna del Giglio, displaying his adherence to XIV century language.
An intimate sweetness characterizes his candied virgins, sometimes portrayed in contained ecstasy, some others praying silently. Always the same graceful features, distant in space and time.
The culmination of those features takes form in the celestial representation of the Immaculate Conception: the Virgin in glory sourrended by smiling cherubs, floats on a cloud, ending the itineray through the art of Sassoferrrato.


The exhibition releases the artist, contextualizing his style in a continuum of meaningful comparisons.
It is dedicated to those people who want to immerse themeselves in a silent and reflexing atmosphere, discovering the treasures exposed at the Gallery. Visiting the exhibition with an attitude of formal observance and quitness, as Sassoferrato’s characters, will pay the best tribute to the artist.

Sassoferrato, Immacoulate Conception

More on Perugia


[1] http://www.ilgiornale.it/news/sassoferrato-ovvero-larte-essere-noioso-e-sublime-1379228.html

«It was the year 800 and on the hills separating Città di Castello from Umbertide were settled the people called Arienati who, according to a book written by Lucantonio Canizi in 1626, were living in the Upper Tiber Valley at the time, divided in six castles.»


With these words an old article begins the history of Montone;[1] while Mario Tabarrini wrote that the «original Montone would have been destroyed by Goths and that it was rebuilt only around 1000»[2]. We know for sure that the first document illustrating Montone as castrum with a castaldo (a steward) – subdivided into two small villages with a parish church, whose properties were placed between the estates of Marquis del Colle (later called di Monte S. Maria) and the ones of the Benedictine Monastery of Camporeggiano – dates back to 1121.


Andrea Fortebraccio, noto come Braccio da Montone (Perugia, 1 luglio 1368 – L’Aquila, 5 giugno 1424), foto Wikipedia

On January 1200, the two brothers Fortebraccio and Oddone, Leonardo’s sons, applied for the citizenship in Perugia, ceding their properties right to the municipality and so becoming part of the town nobility, and taking home in the district of Porta S. Angelo. Also Montone was included in Porta S. Angelo countryside, but the signature of this agreement by the town consuls caused the revolt of Olivi family’s faction, opponent of Fortebracci’s, supported by Città di Castello. The subsequent defeat of people from Città di Castello forced Montone’s inhabitants, as the other defeated castles, to take the palio (the city prize) to Sant’Ercolano. The submission was reaffirmed in 1216 together «with the obligation to always bear, in peace as in wartime, the same destiny of Perugia».[3]
From that moment on – and for the next two centuries- Montone lingered tied to Perugia, although desired by Città di Castello, until Perugia subdued Città di Castello too.
1368 was a landmark for Montone, because on July 1st was born Andrea Braccio da Montone, the greatest of all Umbrian condottieri (some historians say that he was born precisely in Montone, some others in Perugia). In 1392 he fought side by side with the aristocratic families of Perugia against Raspanti‘s faction, but the latter prevailed and banished from Perugia all the defeated opponents, so that Braccio took refuge in Montone. From there, in 1394 he tried to occupy Fratta (today Umbertide) in order to prevail Raspanti to take it, but he fell into an ambush and took captive. Biordo Michelotti, Raspanti’s leader, freed him but demanded Montone as a reward, therefore the «adventure of Fratta required Braccio’s honour and his family’s feud».[4]
Later, Braccio left Montone to serve Florence. After Biordo Michelotti’s death the exiles tried to return to Perugia, so Braccio, in alliance with Bartolomeo degli Oddi called il Miccia, together with a squad tried to seize Perugia, but the town ruled itself to the Duke of Milan as an attempt to defend itself. Later, Braccio served Alberico da Barbiano, who was fighting people from Bologna, then King of Naples, Ladislao. In August 28th, 1414, the antipope Giovanni XXIII granted Braccio and his descendants the perpetual dominion over Montone. In 1416, Braccio assaults Perugia and, after a gory fight, got a crushing victory at Sant’Egidio, so on July 19th he made a triumphal entry into Perugia, where he was praised as leader. Later, he conquered Todi, Terni, Narni, Orvieto, Montefeltro and Urbino.
Braccio Fortebracci died for battle wounds after he fought for L’Aquila in 1424. With his death the pope reoccupied the lands conquered by Braccio and in 1478 Montone became the completing part of the Stato della Chiesa: its walls were destroyed as well as family Fortebracci’s dwelling “which was one of the most beautiful and sumptuous of Italy»[5]. «At Braccio’s death […] the village ceased to be one of the most important in the Italian Medieval history and the its name occurred far less in the chronicles of the time»[6]. Nonetheless, the history of Montone went on and from 1518 to 1640 in the county (promoted to a marquisate in 1607) it was witnessed the presence of family Vitelli from Città di Castello, to whom pope Leone X had given that county as a reward for the aid received in gaining the Duchy of Urbino. The last marquis was Chiappino Vitelli, whose death meant for Montone the subjection to the Church of Rome. After Napoleon, Montone remained a free municipality, while during the Kingdom of Italy it became part of Umbertide‘s district.

St. Francis Church

St. Francis Church, photo by Enrico Mezzasoma

The construction of the St. Francis Church dates back to the first decade of the Fourteenth Century, but recent researches by Maria Rita Silvestrelli have produced new results about the history of the Franciscan settlement, which now is documented since 1268.[7] The church is located within the walls of the town, in the place named Castelvecchio, one of the six castles at the entrance of Carpina and Tiber Valley. «Thus, while on the hill called il Monte, dominated Fortebracci and Olivi’s mansions, symbol of war and power, on the other hill, where there was an oratory dedicated to St. Ubaldo since ancient times, Minori Conventuali built their church as an emblem of peace and charity»[8].
The church, whose architect is unknown, has the typical body of religious buildings of the Ordini mendicanti: simple and linear shapes, a central single nave with polygonal apse, truss roof.

St. Francis Church Interior, courtesy of Comune di Montone

The remains of the oldest frescoes, dated on to the second half of the Fourteenth Century, suggest that since its construction the church has been subjected to a wide decorative intervention, nevertheless the most important ones would be achieved the following century when it became the church of Fortebracci Family, who enriched it with altars, furnishings and paintings. St. Francis‘s Life and Last Judgement scenes are made by Antonio Alberti (from Ferrara), called Braccios painter, between 1423 and 1424. The altar in the middle of the left wall was built as an ex voto for the birth of Bernardino, Carlo Fortebracci‘s son and Braccio’s grandson. Bernardino, as you can see on the memorial plaque in the bottom, commissioned to Bartolomeo Caporali (from Perugia) a fresco to complete the altar desired by his father. Indeed Margherita Malatesta, Carlo’s wife, commissioned to Bartolomeo Caporali a gonfalon. In the early years of Sixteenth century the church was embellished with beautiful carved wooden doors by Bencivenni da Mercatello. During the French occupation the complex suffered serious damage and a fire destroyed the extensive archive of the church-convent, which lost of the most part of the documents stored there, apart from all the contents and the frescoes.
Today, the church is an integral part of the museum complex that consists in the City Art Gallery and the Ethnographic Museum, besides St. Francis Church. Among the most important works in the City Art Gallery, praiseworthy is the Deposizione, a wooden group coming from the old parish church of San Gregorio Magno out of the city walls, the Madonna della Misericordia painted by Bartolomeo Caporali, Fortebracci’s family trees and Annunciazione by the Signorelli Art School. The Ethnographic Museum Il Tamburo parlante was set up on the purpose to collect and sistematically exhibit the objects from Africa that the anthropologist Enrico Castelli collected during his journeys.

The Holy Thorn

The Holy Thorn, courtesy of Comune di Montone

Enclosed in a precious silver reliquary, in the past it was kept in the church of San Francesco, while now it is conserved at the collegiate church of Santa Maria Assunta. Many books mention it, but the most detailed one is undoubtedly Lettera istorico-genealogica della famiglia Fortebracci da Montone written by Giovanni Vincenzo Giobbi Fortebracci, who tells how «living count Carlo, since he felt a great attachment to his own country, he wanted to award it by giving a valuable gift, and in 1473 he sent to Montone one of the thorn which crowned Our Lord Jesus Christ, and he positioned it in the church of San Francesco Minori Conventuali, where today it is still kept with remarkable consideration and veneration. It is absolutely reasonable to believe that it is the thorn that, more than the others, pierced Christ’s head, and this is supported by a lot of facts, such as being completely covered by his precious blood, two very fine hairs, that seem to be plaited, blood-soaked, overcoming the top of the thorn, and you can see their radicle at the bottom. But what is terrific and marvellous above all, every Good Friday on the hour of his Passion, the Thorn becomes lush again, the Blood dissolves, and you can see small aureate white flowers appear on both sides together, blue and green with some blooms that appear and disappear; as if that precious blood would boil and the Thorn wouldn’t have been dry for thousands of years, but as if it would be picked just now, at this time, from a verdant living thorn thicket. Count Carlo, as Generale de’ Venetiani, received this wonderful Relic by the archpriest of villa di Tugnano, county of Verona, and he sent it to Montone together with its authentication, which I have seen many times as it is preserved in a vellum inside the wardrobe of the Sacrestia de’ Minori Conventuali»[9]. Two centuries later, Angelo Ascani attests that the vellum «now is impossible to find, but this doesn’t detract from the veracity of the transfer to Montone of such a precious relic» adding «let’s leave as they are the legendary flourishing of the wonders happened after its arrival at Montone […] which is a figment of the popular imagination typical of the Seventeenth Century or so»[10]. Moreover, he harks back to Annali of Montone that report the feasts started in 1597 for the ostension of the Holy Thorn, while the positioning of the relic inside the silver and fine chiseled reliquary dates back to 1635, as recorded by a parochial manuscript, and it was established to move the feast from Good Friday to Easter Monday ever since.[11]
On April 1703, a letter arrives from Rome to the Vice Governor of Montone: «the traditional celebration held there during the second Easter day for the Ostension of the Holy Thorn has attracted a wide audience. So, to prevent any serious disorder, You will order the Captain deputy, as usual, to guard the Gate with twenty-five men and make everyone enters give any kind of weapon.» The historical re-enactment of the Donation of the Holy Thorn was born out of an idea of the association of Pro Loco Montonese in 1961. At the beginning, the re-enactment was tied to the ostension of the Holy Thorn, with the arrival of Count Carlo Fortebracci at the square bringing the relic as a gift to the people of Montone, but in the years that followed the feast has been enriched particularly in the part of the pageant. Also the three Rioni of Montone, Porta del Borgo, Porta del Monte and Porta del Verziere started to be present in the pageant with their banners and couples of nobles. To the Seventies of the Twentieth Century dates back the organization of Palio dei Rioni, which is awarded after a challenge between the archers.

For further information about the historical re-enactment see: here


More on Montone


[1] Una finestra sull’Umbria. Montone, Spoleto, Panetto & Petrelli, 1968, p. 3.
[2] M. TABARRINI, Montone, in M. TABARRINI, L’Umbria si racconta, v. E-O, p. 418.
[3] P. PELLINI, Dell’historia di Perugia, Venezia, Giovanni Giacomo Hertz, 1664, v. 1, p. 238.
[4] A. ASCANI, Montone. La patria di Braccio Fortebracci, Città di Castello, GESP, 1992, p. 56.
[5] P. PELLINI, Dell’historia di Perugia, Venezia, Giovanni Giacomo Hertz, 1664, v. 2, p. 769.
[6] P. PELLINI, Una finestra sull’Umbria. Montone, Spoleto, Panetto & Petrelli, 1968, p. 8.
[7] P. PELLINI, M. R. SILVESTRELLI, Appunti sulla storia e larchitettura della chiesa di San Francesco, in G. SAPORI, Museo comunale di San Francesco a Montone, Perugia, Electa, 1997, p. 23.
[8] A. ASCANI, Montone. La patria di Braccio Fortebracci, Città di Castello, GESP, 1992, p. 250.
[9] G.V. GIOBBI FORTEBRACCI, Lettera istorico-genealogica della famiglia Fortebracci da Montone, Bologna, Giacomo Monti, 1689, pp. 84-85.
[10] A. ASCANI, Montone. La patria di Braccio Fortebracci, Città di Castello, GESP, 1992, p. 263.
[11] Notizia riferita da A. ASCANI, cit., p. 264.


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.


More on Perugia

Under the city, within the underground walls of the Rocca Paolina (a fortress in the city of Perugia), which was not yet open to the public at that time, two of the most important artists of our time met and left two fundamental works in their artistic path: the six thematic blackboards «summa of the crypto-conceptual art» of the German Joseph Beuys and the Grande Nero, the monumental work made by Alberto Burri, the greatest contemporary artist in Umbria.

Describing these works and that meeting today, although the aforesaid artists differ from each other as well as in their views on art and aesthetics, just now that the earth is shaking and being in a state of uncertainty of events, we think that they are actually bound by a basic theme: the inevitable and essential relationship of man with the forces of nature.

The German Shaman

Event Poster

Joseph Beuys reached Naples for the opening of the exhibition where he met Andy Warhol at the Gallery Lucio Amelio on April 1st, 1980, so Italo Tomassoni took advantage of the Italian stay and organized the event in Perugia. The meetings between these great artists contributed to the new autonomy of the European artistic culture compared to the hegemony of the American pattern, which had been a custodian of the culture values since the years after the Second World War.

On the evening of April 3rd, in the Sala Cannoniera della Rocca, Beuys made his drawings, schemes and symbols straight off with a white chalk on six big blackboards. A “social sculpture” breaking any scheme with the traditional art. Being covered with glass cases, they are exhibited at the municipal Museum of Palazzo della Penna sequentially following the path shown by the artist in his performance.

The six thematic blackboards by Beuys

According to Beuys, art is transformation, vital energy transmission within the continuum of the shapeless matter. As a teacher at the Academy of Düsseldorf, through didactics, he tried to bring out the creative faculties as a means of language refounding. Repeatedly defined as a “shaman” for the type of rites of his actions, he reveals the hidden force, the secret energy of the matter. One of Fluxus founders – Beuys – with his happenings goes in search of abstraction, the intellectual property right which the language is based on, he affects the spectator appealing to his senses and combines every type of materials and objects.

Blackboard n.1

Blackboard n. 1, Beuys

In the catalogue edited by Tomassoni, carried out for 2003 new exhibition, there is the description of each blackboard. For our purposes, the most typical one – and maybe the heart of Beuys’s thought – is Blackboard n.1, where he deals with the relationship with nature.

Tomassoni wrote: «art should be expanded in a socio-anthropological sense and economics and politics should be evaluated with the spirit metre. Beuys considers art as the most suitable means for solidarity that protects life instead of destroying it».

Two human figures on the sun: it is the City of the Sun by the Italian philosopher Campanella, where regulations and institutions are not the result of customs inherited from tradition, but the expression of the natural human reason. Beuys himself wrote: «If I want to give a new anthropological position to the man, I must also give a new position to all that concerns him, link him downwards with animals, plants and nature, as well as upwards, with angels or spirits […]. In my actions I have always exemplified art=man».

The Artist of Nature

Going beyond the ideological avant-gard concept that art means life, Beuys has become the artist of nature even thanks to several performances including the most famous, in 1982, at Kassel in Germany, on the occasion of Documenta VII: 7000 oaks, where 7000 oaks were planted over four years close to a basalt stele in an increasing rock-and-plant relationship. However, in my opinion, Beyus was able to better represent the deeper and tragic meaning of the relationship between matter and energy, the forces of nature and human creativity in 1981, on the occasion of the project Terrae Motus at the Galleria Amelio for the 1980 Irpinia earthquake: An earthquake in the Palace, which I saw in the reconstruction done at MADRE Museum of Naples in 2015. Beuys showed his human frailty while preparing a room with the work tools taken from the areas hit by the earthquake

Glass vases under the legs of the table and fragments scattered all around, an egg balanced on a deformed table: these pictures passed on a video projected on a wall. Beuys drew under a table the
seismic waves on an electrocardiogram paper, comparing the shake beat with the heartbeat.

Lucio Amelio wrote: «There was energy in the art to such an extent that it was in opposition to that one risen by the Earth.»

«Every man has the most valuable palace in the world into his head, in his consciousness, in his will» said Beuys, identifying in the human creative force the possibility of a new and real redemption.

Burri and the Continuous Metamorphosis of Man

While Beuys showed his blackboards, Burri chose the most hidden corner of the Rock vaults to place a black grand sculpture over 5 metres high, the Grande Ferro or Grande Nero. A mysterious and silent kinetic work trying to express the human condition, which is constantly developing after the wounds and changes inflicted by nature and history. This deep relationship with nature is expressed in a different way in Burri than Beuys: the bags and experiments with new materials are a research aimed to sublimate used and worn-out objects; it shows all the poetic charge as remains of human life.

The Big Crack of Gibellina, Burri

Since the Seventies, his white or black “cracks” made with mixtures of kaolin and polyvinyl acetate look like a dried land and he has used them in his most important works, such as The Great Crack of Gibellina, a land artwork born in response to the destruction and disaster of the earthquake, but completed only in 2015. With architect Zanmatti, who had already acted as an intermediary in the meeting of Perugia, in 1984 he went to Gibellina, near Trapani, where the mayor considered art as a chance of redemption after many years since the earthquake destroyed the town in 1968.

Square kilometres of concrete form a huge crack above the old town. The visitor goes through the cracks, no more houses but white shapeless blocks, a surreal landscape after life’s end. After his inspection, Burri wrote: «I was close to tears and immediately I had a clear idea: well, I know that here I could do anything. I would do this way: we compact the rubbles that are a problem for everybody, we reinforce them well, and with the concrete we make a huge white crack in memory of this event».

For Beuys and Burri nature is not a destructive or an evil power, it is up to the man, through a renewed relationship with it, to create cleverer forms of life in common. Art can actually changes the world and our behaviour, make eternal the earthly things destined to transience.


More on Perugia



Guido Montana in «L’Umanità», 3 maggio del 1980
Italo Tomassoni, a cura di, Beuys/Burri Perugia, Rocca Paolina, 3 aprile 1980, in collaborazione con Lucio Amelio, Alberto Zanmatti, Litostampa, Perugia 1980.
Stefano Zorzi, Parola di Burri, Torino, Allemandi, 1995
Joseph Beuys: difesa della natura diary of Seychelles, testi di Lucrezia De Domizio Durini, Italo Tomassoni, Giorgio Bonomi, ed. Charta, Milano 1996
Italo Tomassoni, a cura di, Beuys a Perugia, ed. Silvana, Cinisello Balsamo 2003
Guida alla raccolta Beuys Museo Palazzo della Penna, Liomatic, Perugia 2008
Andrea Viliani, a cura di, Lucio Amelio dalla Modern Art Agency alla genesi di Terrae Motus (1965-1982): documenti, opere, una storia…, Mondadori Electa, Milano 2015

Strangozzi, stringozzi, strozzapreti, bringoli, umbricelli, bigoli, umbrichelle, lombrichelli, ciriole, anguillette, manfricoli: if you ever had the chance to take a ride in the Umbrian taverns, sitting in the rural atmosphere of those rooms and probing the delicious menu, in the section dedicated to main courses you see something with an ambiguous but evocative name.

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Flour and Water

It is not easy to reconstruct the history of a dish with an ancient birth, especially when confusion still reigns even on his name, as it is contamined by the vagueness of the spoken language and by the use of certain customary terms rather than others.
But let’s go in order: first of all, we are talking about a type of fresh pasta, rustic because its handmade processing and therefore inaccurate, coarse, whose goodness lies in the roughness of its own composition. Sources agree on the poor origins of this dish, made of the sole water and wheat flour. What makes the difference, however, is the shape it assumes: so, the same dought produces many types of pasta, whose names are often confused because of their etymological similarity.

In Spoleto, «Erti de stinarello e fini de cortello»

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The stringozzi of Spoleto -called strangozzi in Terni, manfricoli in Orvieto, anguillette in the area of Lake Trasimeno, umbricelli in Perugia for their resemblance to earthworms, or even brigoli, lombrichelli or ciriole – are a type of stubby and coarse spaghetti, with a circumference of 3-4 mm and of a length of 25 cm, hand-rolled on a work surface. As the saying goes, the dought must not be excessively stretched; you will pay attention to the thickness only when you cut the phyllo dough lenghtwise with a knife.

Strangozzi must be cooked in plenty water, and you have to dredge them up at the exact moment they emerge. They are seasoned with meat sauces, truffles, parmesan cheese or vegetables. Beyond doubt, the most characteristic preparation is the one holding up the name of Spoleto – “alla spoletina” – where tomatos, parsley and hot pepper enhance the taste of pasta.

A Linguistic Tussle

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It is curious that strangozzi – for their assonance with the verb “to strangle” – are often confused with strozzapreti, another preparation made out the simple mixture of water and flour.
Although the names are often used interchangeably, the shape of strozzapreti is very different from strangozzi one (and their counterparts): strozzapreti are shorter and the strips of dough are rolled up on themselves; their shape looks like shoelaces, once made of tough curled leather.

Someone had to end up choking

The legend says that the anti-clerical rebels used these strings to strangle the walking ecclesiastics, during the Pontifical State domain. An hypothesis that does not seem too remote, if we consider the constant struggle of Perugia against the interference of the Papal States: when we think about episodes like the Salt War of 1540 or the XIX century anti-clericalism resulted in massacres of Perugia, we do understand the lack of love of the population towards the prelates. The latter, indeed, in addition of collecting taxes were notoriously gluttons, always ready to scrounge meals off the poor people.

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Another interpretation says that strozzapreti were so called because the housewives, forced to halve the portions to their beloved ones to serve prelates, whished them to choke with the food they were eating. A variant says that the housewives cursed the priests that wanted the eggs as a tribute, forcing them to make a “poor” dought, only composed of water and flour.
A further interpretation – that confirms the enormous appetite of the curia – is given by the poet Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli, Roman vernacular master:


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Nun pòi crede che ppranzo che ccià ffatto  
Quel’accidente de Padron Cammillo.  
Un pranzo, ch’è impossibbile de díllo:  
Ma un pranzo, un pranzo da restacce matto.  
Quello perantro c’ha mmesso er ziggillo  
A ttutto er rimanente de lo ssciatto,  
È stato, guarda a mmé, ttanto de piatto  
De strozzapreti cotti cor zughillo.  
Ma a pproposito cqui de strozzapreti:  
Io nun pozzo capí ppe cche rraggione  
S’abbi da cche strozzino li preti:  
Quanno oggni prete è un sscioto de cristiano  
Da iggnottisse magara in un boccone  
Er zor Pavolo Bbionni sano sano. 

(G.G. Belli, La Scampaggnata) 




Thus it appears that the echo of the hungry stomachs of the prelates had spread up to Rome: their appetite was so huge to overcome even the difficulties that the particular shape of strozzapreti gave to the act of eating them. Other than choking: it takes more than a bowl of strozzapreti to extinguish the appetite of a religious!

A filling dish

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Today, though strozzapreti are produced on an industrial scale, a processing implemented with a bronze die plate makes them rough as homemade ones, allowing the full absorption of seasoning with which they are served. Between the contour of its profile, in fact, the sauces deposite and there remain, giving the palate a pleasant sensation of texture and body, and so are all the flavor of the ancient types of pasta..

arte liberty in umbria

Title: Il Liberty in Umbria.

Architettura – Pittura- Scultura e Arti decorative. Architecture – Painting – Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Scholar: Maurizio Bigio

Publisher: Fabrizio Fabbri

Date of publication: 2016

ISBN: 97888677806886

Features: 231 p., photos 28 x 24.5cm, numerous colour photographs, stapled illustrated paperback.

Price: € 35,00


«This publication has been created from the interest I have always had for the arts in general, in particular for painting, sculpture, architecture and photography. I have always been interested in beautiful things.»

This is how Maurizio Bigio, a graduate in Business and Economics, and a Chartered Accountant for the last 37 years, speaks of his latest enterprise “in the field of the arts”. This is not a new departure for him, as he has always been involved in the arts as a musician, having had important achievements in collaborating with major singer-songwriters of the Seventies and issuing the Rock Bigio Blues LP. He recently expanded his artistic horizons devoting himself to photography, collaborating in the creation of the new MUSA (Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts P. Vannucci of Perugia) catalogue edited by Fedora Boco and the book on Ferdinand Cesaroni edited by Luciano Giacchè.

The Author

The subject of Liberty in the Umbrian region previously had only been addressed by Professor Mario Pitzurra, when in 1995 he published Architettura e ornato urbano liberty a Perugia, a text which is now out of print and, according to the author, it was limited to the regional capital city area. It was Pitzurra himself who concluded his work with the hope that «…others will follow my example, possibly extending their study to the rest of Umbria.»

And now, twenty years on, Maurizio Bigio takes up the challenge with purpose of re-awakening interest in this XX century art movement, which has been little studied in the region.


The foreword to Il Liberty in Umbria, is written by Anton Carlo Ponti with the text edited by Federica Boco, Emanuela Cecconelli, Giuliano Macchia, Maria Luisa Martella, Elena Pottini and Mino Valeri as well as Bigio himself.

The publication is divided into sixteen chapters, encompassing the region from north to south, touching on the city of Città di Castello, Perugia, Marsciano, Deruta, Foligno, Spoleto, Terni, Allerona, Avigliano, Acquasparta and Narni.

The Publication

And the author’s interest is not just in architecture, he also focuses on the decorative details in wood, wrought iron, ceramics, glass and, where possible, on the internal painted decoration inside dwellings.

An interesting chapter, edited by Elena Pottini, is devoted to liberty sculptures in the Perugia Cemetery, while Fedora Boco outlines the protagonists of this period with a small biography and related bibliography. The photographs also include Liberty design lost in time such as the Perugina shop and the internal decor of the Bar Milano. This interesting volume also includes a translation of the text in English by Eric Ingaldson.


Giovanni di Pietro, called Lo Spagna, after his familys Spanish origins, (Spain 1470 – Spoleto 1528) is one of the protagonists of Umbrian pictorial art between the XV and XVI centuries. Not as well known as other followers of the Umbrian master Pietro Vannucci (some of his more famous students: Pinturicchio and Raffaello), he is an interesting and pleasing artist and worthy of closer study.

The Master

The young Giovanni was probably in Florence around 1493 when Pietro Vannucci, known as Il Perugino, was among the four more prominent masters in the city together with Botticelli, Filipino, and Ghirlandaio. Perugino at that time assumed a leading role by opening the workshop near the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova; his studio was on of the most active and was also frequented by numerous students from all over Europe who came to learn “the grace that he had in his own colouring technique” (G.Vasari, 1568). This has led us to believe that our artist may have come into contact with the Umbrian master, subsequently becoming his pupil and collaborator.

Influences and first Works

When in 1501 Perugino opened a workshop in Perugia, a rich town that wanted to renew its style and adopt a more contemporary feel, Giovanni followed him, where he probably also came into contact with Raffaello, another young follower of Perugino. Giovanni worked together with the Master on a series of frescoes for the Franciscan Convent of Monteripido, of these only a fresco of Saint Francis receiving the stigmata remains. It was located on the gable of the façade of the Church and attributed to Lo Spagna and which is now preserved at the National Gallery of Umbria.

Critics agree that in the pictorial style of Giovanni di Pietro there is a strong similarity to Peruginos style of models, which was a fundamental step in the formation of the painter and in obtaining commissions, and also in his ability to grasp the influence of Raffaello while maintaining a personal and simple language that is rich in the fine use of colour and grace. Some of his works form part of collections of some of the most important museums of the world, among which are: The National Gallery, London, The Louvre, Paris and the Vatican Museum Art Gallery, Rome.

From the first keeps to Success

At the beginning of 1500 the Perugino environment was under the control of the Bottega del Vannucci and in common with Perugino collaborators including Pinturicchio, Lo Spagna needed to move on in search of work in order to be able to create his own entourage. His artistic career finally took off in other Umbrian towns.

The beautiful and elegant town of Todi, that dominates the valley of the Tiber is significant: in 1507 a contract was agreed in Todi between the painter and the body of the Church of San Potito to create an altarpiece depicting the Coronation of the Virgin (Todi, Museo Civico) (fig.1), which was completed in 1511 when the artist went to live there and set up a business. In addition to the Montesanto altarpiece, Giovanni worked in the cathedral where he painted various chapels with frescos (between the 1513 and 1515) and he also decorated the organ (1516). Two tablets remain depicting St. Peter and St. Paul and a fragment of a fresco depicting a Trinity (fourth nave on the right, Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, Todi).

Another important Umbrian centre in Lo Spagnas career is the city of Trevi, a village at the top of Monte Serano, beautifully dominates the Spoleto valley, the seat of powerful local families. Here the artist was commissioned by Ermodoro Minerva, ambassador of Ludovico Sforza, to decorate the chapel of San Girolamo in the church of S. Martino. The lunette with the Virgin in Glory with Saints Jerome, Giovanni Battista, Francesco and Antonio da Padova dated 1512 is a fresco with clear Perugino references with its ideal and pleasant landscape, but in more decisive colours. He also created the imposing altarpiece with the Coronation of the Virgin in the same church in 1522 (now at the Pinacoteca of the San Francesco Museum complex). It is rich in pure refined iridescent tones, with solidly constructed figures and subjects and items carefully rendered in an illusionary style, derived from the prototype of Filippo Lippi in the Cathedral of Spoleto (1467-69) and by the Coronation of the Virgin of the Ghirlandaio that he created at San Girolamo in Narni in 1486; both were also referenced to Raphael in 1505 for the altarpiece at Monteluce in Perugia. While at Trevi, the Master Lo Spagna, who by now was in demand and lauded by the whole of Umbria, decorated the church of the Madonna delle Lacrime between 1518 and 1520 with references to the sought-after style of Raffaello, shown in particular in the scene of the transportation of Christ (fig.2), where there is a strong association to the masterpiece by the Urbino Master carried out for the Cappella Baglioni in Perugia in 1507 which is today curated at the Borghese Gallery in Rome. This was testament to Lo Spagnas development in rapid and continual renewal, stimulated by continuous in depth study, in keeping with the requests for special commissions by the more affluent.

In 1516 he was granted citizenship of Spoleto, witness to the fact that Giovanni had resided in Spoleto already for several years. On 31 August 1517 he was appointed Head of Art for painters and goldsmiths, confirming his recognition in the role of Head of the school. From 1516 onwards, his activities were based in Spoleto and the surrounding centres, based on documentary evidence as well as by a large body of work which reveals the presence of assistance and workshop activities that had assimilated his style. Among the more interesting and significant works are the Madonna Ridolfi a Madonna with Child between Saints Giacomo, Niccolò da Tolentino, Caterina and Brizio commissioned by Pietro Ridolfi (fig.3) who was governor of Spoleto from 1514 to 1516 (Spoleto, Palazzo Comunale), the Virtues painted for the Rocca, removed in 1824 and reconstructed in a monument dedicated to Leo XII (Palazzo Comunale). The arrangement and the iconography of the three allegorical figures, justice at the top, with charity and mercy on each side, suggests their destination was to have been an environment with judicial functions. In Charity, conceived in accordance with a rotating composition, and in Clemency, characterised by the perspective that confers rhetoric in gestures and postures, there are also solutions developed by Raphael in the Roman year, thus suggesting a history ahead of its time.

Along the Via Flaminia, not far from Spoleto in the church of San Giacomo Apostolo, the patron saint of pilgrims, Giovanni di Pietro is asked to decorate the apse and two chapels in 1526. The semi-dome depicts the Coronation of the Virgin (fig.4) and the wall depicts San Giacomo and the Miracle of the hanged man and the Miracle of the chickens. With an extraordinary richness of gilding, colours and grotesque ornaments and crowded with figures, it is scenically complex and it is here Lo Spagna achieved the pinnacle of his career, a rare Umbrian display in a modern style.

Spoleto – San Giacomo

Durign this time, together with his workshop, Lo Spagna worked at Valnerina: in the church of S. Michele Arcangelo in Gavelli, where there are frescoes dated 1518 and 1523; to Visso in the church of S. Augustine; at Scheggino, where, finally in 1526 he signed the contract to decorate the church gallery of S. Niccolò for which he was offered 150 guilders.


Lo Spagna may have died of plague in October 1528 confirmed by an entry in the Town Archives of Spoleto which reports that on 9th day of that month candles for the funeral ceremony were received: “die 9 octobris, havemmo per la morte dello Spagna pictore quatro torcie” (Gualdi Sabatini, 1984, p. 395). (“ day of 9 October, we received four candles for the death of the painter Lo Spagna)

Dono Doni was the best known of his followers, but not the only one to collect the baton; his flourishing workshop still today constitutes a characterizing feature of the artistic heritage of the area of Spoleto and the Nera Valley. Among the collaborators to be remembered are also Giovanni Brunotti and Isidoro di ser Moscato, Giacomo di Giovannofrio Iucciaroni (circa 1483-1524) active in Valnerina and Piermarino di Giacomo who in 1533 completed the Scheggino frescoes.




TodiMuseo civico (closed on Mondays. Open: 10.00-13.00/ 15.00-17.30), Cattedrale di Santa Maria Annunziata (open all day: 9.00-18.00). Tourist Office tel. 075 8942526

TreviPinacoteca complesso museale di San Francesco (open from Friday to Sunday: 10.30-13.00/ 14.30-18.00), other spaces open on request). ProTrevi tel. 0742 781150

SpoletoPalazzo Comunale (open from Monday to Friday: 9.00-13.00; Modays and Thursdays: 15.00-17.00). Tourist Office tel.  0743218620/1





Fausta Gualdi Sabatini, Giovanni di Pietro detto Lo Spagna, Spoleto, Accademia Spoletina, 1984.
Pietro Scarpellini, Perugino, Electa, MIlano 1984.
Perugino: il divin pittore, cat. della mostra a cura di Vittoria Garibaldi e Federico Francesco Mancini, (Perugia, Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria 2004), Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo 2004.
Giovanna Sapori, Giovanni di Pietro: un pittore spagnolo tra Perugino e Raffaello, Milano, Electa, 2004

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