IN THE TERRITORY
Localities surrounding Residence Pettinaro, the Upper Tiber, Umbria, and the neighbouring regions are rich in art, traditions, nature, and leisure activities of every kind. History is everywhere, and in each hamlet you will experience unique and unforgettable moments.
Archaeology: a leap in the past
“Imagine a huge amphitheatre, such as only nature can create...”: in a letter to his friend Apollinaris, Pliny the Younger begins with these words his description of the Upper Tiber countryside that surrounded his villa in San Giustino. Exactly there, today, not far from Città di Castello and few km far from Pettinaro, a wonderful archaeological park safeguards the remains of that abode. Finds are exhibited to the close Museo Pliniano di Villa Magherini Graziani. In Città di Castello, an important Roman centre known as Tifernum Tiberinum, the main room of the Town Hall preserves several Latin inscriptions, which, together with the amphitheatre remains and other discovered buildings recall the ancient magnificence of this rich town on the Tiber. Again, in the Upper Tiber Valley, it is advisable a tour inside the Bourbon Palace in Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, which today is a museum, where there is a noteworthy archaeological section. In the area around Umbertide and Montone a trekking itinerary (called Archeo Hiking, largely accessible by car) lets you discover the Monte Murlo Etruscan fortified settlement, the Sagraia monumental tomb, and the amazing preserved remains of a village and a shrine in Monte Acuto. Everything is enriched with the permanent exhibitions in the Santa Croce Museum in Umbertide and the Museo Civico di San Francesco in Montone. Again in Umbertide, it is possible to breathe an inebriating smell of antiquity in the San Salvatore Abbey in Monte Corona, founded during the 11th century on medieval pre-existences and, maybe, from the Classical Antiquity: indeed, several Roman gravestone materials have been used in the construction of the suggestive crypt. In the territory there is another Etruscan tomb, the Tomba del Faggeto, situated on the Monte Tezio slopes (in the locality San Giovanni del Pantano) and reachable through a path surrounded by the green. For people who love Roman ways, the Upper Tiber offers charming paved sections. One hour by car is worth the visit to the spectacular Roman gallery of the Passo del Furlo, which is situated in the scenery of the Apennines between Umbria and the Marche. Then, not far from here, in the San Vincenzo Abbey in Acqualagna, there are the impressive remains of a Roman viaduct built along the Via Flaminia. Among the closest ancient towns to Residence Pettinaro there is Cortona, with its archaeological itineraries to discover Roman layouts, Etruscan monumental tombs (Melone del Sodo I and II), and wonderful abodes as the Roman Villa in Ossaia: a really rich archaeological museum (MAEC - the Etruscan Academy Museum of the City of Cortona) tells the splendours of this important Etruscan capital, by holding also materials from Trestina, a town near Promano. In Gubbio, too, you can experience an irresistible atmosphere especially by visiting the Roman Theatre, one of the most meaningful beauties from the ancient Umbria. Again in Gubbio, there is the Gola del Bottaccione: its geological stratigraphy shows the level left from the catastrophe that, according to the most reliable theories, caused the extinction of dinosaurs. Other famous ancient towns are Perugia, Spello and Assisi. “Little Pompei”: in this way the basements of the Saint Francis’s town have been recently defined. They hosted, among several treasures, the magnificent remains of the Properzio’s Domus and the Larario’s Domus, rich Roman residences with mosaics and painted walls. From its point of view, Perugia is rich in proofs that recall a glorious past: from the Etruscan Arch to the walls, from the Pozzo di Sorbello of the 3rd century BC to the Museo Archeologicolo Nazionale dell’Umbria, and many other things. Eventually, this territory does not fall short of the “great history”: from Residence Pettinaro it is possible to reach in half an hour the Tuoro sul Trasimeno valley, where there is the itinerary that remembers the famous Battle of Trasimeno between the Romans and the Carthaginians (these latter led by Hannibal), which happened in 217 BC.
Among hamlets and castles
Residence Pettinaro is few km far from Città di Castello, Gubbio, Assisi, and Perugia, the most important and historically interesting towns in the central and Northern Umbria. Since always a bordering and transit place, the Upper Tiber Valley is full of mediaeval hamlets, castles and ancient monitoring placements. In this territory there are two localities included in the list of “I Borghi più belli d’Italia” (“the most beautiful Villages in Italy”): Montone and Citerna. The hamlet of Montone, which is built on a cliff, was the feud of the noble Fortebracci family, and it has a particular charm. Enclosed within mighty city walls, the old town centre surrounds the Franciscan convent and the ancient Braccio’s fortress: outside the city walls the majestic Aries Fortress rises up, a bastion towards the surrounding valleys. Citerna, from its point of view, is considered the “main door of Umbria”: it stands out for its mediaeval passageways with breath-taking views. Bourbon del Monte, Malatesta, and Vitelli’s feud, this hamlet has a wonderful fortress, the most ancient part of the castle with the round tower, which is the symbol of the village. The several churches conserve works by Donatello, Pomarancio, Signorelli, Raffaellino del Colle and Vasari’s followers. Then, the Northern part of the Upper Tiber offers other elegant villages. Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, a real natural ledge on the Umbrian-Tuscan countryside, is characterized by the amazing Bourbon Palace and close crenelated buildings. Pietralunga with its fortress and city walls. San Giustino where there is the wonderful Castello Bufalini. Moreover, only two km far from this latter, there is Cospaia: a really rare hamlet situated in the centre of a line of territory that for a mistake in the boundary distribution became “no man’s land” and an independent republic from 1440 to 1826. Exactly here, in the Republic of Cospaia, in 1575 the first Italian tobacco started to be cultivated. Clearly, Città di Castello dominates the whole Upper Tiber, with its admirable squares, its rich palaces, and its high-belfry churches. The old town centre, which still preserves intact the majestic city walls and the towers, offers exciting visit experiences: tradition, history, culture, art, and craft find here and absolutely original balance. One step away from Promano there is Umbertide, a lovely town on the Tiber, whose territory is studded with medieval fortresses: Civitella Ranieri and the Serra Partucci Castle, the Polgeto and the Montecastelli Castles, and finally the Montalto Castle. This latter opens towards the lush Niccone Valley (shared between Umbria and Tuscany), before ancient border between the Etruscan towns of Cortona and Perugia, and then between the Lombards and the Byzantines. A magic valley that was the location of powerful fortresses such as the Reschio and the Sorbello Castles. On the surrounding hills, small villages as Migianella dei Marchesi, Montemigiano, and particularly Preggio, create a unique atmosphere, suspended in the time. The Niccone Valley is a direct way towards the Trasimeno Lake and its small villages, as well as to the close Tuscany: after crossing the so-called Val di Pierle, by going beyond Pierle and its feudal castle, you pass high and panoramic mounts, thus reaching the Val d’Esse and the town of Cortona. The Etruscan capital Cortona, built on a hill, offers an exceptional view on the Trasimeno plain and the Valdichiana. Talking about Tuscany, the area surrounding Residence Pettinaro is perfect for a tour of the most charming localities of this region: the already mentioned Cortona, Anghiari, which is another hamlet included in “I Borghi più belli d’Italia” (“the most beautiful Villages in Italy”), as well as the locality where the famous battle took place, cited by Machiavelli and represented by Leonardo da Vinci in the fresco of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (today known thanks to a reproduction by Rubens). But also San Sepolcro, a Tuscan jewel, that is the homeland of the Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca. Certainly, Castiglion Fiorentino is worth a visit, too. The director and actor Roberto Benigni comes from the surroundings, and he won the Oscar with the film “La vita è bella”, a masterpiece mainly shot in Arezzo. Exactly near Arezzo, wonderful city and easily reachable from Residence Pettinaro, there is a hamlet with a really particular name: Caprese Michelangelo. Here, Michelangelo Buonarroti was born in 1475, an indisputable protagonist of the Italian Renaissance. The Marche region, neighbouring Umbria in the East, is really rich in castles and lovely hamlets: the Montefeltro area is particularly interesting, as well as the whole Apennine zone beyond Gubbio and Pietralunga.
Churches, abbeys and hermitages
Umbria is a land of saints and of well-rooted popular devotion, a region with a contemplative and mystic atmosphere. Pettinaro is not that far from Assisi, homeland of Saint Francis, where you can visit the most famous Christian places, such as the Basilica of Saint Francis and the Eremo delle Carceri, passing through other amazing places of worship. A Franciscan site of intense beauty is in the near Cortona, too, in the Tuscan territory: really few km far from the town, in an enchanted valley and around a wonderful stream, there is the Eremo di Celle, a place with an indescribable atmosphere. The Way of Saint Francis passes through the Upper Tiber, which from La Verna (Franciscan shrine where the Saint got the stigmata in 1224) reaches Assisi, crossing Città di Castello and touching wonderful and evocative locations all around. Precisely in Città di Castello, the way meets the Eremo del Buonriposo, a holy “shelter” where Francis usually stood. Not far, towards Pietralunga, it crosses the really ancient Pieve dé Saddi, which offers a leap in the roots of the Upper Tiber Valley evangelism. Promano itself has a remarkable parish church dating back to the end of the 1500, with really interesting frescos. Not far, near Trestina, there is the San Cassiano and Ippolito Abbey, which initially was a Benedictine monastery. On the hill of this latter locality the biggest location in the area for the Virgin Mary worship rises, the Santuario di Canoscio. In 1935, near this 12th-13th century Romanesque parish church, the so called Canoscio Treasure was found, and today it is exhibited at the Museo del Duomo of Città di Castello. On the way that from Promano leads to Castiglion Fiorentino we recommend the Petroia Abbey, a Benedictine centre established in the 10th – 11th century. Near Morra, the San Crescentino Church has frescos made by Luca Signorelli from Cortona. In the nearby of Umbertide, full of churches and abbeys, there is the noteworthy San Salvatore di Monte Corona Abbey, which according to the tradition was founded by San Romualdo in 1008-1009. The place of worship, with the high and majestic bell tower, is built on a crypt, extremely valuable from the artistic and architectonic point of view. Some km far from this complex, inside the wood, there is the Monte Corona Eremo, related to the close Abbey. For people who love suggestive places, distinctive of the unchanged popular tradition, we advise to visit the charming Sasso di San Donino, situated in the Niccone Valley not far from the namesake church, on the border between Umbria and Tuscany. Here, lunged in the green, there is a big stone, which is still today worship and prayer object, in the place where (according to the tradition) the hermit Donnino sought refuge. Eventually, the churches of the small hamlets in this corner of Umbria set aside thousands of surprises: Citerna, Pietralunga, Montone, Umbertide and the other pearls in the territory are a chest of holy art treasures and medieval and Renaissance architectural jewels. Not to be missed the majestic Duomo in Città di Castello and the other churches of the main Umbrian Upper Tiber town, as well as those of the most important neighbouring centres, from Cortona to Arezzo and San Sepolcro, from Gubbio to Assisi and Spello, from Perugia to those that surround the Trasimeno Lake.
Art and museums
The Upper Tiber Valley is characterized by a high number of museums, usually located in ancient churches or other historical buildings. The Museo di Santa Croce in Umbertide is remarkably important: recently refurbished with an archaeological section, it preserves the splendid altarpieces Deposizione dalla Croce (painted by Luca Signorelli from Cortona) and the Madonna col bambino in gloria tra angeli e santi (by Pomarancio). Again in Umbertide, we advise to visit the Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea set up in the Rocca. The Complesso Museale di San Francesco in Montone, located in the suggestive Franciscan centre with the church and the convent, exhibits among other beauties the wooden composition Deposizione (13th century), coming from the really ancient San Gregorio Parish Church: the museum houses a small archaeological section, too. In the same complex there is also the Ethnographic Museum Il Tamburo Parlante, exhibition centre completely dedicated to Africa. Further, in Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, the Museo Palazzo Bourbon del Monte Santa Maria presents the marquis family Bourbon framing it in the various contexts (historical, artistic, architectonic, and traditional), by dedicating also a room to archaeology and to the most ancient phases of the territory. Then, rich in museums is Città di Castello. The Tipografia Grifani Donati (founded in 1799) is a typography workshop-museum where even now the ancient tools of the graphic art are used, and it surely represents an extraordinary expositive centre. The Museo del Duomo exhibits several masterpieces among which the Canoscio Treasure (composed by liturgical items from the 5th-6th century) and a work by Pinturicchio. Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera, a building with elegantly decorated interiors and with a rich external fresco (based on a compositional outline by Vasari), houses the Pinacoteca Comunale of Città di Castello, which shows true masterpieces from the late Gothic to the 20th century: among the most recent works there are those by Carlo Carrà and Giorgio De Chirico. An Umbrian tour should include a visit to the particular and majestic works of Alberto Burri, one of the symbol all around the world of the Italian modern and contemporary art . This artist left to Città di Castello, his homeland, really important collections, which today are exhibited in Palazzo Albizzini and in the museum complex Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco. Again in Città di Castello, we suggest the Museo Franchetti - Tela Umbra that hosts an extraordinary textile collection and tools: extremely suggestive the space that recreates a rural school classroom from the beginning of the 1900s. In the near outskirt of Città di Castello we finally advise the Museo delle Tradizioni Popolari hosted in the complex of Villa Garavelle. In San Giustino, not far from Città di Castello, there is the Bufalini Castle, the Museo Storico Scientifico del Tabacco and the Museo Archeologico Pliniano Villa Magherini Graziani, where the remains of the Pliny the Younger’s villa in tuscis are exhibited. In the nearby, you should visit the San Francesco’s church in Citerna, which preserves the charming Madonna col Bambino statue by Donatello (the so called Madonna di Citerna). In the extremely close Tuscany, Anghiari proposes the Museo della Battaglia and of Anghiari; San Sepolcro the Museo Civico, which has works by Piero della Francesca (who was born exactly here), and the Museo Aboca, completely dedicated to herbs. For people who love archaeology, not to be missed the Etruscan Academy Museum of the City of Cortona (MAEC), which preserves famous ancient artefacts (as the well-known Tabula Cortonensis) and it often houses international exhibits. The wonderful cities of art Arezzo, Gubbio, Assisi, and Perugia are all very rich in museums: one of those is the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria (Perugia), on the upper floors of the Palazzo dei Priori, where there are Umbrian art masterpieces and some of the most important works of the Italian art.
Sport, trekking, relax, and well-being
A stay at Residence Residence Pettinaro offers several relaxing and leisure opportunities, also outside the activities offered and advised by the Residence itself. Few km far, there are the famous Terme di Fontecchio, largely used already during the Roman period, that today are a leisure and wellness centre with many thermal treatments; in Umbertide, then, the Terme Fonteserra presents different wellness itineraries. For those who love walking or riding a bike, the close area of the Monte Acuto offers interesting opportunities, with the SMAC (Sito Monte Acuto and Corona) project’s itineraries and those of Archeo Hiking, which, passing through archaeological sites in the territory, go through Umbertide and reach Montone. The countryside surrounding Residence Pettinaro has a thick networks of paths, with panoramic views and a different difficulty level. The itineraries in the Valle del Carpina between Pietralunga and Montone are particularly interesting, and they pass near magic places among waterfalls, forests, and hills of great beauty. Not far from Pietralunga, there is the Oasi Naturalistica di Candeleto, inside the state-owned forest, with an exciting round route. A remarkable network of paths has recently been created in the near territories of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, San Giustino and Lisciano Niccone, thanks to the project “Feudi, castelli e ville. Sentieri storici”. Slightly further, the routes of the Monte Catria are really interesting. For people who love golf, the near Antognolla Golf (on the way that from Umbertide goes to the Trasimeno Lake) and the Fattoria Caldese (in Città di Castello) guarantee unforgettable days in the Umbrian green hills. Instead, for those who prefer the wild nature and adventure, beyond the canoe activities on the Tiber, the Umbrian parks offer unlimited possibilities. The majority of them can be reached by car in less than one hour. The Regional Park of the Monte Cucco, for example, offers a wide range of activities, from trekking to the cross-country skiing, from the Nordic walking to the equestrian tourism, and again cave tours, game fish, and free flight on paraglider and hand-glider. Not to be missed the Regional Park of the Trasimeno Lake, which presents many solutions: fishing, excursions by bikes or by foot, kitesurf, windsurf, canoe, trips by quad or by Vespa. There are several beaches where you can have a relaxing swim in the quiet waters of the lake. Again in the Trasimeno, the Oasi Naturalistica La Valle is an important birdwatching centre: here you can discover the various lake bird fauna, walking along the wood boardwalk on the lake surface.
Eating and drinking…well!
Upper Tiber is synonymous with good food: lovely restaurants, town festivals, and other wine and food manifestations enrich towns and hamlets. This area boasts two Slow Food products, namely local and traditional high quality products, that the important international association aims to safeguard, by recognising a particular interest. The Slow Food products from this territory are the Mazzafegato (similar to the sausage, it is a traditional food of the Upper Tiber tables during autumn and winter) and the Vinosanto Affumicato (a passito wine with a unique taste). In 2010, from the relation between Slow Food and the municipality of Umbertide the Mercato della Terra di Umbertide was created: each Saturday morning, in the central town square, local producers and artisans gather and sell their natural products. Then, the Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori (CIA) has introduced in this area, too, the Spesa in Campagna (Shopping in the Countryside), a network of farms and small producers that aims to promote and offer to local people and tourists high quality seasonal products, which can be bought in the farm. Moreover, all over the year, both bigger and smaller towns has the traditional weekly markets. The designation of origin “Colli Altotiberini” guarantees the quality of the best wines, produced in the territory of San Giustino, Citerna, Città di Castello, Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, Montone, Umbertide, and Gubbio. The traditional products of this area are linked to the thousand-year old agricultural tradition that characterizes the Upper Tiber Valley: cheese, extra virgin olive oil, cold cuts and seasonal vegetables. But also the wood products have a fundamental role: from the chestnut to the truffle, the asparagus, mushrooms and everything the pure local nature offers. Restaurants offer rich menus with seasonal products, where the first rule is “quality”. Exhibits, markets and local festivals fully enhance the rich and wide wine and food patrimony of this territory. You can taste the typical dishes of the Upper Umbria: the “ciaccia fritta” (fried pizza dough, sweet or salted), the traditional “umbricelli” (big spaghetti pasta with goose sauce or others), tagliatelle and other pasta dishes with seasonal vegetables, the “torta al testo”, called also “crescia” or “ciaccia” (salted flat focaccia served with cold cuts, sausages, cheese and vegetables) and several other specialities. For people who loves desserts, a typical match is the “tozzetti” (baked dry biscuits with almonds) and the local vinosanto (type of sweet wine). The pork tradition is still alive in the Upper Tiber culture, and its meat is part of the fundamental dishes in the local food habits, as well as the bovine meat. The P.G.I. (Protected Geographical Indication) “Vitellone Bianco dell’Appennino Centrale” (Chianina breed) assures high quality meats. Although these rooted traditional aspects, the territory is also adapting to the new food and wine frontiers: several places offer veg dishes enhancing those natural 0 km products. Finally, even though Umbria is not on the seaside, Umbria is only 1 hour far from the Adriatic coast and there are many restaurants where it is possible to eat a really good fish meal. Clearly, not to be missed a visit to the restaurants of the close Trasimeno Lake, which offer fresh lake fish dishes.
A bit of shopping
The Upper Tiber Valley offers many opportunities also to those people who want to do some shopping. Starting from the handcrafted textile world, some of the territorial pearls such as the Tela Umbra in Città di Castello, the Busatti in Anghiari, and Maridiana Alpaca in Niccone (Umbertide) offer unique and not to be found items. All over the territory, several outlets give you the possibility to purchase, at a cheaper price, cashmere articles, one of the excellences of the region with international firms, such as Brunello Cucinelli in Solomeo (Perugia). Then, you can find high quality female clothing in the famous Umbrian company Luisa Spagnoli, which has been all over the world with its stores for decades. Between Umbria and the near Tuscany there are true “shopping villages” such as the Valdichiana Outlet Village in Foiano della Chiana (Arezzo), where it is possible to walk along boulevards with high quality clothing shops and others. Nearer to Residence Pettinaro, the Shopping Centre Castello in Città di Castello, the Ipercoop in Collestrada and the shopping centres Quasar and Gherlinda in Ellera di Corciano (Perugia), propose many important stores, with several leisure activities, also for children. The old town centres around the Upper Tiber Valley, as every hamlets and smaller villages in the Upper Umbria and the whole region in general, are full of little shops, from clothing to general items and from handicraft to food and wine.
For the children
The Northern Tiber Valley and the Upper Umbria offer also to the children a wide range of discovery, leisure and relax opportunities. The little hamlets “suitable for all”, the accessible cities as Città di Castello, and the green parks in the territory are the best for holiday with children. Particularly interesting, for example, the Museo Ornitologico Silvio Bambini in Pietralunga, created inside the Oasi Naturale in Candeleto, which houses more than three hundred samples of embalmed birds and mammals. Few km far from Pietralunga and Montone (in particular periods of the year), it is possible to visit the Osservatorio Astronomico in Borgo Coloti and discover from there the secrets of the sky. Another observatory – the Planetario Ignazio Danti – is in Piscille, not far from Perugia, and it offers several activities for the public. Again, another one is in Foligno, run by the Associazione Astronomica Antares. Always in Perugia, the scientific musem POST (Perugia Officina Scienza Tecnologia), offers a lot of experimentations and leisure activities for both children and adults. In Ponte Felcino, along the river Tiber and not far from Promano, there is the Adventure Park Il Barone Rampante: open during the summer period, it proposes adventurous routes in the wood on swinging logs, wood bridges, etc… A visit at the Oasi Naturalistica la Valle on the banks of the Trasimeno Lake is particularly interesting, most of all for its activities and attractions from the birdwatching to the scientific bird ringing. Then, in the Regional Park of the Monte Cucco (not far from Gubbio), there is the possibility of organizing visits for families at the museum-workshop, which can be matched with educational excursions in the touristic cave. Near Perugia, you cannot miss the Città della Domenica, the theme park (first in Italy) created by Mario Spagnoli (Luisa Spagnoli’s son, who invented the Bacio Perugina and founded the namesake fashion house). Today, in the forests of the park wonderful and docile animals live in freedom: the park can be visited by foot or by a little train. Moreover, there are several educational activities and workshops, and exhibitions of every kind set in different historical periods and places (from the Middle Age to the Old West) are organized, even with settings that recall the atmosphere of the most famous fairy tales. Finally, the reptile house (one of the most important in Europe) offers suggestive experiences.