CITTÀ DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy Review – Tuscany Déjà Vu

CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
Church of San Francesco outside the city walls proper, upon the unification of Italy became the sanctuary of the Madonna of Fatima, bea
CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
Tour guide Bianca Iaccarino explains that this entire room in a church refectory was once entirely a fresco. Here the famed mural by Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio (second half of the 14th century), "The Crucifixion" remains. The bird feeding its babies is a symbol of Jesus giving himself to mankind
CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
Opposite "The Crucifixion" are the benches used for prayer

If you’ve traveled a bit in Tuscany, its nearby neighbor Città della Pieve might give you that subliminal nag that you’ve been here before. It’s likely the red bricks, more typical of Tuscany than Umbria’s paler bricks.

This is a charming place worth a good long wander. Its walls, churches and narrow lanes tell stories of the past. The cathedral dates back to the 8th Century and some towers in the city walls were once used as prisons. You too may find that it is the lesser historic oddities—the stairs leading nowhere, the vestiges of arches over doors that no longer exist, the walkways above once linking merchants’ homes and stores, and the skinny streets that wouldn’t allow horses to pass that capture your imagination and catapult you into picturing its long list of befores—Etruscans, Lombards, changing rule by Peruggia or Vatican, etc. Bring along a translator so that you can marvel that the single file only paths called streets and their somewhat wider connectors often have names that tell you their past who’s who. Piazza di Spagna, for example, is where the Sephardic Jews lived; Via delle Forbici (scissors) tells you it’s where you went to find the tailors, etc.

Those with more of a studious bent or art history loving leaning, should definitely short list Città della Pieve as the birthplace of The Perugino, whom nearby Panicale similarly puts in a historic claim to fame through association by having one of his most famous works in their main church. The Perugino in turn is known mostly for his most famous student, Raphael, but the reclaimed records of his contract negotiations that you see on a religious club's walls–showing his price dropping from 200 to 100 and then down to 75 Florins-- speaks to the struggling artist label having deep roots, even with the Renaissance masters.

Città della Pieve – Well-known to Italian Chefs

Foodies will also likely love Città della Pieve’s Saffron Museum and learning about this area’s culinary and other contributions from this plant. After Iran and then Greece, Italy comes in a distant third as a saffron producer, but this is Italy’s saffron central. Historically saffron was used for textiles and painting, in addition to cooking. It’s been a precious commodity then as now—at one point you would be sent to prison if you tried to smuggle it beyond the city walls. Today, chefs from all over Italy come to Città della Pieve for it, though as in most of Umbria, this and so many treasures remain relatively undiscovered by global tourists.

 

For more information on setting up a similar tour of Panicale, contact Chiara via the Podere Molinacci website.

CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
This 15th Century Fresco, also at the Oratory of San Bartolomeo has what are effectively bandaids helping preserve it until a total restoration can be done
CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
A recovered contract once lost in a well, between The Perugino and the church group hiring him to make a religious painting
CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
To this day there are several religious mens' clubs that work together to create a massive cross used during Easter devotionals. This club is known for its white robes and historic painting in its private chapel commissioned from "The Perugino".
CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
Oratory of Santa Maria del Bianchi, the private chapel of the Brotherhood of the White Robes, has this historic painting by "The Perugino" called "Adoration of the Magi"
CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
The Italian-chef drawing Saffron Museum showcases- and sells- a wide assortment of foods not usually associated with saffron, such as salami, beer, chocolate and more
CITTA DELLA PIEVE Umbria Italy
Women workers separate out the brilliant red pistil that becomes the treasured saffron spice

Gianni Vinerbi is a saffron farmer and a driving force of Citta della Pieve's Saffron Museum.  He has traveled the world meeting fellow saffron farmers in Iran, Greece and beyond.  The museum has many informative murals and displays that tells you the a-z of saffron.

 

Editor’s Note—Podere Molinaccio is a member of Italy’s Divertimento Group.

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