Only 50 people…
For those of us who had childhood fantasies of being locked away overnight in a department store or the likes of Disneyland, Panicale is your dream turned true.
Only 50 people live inside the city walls, we learned, and also spied as we came back and forth to this charming walled city at various hours to tour its sites and sample its gourmet restaurants. It has the feel of a movie set. Similarly might have felt movie star Colin Firth, one of the more high profile movie stars and other famed celebrities who might be escaping the paparrazi by planting here.
True, the outside commune has many more people—6000 or so, including both the proprietors of Podere Molinaccio and the agriturismo Poggio del Pero, both part of Italy’s Divertimento Group. But wherever you are in the commune, the magical walled city looms above in your vista.
Panicale Draws Visitors With Interests in Italian Renaissance Art
Taking a tour with Elena Aloia, an art historian and docent with Sistema Museo, we learned that to Italians Panicale is first and foremost the city of the painter who is called “The Perugino”. Born Pietro Vannucci, The Perugino was the most important mentor to Raphael, whose name admittedly traveled further. Art enthusiasts who know this history and The Perugino’s influence on Italian Renaissance art will find much to revel in within the town.
More though, just walking its streets through narrow pathways and in between structures that date back to Medieval times, will likely give most Americans a sense that they are reaching back to an antiquity that you cannot find at home.
Panicale Embroidery Museum is Viewed by Appointment Only
For those of us who love knotted and embroidered textiles of all kinds, it is the Embroidery Museum in Panicale that warrants putting it on your Italy tour map.
This museum has preserved many exquisitely delicate and detailed tulles created by an embroidery school opened in 1930 by Anita Grifoni, who wanted to preserve this fine craft. Behind the glass displays you see wedding finery, religious garments and more that speak to the place this craft had in society in its time.
For this writer/photographer team, and sometimes opera reviewers, it is first and foremost the Pan Opera Festival held in Panicale’s 32-seat theater that screams for a visit to this most charming town within the city walls. If we are lucky, Dalia Lazar, a native of Croatia who has settled in Panicale ,will be hosting one of her piano recitals in the Embroidery Museum at the time of our next visit.
For more information on setting up a similar tour of Panicale, contact Chiara via the Podere Molinaccio website.
Editor’s Note—Podere Molinaccio is a member of Italy’s Divertimento Group.