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La Rocca Flea, Gualdo Tadino

Chiesa di San Benedetto, Gualdo Tadino

Landscape near Gualdo Tadino

Above Gualdo Tadino

Welcome to Gualdo Tadino
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 15,200 (2001)
Official website:
Gualdo Tadino
Wikipedia: Gualdo Tadino

Maps: MapQuest

Gualdo Tadino, a busy little town with very ancient origins, sits on Sant'Angelo hill on the lower skirts of Mount Penna in the Apennine Mountains.  Like many of the hill towns of Umbria, it's ancient core sits high up, dominated by a medieval castle called the Rocca Flea, while a busy and industrious modern area continues to grow on the valley floor below.

Gualdo Tadino's earliest origins are unknown, but at the foot of the present town's location, there was a peaceful Roman settlement called Tadinum situated on the via Flaminia. With the collapse of the Roman empire, the town's fortunes waxed and waned as a succession of barbaric powers descended from the north.

The Ostrogoths who had driven the Romans out of the area and then razed Tadinum, were themselves defeated in 552 AD by the Byzantine general, Narses, in a major battle just west of the town.  Gualdo was founded at more or less its current  but just over 450 years later, in 966 AD, the town was destroyed again by Otto III, the Holy Roman Emperor.  It was rebuilt, but was utterly destroyed by fire in 1237 AD, only to be rebuilt again just two years later, under orders from Emperor Frederick II.  The centro storico - the historical center - and the castle above, is really what was built at that time.  Since then Gualdo Tadino has withstood numerous and sometimes devastating earthquakes, and some damage inflicted during World War II.

In the centro storico, on the town's main piazza, the Piazza Martiri della Libertà, one finds the Duomo, dedicated to San Benedetto built in 1251 in the Gothic style but with a Romanesque facade, and the Basilica di San Francesco, also Gothic, and built at the very end of the 13th century. The Palazzo Comunale and an adjacent campanile - bell tower - are also here.  The Pinacotheca has many interesting works, including works by Matteo di Gualdo, and a very good painting bu Niccolò Alunno.

One reaches the Rocca Flea - built in 1242 has been recently re-modeled as a museum that celebrates the ceramiche (ceramics) produced in the area, can be found by walking west and then climbing a series of stairs until one finds the Piazza Dante.

The centro of Gualdo Tadino and the buildings and homes that spill down the hill from the main piazza have a decidedly down-at-heels feel.  But, there is a lot of renovation work going on and over time the town will achieve the same standards as have been achieved in Trevi, Spello and other Umbrian towns of similar size and vintage.

May locals fetch their drinking water from the Roccheta di Sorgente which is to the south east of the town along a small river.  One can fill a jug at one of two places, but by far the most diverting is at the end of the road in a small shady park, wedged into sheer, rocky  mountain walls.

Above and behind the town on the forested slopes of Mount Penna, near the Rocca Flea, there is a road, the via Col di Matino, that most travelers never find that takes one to a mountain park, sitting against the border of the Marche,  where one can hike, picnic or just lollygag.  Some of the paths of the park lead to vantage points that offer - take it from us - utterly breathtaking views of the Umbrian countryside below.

If you are wondering when the best time to visit Gualdo Tadino is, let us suggest the last week of September when competitors from four neighborhoods, or corporations, each associated with one of the town's gates, compete with one another in a series of very tough and rigorous contests reflecting the grittiness of town's natives.  The contests include archery and slinging, bare back riding and donkey cart racing.  On the last night, the town turns out in medieval costume with a parade of magistrates, priors, guild masters, priests, standard bearers, drummers and others. A wonderful time is had by all - and you too if you visit.

by Vian Andrews December 24, 2005

Umbria Region

43°14N 12°47E
Alt: 536 meters
(1759 ft)


Car:  Ancona (via Flaminia nord + SS 76) - Km. 90; Assisi (SS 444 del Subasio) - Km. 30; Fano (via Flaminia Nord) - Km. 90; Fabriano (viaFlaminìa+ SS 76) - Km. 22; Frasassi (via Flaminia + SS 76) - Km.  30; Nocera Umbra (Via Flaminia sud) - Km. IO; Foligno (via Flaminia sud) - Km. 32; Gubbio (strada prov. + SS 219) - Km. 25; Perugia (strada prov. + SS 318) - Km. 45; Spoleto (via Flaminia sud) - Km. 60; Roma (via Flaminia sud) - Km. 185


Le Terre del Verde Hotel and Resort

Coat of Arms, Gualdo Tadino

Donkey cart, Gualdo Tadino

Gualdo Tadino, because of the clay soils that are found in the area, has had a long history in the  manufacture of decorative and industrial ceramics.  The industry petered-out for over a hundred years, but was revived in the early 20th century.  For more information about the Ceramics of Gualdo Tadino.  Click here