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View of Todi


Palazzo Priori, Todi


Steps to San Fortunato, Todi

 

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From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 17,075 (2004)
Official website:
Todi
Wikipedia: Todi

Maps: MapQuest

Todi sits on two hills high above the east bank of the Tiber at about 470 meters above sea level.  There are three concentric walls in and around the old part of the city that reveal much of its long history.  The innermost walls were built by its first settlers, the next ring is a Roman wall, and the outermost is medieval.

Todi was settled first in the 8th or 7th Century BC, but historians are not sure whether by the Umbri or Etruscan people, although it did become an important Etruscan city.  In any case, the City was conquered by the Romans in the 4th Century BC and ultimately became an important municipium on the Via Flaminia.

Rome was eventually conquered by the Visigoths who held sway over the territory, who were displaced later by succeeding powers including the Longobards.  The Longobards were defeated by Charlemagne, and so there is even a Frankish influence in some aspects of Todi today.

The City also came under the domination of the Holy Roman Empire for a time, but utimately, the City came to fall securely within the Papal States, where, except for a short period during the Napoleonic conquest, it remained until Italian Unification in 1861.

When it was occupied by the Romans, they quickly replaced all vestiges of Etruscan civilization with their own, building walls, and gates within the walls (Porta Libera, Porta Catena, and Porta Aurea), a theater, an amphitheater, a Forum, below which were extensive water cisterns, a Market, and several temples.  Only fragments remain.

Todi did become a comune like many other Umbrian cities, then fell under the rule of a succession of powerful families (Signori) who were either Guelphs (Papal supporters) or Ghibellines (supporters of the Empire).  The Guelphs "won".

During its time within the Papal States, Todi's fortunes waxed and waned, sometimes because of political or economic difficulties, sometimes because of plague, and sometimes a combination of all three.  But, over time, much was accomplished.  The outer wall and various gates (Porta Romana, Porta Perugina, Porta Orvietana and Porta Amerina) were built, starting in about 1200.  However, the City achieved it's greatest triumphs during the late Renaissance in the late 16th, early 17th centuries under the administration of Bishop Cesi.  Many of Todi's most splendid buildings and monuments date from this period.

The citizens of Todi, as a whole, were strongly supportive of the Risorgimento, and in 1849,  even hosted its revolutionary military leader, Garibaldi, who was fleeing from Papal forces.

Todi's main piazza, the Piazza del Popolo, one of the most picturesque in Umbria, sits on the breast of the lower hill, and it is here where one finds most of the principal medieval and Renaissance buildings including the Duomo, the Palazzo del Capitano, the Palazzo del Priore and, of course, the Palazzo del Popolo.  Off the main square there area also a few Renaissance palazzi, the most significant of which, the Palazzo Atti, was built by the architect, Vignola.  The church of San Crocefisso is also of this era.

On the breast of the other hill are the Church of San Fortuno, and the ruins of an ancient medieval fortress.  In other places one will find a Roman amphitheater, and a Roman structure built for unknown purposes which is called the Niches - or Nicchioni in Italian.

There are a number of churches, but perhaps the most beautiful is the Santa Maria della Consolazione, a Renaissance church with a gorgeous dome.

Todi's position on the top of two high, steep hills gave it a favorable location in earlier times, but of course, such a location mitigates against economic success in the present day, when it is more important to have fast access to major highways.  However, Todi has managed to create a small industrial base, and it can still rely on agriculture in the surrounding area as a mainstay. But, without a doubt the most important "industry" today is the tourist industry...and for good reason.

by Vian Andrews September 20th, 2005

Umbria Region

4247′N, 1225′E

Distances

Spoleto - 44 km
Perugia - 45 km
Assisi - 58 km
Spello - 63 km
Foligno - 73 km
Cortona - 92 km
Gubbio - 94 km
Rome - 131 km
Arezzo - 135 km
Siena - 146 km
Florence - 192 km

Directory

La Colombaia Apartments


Santa Maria della Consolazione, Todi


Todi Coat of Arms

The City's Coat of Arms, adopted in 1200 AD, is an eagle with eaglets on both wings representing its ties with two nearby cities, Terni and Amelia.  The Eagle is clutching a cloth, said to represent a mat upon which workmen building the first walls of Todi had set their lunch.

The poet Jacopone was born in Todi in 1230. His burial crypt is in Chiesa San Fortunato.
An ancient Etruscan statue, the Marte of Todi, currently in the Vatican Museums, was found near the walls of the Cloister of Montesanto in Todi.