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Landscape near Umbertide

Chiesa di San Francesco, Umbertide

La collegiata, Umbertide



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Gazetteer of Italy
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The Churches of Umbertide
Churches of Umbria
Welcome to Umbertide
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 15,254 (2003)
Official website:
Maps: MapQuest

Umbertide, like Bevagna to the south, sits on the level, and is another town that permits an easy stroll.  It sits in the Alta Valle del Tevere, or the upper Tiber River at the confluence of a smaller tributary river, the Reggia.

Umbertide's origins, like many towns and cities in Umbria, are ancient.  In pre-Roman times, it was an Etruscan market town where Etruscans and the original Umbrians bartered with one another.  In Roman times the town was known as "Pitulum".  The town was destroyed in the mid 6th century by the barbarian Totila, so not much remains of the Roman or earlier periods - a few columns, evidence of a settlement near Santa Maria di Sette, a sacred object found on Monte Acuto, some medals and inscriptions.

Toward the end of the 8th century, the town was rebuilt and given the name "Fratta" by the sons of Uberto, the Margrave of Tuscany.

Fratta remained more or less a self-governing entity until the beginning of the 12th century when, to end continual pillaging, its overlord, the Margrave Ugolino di Uguccione placed the town under the protection of Perugia.

In 1413, the town was laid waste by the troops of the King of Naples, Ladislao, and the ongoing tug of war between the Papacy and imperial  powers continued until the mid 16th Century when, like Perugia, and virtually all of Umbria, the town fell definitively into the Papal States where it remained until it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

In 1863, Fratta's name was changed to Umbertide in honor either of Uberto, whose sons had rebuilt the town, or King Umberto I, crown prince of Italy at the time of Unification.  Take your pick.

Today, Umbertide is a busy town supported by tourism, but also a light industrial center producing food products, ceramiche, machine tools, farm implements and some textiles.

The fortified castle that is the pre-eminent tourist attraction in Umbertide today, was built some time in the early 14th century, but underwent extensive rebuilding and extension between 1374 and 1390 by the architect Angeluccio di Ceccolo (Trucascio).

The castle, with its thick stone walls, is open to the public who can roam from the dungeons below ground to the top of the 40 meter high tower, or through any of the three crenellated keeps.  The halls of the castle are used for a variety of shows and exhibitions, one of which you are likely to encounter when you visit.

There are a number of other interesting sites to see in and around Umbertide.  The largest church is the Chiesa San Francesco, is Gothic.  The most modern church is Christo Risorto, built in the 20th century.

The principal church in Umbertide, however, is La Collegiata, or Santa Maria della Reggia, an octagonal structure topped with a lovely cupola.  Inside you will find a few paintings by Pomarancio and other sacred objects of interest.

An example of an early Renaissance, late medieval church is the Chiesa Sanata Maria della Pieta, in which the counts of Sorbello are memorialized with a funerary chapel.

The town's main museum, with a modest collection of good paintings, including works by Luca Signorelli, is housed in the de-sanctified Chiesa  San Croce.

Nearby the town, in a stunning, valley landscape surrounded by ever higher hills and mountains, all of it a patch work of fields, olive orchards, vineyards and forests, one can - and should - visit a number castles, monasteries and, of course, more churches.

The well-preserved medieval castle of Civitella Ranieri, built in the 15th Century is about 5 km north east of Umbertide., and Serra Partucci, built in the 16th Century may be visited, but only by groups, and only on special request.  The Castello di Polgeto is a medieval castle that has been continuously occupied since the 13th century.

The Abbey at Montecorona, about 4 km to the south, surrounded by chestnut groves and beech woods, was founded in 1008 by St. Romualdo.  Its crypt contains Romanesque capitals from the 11th Century and frescoes from the 14th century.

If you make it to the abbey church of San Bartolemeo de Fossi, on a high ridge overlooking the valley, you will be engulfed in beautiful views of the upper Tiber River valley.

Umbertide then: a pleasant town, and one that those who have trouble with the hilltop and hillside towns in other parts of Umbria will find much less strenuous, and just as enjoyable.

by Vian Andrews November 11th, 2005

Umbria Region

43°18N 12°20E


Car:  30 km (19 mi) N of Perugia and 20 km (12 mi) S of Cittą di Castello


Le Torre di Bagnara Country Estate

La Rocca, Umbertide


Civitella Ranieri, owned by the Ranieri family, evolved into an unusual center for the arts under the direction of Ursula Corning.  Every year, a select number of artists are offered fellowships, entitling them to stay at the Castle where they can pursue their discipline, and meet other artists from around the world.  More info