Here on Itinari’s pages you can already find stories and suggestions for visiting Umbria and Lake Trasimeno, but it is worth it to dive a little deeper in this territory and talk about the hamlets and villages surrounding the lake; each one might look similar to the next (the architectural traits and the designs do not really differ that much) but each one has its own original history, traditions, and attractions enriching them as well as enriching the experience for visitors and travelers. Città della Pieve, an historical hamlet overlooking the Trasimeno, is one of these and, offering a mix of art, historical celebrations, and sights over this territory, it should make your “places to visit in Umbria” list.
The origins of Citta della Pieve, which sits on a hill at 508 meters above sea level, overlooking the Trasimeno, are not really clear; there are elements that make historians and archeologists speculate that something similar to a village was already there before the Etruscan era, while it is certain that the village was a Roman municipality during the Roman Empire era. It is thought that during the Middle Age that the hamlet got its current denomination and when the tradition of Palio dei Terzieri was born.
During the Middle Age, Città della Pieve finally reached its current form and urban plan; the city was shaped as an eagle, symbolizing the emperor's readiness to head towards Rome. Eventually Città della Pieve had to submit to Perugia and on the document that stated the surrender of the town, we find the first mention of the Terzieri. Each Terziere (“a third”) represented one part of an eagle (the village's symbol), which referred to one of each social class: the head was Terziere Castello, representing the aristocracy, the belly was Terziere Borgo Dentro, for the middle class, the wings and the tail were Terziere Casalino, for the peasants. At the time the three teams challenged themselves to a sort of bull-hunting game using lances. Today, each penultimate Sunday in August, the Terzieri commemorate the ancient caccia del toro (“bull-hunting”), challenging each other to archery on targets in the shape of a "chianino", a bull, fixed on a moving pedestal. The competition is preceded by a historic procession of hundreds of people dressed in Renaissance costumes: a unique spectacle that brings a city together and is also a true homage to the greatest son of Città della Pieve, Pietro Perugino.
Pietro Vannucci, known as il Perugino, was a painter born in Città della Pieve in 1448, his works can be found in some of the most famous Italian and European museums and, obviously, in his hometown as well, adding to the reasons why this hamlet deserves to be visited. The main cathedral of the town (Cathedral of the Saints Gervasio and Protasio) hosts his work, along with the ones of other prominent Italian painters of the time and it is definitely a location to have look at in Città della Pieve. As you visit you’ll notice that the city has a series of alleys and small streets which might feel like walking through a maze; there is no real chance of getting lost and actually, you might be rewarded by ending up in Vicolo Baciadonne (“kiss-the-lady alley”, if you will), a suggestive and romantic 80 centimeters-wide street.
Cover Photo credits © istockphoto.com/die-phalanx
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