Gubbio, Italy: Key sights

Gubbio sights

Gubbio sights

Gubbio is just a 45-minute drive from Perugia. This beautiful medieval town is a great option to spend an informative and active day while traveling in Umbria.

History buffs will find here the building of an ancient Roman amphitheater. Gubbio also has several interesting ancient churches, including a 13th century Gothic cathedral, as well as a fountain of madmen, a medieval aqueduct and a beautiful canyon for walking.

So, which sights in Gubbio are worth visiting first?

Duomo di Gubbio

The Duomo di Gubbio (Cattedrale di santi Mariano e Giacomo) is the city’s main Gothic-style cathedral, whose construction began on the site of the old Duomo in 1194 and ended in 1350.

Duomo Gubbio Umbria

The cathedral bears the name of the two martyred saints Marian and Giacomo, their relics are kept under the main altar. Inside you can see a 13th-century wooden cross, frescoes by Benedetto and Vioginio Nucci, Antonio Gherardi and Giuliano Presutti. It is also worth seeing the organs and the ancient floor of the 16th century.

At the beginning of the last century, restoration work was carried out that slightly altered the interior of the cathedral, but left the Gothic facade of the Duomo unchanged.

All the attractions, restaurants, interesting places in Umbria are marked on the map in our author’s guide. We advise you to install and study it before your trip.

Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo

Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo is a medieval palace in the Gothic style, like many other buildings in the city, located in the San Martino quarter in the center of Gubbio.

Medieval palace in Gubbio Umbria

The Palazzo is now given over to a museum dedicated to medieval torture and instruments.

The building was built in the 13th century on land belonging to the Gabrielli family, including Cante Gabrielli, also known as the man who expelled Dante Alighieri from Florence. The presence of other buildings belonging to the family suggests that the neighborhood was under its influence. The building was used as a residence and public office until the end of the fourteenth century, when the palace was sold.

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Palazzo del Bargello

Palazzo del Bargello is a 13th-century Gothic-style palace located in the center of Gubbio.

13th-century Gothic-style palace in the center of Gubbio Umbria

In the Middle Ages the building served as the residence of Bargello, military captain in charge of order in the city. The perfectly preserved three-storey building, overlooking the Largo del Bargello square and the fountain of the same name, is considered one of the most important attractions of Gubbio.

The palace is now home to a permanent crossbow exhibition dedicated to the city’s centuries-old tradition, and every last Sunday in May the exhibition is renewed, accompanied by a great festival.

Church of St. Francis

The Church of St. Francis (Chiesa di San Francesco) is an ancient Gothic church built in 1256 designed by architect Fra Bevignate.

St. Francis church in Gubbio Umbria

The church stands on the site of the house of the Spadalonga family, where St. Francis stayed after leaving his native Assisi. The remains of the house can still be seen inside the church.

According to legend, during St. Francis’ stay in Gubbio, a huge and terrible wolf lived nearby in the woods, keeping the townspeople in constant fear. The beast was not afraid to approach the town and constantly attacked livestock and locals. The young Francis, known for his gift of talking to animals, went out to meet the wild beast accompanied by the townspeople. Upon encountering the wolf, the saint began to speak to it in the language of animals and asked it not to disturb the poor inhabitants of the town any longer, promising the beast treats from the townspeople. The wolf stopped attacking the townspeople and turned into an ordinary dog, becoming a favorite of the town.

In 1997, a monument to the courageous Francis and the wolf was erected next to the church.

Piazza Grande

Piazza Grande, the main square between the two administrative buildings, has been the heart of Gubbio for centuries.

Gubbio Umbria main square

It was built in the 14th century and is still one of the largest canopied piazzas in the world: the structure is supported by 4 arches from below and is astonishingly large at 68 meters long and 35 wide.

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Speaking of Piazza Grande, it is impossible not to mention the city’s main feast, the Festival dei ceri, a traditional race that dates back to the 1160s and takes place every May 15. The festival is a traditional costume competition in which three teams run through the cobbled streets of the historic center with huge candles on their shoulders.

Watch a video of the festival:

The square sits pretty high up, giving you an unparalleled view of evergreen Umbria and its pretty little towns.

Basilica of St. Ubaldo

Basilica of St. Ubaldo in Gubbio Umbria

The Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo, the main 16th century church of Gubbio, stands on a hill at 827 metres. It contains the relics of St. Ubaldo, the patron saint of Gubbio, after whom the town itself was named.

The basilica was built in the 16th century by the two duchesses Elisabetta and Eleonara Gonzaga and originally the building was richly decorated in Renaissance and Baroque style, but a fire during the First World War damaged the facade of the basilica.

It is in this church that you can see the very candles that are carried through the city every year on May 15 during the festival of La Festa dei Ceri.

Church of St. Marziale

Church of St. Marcial in the historic center of Gubbio Umbria

San Marziale di Gubbio (Chiesa di San Marziale) is a small church located at the end of the historic center of Gubbio, a few steps from the Porta Vehia gate, a remnant of the original Roman walls rebuilt in the Middle Ages. It existed already in the early Middle Ages, from the twelfth century it is mentioned as the Church of San Andrea (Chiesa di S.Andrea). Since 1533 the church was included within the walls of the monastery of San Marziale, from which the new name came. The building is in Romanesque style, using typical exposed stone for the territory of Umbria, which gives it an even more restrained, rustic and elegant appearance.

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The church has no traditional façade; the entrance is located on one of the long sides, about halfway down the nave. There are two naves, separated only by a row of 4 columns topped by classical vaults. At the end of the nave is an apse, traditionally circular in shape, containing an altar, slightly elevated above the level of the church.

Opposite the apse is a space bounded by a wrought-iron lattice and a small door in a decidedly more Renaissance style that housed the choir. Inside there is also a painting by Benedetto Nucci (1515-1596, late Renaissance and Mannerist Italian artist) depicting the coronation of the Virgin Mary with the saints Andrea, Marcial and the child Giovanni. There is also a small wooden mezzanine below, covered by a metal lattice, which served as a living room.

The church became better known to the public thanks to the TV series Don Matteo, in which it appeared as the fictional interior of the Church of San Giovanni from season one to season eight.

Cableway

Gubbio cable car

The easiest way to reach the Basilica of St. Ubaldo is by cable car (Funivia colle eletto).

The funicular was built in the 1960s to make the difficult climb up the mountain easier for tourists and locals. Despite the somewhat intimidating appearance of cabins – small metal baskets, designed for a maximum of two people, they are very popular and in 6 minutes reach the top – from 532 to 803 meters above sea level.

During the short ride you can not only enjoy the views, but also get a good dose of adrenaline.

Check the schedule on the official website of the funicular, www.funiviagubbio.it.

Fountain of the Insane

The Fontana del Bargello, a XVI century fountain in Gothic style, is opposite the Palazzo del Bargello of the same name, where the head of the local police used to sit.

Fountain of the Madmen in Gubbio Umbria Italy

The history of the site is very interesting: according to an old tradition, a resident of any other city in Italy or a foreigner who has run around it three times and poured water from the fountain receives the title of “madman of Gubbio”. It is necessary to run in the presence of a native of Gubbio. The status is confirmed by an official certificate that must be requested by the local from the Maggio Eugubino Association (www.maggioeugubino.com).

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The tradition was born in the nineteenth century and is related to the Festival of the Candles, during which 3 teams have to run around the central square three times before heading up the cobbled streets of Gubbio.

Bottaccione Gorge

Not far from Gubbio is the Gola del Bottaccione, formed between two mountains: Monte Ingino and Monte Foche.

Bottaccione Gorge in Gubbio

The formation of the gorge began more than 3 million years ago, thanks to the stream Camignano, which is still flowing there.

The gorge became famous in the 1970s, when American scientist Walter Alvarez discovered a huge concentration of iridium, a chemical substance of cosmic origin present on Earth in very small quantities, on the surface of the stones. In 1979, scientists concluded that the substance entered the gorge with a meteorite that fell to Earth.

Nowadays, Gola del Bottaccione is of great interest to tourists who want to escape from the scorching summer sun or just take a walk and enjoy the views.

The Medieval Aqueduct

During the Middle Ages, Gubbio stood out for its innovative buildings, including two aqueducts.

Medieval aqueduct in Gubbio

The first, still in use today, began on the west side in the Bottaccione gorge, flowing into the aqueduct built in 1327 by order of the Comune of the city to form a single aqueduct. In the 14th century the canal supplied water to the cisterns above Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo del Popolo, which subsequently distributed water to several districts of the city.

A second aqueduct originated between Monte Anchiano and Monte Ingino and supplied water to the springs in Via Dante and Via San Pietro.

Roman Amphitheatre

Roman Amphitheatre in Gubbio Umbria

The theater was built of large rusticated blocks of limestone around 20 B.C., with the participation of the city’s magistrate Gneus Satrius Rufus. It had two rows of arcades, of which the lower row and some arches of the upper one have survived.

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The floor, paved with slabs of limestone, allowed rainwater to drain into a large cistern underneath. The theater seated up to 6,000 spectators and was one of the largest at the time.

The amphitheater is closed to visitors from Monday to Wednesday, the other days are open from 08:30 to 19 hours. The ticket price is 3 euros.

Church of St. John the Baptist

La chiesa di San Giovanni Battista, the church of St. John the Baptist, was built in the 14th century. It is believed that it was in this church where local townspeople were baptized.

Church of St. John the Baptist in Gubbio

The facade of the building is decorated mainly in Gothic style and the bell tower in Romanesque. From 1998 to 2011, the well-known Italian TV series Don Matteo was filmed inside the church.

The facade of the building is decorated mainly in Gothic style and the bell tower in Romanesque style From 1998 to 2011, filming of the famous Italian series Don Matteo took place inside the church.

Rangyashi Park

Located on the slope of Monte Ingino, Parco Ranghiasci, an ideal place to walk through the chestnut and maple alleys.

The park was built in the second half of the 19th century by the Marquis Francesco Ranghiasci Brancaleoni for his beloved wife, the Englishwoman Sara Matilda Hobose. It is impossible not to notice the influence of the marquis’s wife: walking in the park, it seems that you are somewhere in England. For the construction of the park were demolished many medieval buildings and created new, suitable to the English style: a small villa neoclassical style and the chapel with the Rangyashi coat of arms and the phrase “Virtus omnia vincit” (courage will conquer all).

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