Gubbio is one of the most picturesque hill towns in Umbria and it also has one of the oldest medieval centers as well as a Roman theater. Gubbio is known for its high quality ceramics and you’ll find several shops selling hand-painted ceramics. It’s also known for its spectacular candle race and as having the world’s largest Christmas tree made of lights.
Plan Your Visit to Gubbio
Gubbio is in the northern part of Umbria, between Perugia and the Marche region. The nearest train station, about 12 miles away, is in Fossato di Vico with bus connections. Gubbio can also be reached by bus from Perugia, about 25 miles away, making a good day trip. Buses arrive in Piazza Quaranta Martiri. If you’re driving, park outside the historic center as most streets have restricted traffic.
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- Where to Stay: Hotel Relais Ducale is in a historic building near Piazza Grande.
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Things to See and Do in Gubbio
- Piazza Grande, or Piazza della Signoria, is the town’s main square. To get there from Piazza Quaranta Martiri take Via Piccardi. From the square there are beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Dominating the square is Palazzo dei Consoli, a 14th century Gothic building made of limestone where the Civic Museum, with exhibits from the 6th century BC through the 19th century. The top exhibit is the Eugubine tablets, seven bronze plaques written in the ancient Umbrian language dating back more than 2000 years.
- Going further uphill, you’ll come to the late 12th century cathedral, or duomo. Its facade is 15th century. Its high altar is made from a Roman sarcophagus. Also inside are a carved throne and ornate choir stalls. Near the duomo is the Diocesan Museum with art and archaeological exhibits housed in the 12th century Palazzo dei Canonici. Across from the Duomo is the 15th century Palazzo Ducale, built for the Duke of Urbino, with a nice Renaissance courtyard.
- The Palazzo del Bargello, built in 1302, was the first public building and its 16th century Fontana dei Matti, or Fountain of the Mad, was once the town’s main water source. To reach the Bargello, take Via dei Consoli from the main square. Around the Bargello is a good medieval quarter with Romanesque buildings and houses as well as the torture museum. On the facade of the older houses, look for porte del morto, or doors of the dead, small doorways used only to remove the dead. Via dei Consoli is also a good street for ceramics shops.
- Ranghiasci Park, started in 1841 as an English-style garden, stretches out below the Palazzo Ducale. It has neoclassical pavilions, trees, a covered bridge, and a cafe. On the other side of the park is the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, a historic building with a museum and great views from its upper terrace.
- The Gothic Church of San Francesco, is on Piazza Quaranta Martiri, the big green square where buses arrive. It has 13th century frescoes in the main apse and an impressive 15th century fresco, Life of the Virgin, inside. In the cloister are remains of Roman mosaics.
- Going further below town you’ll come to the 1st century AD Roman theater where outdoor performances are held during summer. From the theater you’ll have a good view of the town above.
- Back in the upper town, at the east end is the Porta Romana, one of the old town gates, with a museum of ceramics from prehistoric times through the Renaissance and items related to medieval gates including old keys and drawbridges. Near the gate are two 13th century churches.
- From Porta Romana, take the Funivia Colle Eletto for a spectacular 6 minute ride up to Sant Ubaldo Abbey on Monte Ingino. Near the church are a park, cafe and restaurant. Above the abbey, the Rocca, remains of a fortress, is another great place for splendid views.
Gubbio Festivals and Christmas
- Gubbio’s biggest festival, the Festa dei Ceri, is held May 15. It starts with a medieval procession that’s followed by a race from the main square up the hill to Santâ€™ Ubaldo Abbey. 3 teams each carry a very heavy candle-shaped pillar topped with statues of Saint Ubaldo, Saint George, or Saint Anthony. The last Sunday of May is the Palio della Balestra, a traditional crossbow competition between the archers of Gubbio and nearby Sansepolcro that dates back at least to the 15th century.
- During Christmas season, the slope of Monte Ingino between the town and the mountaintop is decorated with colored lights made into the shape of a huge Christmas tree with a star at the top, said to be the largest in the world.
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