They call Gubbio "the city of silence in Umbria" or "medieval tale in Umbria". A city with a history, a city with a heritage, a city not like cities.
Gubbio is a town and commune in the far northeastern part of the Italian province of Perugia, Umbria. It is located on the lowest slope of Ingino - a small mountain in the Apennines. A raw and proud mountain guard, the austere stone town of Gubbio relies on its authentic distinctive atmosphere and unadulterated medieval charm.
Gubbio is a favorite destination among lovers of unconquered and unpaved roads, among people looking for the emotion of a classic picturesque city perched on a hill. Gubbio owes its popularity to this - the lack of major tourist attractions, more side location, leading largely to a kind of charming attraction.
Gubbio's origins are very ancient. The hills above the city have been inhabited since the Bronze Age. It was an important city of Umbria in pre-Roman times. He also became famous for the artifacts discovered in 1444 - a set of bronze symbols that together make up the largest surviving text in the Umbrian language. After the Roman conquest in the II century BC the city retains its name Iguvium. The city remains an important center with its status, as evidenced by the world's second largest surviving ancient Roman amphitheater, located today at the foot of the city.
Gubbio became very strong in the early Middle Ages. The city sent 1,000 knights to fight in the First Crusade under Girolamo Gabrieli. According to local tradition, they were the first to enter the church of the Holy Sepulcher when the city was captured (1099).
The following centuries were quite turbulent, as Gubbio took part in wars against the surrounding cities of Umbria. One of these wars was won thanks to the miraculous intervention of Bishop Ubald, who gave Gubbio a great victory in 1151. A period of prosperity for the city followed.
In 1350, Giovanni Gabrieli, Count of Borgovalle, a member of the most prominent noble Gubbio family, seized power over the municipality and took control of Gubbio. However, his reign was short and he was forced to hand over the city to Cardinal Gil Alvarez Carrillo de Albornos in 1354.
With the decline of the political prestige of the Gabrieli family, Gubbio moved to the territories of Montefeltro. The majolica industry in Gubbio reached its apogee in the first half of the 16th century, when the beauties produced were unsurpassed - metallic glitter glazes imitating gold and copper.
Gubbio became part of the papal state in 1631. In 1860, Gubbio was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy along with other papal cities.
The historic center of Gubbio has a definite medieval aspect: the city is austere in appearance due to the dark gray stone, narrow streets and Gothic architecture. Many houses in the central part of Gubbio date from the XIV-XV century and were originally the homes of wealthy merchants. They often have a second door on the street, usually just inches from the main entrance. The second entrance of the house is narrower and about two meters above the real level of the street. This type of door is called the "door of the dead" because it was designed to take the body of a dead person into the house. This theory is not very reliable, rather it is believed that the door was used by the owners to protect themselves from strangers when opened.
Among the most visited buildings and places in Gubbio are:
- The Roman Theater - this ancient open-air theater, built in the 1st century BC, was built with square blocks of local limestone. Traces of mosaic decoration have been found. Initially, its diameter was 70 meters and could accommodate up to 6,000 spectators.
- The Roman mausoleum;
- Palazzo dei Consoli - dating from the first half of the 14th century, this massive palace is now a museum exhibiting the largest surviving text in the Umbrian language found in 1444;
- Palazzo and Torre Gabrieli;
- Duomo - The Gubbio Cathedral, built in the late twelfth century. The most impressive feature is the pink window in the façade, and the symbols of the evangelists are depicted on the sides: the eagle for John the Evangelist, the lion for Mark the Evangelist, the angel for the apostle Matthew and the ox for Luke the Evangelist. The most valuable work of art is the wooden Christ above the altar of Umbria;
- Palazzo Ducale - the palace built in 1470 by Luciano Laurana or Francesco di Giorgio Martini for Federico da Montefeltro. It is famous for its courtyard;
- San Francesco - a church from the second half of the XIII century. This church is the only religious building in the city with a ship with two paths. The vaults are supported by octagonal pilasters. The frescoes on the left date from the 15th century;
- Santa Maria Nuova - this is a typical Cistercian church from the XIII century. Inside there is a fresco from the XIV century, depicting the so-called Madonna del Belvedere (1413) by Otaviano Nelly. There is also a work by Guido Palmuricho;
- The Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo - remarkable for its marble altar and large windows with episodes from the life of Ubaldo, patron saint of Gubbio. The finely sculpted portals and fragmentary frescoes give a hint of the magnificent 15th-century decoration that the basilica once boasted;
- Vivian Gabriel's Oriental Collection - this is a museum of Tibetan, Nepalese, Chinese and Indian art. The collection was donated to the municipality by Edmund Vivian Gabriel (1875-1950), a British colonial officer and adventurer, a descendant of Gabrielli, who was ruler of Gubbio in the Middle Ages;
- Piazza Grande - all the roads in Gubbio lead to this very photographed central square, whose raw grandeur makes it easy to imagine the austere atmosphere of medieval life.