acopo de’ Benedetti, known as Jacopone of Todi, was born in 1236 into a noble family. After becoming a successful lawyer he gave up leading a worldly lifestyle at 32, when the sudden tragic death of his wife upset his life. The shock due to the loss and the discovery of a haircloth she used to wear to mortify her flesh, drove him to start a new religious life and later to join the Franciscan order: in particular, he entered the radical faction, preaching absolute poverty and penitence. He got rid of anything wordly he had, body and soul commodities, choosing abstinence from food, wakefulness, solitary life and any kind of activity mortifying his flesh.
Admire a bale of hay
What a hayseed type of activity, you might say. We actually found the farming activities around Todi quite fascinating. That is because in California, you never see hay bales in rolls - they are always in bricks.
Our house we rented was out in the countryside, so we would frequently walk along country roads among the alfalfa fields. That was another thing we noticed not just about Umbria, but about Italy as a whole. We had never seen so many alfalfa fields as we saw in Italy. They seemed to be everywhere, whether we were in Umbria, Tuscany, Lazio or Puglia. The odd thing was, we never saw much livestock around munching on this alfalfa. So where does all the Italian alfalfa go?
The church of S. Maria della Consolazione
Just outside the medieval walls, the church is one of the most striking temples of Renaissance, dating to early 16th century and often attributed to Donato Bramante.
Cola di Matteuccio da Caprarola and Ambrogio da Milano were the architects responsible for the building, together with Antonio da Sangallo, Baldassarre Peruzzi, Galeazzo Alessi, Sanmicheli, Ippolito Scalza and Vignola.
The church has a Greek cross plant, there are three polygonal apses and a semicircular one on the north side, all surmounted by a square terrace with four eagles at thre corners from which the dome departs. The interior is enlightened by sunbeams getting in through several windows, almost giving life to the arches, capitels, bas-reliefs, rose-windows, plumes.
In the altar a fresco of the Madonna is a miraculous image according to an ancient tradition: during the founding works, it was discovered by a worker whose affected eye suddenly healed after being in touch with the same cloth used to clean the fresco.
Twelve niches house giant statues of the Apostles; a wooden statue of Pope Martin I is on the left of the main entrance, placed there after the terrible plague of 1630.