Gubbio Favorites

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    Sant Ubaldo
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    Learn Italian :-) She is the best!!

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Grazie mille, Edvige Galasso!!
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    Favorite thing: Since I revisited Italy in 2007 I knew that I want to learn the language to be able to talk to the people and read descriptions in the smaller museums. And of course to watch my most favourite of all Italian series online, Commissario Montalbano. But I also knew that I don’t want to go to one of these language schools which might be good but not really my thing or my way to learn. Since Umbria left a deep impression in my heart after my fist trip April 2008 I thought why not have a look for language options in Umbria (because I knew that there are loads of private lessons in Toscana - so why not also in Umbria?). To my utmost delight I found …a website with title “Italiensch in Gubbio” (Italian in Gubbio): Edvige Galasso, an Italian woman, teaches Italian in the town I desperately wanted to revisit because I was so fascinated by its culture, tradition and festivals! Imagine that I was even over the moon when I read that she does not teach huge groups but prefers to give one-to-one lessons. Just what I was looking for! I emailed her, she immediately replied, we discussed details such as my knowledge in Italian up to now, she recommended and even booked me the charming Residenza di Via Piccardi. Luckily for me end October wasn’t peak time for her so I could chose the lesson hours when I was in Gubbio. Since it was a perfect golden October I wanted to catch golden Gubbio as much as possible and had lessons from approx. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    Since I speak Spanish and had Latin at school but no Italian lessons so far, I didn’t have the slightest idea of how much I actually know, but her way of teaching was and is fantastic. After 30 minutes she already knew “where I was” and “picked me from there” (that’s German expressions of what I want to say). The book she had recommended and bought for me was excellent and I learned quickly. I loved the fact that she didn’t race through the matter but gave me a solid foundation of Italian with all the necessary grammar (usually I hate grammar, but the way she taught it was fun).
    In the meantime I had classes also in Siena (because the state I live in offers so-called extra "education holiday", but we can only book registered language schools. Edvige is not registered in our system). What can I say. During the 2 weeks in Siena (60 hours per week) I learned only a fraction of what I would have learned with Edvige in the same time frame!

    Fondest memory: .
    Thank you dear Edvige for having given me one of the most valuable gifts ever – the key to your language! And thank you for having taken me on this most memorable day out to meet your friends so that we could have the chance to immerse into these fascinating arts of bell ringing, cross-bowing and flag throwing. And thanks for the wonderful jewellery you make! I wear them with pride! I look already forward to my next time :-)

    Bad news for non-German natives or speakers: she teaches only German speaking people (Swiss, Austrians, Germans and anyone who speaks German). This is not meant as discrimination but she lived and taught Italian in southern Germany for 17 years, thus is fluent in German. And since she teaches independently from schools on a private base, she cannot issue specific language certificates as schools do. But then... who needs certificates??? I want to learn Italian and with certificate I would not learn better or quicker, haha.

    Lessons are 25 € per hour (one hour equals 60 minutes with her and not 45 like for the language schools), or 40 € for two people.

    Edvige Galasso, Italian in Gubbio.

    © Ingrid D., November 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

    continue with next review => Books and DVDs
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    Helpful tourist office & iPhone apps :-)

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Gubbio town map - a piece of art :-)
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    Favorite thing: Gubbio’s tourist office is very helpful with maps and additional information about the town and the region. For example I got magnificent posters in photo quality of all the major festivals and the city for free. Grazie mille, Evelino Vagnarelli!
    For quick orientation: have a look at the marvellous town map at the (fee) parking lot at the right hand side of Piazza Quaranta Martiri (see main photo). It is a piece of art and shows the major buildings as little ceramic reliefs and the symbols of the traditions which are so much alive in Gubbio: the crossbows (balestre), the ceri and San Francesco and the wolf.

    When I look at the list of events in Gubbio (2009 at the time I write this) there is something going on every month. Not only the important festivals of Ceri and Palio della Balestra but also the many food exhibitions and festivals like the truffle fair end of October (see to-do sectrion) and also the Altrocioccolato in October, a kind of alternative to the famous Eurochocolate in Perugia. There are music festivals like Gubbio No Borders jazz festival (August), Gubbio Summer Festival which is the theatre season in July/August in Teatro Romano. Many towns in Umbria have formed an association called Teatro Stabile dell’Umbria with many performances throughout whole Umbria, including Gubbio. Then there is Umbria in Danza (dance festival, also in summer) and theatre in Teatro Communale (located in Via del Popolo, quartiere San Martino) in winter. In summer, a festival called Life in Gubbio is being held at Piazza Grande in front of the marvellous Palazzo dei Consoli with music, dances, theatre, discussions but rather modern ones.
    Have a look at the BellaUmbria link above or, since this does not list every event, better have a look at Gubbio’s website (though only accessible through the Italian version) at the events listed on the right hand side. They are listed per quarter (as in 3 months).

    The tourist office is located in Via della Repubblica, the road which leads uphill from Piazza Quaranta Martiri. It is on the left hand side, a couple of metres past the clock (meeting point clock).

    © Ingrid D., December 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

    continue with next review => Home away from home: Residenza Via Piccardi
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    Fondest memory: Riccardo Casagrande's excellent site for iPhones - more to come :-)

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    World's biggest Christmas Tree :-)

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Nobby and the tree (photo by Edvige :-)
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    Favorite thing: When you happen to look at Gubbio’s website anytime between December 7 and January 10, you will see a special intro photo. This is how Gubbio indeed looks like from the valley during Christmas time. The world’s biggest Christmas Tree decorates the slopes of Monte Ingino between the city walls and the mountain top. The Star of Bethlehem is permanently mounted on top of the hill; you can see it anytime you visit Gubbio or pass it along the road (which would be a shame – passing it only I mean!), see photo. On this photo and on another one you can also see the wooden poles on which the lights will be mounted to form the trees. The measures of this tree are amazing. It is 650 metres high, 350 m broad and 12.000 m of electrical cables are laid out. During Christmas season 250 green lights form the tree shape, 400 coloured lights form the tree lights. The Star of Bethlehem has 1000 m2 of area and is illuminated with additional 200 light points through 400 m of cable.
    When I was in Gubbio first time (April 2008) and walked uphill to Basilica Sant’ Ubaldo, I saw these structures but didn’t think that these would be the permanent poles for the tree. Have a look when you walk uphill so that you don’t miss it.

    The tree is being illuminated on December 7. As with so many local events, also this illumination is being accompanied by a big table of events with live greeting messages from Eugubini all over the world, of course also from the ones of Jessup, Pennsylvania, and of course with an appearance of Gubbio’s sbandieratori. At a point in time during this event the responsible person presses the button to start all the lights. And all this is being accompanied by extended fireworks.

    On the website of Gubbio’s Christmas Tree are several photos of how the tree (resp. the lights) is erected. It is in Italian only but the photos are easy to find (gallery).
    There is also a short video on youtube with tree, fireworks and il Campanone

    Luckily TeleRadioGubbio transmits the ascension and illumination life, so last year (2009) I could sit at home at the evening of December 7 and watch this all through the internet. This year though I will be there and watch the illumination live :-)

    In 2011, the lightning of the tree was special. Pope Benedict XVI himself did it. He wasn't in town for it, but thanks to modern technology, he pressed a button on his iPad (?) in his office in Vatican, after a speech to the people. It can be watched on the website of Albero di Natale.

    (In case you wonder about my main photo: good old Nobby had decided to stay in Gubbio for a while and my dear Italian teacher Edvige was nice enough to take a photo of Nobby with the tree in the background.)

    © Ingrid D., November 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update July 2010.

    continue with next review => Drummers and costumes accompany festivals
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    The best time to visit Gubbio

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Golden Palazzo dei Consoli in Golden Gubbio
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    Favorite thing: This is a good question. It very much depends on the personal choice and travel style. Everyone who is interested in ancient festivals must come in May, especially between May 15 and June 2. This is the time when Festa dei Ceri, the two other Ceri festivals (for the youth = Ceri Mezzani and for the kids = Ceri Piccoli) and Palio della Balestra are being held. It is the time when Gubbio is all over decorated with the flags of the three Ceri families (Sant’Ubaldo, San Giorgio, San Antonio) and when everyone is celebrating. The atmosphere is very much contagious. But it is also the time when reservations should be made well in advance, especially during May 15. Although in 2010 rooms were still available, but more in the upmarket hotels.

    Autumn is another perfect time for a visit. It is the time of the alternative chocolate fair Altrocioccolato and of course the truffle fair (see to do section). And the colours…. breathtaking!! Maybe my photos (2009) give a small glimpse in how magnificent Gubbio can be in October. I even postponed my lessons to 5 pm so that I could get full advantage of the golden light hours from approx. 3 p.m. on. I swear that there can only be one town on the planet which deserves to be called Golden City, and that is Gubbio. When the sunlight is low and shines on the stone buildings it looks like everything is being covered with gold. And several days when I walked across Piazza Quaranta Martiri to my teacher’s house, the trees send golden leaves across the air. I felt like in heaven – it “rained” gold.

    And of course I can highly recommend the whole December and Christmas season. The big Christmas Tree (see general section) is being illuminated on December 7 until January 10. Life size terracotta statues are used to create Medieval sceneries in the streets of quartiere San Martino and also around chiesa Vittorina outside of the city walls. Maria Immacolata (December 8) is an important holiday in Italia and it is celebrated in Gubbio with four ringings of the bell Il Campanone (December 5, 6, 7 and 8).

    All other months are equally interesting because Gubbio has a lot of events anytime of the year. In summer are the summer festivals with Life in Gubbio, theatre and opera in Teatro Romano, in winter theatre plays and opera move into the theatre in town (in San Martino), the special exhibitions in Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo dei Consoli change regularly. I am always astonished of the many events whenever I read the news on Gubbio’s special website Associazione Eugubini nel Mondo. It is hard to pick the best time. However, my travel time will always be May and December up to the point where I won’t need to travel anymore but live there for the rest of my life.

    But no matter which month you chose for your travel, make sure to book your bed early enough!

    © Ingrid D., November 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update July 2010.

    Fondest memory: Since recently there is a webcam of Gubbio which refreshes every 10 minutes. In addition, they display actual and past weather with temperatures, humidity, pressure, wind and rainfall.

    continue with next review => Truffle Fair in October
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    Gubbio was affected by the 1984 earthquake

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Cranes in Gubbio (April 2008)
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    Favorite thing: We tend to forget that Italia’s Appenine Mountain region is earthquake region. I don’t mean that it should scare anyone to visit this beautiful region of Italy, but to raise awareness why some buildings might be closed for restoring or why even some roads or paths are not accessible.
    The most horrible days in Umbria’s recent history were September 26 and 27, 1997. This was when an earthquake (5,7 on Richter scale) hit Umbria with epicentre near Foligno. Eight people died, thousands were unsheltered. And the roof of Basilica San Francesco Superiore collapsed. Most tragic was that two monks and two technicians who were cleaning up dump from a former “light” earthquake inside the basilika died under the debris of the collapsing roof. The technicians belonged to a TV team who had planned to record part of the cleanup, so a video of this exists. It shows how horrible the earthquake must have been. Luckily, thousands of people worldwide donated and conservators came to work as volunteers to help restoring the Cimabue frescos. They did an amazing job, sieving more than 1200 tons of debris and sorting out around 300.000 pieces to restore the work. Only 2 years after the earthquake the basilica could open again. Most of the donations went to Assisi since the Holy Year year 2000) was nearing. The other villages with similar bad damage had to work longer to rebuild and restore their buildings and churches, Norcera Umbra for example. Even now, 13 years later, you can see the scars the earthquake left in many villages and often, churches are not open to visitors.

    Earthquakes are not uncommon for Umbria and the surrounding provinces. We all remember the horrible earthquake (5,8-6,3 on Richter scale) April 6, 2009, which destroyed the centre of
    L’Aquila (Abruzzo region) where more than 300 people died and hundreds of thousands of people were homeless. Also recently a minor earthquake (4,2 on Richter scale) hit the region west of Deruta (south of Perugia). The reason for this is that the African plate moves northwards and slides under the Eurasian one. Gubbio though was not affected during these two in 2009.

    Now that I update this (August 2010), the path of Via della Cattedrale towards Palazzo Ducale is closed due to renovation. Several cranes are placed in the eastern part of town, also due to renovation. But luckily Gubbio wasn’t affected that much by the 1997 earthquake. The most destructive one the locals experienced was on April 30, 1984, one of 5,2 on Richter scale. Luckily no one was killed, but several people were wounded. This again makes me feel sure that Sant’Ubaldo also watches about the lives of his people during earthquakes. When I was in Gubbio in May and early June 2010, obviously a minor quake happened (2,1 in strength). I didn’t notice it but found out only now, during my research.

    © Ingrid D., February 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update August 2010.

    continue with next review => The best time to visit
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    Quartiere San Pietro

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Sign of San Pietro
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    Favorite thing: San Pietro is the southern quarter of Gubbio’s old town with the rose as its symbol. The main church is San Pietro, located in the south of town. This is a huge church and from the photos I saw it must be beautiful inside with a big wooden carved organ and three naves. A church with more than one nave is quite unusual in Gubbio’s old town, because for the churches at the hill slopes it would have been too much of an architectural challenge. But since San Pietro is located in a rather flat part of Gubbio, side naves were possible to build. Attached to the church is a convent, rather big as well. Oh and the post office is located in San Pietro.

    © Ingrid D., December 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

    continue with next review => Signs of the Guelphs in Gubbio
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    Quartiere San Giuliano

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Sign of San Giuliano with the falcon
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    Favorite thing: San Giuliano is east of San Martino, both are divided only by the riverbed of Camignano (dry in summer). Its symbol is the falcon and its main church is not San Giovanni Battista (“Don Matteo’s church”) but the tiny chiesa San Giuliano next to Palazzo Bargello in Via Consoli. It is also seat of the Università dei Sarti, the dressmakers or tailors. Fontana dei Matti’s, the famous fountain, name, by the way, is Fonte di San Giuliano. The best view over San Giuliano is from the balcony of Palazzo dei Consoli (see photo). Famous buildings in this quartiere are of course Palazzo dei Consoli and Palazzo Bargello, Casa Sant’Ubaldo in Via Baldassini below Piazza Grande, the park Ranghiasci and chiesa San Giovanni Battista.

    © Ingrid D., December 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

    continue with next review => Quartiere San Pietro
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    Quartiere San Martino

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Sign of San Martino
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    Favorite thing: Quartiere San Martino is Gubbio’s oldest quarter. Its symbol is the crown and it is present on the street signs (photo 1) and on one of the set of four flags (photo 4). San Martino’s church is San Domenico (see photo). Originally it was dedicated to San Martino but in 1287, after enlargement, it was handed over to the Domenican order and thus is now called San Domenico. When I was in Gubbio in Oct. 2009 it was not open. I have read that restorations are going on. Next time maybe, because the church contains beautiful artwork of Ottaviano Nelli. I also liked the very much characteristic shop sign of Macelleria Pompeo (see photo). This butchery is in business since 1859, proud of belonging to San Martino (the crown) and has the three ceri in their logo, each with the saints’ symbols and colours: blue helmet for San Giorgio, yellow mitre of Sant’Ubaldo and red flame for Sant’Antonio.

    San Martino is also famous during Christmas time when life size terracotta statues are put up as a giant nativity scene throughout the whole quartiere. Have a look at the video on youtube with music by Angelo Branduardi and other websites with photos of San Martino’s presepe. Gubbio’s special website has listed and described all nativity scenes and decoration in Gubbio. This year I will see these in real life :-)

    Update, December 2010:
    Just found another video of San Martino's presepe, with more close up exposure of the statues.

    © Ingrid D., December 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

    continue with next review => Quartiere San Giuliano
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    Quartiere Sant'Andrea

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Sign of Sant Andrea
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    Favorite thing: Quartiere Sant'Andrea is the eastern part of Gubbio’s old town, it stretches along the hill up to the basilica and its border with southern San Pietro is Corso Garibaldi. Sant'Andrea’s symbol are three plumes and its main church is San Marziale. Similar as for San Martino’s church, San Marziale was once devoted to Sant’Andrea, it was a monastery one and said to have been built on the remains of a temple for Mars (thus the name – Marziale). This church is the oldest in Gubbio, dates back to 1000. I also haven’t been inside but must see it next time. From the city map I saw that Sant'Andrea has the highest amount of churches, such as the important Chiesa dei Muratori (where the statues of the saints for Ceri are being kept), S. Maria Nuova, chiesa della SS Trinità, S. Maria dei Servi and I think also the cattedrale belongs to Sant'Andrea.

    In the meantime, Sant'Andrea is somehow my adopted quarter, or was I adopted by its people? In August 2010, when I was in town for Torneo dei Quartieri, the crossbow contest between the quarters, I was invited to join them in the evenings before the contest when they were discussing and preparing the festa for the evening of the contest. It was here where I met Marcello Minelli, padrone of his family of artists, the ones who have created the copy of Studiolo in Palazzo Ducale. It was here where I had the best of evenings, chatting and laughing about all and everything and especially about the difference between Italy and Germany. And it was here where I had one of the best lessons in terms of "decision processes", an experience which will forever remind me of why I must leave my own country at a point in time. The guys and girls discussed the prices of the meals they would cook and sell during the festa, based on the purchases. Prices for the meals were quickly fixed but then it was time to find the price for a cup of coffee/caffè. They had a machine with pads and the price for a single pad was 30 Cents. They wildly discussed for about 10 minutes for how much they would sell the cup and then quickly settled the price. I stood there with open mouth and laughed until tears were running down my cheeks. They made big eyes and asked what was wrong. I said "Nothing! But the same discussion in Germany: 30 people discussing, 30 opinions, 30 years of fierce war about who will have the final decision, and then 29 people hate the "winner" forever". Then they made big eyes again, hugged me and maybe this was the moment when they adopted me.

    The evening after Torneo dei Quartieri was definitely one of my very best evenings ever. I arrived at the triangle shaped piazza in front of Porta Romana at approx. 9 p.m., the party already in full swing. A band was playing and half of the people were dancing. Me too, later. The food was excellent, the atmosphere divine and funny - it was life at its best. Have a look in my video section. Not the best quality, but the four ones labelled "Sant'Andrea - festa after Torneo dei Quartieri" have captured the atmosphere. Anytime when I am "homesick" or when I feel that I need to be surrounded by living people I watch them and count the days until I am back.

    © Ingrid D., December 2009, major updates March 2012 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

    continue with next review => Quartiere San Martino
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    Gubbio & significance of its four quarters

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Gubbio: four quartieri, unified on a balestra
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    Favorite thing: Italian cities are, like many other cities and towns on the planet, divided into “districts”. In the past these had administrative significance but this is nowadays this is mostly gone. But in towns and cities which held their tradition very high, these districs still play an important role not only through festivals. Venezia La Serenissima is one example where six sestieri (6x one sixth) form the city. The same is for Ascoli Piceno. In case of Trevi, Spello and Lucca it is three districts, consequently called terzieri. Siena has 17 districts but they are called contrade. And Roma, the eternal city, has 22 rioni.

    Gubbio’s old town has four districts – four quartieri: Sant'Andrea to the east, San Pietro to the south, San Martino to the west and San Giuliano to the north. They are surrounded by the city walls. San Martino and San Giuliano are divided by the riverbed (which is dry in summer), San Pietro and Sant'Andrea by Corso Garibaldi. Via della Repubblica forms the east-west line. Together they all meet (more or less) at Piazza Grande.

    Each of the quartieri has a main church, which gave the district its name. Some of these churches are of lesser importance nowadays like in the case of San Giuliano: today its main church is San Giovanni Battista. Each of the quartieri also has a symbol which is present on the street signs or quarter signs, on the flags and on the balestre, depending which quarter is represented. But from what I have seen, there is not much competition between the quartieri, as it is the case in Siena where the contrade fight fiercly against each other during the Palio (the horse race). In Gubbio, the four symbols, thus the four quartiere, are often present as a whole. I believe that they signify the harmony of the town and quartieri. But I will find out more during my next visit. And I will also find out which society or guild inhabited the quartieri originally. But maybe it was not one of these but local important families? No matter which, I will find out.

    © Ingrid D., December 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

    continue with next review => Quartiere Sant'Andrea
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    Gubbio’s symbol is everywhere

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    Cinque colli, balustrade at Piazza Grande
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    Favorite thing: Gubbio is located at the slope of Monte Ingino. This hillside situation had formed life in Gubbio since the times when the old Italic Umbri lived here in what they called Ikuvium. Going on top of the mountain to watch the flight of the birds was how the Umbri read the messages sent by the gods already in the centuries B.C. Going on top of the mountain to visit Sant’Ubaldo in the basilica is something not only the elderly do (although most might take the funivia). The Monte Ingino slope is where Gubbio’s big Christmas tree is lightened up day and night from December 7 on. And then the mountain plays one of the major roles during Festa dei Ceri, when the ceraioli race uphill to the basilica. The mountain is part of the life like the festivals and traditions. So it is most logical that Monte Ingino and the surrounding hilltops became Gubbio’s symbol. It is called cinque colli (five hills) and is literally everywhere. It is part of Gubbio’s coat of arms, it is on top of Fontana dei Matti (the fountain in front of Palazzo Bargello), it is stitched on the costumes of the flag throwers and crossbowmen, it features the big and the small flags which are flagged during all May (the major festival month), it is carved into the ceri and it is part of the “decoration” at the balustrade of Piazza Grande (main photo) and the stairs leading up to the main piazza (photo 2). It is carved into the decoration above Palazzo dei Consoli’s entrance door, it is in a relief at the outer part of Porta Romana, it is part of one of Daniele A.'s balestre (crossbows, see photo 5) and it is also present in the iron rings attached to many buildings. (Which reminds me that I should add “cinque colli hunting” to my list one day, i.e. trying to find as many of the symbols in Gubbio as possible during a day tour).

    The ones at Piazza Grande's balustrade, BTW, make a nice photo opportunity in the afternoon when the sun is low :-)

    © Ingrid D., February 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update July 2010.

    continue with next review => Gubbio and the significance of its four quarters
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    Almost as many towers as S. Gimignano

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    This beautiful town wall :-)
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    Favorite thing: They are not as obvious as in San Gimignano, but then San Gimignano has a complete different location on top of a hill and not on a hill slope. But I would bet that Gubbio has just as many towers. Have a look over the town from the balcony of Palazzo dei Consoli and you will see what I mean (see photo). Several of these towers are inside the town walls and were also built by the several families to demonstrate power and strength. I have yet to find out which one belonged once to which family and what it stood for, next time! In addition to the ones in town many towers of the town wall are also still exisiting, including many parts of the town wall itself plus entrance gates. My most favourite part of the town wall is the one in my main photo. The best view for this one is from outside of chiesa San Francesco in the afternoon when the sun starts to descent and spills out magic light over the city. With the slender trees in front of the wall, it makes for a magnificent photo :-)

    © Ingrid D., December 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

    continue with next review => San Giovanni Battista, Don Matteo's church
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    Enormous architectural efforts at the slope

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

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    The huge support for Piazza Grande
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    Favorite thing: When you walk through Gubbio, please take extra notice of the building styles, even if you are not really interested in architecture. No, I don’t mean to find out if they are Gothic or Roman or Renaissance or what kind of pinnacles they have, but how they have been built on this very steep ground. I was fascinated already when I walked uphill to Piazza Grande and stopped at the stairs which lead uphill from Via Baldassini (the street below Piazza Grande). The piazza’s supporting basement is huge and does look more than a system of archways intentionally built for hiding, storage or something similar. But no, this exceptional basement was needed to make it possible to build the piazza! I didn’t find sizes, but I assume each of the four big arches is 20 m high and 10 m wide. They are hollow “inside”, towards the hill, and this all was necessary to make sure that the whole weight of Piazza Grande and the two palazzi won’t make the piazza and the buildings collapse at a point in time. Given the fact that this all dates back to 14th century without the “modern” techniques of CAD, it is a masterly architectural achievement. Something we tend to forget in our so organised and technically dominated world of today. Palazzo dei Consoli has an additional “weight support”: the loggia which faces the valley was also meant to be a “light weight” (not to add too much weight onto the supporting structure to the road below).

    You will certainly notice many archways in Gubbio’s streets between the houses and the main parallel roads. They have a similar effect: not too much weight on the ground by the houses. Another example is Gubbio’s cathedral or duomo: it does not have any side naves, simply because it would not have been possible to construct them without the church eventually sliding downhill. So it has only the main nave and additional supported by the arches in the side walls outside (photo 5). But the funniest structure was the house in photo 4: obviously more space was needed upstairs, so they simply extended it in the upper floors.

    © Ingrid D., February 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update August 2010.

    continue with next review => Festa dei Ceri

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    Sant’Ubaldo, eternally in Eugubini hearts

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sant Ubaldo
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    Favorite thing: Sant’Ubaldo is Gubbio’s patron saint and protector of the city. In the biological sense he died 852 years ago (1160), but he is still alive. During my second visit in October 2009 I could already sense and see this several times. But during the four weeks I stayed in town in May 2010 I could feel the overwhelming presence of Sant’Ubaldo everywhere. He is part of the daily life, he is protector, patron saint and bishop of the town, he is being loved from the bottom of the heart and he is alive. At the end of Corso Garibaldi he stands in form of a big statue and watches over his people. Many who pass the statue will bow and make the sign of the cross. Many pause and talk to him (including me since some time). He is honoured in so many ways, with little or bigger statues, pictures and paintings in homes, in street names, restaurants and hotels, in pendants around the neck. Ubaldo is the most prominent baptismal name given to newborn boys.

    Sant’Ubaldo had a very strong impact on the city during all his life.

    Born approx. 1085, as a son of a wealthy family, Ubaldo Baldassini became orphan at a very young age and grew up in a monastery. His bonds to his hometown were very strong. When he was priest he refused to go to Perugia as bishop but went to Rome to convince the pope that he could stay in Gubbio. Only shortly later, when Gubbio’s bishop died, he became his successor. But in contrast to the usual life of the clergy he chose to live a poor life. During the time when guelphs and ghibellines were fighting against each other to gain power, Gubbio was seen as a “problem” by the aristocrats. Eleven neighbour cites, among them Perugia and Assisi, formed an alliance to defeat Gubbio. Sant’Ubaldo managed to prepare his people and Gubbio could defeat the intruding alliance. Only a bit later, Ubaldo was already ill, Frederik I Barbarossa, heir of the duchy of Spoleto, was fighting against local cities who didn’t accept his role. He destroyed Spoleto and on his way back to Ravenna wanted to subordinate Gubbio as well. But then he met the ill old bishop, so contemporary witnesses wrote, and he was overwhelmed by Ubaldo’s peaceful attitude. As a result he gave Gubbio the rights of a free commune instead of destroying the city. Sant'Ubaldo's body rests in Basilica Sant’Ubaldo now, on top of Monte Ingino. The glass casket is not sealed, and there is no scientific explanation why his body is still preserved.

    Gubbio’s most important festa, Festa dei Ceri race is held every May 15th to his honour at the day or date before he (medically) died in 1160. The whole Ceri day is impressive, as is the race itself. I will describe more in a separate category. But during the evening procession, when the three saints are being brought back to town, the origin of this festa becomes most obvious in my humble opinion. During the procession, the people sing Sant’Ubaldo’s song O lume della fede; a very solemn atmosphere is in the air. As soon as the procession arrives in town, where the streets and house windows are packed with people, almost everyone applauds when the saints come in sight. The people shine in joy from the inside. Sant’Ubaldo is their saint, their protector, their bishop. [Some impressions of this evening procession are in this video, starting at 8:15 min. At 9:00 min the three turns in front of the statue of Sant’Ubaldo are shown, followed by bending down in front of him.]

    I could go on with descriptions and explanations for ages, but many of the moments where I felt or feel his presence are private moments, both Eugubini(‘s) and mine. I only will mention that he brought back faith for me.

    Associazione Eugubini nel mondo, Gubbio’s special and devoted website for all Eugubini and friends worldwide, honour him as well with a long description about his life and deeds. As does the website of Basilica Sant'Ubaldo (in Italian only).

    For those who have been in Roma (Rome): statues of Sant'Ubaldo, together with San Giorgio and Sant'Antonio are among the 144 statues on the colonnades of Bernini at Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter'S Square): Sant'Ubaldo is no. 107, San Giorgio is no. 48 and Sant'Antonio is no. 128.

    Fondest memory: Sant’Ubaldo’s song O lume della fede:

    O lume della fede, della chiesa splendore
    sostegno d'ogni cuore: Ubaldo Santo

    Voi che aborriste tanto ogni terreno affetto
    riempite il nostro petto d'amor superno

    Fratello, Padre e Guida, Maestro nelle fede,
    mostrate a chi non crede la vera vita.

    Terrore dell'inferno freno dei mali affetti
    le insidie e i rei diletti da noi fugate.

    Sia gloria al Padre e al Figlio ed al divino Amore
    e noi col Protettore il Ciel coroni.

    © Ingrid D., November 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update October 2010.

    continue with next review => Piazza Grande

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    Gubbio will change you, but never vice versa

    by Trekki Updated Aug 13, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This magic view......

    Favorite thing: Among the many villages and towns in Umbria and Marche I have visited so far, Gubbio is the most charming and the most harmonious. But then I am biased because I like this town so much that I know that from a point in time I will spend the rest of my life here.

    Authentic - would this be an appropriate way to describe this? I think yes (and I am not referring to what self-appointed wisearses in the management world pretend to sell as authenticity). I think that my descriptions of Gubbio will explain why this town and no other touched me so much that I want to live here.

    It is a bit silly to begin with food, but as an example you will never ever find any of these rubbish hamburger things like McDonalds or any other “foreign” take-away in the town. I heard that there was once a Chinese take-away but it didn’t stay in business for long. The people would just not go there. Why should they??? Eat something that is worse than their own magnificent local or Italian food? There is a small pizza snack under the arcades of Loggia dei Tiratori. It is quite frequented in evenings or during the day. But then the pizza, the girls make, is not of the rubbish quality of the Pizza Huts around the planet. It is made according to the age old recipes. If one flavour is sold out, it is sold out. Period. Starbucks?? Never ever in this or any other life Starbucks could set foot in Gubbio. No, mista Howard Schultz, not one millilitre of your rubbish brown liquid will ever be sold in Gubbio! Why? To drink some of this rubbish flavoured brown liquid which pretends to be coffee? To call this rubbish coffee is wording terrorism to me! Caffè is Italian drinking culture and it is already horrible that this chain could open in bigger cities which are overflowing of tourists. I bet that there is a Starbucks in Firenze. But then this would only possible because Firenze prostituted itself for tourist money. Not that tourists are not welcome in Gubbio, quite contrary: every honest tourist and visitor is highly welcome. But not the tourists which want to tour through the world as a museum or a zoo, always behind secure bars and never stop screaming for “things like at home”, such as the ones I have described as Eurodisney tourists in Venezia La Serenissima. It would never ever be possible that an egocentric tourist would stop bell ringing in Gubbio as it was the case with the bells in Mezzema, Liguria recently. In a way this reminds me of the words of the Warrior of the Light by Paolo Coelho “don’t spend your life to play a role that others have chosen for you”. The people in Gubbio won’t let tourists decide how they have to live or what they have to do or not do or what kind of things are being offered in shops and restaurants.

    But there is more to what I mean when I write authenticity. The traditions, the beliefs, the values are alive. Everyday. In the heart and soul of every Eugubino (ahaha..I love the Italian machismo in the language; this word includes the women). The importance of Sant'Ubaldo for example, the local patron saint. He lives in the hearts of the people and I realised that he also has occupied a big part in my heart. He protected the town ages ago and he still protects: the city and the locals. The Ceri festival is another example. The whole May, especially around the dates of Festa di Ceri, Ceri Mezzani and Ceri Piccoli, is one huge wave of emotions, of passion, of laughter, of debates and discussions. At 5:30 each on these three days the drummers go around the town to wake up the leaders of each cero and the captains. Throughout the whole day the town is filled with people dressed in one of the representing colours (yellow, blue, black – plus white and red). And then of course the other società, balestrieri and campanari and their presentations (manifestations): the emotions are almost impossible to describe – it is passion.

    My time in October 2009 gave me only a small glimpse compared to the weeks I stayed here in May 2010 and in the following years. It is authenticity. It is traditions and a strong belief in these. It is part of the daily life. It is living with and through values. It is a positive appearance and attitude. It is peace and harmony. It is the bells that ring every fifteen minutes. It is shelter. Yes and it is paradise to me. I still smile when I think about all these self-discovery seminars for which the overbred high speed lane society pays extortionate prices to find something that is often already lost forever. But it does not need these seminars or other overpaid self-appointed gurus to find peace with oneself. Come for a visit, open your eyes, let all what you see and feel enter your heart and soul and I know that you will feel similar. I seem to have revolted against trends, high speed lanes, and the gadget world for ages and was almost always placed into the abnormal corner: we don’t do this, we do that, you must not be this, you must be that. And then here … it was as if everything suddenly fell into place. Everything others (including my mother, bosses, you name them) ever criticised in me and what brought me almost to a point that I questioned myself - all that was no longer of importance. And will no longer be of importance.

    Or to quote good old Goethe (from Faust, Easter walk):
    Here I am Man, here dare it to be!
    Grazie mille!

    Fondest memory: Or Goethe in Italian:

    Ecco fiume e ruscelli già liberi dal ghiaccio
    al dolce sguardo della primavera
    che infonde vita; lieta verdeggia la speranza
    nella valle. Spossato, il vecchio inverno
    si è appartato in monti inospitali,
    e di lassù, fuggendo, scaglia solo
    il brivido impotente della grandine,
    a raffiche, sul piano verdeggiante.
    Ma il sole non tollera più il bianco:
    dappertutto si destano le forme e i desideri,
    su tutto vuole infondere la vita dei colori,
    e poiché i prati mancano di fiori,
    ci mette uomini vestiti a festa.
    Vóltati, guarda indietro
    da queste alture verso la città.
    Dal vano cupo della porta esce
    un brulicare di gente variopinta.
    Oggi hanno tutti voglia di sole.
    Festeggiano la resurrezione del Signore,
    perché anche loro sono risorti:
    dalle umide stanze in case basse,
    dai vincoli del mestiere e degli affari,
    dall'oppressione dei tetti e dei comignoli,
    dal pigia pigia delle strade anguste,
    dalla notte solenne delle chiese,
    eccoli, tutti escono alla luce.
    Guarda! Guarda come rapida la folla
    si frantuma per campi e per giardini,
    come il fiume trascina in lungo e in largo
    tante allegre imbarcazioni,
    e come l'ultima, laggiù, si allontana
    stracarica fino ad affondare.
    Anche sulla montagna dai viottoli lontani
    ci ammiccano vestiti colorati.
    Sento già il tumulto del villaggio.
    Il vero paradiso del popolo è qui,
    dove piccoli e grandi felici fanno festa;

    qui io sono, qui posso essere uomo.

    © Ingrid D., November 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.) update July 2010.

    continue with next review => Sant'Ubaldo, Gubbio's patron saint
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