Funicular to Monte Ingino
While the lifts between the different levels of the town are mundane and functional, the means by which you ascend to the highest point in Gubbio, Monte Ingino, where lies the Basilica of Sant’ Ubaldo, is very different. Of course, you could walk, following the steep path taken by the ceraioli when they carry the heavy ceri and their saints on their shoulders up to the basilica during the Festival of the Ceri. But if you lack their amazing stamina, it’s a steep climb even if unburdened. Luckily it’s a lot of fun (unless you have a fear of heights) to ride the funivia instead. This operates similarly to a chair lift, except you don’t sit in a chair, you stand! Each small cage holds one or two people (we opted to travel singly) and they are in continuous motion, so you have to be ready, guided by one of the operators, to hop inside as one passes you. The same operator will fasten the door securely, and away you go – floating over the tree-tops almost silently. It’s a wonderful experience, and the views of Gubbio that gradually unfold beneath you are more wonderful still.
The ride lasts just a few minutes and all too soon you have to jump off, but the sights awaiting you at the top will soon reconcile you to having to bring your ride to an end. And if you have chosen a round-trip ticket you have the fun of the ride back down to look forward to at the end of your visit to the basilica. I enjoyed mine so much I was tempted to ask if I could do the whole thing again, just for the experience of gliding over the sweet-scented pines while admiring that marvelous view!
In September 2014 I did just that, keen to introduce Chris to my favourite form of Gubbio transport, and I made a video of the descent!
A round-trip ticket cost €6 in September 2014, and a single was only a little less, so it pays to decide before buying your ticket for the ride up whether or not you want a return. It operates daily but hours vary according to the time of year – you can see a timetable on this website. To reach the funivia, leave the old part of Gubbio by the Porta Romana, also known as the Porta di Sant’ Agostino, and turn left by the church of the same name.
~~ next tip: Basilica of Sant’ Ubaldo
To Gubbio by train
The nearest station to Gubbio is at Fossato di Vico, about 20 kilometres away. I was fortunate – Ingrid had offered to pick me up at the station so there was no need to worry about taxis. But first, I had to get there. There are plenty of trains from Rome that serve this line, en route to Ancona, but not all stop in Fossato, so you need to check the timetables carefully.
As in many other countries, Italian train tickets usually need to be validated before boarding, at the yellow machines provided at the entrance to the platforms. But if you have booked online (on the cumbersome but useful Trenitalia website) and paid in advance there is no need to do this.
To reach the centre of Rome from the airport you can catch the special Leonardo Express, but I was not going to the centre, but rather to Tiburtina (see below) so I caught a slower regional train. This was quite busy, and didn’t really have proper space to accommodate all the luggage of people coming from the airport, but otherwise was fine.
I’d had the option of catching the Ancona train in Rome Termini or at the other main station, Tiburtina. I’d chosen the latter, as it gave me a slightly longer transfer time and I’d read a tip (not on VT!) that it is easier to change trains there. Well, maybe it is, but what the tip didn’t point out (maybe it should have been obvious) is that with the train starting at Termini, there is a risk that it could already be full by the time it reaches Tiburtina. And so it proved on this occasion. I was able to board, but not to get a seat, so had to stand, rather blocking the aisle with my suitcase, until the first stop about 40 minutes from Tiburtina. Luckily at this station a lot of passengers got off, and I could easily find a seat.
[When I repeated this journey on my third visit to Gubbio with Chris, we travelled from Termini after a night in Rome and had no problems in getting good seats on the train. You can read about this journey in a transportation tip on my Rome page]
From that point to Fossato the journey was a real pleasure. The scenery was lovely, passing through several attractive small towns and with many more dotted on the surrounding hills. There is something about the Italian landscape that really appeals to me. Perch a town on a hillside, and it immediately becomes more attractive to my eye. I had several vain attempts to take photos of them, which was silly really, when I was about to spend almost a week in one of the most attractive hill-towns of them all!
The journey from Rome to Fossato took about 2.5 hours, and it took me about 4.5 hours altogether from my plane landing until I got off the train in Fossato. As promised, Ingrid was there to meet me and drive me the short distance to Gubbio – the holiday could now properly begin!
~~ next tip: by bus to Gubbio
Bus from Fossato di Vico
Whereas on previous visits I had been fortunate enough to have my friend Ingrid (VT’s Trekki) meet me from the airport or station, on this occasion I was travelling with Chris and arriving in Gubbio some time before Ingrid’s slightly overlapping visit. We travelled by train, as I had done on my first visit, but had to rely on the local infrequent bus service from Fossato di Vico to Gubbio. I checked the timetables online before we came and we chose a train that would give us plenty of time at the station and yet not too long a wait – 40 minutes or so, I thought, which we planned to spend in the small bar here.
When we arrived we re-checked the bus timetable and discovered that the one I had expected to catch ran only during the school term and that, although children in England were already back in school after the long summer break, their counterparts in Italy would not return until the following week. This meant that our anticipated 40 minute wait was instead a 1.5 hour one! But we passed the time pleasantly enough with a light late lunch in the aforementioned bar (filled rolls, panini, chocolate and coffees) before heading outside to take a few photos.
The bus arrived only a minute or two late and we boarded. It was at this point that we learned that tickets had to be bought in advance, in the very bar where we had been whiling away the time! Fortunately for us, the bus driver was understanding and willing to wait while Chris ran back to the bar to purchase our tickets (just €3.60 each, single fare) and the only two other passengers also waited patiently (thank you!)
Soon we were on our way for the half hour drive through the Umbrian countryside and some small villages. I was thrilled when I spotted, and could point out to Chris, my first glimpse of Gubbio ahead! Soon we were pulling into the Piazza 40 Martiri where the bus terminates, just a short walk from the Residenza di Via Piccardi, where of course we would be staying.
And that is the subject of my next tip: a home from home in Gubbio
Flight to Rome
Gubbio is not the easiest place to reach - maybe one reason why it has remained relatively unspoiled. One option, which I have used twice, is to fly to Rome and then catch the train to Fossato di Vico, the nearest station to Gubbio (but still about a 20 minute drive / 30 minute bus ride away). Another is to fly to Ancona and hire a car. I have used both options - the first on my first and third visits to the town, the second on my second visit.
On my first visit I travelled by air, train and car. The first part of this journey was a flight from London Heathrow to Rome’s Fiumicino airport (also known as Leonardo da Vinci International), with British Airways. There are nearer airports to Gubbio, e.g. Ancona, but none had a flight that suited me so well as this.
I was a little concerned that I might not have enough time in Fiumicino to catch the train I had planned on, but the airport is easy to navigate and on the day I arrived was remarkably quiet for such a popular destination. The station is right by the terminal too, so even with the time needed to catch the driverless shuttle from my arrival gate to the main terminal, and a slight delay at the baggage carousel, I had no real problems and was very happy with my choice of flight.
From here my journey was by train, so please see my next tip for details.
How to reach Gubbio
Gubbio does not have a train station, which makes it a bit of a proper planning to get there by public transport. The nearest train station is in Fossato di Vico, approx. 20 km southeast of Gubbio. But since there are only a few busses from there, it might not make much sense to take this option. Better is to travel to Perugia and take a bus from here, there are ten busses per day to and from Perugia. Busses to and from Gubbio arrive at Piazza Quaranta Martiri, which is quite convenient since it is at the bottom of the town, inside the town walls.
Bus connections from Perugia:
Bus schedules from Perugia (Gubbio is bus no. 22).
The nearest airport is in Perugia, however this is more of a national airport. Alitalia has flights from Milano to Perugia by now. Alternative airports are Ancona or Roma (with train connection to Fossato) or Bologna.
Driving distances: Ancona – Gubbio: 1 hour, Bologna – Gubbio: approx. 3 hours. (Roma – Gubbio: no idea, but according to Google maps also approx. 3 hours).
Update, October 2010:
On most of my trips to Gubbio so far I arrive at Ancona Airport (Falconara). This is the best choice because it is a small airport with full facilities but one does not get lost. It is also not near Ancona city but some 20 km west at the coast. There is direct access to the main highway SS76, the one which leads west to Fabriano, Fossato di Vico and Perugia. I have rented cars from either Hertz or Europcar, got them very quick and was quickly out of there. The distance from the airport to Gubbio is approx. 70 km and it took me a bit more than 1 hour, but then the road has been drilled into the Appenin mountains with a lot of tunnels. I haven’t driven this road in winter yet, it might be a bit of a challenge since I am sure that it is a snow region.
One very important note though in this context: take in mind that gas stations on the superstrada open only at 6 am. On my last trip in August 2010 my flight left at 7 and I was at the airport at 5:45. Too early to fill up the car, so I had to pay additional gas filling fee. I should have talked to the Europcar guys when I picked up the car....
Ancona airport is being served by Lufthansa and other airlines. I flew Lufthansa from Frankfurt and had to change planes in Munich. From Munich it was Air Dolomiti, which codeshare with Lufthansa. It was a pleasant flight (well, two..or four if I count the return trip as well).
© Ingrid D., February (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update August 2010 - bus schedule from Perugia added.
continue with next review => Park outside the town!
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
A strange funicular to Basilica Sant’ Ubaldo
An alternative to the hike up to Basilica Sant’Ubaldo is to take the funicular. But… this is only for the brave-hearted and definitely nothing for anyone with even the slightest feeling of fear of heights or vertigo. I never saw such a “passenger cabin” before and don’t even find the best word to describe it. They look like cages without seat, so the passenger has to stand all the way to the top. Each one seems to have space for two persons. Entering and exiting seems to work easy and the staff is present at the bottom to assist and also at the top. A trip uphill is also quite reasonable with 4 € per person and 2,50 € for kids older than 6 years (as of August 2010). The operating times of the funivia depend on the month. In the summer months of July and August it operates daily from 9:00 to 20:00, during the other month it closes during noon time (13:15 to 14:30).
In the meantime I used it and can say that it is really fun. Of course it is safe and of course the staff at the bottom and at the top makes sure everyone gets into and out of the cages without problems.
It is easy to find: walk through Porta Romana (the town gate at the south-eastern part of Gubbio), outside the city walls and turn left (north) before Chiesa S. Agostino. You will reach it after a few metres.
I am sure that I saw a website of this funivia mentioned at the ticket booth. But I can’t find it anymore. However, the website below lists all opening hours. In the meantime an own website of Funivia Colle Eletto exists. Funny intro, but also inside the prices are not mentioned. The schedule however is.
Oh, and who might be afraid to use it should simply get into one of the baskets and start singing: Funiculi, Funiculà. Not that it has anything to do with this funivia, but it is fun to sing. Here is text/lyrics :-)
Gubbio’s funivia on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D., November 2009 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), update August 2010.
continue with next review => Basilica Sant'Ubaldo
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Finding your way
Gubbio is a place for walking. Its narrow streets and steep hills are at best difficult for motor vehicles, and in places impassable with them, so don your most comfortable shoes and start to wander. If you need help finding your way around, the city has recently introduced some very helpful directional signs and also informational ones near some of the main monuments. These are in both Italian and English, and signal a welcome move, it seems, to reach out to visitors.
~~ next tip: the symbol of Gubbio
When the hills get too steep
Gubbio is a small town, so can easily be covered on foot, and as many of the streets are narrow and winding, and parking prohibited to non-residents, that is by far the best option. But it is also a very hilly town, with steep streets and stairways linking the different levels. Luckily for those who find climbing difficult, or who have over-done the walking, there is some relief in the shape of the two free lifts that link certain parts of town. The first of these takes you from Via Baldassini, below the Palazzo del Podestà, up to the Piazza Grande. The second leaves from the Via XX Settembre and takes you to a point up near the cathedral and Palazzo Ducale.
Both lifts are reached through short tunnels. In the lowest of these, leading to the lift from the Via Baldassini, we were charmed by a display of ceramic tiles which illustrate various streets in the town where illustrious past locals lived. We were very impressed too to see that these were the work of school-children, as they were so well executed.
I seem to remember seeing on a sign that these lifts only run during the day, but I didn’t note the exact times I’m afraid.
~~ next tip: reaching the highest point
train to Fossato di Vico
after you get to a nearby town Fossato di Vico u can ride a bus for something like 12 euro to gubbio, or if there is no bud around grab a cab for 40euros. I don't know how often one sees a cab there. i went on a conference, so when i got off at the trainstations there was a cabdriver with a sign "conference"--i guess he knew about it and that is why he was waiting for people. On the way back i took a bus and i did not see any cabs,neither in gubbio nor in fossato di vico.
also be sure to have a roundtrip ticket as u can't buy ticket from the station and u can't buy it online and pick it up from the stations, as there is no such service. I rode the train without ticket to Ancona, where i had 3 min to buy one in a jiffy!!!
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