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Collegio della Mercanzia, Perugia, Italy
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Italy: Urbino, Gubbio, Perugia
Most recent 2007

Urbino Gubbio Perugia
Urbino

 

Lovely Urbino on its elevated site where the Palazzo Ducale has some stunning intarsia and wonderful art; medieval Gubbio's atmospheric streets, and more great art and woodwork in Perugia.

Urbino

Urbino
North-west Urbino.
Urbino
Via delle Stallacce looking up to a corner of the Palazzo Ducale.

Over the Mountains of the Moon from Arezzo, across the north of Umbria into Marche to visit this lovely city and its glorious palazzo in 1991 when we were on something of a Piero della Francesca trail.

Urbino
Landscape of Marche and the south-west edge of Urbino.

The palace is home to the Galleria Nazionale della Marche which houses two Piero della Francesca paintings, one the most exquisite and enigmatic depiction of the Flagellation of Christ, the second the Madonna di Senigallia with two very down-to-earth looking angels.

Urbino
Scrapbook material from the 1991 exhibition "Piero della Francesca and the Italian Courts" showing the Madonna di Senigallia.
Urbino

There is a third painting of an Ideal City which was once attributed to Piero but has been reassigned. As in many galleries and museums, photography is not allowed.

The Flagellation is a really fascinating piece. In the background, supposedly the subject of the painting, a flagellation is being inflicted by two men, while a third standing man and another seated figure watch. In the right foreground are three standing figures and there is a good deal of dispute as to who they are meant to represent - the central robed figure looks very like one of Piero's solid angels.

Urbino
The publicity material for the 1991 exhibition in Arezzo, "Piero della Francesca and the Italian Courts", used the profile of Federico da Montefeltro extensively.
Here he is on the right, his wife Battista Sforza on the left. The images are from the celebrated dyptych by Piero della Francesca which normally resides in the Uffizi in Florence but had been loaned to Arezzo for the exhibition. On the upper right of the left hand side page is the reverse of the dyptych, with a Trionfo di Federico da Montefeltro on the left, his triumphal "cart" drawn by horses, and Trionfo di Battista Sforza on the right, hers drawn by unicorns.

 

The palace itself is extensive. Federico da Montefeltro had it built in the second half of the fifteenth century as a home for his family, employing only the foremost architects and decorators.1 His own rooms were placed in the most prestigious location, the centre of the palace between the twin turrets.

 

Urbino
The Duomo on the left and the turreted entrance to the Palazzo Ducale on the right.

 

 

The wood inlay work (intarsia) in his study is stunning. Creating a three-dimensional trompe l'oeil effect, employing all the skill of the developing understanding of perspective, there are cupboards with doors, carelessly left half open so that the contents can be seen, designed to show what a true Renaissance man Federico was - scientific instruments, armour, books, the English Order of the Garter, awarded to Federico by King Edward IV, musical instruments, an inkpot - Federico was determined to demonstrate that he was a man of wide interests and accomplishments.

 

 

Gubbio

Gubbio
Palazzo dei Consoli in Piazza della Signoria.

Gubbio is a wonderful town with an almost intact medieval centre of narrow streets and impressive civic buildings. It was an important town even in Roman times, situated on the Via Flaminia. Since medieval times it has rather declined in prestige, but is a lovely place to visit, especially for the Palazzo dei Consoli on the vast Piazza della Signoria, for which a large section of the medieval town was demolished.

Gubbio
Basilica Sant'Ubaldo is just visible above the trees.

We loved the funivia which takes you up to the Basilica di Sant'Ubaldo, in an open metalwork bucket!

Gubbio
Roman amphitheatre seen from the funivia.
Gubbio
Funivia up to Basilica Sant'Ubaldo, below is the thirteenth century Church of St Augustine.
Gubbio
Palazzo dei Consoli above the rooftops.
Gubbio
Gubbio

 

 

We went into the Duke of Urbino's palace in 2007, a scaled-down replica of his palace in Urbino - huge empty rooms with enormous fireplaces. He had a beautiful intarsia panelled study installed here, too, but the panelling was sold to the Met in New York. Pictures show it as good as that at Urbino.

 

Gubbio
Gubbio
Gubbio
Gubbio

 

 

Perugia

Perugia
Palazzo dei Priori houses the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria.
The street is Corso Vannucci, leading to Piazza IV Novembre and the Duomo.

 

In 2007 we also visited Perugia, driving from Arezzo and passing the beautiful Lake Trasimeno, so large it looks like a sea shore.

Perugia
Souvenirs from the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria.
Top left Perugino Adoration of the Magi; top right Piero della Francesca Politicco di Sant'Antonio; bottom Fra Angelico Our Lady on the Throne and Saints.

It was a very sunny Saturday in April and the city was busy - there was some kind of festival going on. We went first to the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria in the Palazzo dei Priori, principally to see the beautiful Piero della Francesca polyptych, which has a beautiful angel and columned perspective in the upper Annunciation. Also a lovely Fra Angelico and Perugino.

Perugia
Collegio del Cambio
Intarsia by Antonio da Mercatello.

The palazzo had been developed from the thirteenth century, with various extensions being added right up to the sixteenth century.

On to the Collegio del Cambio, the Money Exchange, also in the Palazzo dei Priori. Noted for its frescoes by Perugino, I was much more taken by all of the wonderful woodwork.

Perugia
Collegio della Mercanzia

The intarsia is particularly impressive, though I would say that the studies of the Duke of Urbino are even more so.

 

Perugia
Collegio della Mercanzia

The Collegio della Mercanzia, the Merchants Guild, is also in the Palazzo dei Priori, just one room but again with beautiful woodwork, the walls and ceiling completely wood panelled.

We visited the Etruscan Well, over 2,000 years old, 37 metres deep, dark and dank!

The Duomo didn't really inspire us, though it does claim to have the Virgin's wedding ring - well hidden in a number of boxes behind curtains!

Perugia

 

References

  1. Galleria Nazionale delle Marche - Palazzo Ducale di Urbino