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What to see in Città di Castello

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The Renaissance imprint left by the Vitelli family in Città di Castello with their tireless work of patronage still defines the peculiarity of the city centre. Unlike most medieval Umbrian villages, which cling onto tortuous and narrow lanes, Città di Castello breaks the mould with the relaxed beauty of its wide, linear streets, enhanced by the elegant facades of 16th-century palazzi. Your itinerary will inevitably start from the heart of the city, piazza Gabriotti, framed by public and religious buildings that symbolize the seats of power established over time. On one side you will see the imposing Duomo, dedicated to the saints Florido and Amanzio (respectively patron and co-patron saints of the city) with the annexed Museo Capitolare (or del Duomo) where you will have the chance to admire the famous tesoro di Canoscio, (treasure of Canoscio) one of the most unique collections of liturgical objects in the world. On the other side stands Palazzo Comunale (or dei Priori) with its distinctive Torre Civica, a tower once decorated with a fresco by Luca Signorelli, today partially preserved at the Pinacoteca Comunale. Continuing along Corso Cavour for a few meters, you will see two other stunning jewels of Renaissance architecture: Palazzo del Podestà, built by the famous architect Angelo di Orvieto, and one of the Vitelli family’s numerous stately palazzi: the so-called Palazzo Vitelli in Piazza, whose austere forms differ greater from the refinements of its ‘fellow’ Palazzi. At this point, you will have the opportunity to see another of Città di Castello’s gems: the Tipografia Grifani Donati (printing works], as well as the Museo delle Arti Grafiche. Moving towards the northern part of the city, you will come upon the Teatro Comunale and the church called Chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie, but before going quite so far, turning onto Via Albizzini, you will be able to see two masterpieces: “L’incoronazione della Vergine” (The Coronation of the Virgin)” by Vasari and “Lo sposalizio della Vergine” (The Marriage of the Virgin), (which is only a copy, unfortunately, as the original is in Milan) by the great artist, Raphael, both conserved inside the Chiesa di S. Francesco. You should be in no hurry to continue because on the same street you will find the sumptuous Palazzo Vitelli a S. Egidio which, with the vast Italian-style garden that surrounds it, testifies to the greatness of the family that commissioned it, and Palazzo Albizzini, which is interesting not so much for its outward appearance as for the invaluable contents within: it is one the exhibition centres of the Collezione Burri [Art Collection], a well-known 20th-century artist from Città di Castello. After taking in Burri’s evocative creations, you can begin the descent along via Mazzini, with a stop in Piazza Costa to visit the Laboratorio e collezione tessile “Tela Umbra” (Umbrian textile workshop and collection), where ancient hand looms are still in operation, and then continue until the end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele as far as the Chiesa di S. Maria Maggiore. Not far away, you will find Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera, another example of Renaissance architecture now put to modern use. The building is, in fact, home to the Pinacoteca Comunale and exhibits works by artists who were active in the city, such as Luca Signorelli and Raphael. And to round off your sightseeing in style, let yourself be spellbound by the majesty of the Chiesa di S. Domenico, the largest church in Città di Castello, with its adjacent cloister illustrating the life and times of the blessed Margherita via its still-well-preserved 16th-century frescoes.

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