At the bottom of Piazza IV Novembre, a few metres from the fountain and in front of Palazzo dei Priori, sits the majestic Perugia Cathedral dedicated to Saint Lawrence. Halfway through Corso Vanucci on starts seeing the imposing side of the cathedral, dubbed the “city centre’s staircase”.
The current structure is the result of the complete makeover of a former building. The old church dates back to 930 A.D. while the radical renovation was ordered during the XIV Century under the supervision of Friar Bevignate. The works began in 1345 and were completed in 1490.
The cathedral’s entrance does not look onto Piazza IV Novembre, but at Piazza Danti. From Piazza IV one can only see the impressive side of the church whose decorations had never been completed. Giving your back to Corso Vanucci, on the left you will notice the beautiful “Loggia di Braccio”, requested by Braccio da Montone in 1423, it was initially located in the Palazzo dei Podestà, which was set aflame in 1534. On the right there is a bronze statue of Pope Julius III – sculpted by Vincenzo Danti in 1555 – to whom the Perugian people were very grateful for brining back the magistrature suppressed by Paul III. Then, the magnificent lateral travertine portal, built by Ippolito Scalza and designed by Galeazzo Alessi in 1568. Farther on the right, the so-called “Pulpit of Saint Bernardino” from which the Saint Preached in 1425.
The main facade looking over Piazza Danti, is also unfinished and the only decorative element is the door chiselled by Pietro Carattoli in 1729.
The inside of the church gives an immediate impression of space and light. Architecturally it is blatantly inspired to the “HallenKirchen” of Northern Europe, with the three naves having the same height. The frescoes on the vaults date back to the second half of the XVIII Century and are the work of Pietro Carattoli, Francesco Appiani, Vincenzo Monotti, Marcello Leopardi, Domenico Sergardi, Carlo Spiridione Mariotti.
Inside the church, on each nave including their chapels, there is a vast amount of works of art, paintings, frescoes, wooden benches and marble tables, dating from the fifteen hundreds to the late XIX Century.
Notable works include a canvas painting, in the central nave, depicting the Madonna in Glory with Child and the saints Domenico, Ercolano, Costano, Lorenzo, Agostino and Francis and a glass window portraying the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, by Ludovico Caselli. Next to the main entrance we find the tomb of bishop Giovanni Antonio Baglioni, chiselled by Urbano da Cortona, with an image of the laying priest.
In the right nave there are the chapel of S. Bernardino and the Deposition of the Cross, painted by Federico Barocci in 1567-69. There is also a wooden bench by Jacopo di Antonio Fiorentino and Ercole di Tommaso del Riccio, of 1565-67. Then we have the entrance of the Baptistery Chapel, with a marble panel by Pietro Paolo di Andrea da Como (1479), and a fresco depicting the Baptism of Jesus, by Domenico Bruschi (1876).
In the left nave there is the Altarpiece of Pity: Christ, Madonna, Saint John, the Eternal and the Angels, by Agostino di Duccio (1474). Then a banner by Berto di Giovanni (1526), representing Mary imploring Jesus to make the plague stop.
In the presbytery there are two statues of Saint Lawerence and Saint Ercolano. In the middle, the High Altar by Francesco Caselli that contains a sarcophagus with Saint Ercolano’s relics.
Established in 1923 with the help of the art historian Umberto Gnoli who collected and catalogued finds from nearby dioceses.
The outfitting and the exhibition were recently renewed. In 2000, for the Jubilee, the collection was enriched with new pieces and the exhibition expanded, also including an archaeological itinerary with Etruscan and Roman remains from the Acropolis of Perugia.
The art collection enumerates a series of important paintings, including the Pietà by Bartolomeo Caporali (1486), and Madonna tra i ss. Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista by Meo da Siena and, above all, the Pala di S. Onofrio, by Luca Signorelli. Notable sculptures are Testa di Diacono by Arnolfo di Cambio and the altar of pity by Agostino di Duccio.