Down the stairs of S.Ercolano, through the suggestive Corso Cavour and its restaurants and bars, the Gate of Saint Peter welcomes you to Borgo XX Giugno. At the end of the avenue, on the left, you will see the Basilica of Saint Peter. The building belongs to a Benedictine complex established in 966 by Pietro Vincioli over the ruins of a pre-Christian church which probably was the ancient cathedral of Perugia. All built on an old Etruscan-Roman land.
From the court, the basilica looks massive but slender also thanks to its tall and majestic belfry.
The beautiful XVI Century portal was decorated by Giannicola di Paolo with Madonna and the two Angels.
The insides are going to take your breath away. Get ready to bask in the beauty this church radiates. You will not believe the richness of its artworks: canvases, whittled wood, shades of marble, decorations on arches and columns: A view you will never forget. The colours are rather dark, but very deep and neat. Regal and solemn, but never sombre, they convey the austerity a place of worship like this requires.
There are three naves. A central one, taller, and two lateral ones, smaller in both height and length.
The beautiful wooden ceiling was whittled by Benedetto di Giovanni di Pierantonio. On the nave walls—between the columns and the ceiling – you will notice some Canvases depicting the life of Christ painted by the Aliense between 1592 and 1594.
Both naves are very rich in paintings realised by various artists of the Perugian and Tuscan schools between the XV and the XVII century, including: Eusebio da San Giorgio, Orazio Alfani, Giacinto Gimignani, Cesare Sermei, Ventura Salimbeni, and more.
At the bottom, on the right, we can see the sacristy, built in 1451 and also finely decorated, starting from the vault frescoed by Scilla Pecennini with Stories from the Old Testament. Other notable works include the Maiolica floor by Giacomo Mancini da Deruta and the five small canvases by Perugino; he included these subjects in his “Ascension of the Christ”, one of his greatest paintings and one of the many works confiscated during the Napoleonic domination , now kept at Musée des Beaux-Arts.
The beautiful decorations on the Gothic ribs are the work of Giovanni Fiammingo, who realised the “scenes of harvest and vintage” in 1592, Scilla Pecennini and Pietro d’Alessandro with “Theological and Cardinal Virtues” of 1594, and other contemporary artists. The current structure was built in the XIV Century, after the old semicircular apse was demolished to make room for the two large organs and the choir. The latter was built and whittled by Bernardino Antonibi and Nicola di Stefano da Bologna. Finally, in the middle, sits the High Altar built by Valentino Martelli using the finest marble – between the end of the XVI and the beginning of the XVII Century – which encases the tomb of Saint Pietro Vincioli.