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The Countryside around Giano dell’Umbria

An easy cycle ride through vineyards and olive groves at the foot of the Martani mountains

from 90€ Per person
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The ring of the ‘Fosso dell’Anna’ creek

Nature and wild animals on route through places that civilisation has left behind

from 90€ Per person
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The ring of the village of Giano

A route up through the Martani mountains, from the picturesque village of Giano with unrivalled panoramic views across the region

from 90€ Per person
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Umbria and its organic wines: a small tasting

A tasting of some of the most representative organic wines in Umbria

25€ Per person
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Wellness treatment in Umbria with wine

A wellness treatment with wine in Umbria in the name of relaxation, perfect for couples!

125€ Per person
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Wine tasting in Umbria: vineyards and Roman ruins

Wine tasting in Umbria: horses and carriages, amongst the vineyards and exploring ancient Roman remains. With tasting!

80€ 80€ Per person
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Discover Montefalco, the ‘balcony’ of Umbria

Discover Montefalco, the home of Sagrantino and of art.

Perched on a hill surrounded by a lush tapestry of vineyards and olive groves, the enchanting town of Montefalco dominates the entire Umbrian Valley: its enviable position in 1568 earned it the nickname ‘Ringhiera dell’Umbria’ meaning the ‘Balcony of Umbria’. Indeed, the views that can be admired from its Belvedere are truly breath-taking, stretching out as far as the eye can see over the Clitunno, Topino and Tiber valleys; Foligno, Spello, Assisi and Perugia – which is about 50 km from the town – are just some of the cities that can be identified, together with the peaks of the Apennines, Subasio and Martani mountains.

The history of Montefalco dates way back in time. There are numerous traces that suggest it was already inhabited at the time of the ancient Umbrians. In Roman times, numerous patrician villas were built on the hill and in the surrounding areas, which were part of the municipality of Mevania (Bevagna). They were the cradle of the future inhabited centre.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Lombard invaders fortified the numerous hillside settlements to turn them into the headquarters of their ‘courts’. One of these courts, built around the parish church built on the sepulchre of San Fortunato, evangelizer of the area, was Montefalco with its ancient name of Coccorone. The origins of this name are uncertain. Some scholars believe it might derive from the Roman senator Marco Curione, who had possessions in the area, while others believe it is connected to the Greek word oros (mountain).


During the early Middle Ages, the nearby Duchy of Spoleto conquered the town, allowing it, however, to remain a free municipality. It thus had its own statute and was ruled in the 12th and early part of the 13th centuries by consuls and then by figures akin to a chief magistrate. It succeeded in maintaining a fair degree of autonomy and achieved its own clear identity. It later became an influential arts centre and an important site for wine and oil production.

In this period five gates or gateways (Santa Maria, San Lorenzo, San Clemente, Camiano and San Bartolomeo) marked the boundary of the inhabited centre. The same gates were connected by mighty walls to defend the town that developed around the circular square, on top of the hill on which the Palazzo Comunale was built. Numerous churches were built within the first town walls, including Sant’Agostino with its convent, which was erected on the remains of a pre-existing building perhaps consecrated to San Giovanni Battista.

In the first decades of the 13th century, a second perimeter wall was built to incorporate the populous towns of Colla Mora and Castellare. Over time, respectively, they built up beyond the gateways of San Clemente and Santa Maria. Following these fortification works, two other entrance gates to the town were built: Porta della Rocca and Porta Sant’Agostino, which are still visible.

In 1249 Coccorone changed its name to Montefalco. This was probably determined by Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, a great lover of hawks, who found significant numbers in the area. Montefalco was then the seat of the ducal curia of Spoleto during the Pope’s exile in Avignon (1320-1355). The town hosted the famous architect and sculptor Lorenzo Maitani (who created the splendid facade of Orvieto’s Cathedral) with the aim of restoring the town’s ancient fortifications. Starting from this period and throughout the following century, Montefalco was an important centre for the arts.

It was the Franciscan friars who first commissioned and thus attracted the major artists of the time. The town became the focal point for the expansion of painterly movements that were crucial for the evolution of Umbrian art. The beautiful frescoes that Benozzo Gozzoli created inside the church of San Francesco (now a museum), the frescoes of the Umbrian-Sienese school in the chapel of Santa Croce inside the church of Santa Chiara, and the frescoes by Melanzio in the church of Santa Maria di Piazza date back to this period.

After a rather short period (1383-1489) which brought Montefalco under the control, on various occasions, of the Trinci family of Foligno, the town reverted definitively to the Papal States. It then experienced its most prosperous period, under the governor Nicolò Maurizi da Tolentino.

This prosperous time, however, came to an abrupt and violent end. In 1527, on charges of treason, the notorious Bande Nere (‘Black Bands’) led by Orazio Baglioni, invaded and sacked the town. They occupied it for more than a month, also causing serious plagues that exhausted the population and blighted its artistic and economic activities. It was not until 1848 that Montefalco, after having annexed the castles of Fratta and San Luca to its territories, would obtain the title of town from the Papal States, then governed by Pope Pius IX.

Montefalco is home to eight saints, above all Santa Chiara della Croce, whose life is inextricably intertwined with that of her town; the painter Francesco Melanzio, pupil of Perugino, and cardinal Giovanni Domenico de Cuppis were also born here. Furthermore, the Swabian emperors Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II were hosted there; after the latter’s arrival in the town, Porta di San Bartolomeo then took the name of the sovereign. This gate, together with the three gates of Camiano, della Rocca and Verziere, has survived to this day.

Montefalco cannot be named without talking about its wine: Sagrantino, a dry and harmonious DOCG red wine that is renowned all over the world. The best way to taste it is to try it accompanied by other typical local products, such as game, or with first courses made with Sagrantino, such as gnocchi and pappardelle. Together with the Municipalities of Giano dell’Umbria, Gualdo Cattaneo, Bevagna and Castel Ritaldi, Montefalco is part of the ‘Strada del Sagrantino’, a food and wine route aimed at enhancing the acclaimed red wine. Another of the area’s gems is its extra virgin olive oil, designated Colli Martani Dop.

You can taste products that are typical of the Sagrantino area throughout the year: there is, in fact, a Market-cum-Fair held during Easter week, or the initiative called Cantine Aperte, an open day for wine lovers and the general public held by wineries in May; in September the Settimana Enologica (Wine Week) is held, when gastronomic delights are linked to nature via numerous excursions around the town. The Festa della Vendemmia (Harvest Festival) is also held in the same month, while in November, oil is celebrated at the oils mills’ open day called Frantoi Aperti. Montefalco in summer is also a treasure trove of fun and entertainment: August 17th is the Feast of Santa Chiara, while ‘Agosto Montefalchese’ includes a rich three-week programme of events, the heart of which is the challenge between the four districts of the town for the Falco D’Oro (Golden Falcon) award: there are competitions between drummers, flag-wavers and musicians, crossbowmen and theatrical performances. It all ends with the ‘Fuga del Bove’, a bull race at the ‘Campo dei Giochi’.

Discover with us what you can see in Montefalco. 

Montefalco, one of the ‘Borghi più Belli D’Italia’ (most beautiful towns in Italy), extends around the large circular piazza on top of the hill and is a gorgeous, prime example of medieval town planning. The main streets all converge on the piazza that was once called ‘dei Cavalieri’, ‘Campo del Certame’ or ‘del Popolo’. It hosts various architectural and artistic gems: the magnificent Palazzo del Comune, the former church of San Filippo, now the Teatro Municipale, the church of Santa Maria di Piazza, one of the oldest buildings in the area, as well as sumptuous 16th-century noble residences, such as Palazzo Senili and Palazzo de Cuppis. Other noble residences are the 15th-century Palazzo Pambuffetti, Palazzo Tempestivi and Palazzo Langeli, the latter bearing frescoes by the Zuccari school.

Taking the road from the piazza that leads to the 13th-century district of Colla Mora, you will reach the Chiesa e Museo di San Francesco, built by the conventual friars between 1335 and 1338. Its apse was splendidly frescoed by Gozzoli with the Stories of the life of Saint Francis. Inside, it is also possible to admire a Nativity by Perugino.

Continuing along the perimeter of the medieval walls you will reach the hamlet of San Leonardo. Here you will see the church and convent of Santa Chiara, dedicated to Chiara di Montefalco, a native saint of the town, whose body actually rests in this place; built starting from 1303, the small chapel of Santa Croce preserves a splendid cycle of 14th-century frescoes that illustrate the life of the saint. In the same district lies the church of the Illuminata, with beautiful frescoes by Melanzio, and opposite, the convent of San Leonardo.

Going back towards the main street of the town, Corso Mameli, you will see the 13th-century church of Sant’Agostino with its stunning frescoes attributed to Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Bartolomeo Caporali. Don’t miss out on a tour of the town walls: you’ll see Porta Federico II, with the adjoining Romanesque church of San Bartolomeo, Porta Sant’Agostino, with its magnificent crenelated tower, and Porta Camiano. Just near the latter stands the church of Santa Lucia, built at the end of the 13th century.

Discover what to do in Montefalco.

In Montefalco you can relax and enjoy the wonderful views from up in the town, perhaps while sipping a glass of Sagrantino in front of a nice chianina steak with truffle aromas. Then why not take a leisurely stroll in peace through the streets of the town, where you will soon forget the present and step into, and savour, the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. Don’t forget to visit the craftsmen’s workshops and the Museo Civico di San Francesco, with the ancient church frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli.

In addition to moments of luscious relaxation, Exploring Umbria can offer you many and varied opportunities for recreation, such as excursions to discover the hidden parts of the area’s natural paradises, even exploring the landscapes on horseback if you choose. Thanks to Exploring Umbria, you can even try your hand at archery.

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