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Montone

WINE TASTING
Craft beer tasting in Umbria

Enjoy the experience of a craft beer tasting in a brewery nestled in the lush greenery of Umbria.

40€ Per person
Price is lower based on umber of people
EDUCATIONAL FARM
Educational farm in Umbria

At this educational farm in Umbria, you will learn about the animals and the origins of many products produced in our region

10€ Per person
Price is lower based on umber of people
PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Farms and estates along the Tiber valley

Immerse yourself in the countryside of the Tiber valley and discover its secrets

from 55€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
From Trestina, cycling amongst woods, meadows and castles

Cycling through magnificent landscapes in search of hidden castles

from 60€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Gubbio bike tour, between art and nature

Cycling amongst nature and art, in search of ancient settlements

from 60€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED TREKKING TOUR
Hiking among the incredible beech woods on Monte Cucco

Hiking in the shade of the majestic beech trees on Monte Cucco.

from 65€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED TREKKING TOUR
Hiking Montone: the medieval period and lunar landscapes

A circular hiking on the hills of Montone, a stronghold of the medieval leader Braccio, immersed in lunar landscapes with an age-old history.

from 80€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED TREKKING TOUR
Hiking of Città di Castello: In the lands of the Marquises

The hiking of Città di Castello is a trek along paths that cross the lands of the Marquises of Monte Santa Maria.

from 80€ Per person
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EDUCATIONAL FARM
Honey in Umbria, exploration via the senses

This exploration of honey via the senses in Umbria is the right option for you if you want to get closer to the world of beekeeping and discover its secrets

35€ Per person
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ADVENTURE
Mini kitesurfing course on Lake Trasimeno

Kitesurfing on Lake Trasimeno is unforgettable experience suitable for everyone.

250€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED TREKKING TOUR
Panoramic views and Roman roads

A trek with panoramic views and Roman roads. A circular route on paths north of the small village of Pietralunga

from 80€ Per person
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EDUCATIONAL WALK
Photography Gubbio, in and around the city

Learn the basics of photography while walking around the beautiful town of Gubbio and the surrounding countryside

from 50€ Per person
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Discover Montone

Discover Montone with us 

From atop the hill on which it sits, sweetened by the scents from the state-owned forest that surrounds it, and lulled by the gurgling waters of the Carpina brook that flows through the valley, the ancient town of Montone  proudly and deservedly flies its orange tourism flag that it was awarded by the Touring Club Italiano; in 2003 it was listed among the most beautiful and picturesque small towns (called borghi in Italian) in Italy. The origin of its name refers to the Rocca d’Aries (Aries Fortress tower) a few kilometers away, which was one of the first things built by the Fortebracci family; Aries in the zodiac is a ram (meaning of montone) and that is what you see on the city crest. But the name, like the city’s origins, are not completely clear. A document from 1121 mentions the existence of a castrum, a fortified settlement with a castle and a church. In 1150 the village had the title of commune or municipality, but it was not until the 15th century that it grew and prospered the most under the Fortebracci family.

Andrea Braccio Fortebracci, known as Braccio da Montone, was one of the greatest Italian mercenary captains or warlords. He and the town citizens participated in an ambitious project to create a single State in central Italy with Perugia as its capital. Unfortunately, his dream never came true; it all ended with his death in 1424 when the borgo was taken over by the Church State. Montone  was ruled by the Vitelli family from the town Città di Castello, but the administration was done on behalf of the pope. The town did not become autonomous again until Italy became a unified state in 1860.

Albeit the hostile political events and the wars that lashed through the valley because of its strategic position, today the town has been restored to its original form with its particular characteristics. Although it is quite a small town,  the fame of the warlord who was born here (Braccio da Montone), the devotion to the Sacred Thorn (Sacra Spina) that since time immemorial has been preserved within the town walls, the genuine produce and products of the surrounding areas, the everlasting quality craftsmanship of the local artisans who are wrought iron experts, the modern-day attention to the recovery of ancient culture, and the many lively fetes and festivals that liven the town center during the year all make Montone a stop-over you won’t want to miss during your vacation in Umbria.

You will be sad to go back home!

Discover what to see in Montone 

Surrounded by the state-owned forest of Pietralunga (foresta demaniale),  acknowledged by the Umbrian Region as an S.I.C. (European Community Site of Interest) (Sito di Interesse Comunitario),  with numerous and varied fauna and flora protected in the two Oasi di Varrea and of Candeleto, the old town of Montone still retains its medieval appearance – the urban layout is surrounded by thick defense walls beautified by several municipal towers. When you reach the old city center, you will recognize all the typical aspects of a mountain town sitting atop a hill and presiding over the fertile valleys below. The winding streets alternating with stairs to reach the highest points, tight little squares framed by churches of different periods and what is left of the Rocca di Braccio, the old fortified tower, will be an impressive backdrop to this borgo, ‘frozen’ in its ancient forms.

Not far from the main square you can visit the ex-church and convent of St Frances (ex Chiesa e convent di S. Francesco), which today houses the Municipal Museum and Art Gallery (Museo e Pinacoteca Comunale). Inside are paintings from the 15th century by artists the likes of Bartolomeo Caporali and Antonio Bencvivelli. In the same building there is an unusual modern section dedicated to East Africa, the Museo Etnografico “Il Tamburo Parlante” (the ‘Talking Drum’ Ethnic Museum), with extraordinary examples of art that becomes an instrument of cultural integration. Moving to the south part of the village, you will see another church – the chiesa di Maria Assunta – also known as the Chiesa di S. Gregorio o Collegiale, because in the 1600s it replaced St Gregory’s Church beyond the city walls and became the Bishop’s Seat. Every year on Easter Monday and the second to last Sunday in August, the worshiped religious relic the Sacred Thorn (Sacra Spina) is brought into this church; it is otherwise preserved in the adjacent convent of the Clarisse nuns (the Poor Clares). Continuing your stroll through town towards the city walls, you will find the Rocca di Montone or di Braccio, which is simply the fortified tower, the last remaining part of the majestic residence of the Fortebracci family that survived the devastation ordered by Pope Sixtus IV in 1478. The structure, built as a military fortress and residence, was replaced by the convent of St Catherine d’Alessandria and is now where the city library (Biblioteca Comunale) and the town history archives (Archivio Storico) are kept. The town’s glorious past blends in nicely with modern times thanks to the knowledgeable activities of the local administration.

If you think what we have told you so far is enough, think of it as just a starter –or antipasto – of what this small charming town has to offer.

Today the ex-church houses the city museum (Museo Comunale); it stands within the city walls in a place known as Castelvecchio (old castle) that was once the residence of the Olivi and Fortebracci families. Built in the 1300s, the church has the simple design of the orders of poor friars, with a single aisle, a roof truss and a polygonal apse. The real value of the ex-church is due to the exquisite frescoes still preserved there. They were painted in the 1400s by various artists that worked in the town on commission of the ruling Fortebracci family.

Of the frescoes, particularly significant are the following:  those with scenes from the life of St Frances (scene di Vita di S. Francesco); the one showing the Last Judgement (Giudizio Universale),  painted by Antonio Alberti between 1423 and 1424; and the one depicting St Anthony of Padua (S. Antonio da Padova)  standing between John the Baptist (Giovanni Battista) and the archangel Gabriel (Archangelo Gabriele), painted by Bartolomeo Caporali in 1491.

According to historical sources, beginning in 1308 and later during works to expand the building in the 1500s, the convent was annexed to the church (now also part of the city museum).

In the 1700s a fire as well as an invasion by Napoleon caused extensive damage to the complex; it was salvaged and restructured in the 19th century when it became property of the state under control of the newly-formed Italian State.

Not far from Piazza Fortebracci, center of the small town of Montone, is the city museum (Museo Comunale), which occupies the ex-religious complex comprised of church and convent dedicated to St Frances. The museum opened in 1995 and is divided into two parts: one inside what used to be the 14th century church and the other in rooms that were part of the annexed convent.

Some of the original furnishings have been restored in the old church part. Worth noting is the embellished door created in 1519 by Antonio Bencivenni from Mercatello; the wood choir stalls from the 15th century; the exquisite magistrates pew (bancone dei Magistrati), a masterful work by the head guardian of the convent Stefano Cambi, who carved the wooden pew in 1505 with Roman ‘grotesque’ decorations that were popular at that time following the discovery of Emperor Nero’s home the Domus Aurea.

The rooms of the ex-convent are now used for the city art gallery (Pinacoteca Comunale) with exhibits of paintings, sculptures and furnishings from various churches in town, a collection put together when all ecclesiastical assets were confiscated by the newly-formed Italian State in 1860. The most important pieces are the banner of the Madonna della Misericordia (Our Lady of Mercy) from 1482 made by Bartolomeo Caporali,  the wooden figures of the Deposizione (witnesses) – four remaining figures from a composition that must have been much larger that came from the old St Gregory’s church and which are dated to 1260-70,  the Immacolata (immaculate-free from sin) painted by Cirelli in 1551, and the Annunciazione (annunciation) by Cirelli and Papacello (Tommaso of Archangelo) in 1532.

A series of religious gold items and valuable linens completes the collection, in particular the six richly embroidered “tovaglie perugine” (tablecloths from Perugia), in cotton and linen with the characteristic blue and white decorations from the 15th-18th centuries.

Several pieces that were once part of the museum in Montone were lost during the 18th and 19th centuries. Worth remembering among these is a painting that Luca Signorelli did in 1515 for the Cappella de Rutanis (Rutanis chapel); today it can be seen in the National Gallery in London. Also the composition of the Madonna and Saints created by Berto di Giovanni in 1507 for the high altar, today shared between Raffaello’s house in Urbino and Buckingham Palace in London.

In the upper part of the town next to the Fortebracci fortress tower, stands the church of St Maria Assunta.  Its appearance today is the result of expansion works carried out in the 1600s on the ruins of an earlier small church built around 1317.

The first church was dedicated to S. Maria Assunta (St Mary risen to heaven) and it had no apse or lateral chapels. In the 1600s, for the people’s convenience, the old St Gregory’s church outside the city walls was replaced by the little church in town, thereafter becoming the main parish church with the privilege of becoming the Bishop’s Seat and Collegiate of Clergymen. From then on, the church has been known as St Gregory’s Church and Collegiate (Chiesa di S. Gregorio e Collegiate).

The church has one main aisle with a semicircular apse in a Latin cross layout. Inside are valuable frescoes, paintings and works of art.

Between the wooden coffered ceiling and frame, above the entire aisle, are frescoes depicting scenes from the life of the Madonna from her birth to the visit from Elizabeth, attributed to painters of the Florentine Academy. The side chapels are richly decorated, the most important one being the one called Cappella delle Suore (the nuns’ chapel) to the left of the apse, so called because it is adjacent to the convent of the Poor Clares (Clarisse order), guardians of the Sacred Thorn (Sacra Spina). According to tradition, Carlo, a son of the Fortebracci, gave the religious relic (a thorn from Jesus’ crown of thorns) to the people of Montone after it was given to him by the Venetians in gratitude for his helping them defeat the Turks. In the same chapel on the wooden gold-painted altar, is the Pazzaglia family crest, one of whose members, Father Giovanni Pazzaglia, of the Filipino Order, promoted and financed the expansion works of the church in the 1700s.

Inside the ex-Franciscan convent, in close cooperation with exhibits in the city museum (Museo comunale), is the Ethnic Museum with the unusual name of “The Talking Drum” (Il Tambura Parlante).

The exhibits are displayed in four rooms and are made up of a rich collection of items from four east African countries – Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. There are over six hundred items divided not according to their geographical origins but based on the materials used in making them.

This initiative of the Regional Council for Immigration intends to point out things we have in common and similarities between different cultures in order to overcome prejudice and discrimination and promote integration.

To this end, the museum has also organized educational itineraries for school groups; and a documentation center has been set up for meetings, discussions and experimentation projects open to all the ethnic museums and towns that have them.

About six kilometers from the town, in an area a bit difficult to reach unless you are a trekking enthusiast, is a stronghold sitting in a high strategic position – the Rocca d’Aries. The origin of its name is uncertain; some believe it is linked to the Persian name Dario, others to the name Darete, mythical companion of Aeneas, others hold that it is from the Latin name ariete, which means ram (montone in Italian), and could come from the name of the town itself.

What is certain is that it is quite ancient, dating most likely to the 6th or 7th century, the Longobard period, and was the first stronghold the Fortebracci family built, who then went on to build the foundations of the entire hamlet and the fortified tower in town called Rocca di Montone or di Braccio.

The two fortresses must have been very similar if not identical, but they had different fates. In fact, the Rocca d’Aries has retained its original rectangular shape, the defense walls, the round tower on one side and the various modifications carried out to make it a dwelling; the central fortified tower, however, is the only remaining part of the stronghold in the village. According to reliable sources, the fort was completely destroyed during three days and three nights in 1478 by a group of five thousand men known as Terrazzani (guastatori or destroyers) sent by Pope Sixtus IV, tired of the constant attacks by Carlo Fortebracci on territories belonging to the Papal State.

The Rocca d’Aries became a possession of the region in 1991.

About 8 kilometers from the town of  Montone, in the luxuriant vegetation of the Pietralunga forest in the Carpina Valley, is a small hamlet called Coloti. Abandoned in the 1960s, it has been brought back to life more recently thanks to a project to build an observatory there (Osservatorio Astronomico).

Financed by the European Economic Community in 1995, the Umbria region began a project to build an observatory and chose this spot as the ideal place for it because of the clean air and absence of any light pollution in the valley.

The project, completed in 2000, made it possible to build one of the most advanced observatories in Italy that works on a system of automatic functions (it does not require a human’s presence during the night).

The observatory outside Coloti is a large structure today, having twelve rooms, eight of which are open to the public, plus the ex-church of the hamlet dedicated to St Lorenzo now used for meeting rooms and a modern wing called ‘Sirio’, where there are things for your entertainment and a caffè. It is all surmounted by the large seven-meter diameter dome with its telescope.

In the heart of the small town of Montone are the Biblioteca Comunale and the Archivio Storico (city library and town history archives) in the ex-Santa Caterina D’Alessandria Benedictine convent that has been restored.

It appears that the fortified mountaintop village of Montone was destroyed in a punitive attack ordered by Pope Sixtus IV to punish Carlo, son of Braccio.  Only the tower remains today. The town was replaced in later centuries by the St. Catherine Benedictine convent as a statement of the power and position that the Church retained in opposition to the Fortebracci family. The convent rooms became public in modern times and today they are where local culture and history are proudly preserved.

The library, opened in 1999, is divided into two rooms – one for consulting and one for reading – and is equipped with modern multimedia technology.

The city history archives are one of the best in Umbria due to the valuable documents they contain. The “Acta Consilii,” very old papers from the judiciary and notaries offices and two papal seals with the crest of Pope Martin V, were documents that excommunicated Braccio Fortebracci.

Discover what to do in Montone 

Once you have explored the beautiful town center and visited the museum, art gallery and archives, the only thing left to do is go and admire the breathtaking views of the valley below. Just six kilometers away from the town, following an unkept path that real trekkers may appreciate, stands the ancient Pieve di S. Gregorio (St Gregory Church) from the 11th century. From here you can admire the massive city walls and the Rocca di Aries (Ram Tower), a military outpost that tradition holds was the first settlement of the Fortebracci family who built the tiny town of Montone.

You can hike, cycle or ride horses through uncontaminated nature in the Cerro and Roverella woods; or you can fish in the Carpina and Lana streams. If that is not enough, this jewel in Umbria still has something to awe you. Eight kilometers from Montone is a tiny almost forgotten hamlet called Coloti, where there is an observatory (Osservatorio Astronomico), one of the finest in Italy.  The observatory has twelve rooms, eight of which are open to the public. You will be towered over by a huge dome seven meters in diameter that contains a telescope. Say, if you tire of seeing earthly wonders, you now have the opportunity to admire the heavens.

Don’t let its small size, its hidden position among the vegetation, and its old appearance fool you; between May and June Montone becomes the center of important events that attract tourists from all over Italy.

Every two years in the month of May, the Rassegna dei Mastri Fabbri Forgiatori (a master ironsmith and metalworker festival) puts on show the particular craftsmanship of these artisans, a precious resource of the area. There are wrought-iron works and forged articles that are examples of the prestigious quality of the work. Art in all its forms can be seen at another festival, the Rassegna Bandistica, an event from June to September that hosts the best bands from Umbria and around Italy. Tra Cielo e Terra (between Heaven and Earth) is dedicated to shows of music, dance and theater (June-July), and finally there is the Montone Umbria Film Festival dedicated to the cinema.

The more devotional should not miss the fete dedicated to the Donazione della Spina (the Holy thorn) on Easter Monday and the week following that of the 15th of August. The town streets fill up with medieval singers and dancers in period costume, a lavish banquet is organized in the Rocca di Braccio, and there is a lovely parade of medieval ladies and knights and soldiers in period attire to close out the fun.

After arts, crafts and devotion, naturally there are gastronomic events. The Festa del Bosco (Woods fest) in October offers fruits from the Umbrian countryside – from truffles to typical local dishes. Sample it all at the stands and stalls in the city market-exhibit.

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