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Todi

PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
A real, hard-core workout on the Valnerina passes

Test your true mettle in the magnificent landscapes of the Valnerina

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Acquasparta and the Roman Ruins of Carsulae

Come with us and discover Roman ruins and ancient forests

from 55€ Per person
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ADVENTURE
Adventure Park in Umbria, Valnerina

Take on a challenge and test your skills in exciting adventure park in Umbria, Valnerina

25€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Age-old villages between Todi and the Martani mountain range

A route through the Martani mountains, on the trail of hamlets and villages

from 60€ Per person
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ADVENTURE
Canyoning in Umbria, Valnerina

Hurl yourself onto sheets of glistening water or white-water torrents or climb down rock faces and dive into the river. Experience the canyoning in Umbria!

55€ Per person
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ADVENTURE
Climbing in Umbria

Take on a challenge and put your strength and concentration to the test with a sporting climbing in Umbria.

250€ Per person
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CRAFT WORKSHOP
Craftsmanship of Perugia: the artisans in the city centre

Discover the true craftsmanship of Perugia

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Cross Country – Giano by MTB

From the magnificent village of Giano along the Martani mountain range on wild, unexplored paths

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Cross Country – Perugia and Monte Malbe, nature and the city

Steep cross country uphill cycling on Perugia’s closest mountain, Monte Malbe, with a cross country trail

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CRAFT WORKSHOP
Deruta Ceramics – the Potter’s Wheel and Painting Workshop

A workshop to discover the craft techniques of the ceramics district of Deruta

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EDUCATIONAL WALK
Discovering Saffron in Valnerina – with tasting

Discover in Valnerina the region’s lilac gold: saffron. Get to know it, to love it but above all… to taste it!

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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Etruscan Umbria – From Marsciano to Todi

Discovering the Etruscans. The fourth stage of the itinerary, a moderately-difficulty route towards ancient Todi

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What to see and what to do in Todi

Those who have never heard about the Umbrian town of sixteen-thousand inhabitants in the heart of Val Tiberina (Tiber Valley), would be struck by the variety of historical, cultural and landscape attractions which it offers.

Along Via Flaminia (SS 3bis), halfway between Perugia and Terni, Todi rises up on a hill, at approximately 400 metres above sea level. At its feet, the Tiber welcomes the Naia waters lending the region fertility, subject of interest since ancient times.

Because of its strategic position and troubled history, the town was provided with three walls still perfectly preserved, constituting the “architectural crown” and Todi landmark. By crossing the majestic Medieval gates you will feel like going back in time, plunging into the alleys of a curvy Old Town, rich in crystallised ancient ruins, almost unaffected by the passing of centuries.

Todi, a beautiful open-air museum, offers the freshness of breathtaking natural landscapes, as the arduous Canyons of the Tiber River Park, and will absolutely tickle visitors’ fancy with typical wine products from Umbria, with its woodworkers’ talent and with the scents of its traditional rural cuisine.

Frà Jacopone’s hometown, Todi not only enshrines the remains of one among the most well-known Renaissance poets, but is also a priceless gem of civil and religious architecture, with churches planned by renowned artists such as Bramante. The town is a mix of antiquity blending masterfully with modernity. A must-see place for those who happen to pass by central Umbria.

Discover Todi

If you decide to visit Todi, you must be aware that in order to enjoy it, a good dose of patience, time and even physical training is required, because of its urban, architectural and landscape wealth!

Before accessing the town, a few hundred metres from the town walls, one of the most noteworthy buildings of Todi stands out: the Tempio del Crocefisso (Crucifix Temple), South-East of Porta Romana (Roman Gate) was made monumental by Bishop Cesi in the Renaissance, the Church of St. Maria della Consolazione, South-West of the town, one of Bramante’s architectural gems and, finally, Montesanto Convent which can be reached through a tree-lined road, West of Porta Orvietana, and was built in the 16th century as a fortress to defend Todi inhabitants against the attacks by nearby Orvieto. Even more distant from the walls, approximately ten kilometres from the town, the above seven-thousand hectares of the Tiber River Park unfold. Here the Gole del Forello and di Prodo (Forello and Prodo Canyons) will gift you extraordinarily beautiful landscapes.

By crossing the first of the three well-preserved walls, you will feel like going back in time, walking along the curvy and steep alleys of an Old Town, crystallised in the Medieval shapes of the 13th century: with Piazza del Popolo (People’s Square), the heart of the town and architectural gem of Umbrian Renaissance, with the popular public palaces: del Popolo, del Capitano e dei Priori (People’s Palace, Captain’s Palace and Priors’ Palace) as monumental frame of the beautiful Cathedral, with the numerous Churches of different ages dotting the urban space, from the oldest St. Nicolò de Criptis, St. Filippo, St. Stefano and St. Giorgio to the latest St. Prassede, St. Maria in Camuccia and Sts. Filippo and Giacomo where some of the most renowned Italian artists’ works are currently shielded

If you are drawn by ancient ruins, then the Civic Museum with the Pinacoteca (Municipal Picture Gallery)and the Lapidary Museum will fulfil your expectations, as well as the Roman Nicchioni nearby Piazza Garibaldi or the Scannabecco and Cesia Fountains.

And certainly you will not get bored if you prefer staying in lines with the times by enjoying the modern shows at the Municipal Theatre or by visiting the Contemporary Art exhibitions along the town roads.

Clung to the hill watching the lowland stretch of the River Tiber, the town was described as the most “ascensional” one of Umbria by the travellers during the early 20th century, because of the pinnacle structure of the bell tower of the Cathedral (dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary) which would represent its architectural triumph. The curvy and winding roads, the narrow areas and the staircases linking the different neighbourhoods make car passage difficult if not impossible. Therefore, you will be pleasantly forced to move in space and time at the pace of a walk, to pick up the details of a rich Old Town, still well protected and surrounded by the monumental travertine walls and the Medieval Gates: Orvietana, Perugina, Romana and Amerina (or Fratta).

Inside the fortified village, Parco della Rocca is located, the town green lung hosting St. Fortunato Temple where well-known Frà Jacopone remains are enshrined. Not far from the ancient Church, the modern Municipal Theatre, rises up. It was built and inaugurated in the late 19th century. Slightly above, climbing up via Mazzini, you can enjoy the majestic view of Piazza del Popolo, the throbbing heart of the town, framed by the wonderful Cathedral on its northern side and by the Municipal Buildings on the other sides: Palazzo del Capitano or Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo del Popolo  housing the Municipal Picture Gallery, and Palazzo dei Priori where the well-known bronze eagle made by Giovanni di Gigliaccio in 1339 stands out, as the emblem of the town. Underneath the square surface area, a complex system of tunnels, cisterns and wells of different ages, commonly called “Todi underground” extends roughly five kilometres and lends the town a special look.

Finally, crossing adjacent Piazza Garibaldi and walking down Corso Cavour to then walk up via Cesia, you will discover a series of other monuments of different ages and cultures, from Roman Pagan to Catholic Medieval and Renaissance ones.

From Fountain of the Rua (or Cesia Fountain) and of the Scannabecco (13th century) to the Churches of St. Filippo (16th century), of St. Nicolò de Criptis (11th century), of St. Maria in Cammuccia (13th century, where the well-known wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, “SedesSapientiae“, is kept), of St. Carlo (13th century) and of St. Prassede (14th century), up to the still well preserved Roman Nicchioni (ruins of an ancient Basilica) and Porta Marzia, you will have no spare time to rest your sight, admiring the huge number of monuments nestled in the small Medieval village to be discovered.

The Square rose up on the ancient Roman Forum and since the 1st century B.C. had represented the political, religious, economic and cultural centre of the town. Within a steep slope frame, the Roman architects achieved a rectangular platform on top of the hill, surrounded by the most important public and religious buildings. The modern town still preserves its ancient balance. The religious power is represented by the Cathedral and the annexed Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop’s Palace), on the Northern side of the Square, contrasting with the three lay Municipal palaces, built between the 12th and the 13th centuries: Palazzo del Popolo, Palazzo del Capitano and Palazzo dei Priori. Probably, in ancient times, the Square must have covered a larger area up to embracing the modern annexed Piazza Garibaldi which shields the ruins of an ancient Roman Basilica (the Nicchioni). The architectural complexity of the area is shown by the huge quantity of underground tunnels unfolding underground the same square, as evidence of historical and structural layering perfectly joining together over time.

In the latest years, the “invisible town”, also called “Todi underground” unfolding under the surface area of Piazza del Popolo, the ancient Roman Forum, has been rediscovered and analysed in-depth, thanks to Todi Speleological Group’s skilful investigative work.

By using a model approach of “urban speleology” whereby underground exploration would interchange with archival research on historical and cartographic documents, a complex of more than thirty pre-Roman, Roman and Medieval cisterns was brought to light, together with five-hundred wells of different shapes and ages. They were running along more than five kilometres, making the subsoil of Todi a priceless heritage.

Thanks to the commitment of the Municipal Authorities in collaboration with Umbria Archaeological Authority, part of such monumental structures can be currently visited on the Western side of the square. Twelve rectangular rooms made of Roman concrete and covered by barrel vaults extend approximately eight metres in height, eight metres in width and thirty metres in length, with a capacity of approximately thirty-thousand cubic metres of water. The rooms communicate with one another through arched passageways and display one or more openings in the vaults, where water could be drawn from. Traces of the wooden formworks where the composite of stones and mortar was thrown are still visible on the walls.

The whole complex was rediscovered by chance on the occasion of the restoration works of the above Pazzaglia-Valentini tobacco shop. In terms of size, the structure occupies the initial stretch of via del Monte, and continues along via Valle Inferiore up to via Mazzini. In terms of orientation, it is perfectly parallel to its twin structure on the opposite side of Piazza del Popolo (East), which rooms extend under the foundations of Palazzo dei Priori (Priors’ Palace).

Unlike the Western complex, discovered in modern times, the Eastern one has been known since 1262, as witnessed by Gianfabrizio Atti‘s Cronaca dell’egregia città de Tode dated 16th century. Unfortunately only nine rooms, out of twelve, are accessible and visitable.

Because of the used and perfectly recognisable building construction techniques, the structure might be dated late Republican Age, and further extended for approximately one century.  Both the cisterns would be filled by the water coming from the springs on top of the hill in the Rocca area, and used to be part of a monumental project for the Forum urban planning to supply water in town.

The monumental system was part of the building project dated 1st century B.C., when Todi passed from the status of municipium to the one of Splendidissima Roman colonia.

Also called “del Comune” (of the Municipality), Palazzo del Popolo (People’s Palace) is not only the most ancient building in Todi main square but also one of the oldest public buildings in Italy.

The building works started in 1214 with the porticoed structure on the ground floor according to the principles and style of Lombard architecture. Later on, from 1228 to the 20th century renovation works, the two upper floors were built, together with the external staircase allowing entrance, and the crowning element with Ghibelline merlons. Three-light and four-light windows embellished by decorative small columns lighten the massive look of the facade.

The left side of the Palace overlooks Piazza del Popolo whereas the main facade can be seen from adjacent Piazza Garibaldi.

The first floor of the building was probably the Chief Magistate’s seat or residence and would house people’s gatherings at the time of the communes.

Connected to Palazzo del Capitano, the palace currently houses the Pinacoteca (Municipal Picture Gallery), on the second floor.

Placed on the Northern side of Piazza del Popolo, Todi Cathedral represents ideally the heart of the city.  With a bell tower standing out on the right of the facade, the Cathedral rises above the town roofs and represents, together with the three public buildings, the perfect outline of one among the most beautiful and stylistically consistent urban-architectural compositions in Italy.

The modern structure was built on the remains of an ancient Roman temple, the Capitolium which used to separate the forum from the urban neighbourhoods behind. Behind the Cathedral some remains of an ancient Roman villa were rediscovered, with a mosaic floor and some blocks of the old walls. The significant name of the neighbourhood, “Nidola” or “Nido dell’aquila” (Eagle Nest) still resounds with the cry of the legendary bird of prey, the founder of the town building its nest in these areas.

Building works of the Cathedral started in the 12th century. The structure was changed and enlarged several times, until the 17th century. Currently, only the apse remains of the Comancine masters’ original plan.

Twenty-nine travertine steps compose the monumental staircase achieved by Bishop Giuseppe Pianetti in 1740: a suggestive, essential facade with a Lombard style cornice stands out on top.

Three entrance gates correspond to the three internal aisles. A rich oak wood decoration stands out on the central gate. The ornament recalls the motifs of the Orvieto Cathedral, achieved by masters Bencivenga da Mercatello (the four top panels) e Carlo Lorenti (the six low panels).

On top of the facade, crowning the monumental entrance, the beautiful central rose window stands out. It was started at the time of Bishop Basilio Moscardi (1515) and finished under the Episcopate of his successor (1523).

The plan of the building is Latin cross-shaped and the area, inside, is structured in three aisles separated one another by ten wonderful Corinthian columns with acanthus leaves, supporting the wooden roof truss.

Right behind the visitor, throughout the wall around the central rose window, the beautiful “Giudizio Universale” (Last Judgement) fresco by Ferraú da Faenza in 1596 according to Michelangelo’s pattern, stands out.

Finally, other noteworthy artworks of different kinds are shielded inside the building: the two paintings attributed to lo Spagna portraying the Trinità (Trinity) and Sts. Pietro and Paolo (Peter and Paul), the beautiful Crocifisso (Crucifix) dated 13th century, suspended above the altar and a Giannicola di Paolo’s work portraying the Madonna col Bambino e Santi (Virgin with Child and Saints).

From the left aisle you can reach the crypt of the Cathedral, where three stone sculptures are enshrined. They are part of the facade and attributed to sculptors Giovanni Pisano and Rubeus.

St. Fortunato Church or temple is placed nearby the Rocca, inside the ancient acropolis of the town. The current building witnesses its numerous building stages: from the oldest Etruscan-Roman stage – which the lions placed at the entrance and two capitals turned into holy water stoup remain from – to the first Romanic one dated approximately 1198 and accomplished by the Vallumbrosan Monks, up to the final Gothic structure, which building works started in 1292 and finished two centuries later.

The facade represents significant evidence of such intervention. It stands out on the monumental staircase, which remained incomplete because of the death of master Giovanni di Santuccio da Firenzuola in 1458. He was working at the project together with his nephew, Bartolo d’Angelo. The recurring wars against the nearby communes, first of all against Orvieto, drained the public treasury then, leaving the Church without the necessary funds to finish the works.

The facade lower level is structured in three parts corresponding to the three internal aisles provided with entrance gates. The central is the most interesting one. Precious spiral columns and bas-reliefs depict, from left to right, the twelve Apostles, some Saints (such as Degna, Romana and Cassiano whose remains are enshrined in the Church), angels, Biblical prophets, St. Fortunato, St. Francis’ stigmata, the Annunciation and Isaac’s sacrifice, all surrounded by flowery motifs such as the vine, as an emblem of Good, and the fig, as a symbol of Evil, but also the dragon and the snake as emblems of sin.

Inside the Church, three aisles of the same height structure the space. The lateral ones are slightly narrower than the central one, according to Hallenkirche (Hall Church) transalpine model. The elegant ribbed columns support the cross vaults under which, thirteen elevated chapels open up, on the sides of the aisles. The fourth chapel, on its right side, houses a fragment of the Virgin with Child and Angels by Masolino da Panicale (1432), whereas, the fifth one on the left shields some remains of frescoes with scenes of St. John Baptist’s life, by Giotto’s school.

St. Fortunato’s statue stands out at the centre of the building. The walnut choir with amazing inlay works made by Antonio Maffei da Gubbio in 1590 covers the whole central apse and stands in the background.

Finally, the crypt under the altar houses a single monumental sarcophagus enshrining the remains of Sts. Cassiano, Callisto, Fortunato, Romana and Degan, whereas the adjacent sacristy has housed Jacopone da Todi‘s grave since 1432.

The tower bell is accessible through the sacristy. From there you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the whole town.

The majestic Gothic building of Palazzo dei Priori (Priors’ Palace) stands out solidly on the Southern side of Piazza del Popolo, opposite the Cathedral. Built at the end of the 13th century together with Palazzo del Capitano (Captain’s Palace), it was changed several times: in 1334-47 the right side was enlarged, in 1367 the quadrangular tower, almost as a hinge between the two squares, was built and finally in 1513, at Leone X’s behest, the architraved windows in Renaissance style were opened on the facade. The well-known bronze eagle made by Giovanni di Gigliaccio in 1339 stands out, as the emblem of the town, on the top left corner, overlooking the square.

The building hosted Chief Magistrates, Priors and Governors of the Papal States over the centuries, and currently houses the Magistrate’s Court and the Municipal Offices.

Palazzo del Capitano (Captain’s Palace), also called “Palazzo Nuovo” (New Palace), stands out beside Palazzo del Popolo (People’s Palace).  Unlike the first and more ancient building, it was built at the end of the 13th century, around 1293, together with Palazzo dei Priori (Priors’ Palace).

From a structural point of view, the Gothic building consists of three floors: a loggia (open gallery) on the ground floor, three-light and four-light windows supported by small columns and framed by arches and gables on the two upper floors. The architectural peculiarity of the building is its monumental diagonal staircase overlooking Piazza del Popolo and allowing entrance to both Palaces.

Palazzo del Capitano currently houses the Municipal offices and museums. The hall of the same name (sala “del Capitano”) on the first floor shields the remains of  some frescoes dating back to the 14th century and a section of the Museo Etrusco-Romano (Etruscan-Roman Museum), where a copy of the renowned Mars of Todi is kept (the original is at the Vatican Museums). On the second floor, instead, the Museo Pinacoteca (Municipal Picture Gallery) is located.

Not far from Porta Orvietana, clung to a hill in the West of the walls, Montesano Convent stands out. It was built in the 13th century as a fortress against the attacks by the inhabitants of Orvieto. In 1325 it was occupied by the Poor Clares who left the site to the Franciscans after the 1348 plague.

As witnessed by “Monte Mascarano” old toponym, from Lombardic maska that is mountain of ghosts and of witches, the site must have been a holy place since ancient times. It might have been a necropolis with temples and sacella dedicated to several divinities such as Mars and Goddess Bellona. Here, in 1835, the renowned Mars of Todi, currently kept at the Vatican Museums, was brought to light.

The square of the convent houses a majestic centuries-old lime, which is said to have been planted in 1426 on the occasion of St. Bernardino’s visit.

The cloister, with its 18th century well, the 14th century hall used as a conference centre, and the library – full of parchments, incunambula and rare editions, mostly merged into the collection of the Municipal library of Todi – are noteworthy.

Next to the monastic building, the Church of the same name is located. Consecrated in 1633, it became a parish Church in 1977 named Maria Santissima Assunta in Montesanto. It still enshrines several artworks: many wooden statues and some paintings by lo Spagna, as well as by the pupils of Ghirlandaio (16th century) and of Cesare Permei (17th century).

Right outside the walls, in the South-West of the town, one of the Umbrian Renaissance masterpieces is located. Though no evidence of a project accomplished  by Bramante is left, the building structure does not seem to cast any doubt and, since the 16th century, has been attributed to the renowned architect. Instead, there is absolutely no doubt about the intervention of some important masters such as Cola da Caprarola, Antonio da Sangallo, Peruzzi, Vignola and Ippolito Scalza.

The building works started in 1508 and finished only one century later, in 1607. It was built to enshrine the holy picture of The Virgin with Child (Madonna della Consolazione) which is currently visible in the semcircular apse of the Church. According to legend, a mason rediscovered the remains of the fresco covered in dust and spider webs. After having wiped the sweat away from his face with the same tissue used to clean the holy picture, his eye miraculously healed.

The Renaissance temple displays a peculiar Greek cross plan resulting from two crossing equal arms. Four apses lean against them; three of them are polygonal, and the semicircular, Northern one houses the miraculous fresco. The apses, belonging to two orders and adorned with Corinthian columns have domes on top embracing ideally the terrace (where the eagles sculpted by Antonio Rosignoli in the 17th century are placed) and the majestic central dome, supported by a gable adorned with double Ionic columns attributed to Francesco Casella.

The three entrance gates date back to three different centuries: the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, whereas inside, the wide, bright Baroque structure is attributed to Filippo da Meli’s talent.

Fifty-six windows illuminate the area where the wooden statue of Pope Martin I, the plaster ones of the twelve Apostles and the Baroque altar stand out.

The Church is seventy meter high and represents one of the most renowned and significant monuments of Todi.

Via S. Maria in Camuccia, a cross street of Via Roma, leads to the very ancient Church of the same name. Its core dates back to the 7th-8th centuries, then renovated in the 13th century. From 1394 to 1810 the small building housed a Dominican convent.

The facade is structured on two floors: the main entrance gate, which lintel is supported by Corinthian columns, and two lateral niches adorned with a crucifix and Marian pictures, on the ground floor. A double-arched window finely embellished, on the upper floor.

Inside, the building is made of a single aisle. Ten small chapels display on its sides. The most important is the third one on the left where the “Sedes Sapientiae“, a beautiful wooden statue dated 12th century, is enshrined. That is a picture of the Virgin Mary seated on a throne holding the Child, as to symbolize how Mary embodies the Knowledge represented by the Christ child.

Not far from St. Fortunato Church, in Parco della Rocca, San Cassiano prison, a quadrangular shaped building is placed. Basically, it is supposed to be an Ancient Roman cistern where, according to legend, the Bishop of Todi would have been imprisoned during the 2nd century A.D. persecutions. Later on, the room would have welcomed the remains of the Patron Saint, St. Fortunato and then, it would have been used as a Christian oratory.

Currently, the structure is an open space room, accessible from a small wooden entrance door, decorated with a rounded arch which is supported by two capitals, roughly made.

The side windows, as well, were added later on.

The building cannot currently be visited because it is private property: here the Mazzocchi Alemanni Magdalena and Maurizio commercial farm is based.

The castle must have been the noble residence of a lord of the Leoni family, as witnessed by the coat of arms standing out on the front door. The name might come from Campoleone then turned into Campi di Leone.

In 1512, nearby the building, along the route between Pontecuti and Casemasce, the well-known Nicchio di Todi, a marble aedicula from a decommissioned Roman temple, was found. Today it is enshrined in the Vatican Museums.

In 1565, Cipriano Piccolpasso passed through the region. He was the Perugia fortress superintender, in charge of surveying all the cities, fortresses and castles in the province.

Inside the building there is a small church dedicated to St. Lucia, next to a pointed-arched bell tower.

Then, in modern times, the castle passed from the Leoni to the current owners, Alemanni Mazzocchi.

Located at the Eastern borders of the municipality, Ficareto Castle is currently a building made of four houses, a small Church dedicated to St. John (in ruins since the eighteenth century) and a fortified residence, the proper castle, unfortunately fell to ruin.

Similarly, to the toponyms of the nearby towns such as Castagneto, Cerqueto, Mandorleto or Olmeto, the name would come from the large number of fig trees, growing there.

According to ancient tradition, since 1322 there had been an hospital dedicated to St. Francis and in 1381 the piece of land was certified in a notarial protocol of Ser Francesco di Nicolò.

There is much news related to Prelates’ pastoral visits who used to control the area from time to time, whereas no trace of possible influences by noble families from Todi is left. It is therefore very likely that the land remained under the control of the Papal States throughout its history.

The ancient parish Church dedicated to St. John and then abandoned was replaced by the current Church of St. Rocco, in modern times.

Located on a hill at a height of 369 metres above sea level, Loreto is currently one of the most isolated municipalities of the region. It is difficult to be reached especially in winter when the roads linking it to the nearby towns become almost impassable.

The name may come from the great number of laurel (laurus) woods in the area. Because of it strategic position, the fortress used to be an important guard outpost, constantly watched by sentinels and fortified by a big tower currently hosting primary schools.

Inside the building, a small Romanesque Church, dedicated to St. Lawrence, with a refined bell gable would stand out. Here, until 1171, the presence of a Prior and even three Canons was recorded. The latest restoration dates back to 1948.

The discovery of two bronze statuettes datable between the 3rd and the 2nd centuries B.C. proves that the area had been inhabited for a long time. Slightly later on, according to tradition, Bishop Terentian, martyrized in the 1st century A.D., would have appeared to a woman, St. Lorenza, to entrust her with his remains; his body had been glorified roughly forty years before.

The current structure of the parish Church placed in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II in the Old Town, dates back to the mid 19th century and was built on the remains of a previous building, then disappeared.

The Neoclassical Sts. Filippo and Giacomo Church displays a rough limestone facade, vertically tripartite in a quite regular way, embellished with terracotta ornaments framing a big crowning tympanum, the three entrance portals and the big semicircular window, recently adorned with stained-glass windows.

Inside, the Church is tripartite in aisles separated by columns with Ionic capitals. The largest central one has a barrel vault. The two minor lateral ones have flat roofs and are embellished with lateral recesses housing six stone altars (three for each side).

The vault, wall and column frescoes were painted by Nicola and Federico Benvenuti, painters of Perugia.

On the presbytery, raised by a double step and framed by three apses crowning the respective aisles, the majestic stonebuilt altar adorned with the picture of the Madonna dei Portenti, and the two statues of the Saints Filippo and Giacomo stand out.

Inside the Church, the baptismal font and the holy oil vessel are noteworthy, together with the so-called Braccio Santo d’argento (Silver Arm Reliquary) with a ring and a bracelet, as remains of the two Saints.

About three-hundred metres outside the walls, leaving through Porta Romana (Roman Gate), you will find SS. Crocifisso Church, a wonderful building dated 16th century. The Church may have been built as wished by the people devoted to an ancient aedicula of the 14th century called Maestà delle Forche or “di Piobicca”, still enshrined in a recess at the back of the presbytery.

Starting from 1593, the most ancient architectural shapes were then replaced by the still visible Renaissance ones, as wished by Bishop Angelo Cesi and thanks to architects Valentino Martelli and Ippolito Scalza‘s work.

The church displays a Greek cross plan with arms extending roughly seventeen metres in width, and over twenty-seven in length.

Inside, the church is plastered whereas outside it is stonebuilt with rough bricks and marked by pilasters with Tuscan capitals.

You can access the Church by a large portal adorned with a stoned frame made in the first half of the 20th century and covered by a round roof with a lantern on top.

Located in Via porta Fratta, in the South of the town, the small St. Giorgio Church had been renowned in the town documents since the 11th century. Unfortunately the building, plastered and painted, is now almost all damaged, inside. The single chamber Church displays round-arched cross vaults adorned with Tuscan pilasters and niches. All is illuminated by wide lateral windows.

The external walls are made of more or less regular, rough ashlar blocks. The main sloping facade, the entrance gate with lunettes and the small, central, stone framed rose window are noteworthy.

On the left of the entrance gate, you can glimpse the remains of a more ancient portal, currently walled up, whereas on the right, the remains of an iconostasis dated 11th century, with the icons of Evangelists Luke and Mark, are kept. Finally, further right, protected by a roofing, the Madonna con Bambino e San Giorgio anonymous fresco which named the same Church, shines in all its splendour.

Along current Via Matteotti, ancient via Ulpiana, just behind the third circle of walls nearby Porta Romana (Roman Gate), St. Nicolò Church, one of the most ancient churches dated 11th century, stands out.   The building was renowned as St. Nicolò de Criptis since it used to stand out on the tunnels of the now-abandoned Roman amphitheatre.

Only part of the facade and its small door with lintel remain today of the original building. On the left side of the ancient Church, the subsequent one dated 14th century, is perfectly placed.

Inside, the unaisled structure was changed between the 12th and the 14th centuries, by adding two minor aisles. Each aisle houses a travertine altar nearby the presbytery.

Outside, the facade displays squared limestone blocks of different sizes. At the bottom centre, the entrance is granted by a majestic pointed arch portal decorated with Solomonic columns, whereas on the top, a beautiful rose window in a sunburst pattern coming from the previous small church, stands out.

Finally, the bell tower is placed at the back of the building.

Along the road of the same name, in Borgo Nuovo, in the North of the town, St. Prassede Church stands out. Together with the annexed convent, it was built around the 14th century by the Augustinian Fathers

The Gothic building has a peculiarity: its incomplete facade structured on two different levels. The lower one has white and pink stone blocks in alternate horizontal rows, the upper one is sloping with rough bricks and stonebuilt with a mixture of stones and bricks.

A splayed gate placed on three steps allows access, and a wide window ensures light, inside.

The modern building must have been built on the remains of a structure dated 12th century, which did not leave any trace. There is almost nothing left of the ancient decoration inside, as well, since it was completely changed in the 18th century.

The sober, original and single aisled structure with lateral chapels was replaced by a very rich decoration in Baroque style: the single aisle is plastered and embellished with wall decorations and stuccoes, covered by a barrel vault structured in four bays supported by double transverse arches. The cornice is supported by columns with Corinthian capitals. Five niches and a chapel display on each side of the aisle. The four lateral altars are made of polychrome marble, whereas the central wooden one is embellished with gold decorations.

Finally, inside the Church, some artworks are worthy of attention. Among them the Deposizione, attributed to Flemish painter Hendrick de Clerk (16th-17th centuries) and the Estasi di Santa Rita da Cascia, probably by Giacinto Brandi (17th century).

The building is among the most ancient ones of the town as witnessed by some historical documents where it is quoted: in 1112 it was included in a list of assets which Conte Guazza sent to Farfa Sabina Abbey, whereas a Latin inscription recalls that “in 1240, on Pentecost Day, the Church was consecrated by four Bishops”.

The facade, in Romanic Umbrian style dated 10th-11th centuries, is characterised by five horizontal notches. Two of them mark the central rose window, whereas the others frame the two rows of the three arches adorning the bell tower.

The rose window is embellished with eight columns, placed in a sunburst pattern on a stone frame which does not seem to have undergone further changes.

The entrance gate is crowned by a lunette adorned with the image of St. Carlo and datable 1623, when the pre-existing small Church was entrusted to the Company of the Saint.

Inside, on the left side of the altar, the Madonna del Soccorso beautiful fresco is placed. It is attributed to Giovanni di Pietro, a painter of Spoleto also called lo Spagna.

Right outside the walls, nearby Porta Fratta (or Amerina), in via S. Raffaele, a small Church dedicated to St. Stefano with annexed convent, are located.  The very simple stonebuilt structure made of more or less regular ashlar blocks, of different sizes, must be dated 11th century. Then it was restructured and changed over time. The main sloping facade, enclosed in the convent walls, displays an entrance gate with lunettes and is adorned with a rounded arch. A small, circular, stone framed rose window is placed on top.

The small convent dedicated to St. Filippo stands out on the road of the same name, South-East of the city. The current name would date back to a subsequent period. In fact, the original structure of the 15th century was renowned as Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace).

According to tradition, the original core of the convent was built to shield the miraculous image of the Virgin on the wall of an old hospital. The modern structure is attributable to the Friars who were assigned to it around 1660.

The facade has been changed over time. In the 18th century, it was even split in two to build a wall of the convent which could link the church with the convent itself.

Though cramped, the entrance gate keeps its elegance and majesty with Renaissance and Manneristic shapes: a stone made copy of the Vergine delle Grazie fresco by Giovanni di Orvieto stands out on the gable.

The right side along the road is adorned with Corinthian lesenes and at the back, around the apse, a corridor linking the choir of the Church with the adjacent convent was made.

Along via Cesia, just beyond St. Carlo Church, Scannabbecco Fountain is placed. It owes its name to Todi Chief Magistrate, of the Fagnani family from Bologna, who had it built in 1241. It is an unusual and complex structure consisting of a portico with seven columns with differently shaped and decorated capitals, supporting round-arched arcades made of bricks. There are four basins communicating with one another through a discharge system.

Archaeological and topographic research has allowed to spot the remains of three walls around Todi. In different ages, they defined the urban area and protected the town borders: the first walls, commonly called “Etruscan” and almost disappeared, would date back to the 3rd century B.C. The second “Roman” ones would date back to the 1st century B.C., when the town gained the status of municipium. The third and last walls, the Medieval ones, date back to the 13th century and are the most extended ones in terms of urban space, up to the present day.

The third and last walls, which building works started in 1244, include: Porta Perugina (a steady Medieval bastion structured on two levels), Porta Romana (built in the 16th century as wished by Pope Gregory XIII, consisting of a single arch made of white and red blocks, the most modern gate among the still existing ones), Porta Amerina (also called Fratta, built in the 14th century and again structured on two levels) and Porta Orvietana (an underground ruin by now, because of landslides).

Each of these gates, placed on Todi main road systems, used to be named after the town it would overlook and, in the Middle Ages, it was a copy of the previous Roman gate.

Porta Libera, as well, belongs to the Middle Ages and is located nearby Parco della Rocca.

The second walls include: Porta Aurea (stone made and currently well preserved. It must have been the Roman outpost of the nearby Medieval Porta Fratta), Porta Catena (also called of St. Antonio, currently in via Matteotti which Ulpiano district stretches from) Porta di Santa Prassede (nearby Borgo Nuovo in the North of the town).

Only Porta Marzia, opening out onto via Roma, remains of the most ancient walls. In the historical texts, there is evidence of other Todi monumental gates, currently disappeared, such as Porta della Valle, Porta Liminaria, Porta Bonella and Porta di St. Giorgio.

Reorganised and reopened to the public in 1997, Todi Civic Museum is located on the top floor of Palazzo del Popolo (People’s Palace) and Palazzo del Capitano (Captain’s Palace). Structured in sections, the tour starts with the Museo della città (Museum of the town) showing the most significant times of Todi history. Here the renowned marble slab representing St. Fortunato, St. Cassiano and Christ the Redeemer, dated 10th-11th centuries, is located. The following five sections are dedicated to Archaeology (Attican pottery with black and red images, terracotta architectural elements and votive bronze statuettes), to Numismatics (approximately 1500 Greek, pre-Roman, Medieval and modern coins overall), to Fabric (Holy Vestments and other silk, velvet, damask and linen cloth made between the 15th and the 18th centuries), to Pottery (ceramic commonly used between the 8th and the 13th centuries). Last but not least, the Pinacoteca (Municipal Picture Gallery) housing some amazing artworks: the renowned pala (altar piece), portraying the Coronation of the Virgin, by Giovanni di Spagna, among Perugino‘s most important pupils, six canvases by Ferraù da Faenza from the Cathedral and from St. Fortunato Church, the Deposition by Pietro Paolo Sensini (1608), and The Virgin with Child and Saints by Andrea Polinori.

The Lapidary Museum was officially inaugurated on 26 September 2009 and is located in some areas of St. Giovanni Battista ancient convent, renowned as “Monastero delle Lucrezie“. It is named after Lucrezia della Genga, a noble woman from Ancona who passed a building behind the town walls on her twelve sisters, members of the Third Order of Saint Francis (Secular Franciscan Order) in 1425.  A large number of lapidary ruins are shielded in the apse of the old Church dedicated to St. Giovanni and in the two adjacent halls. The remains witness the long history of the town from the Roman Age to the Renaissance up to modern times: a collection among the most ancient ones in Umbria, after Gubbio.

Not far from Porta Marzia, the majestic Roman Nicchioni overlook Piazza del Mercato Vecchio. The structure dates back between the late Republican and the early Augustan ages, consists of four big apses made of travertine blocks and provided with a Doric decorative cornice on top. The triglyphs and the metopes are adorned with bas-reliefs sculpting arms and human faces. The structure might have been a terrace wall supporting the above hill side or an elevated road, now disappeared, which could allow to access the square on the upper level.

According to Medieval tradition, instead, the Nicchioni would be the remains of an abandoned temple dedicated to Apollo.

The Palace is considered one among the best samples of the late 16th century architecture of private buildings. It is located in the North of the town, in via del seminario. The Palace was built by the Corradi, a noble family then married into the Landi. In 1712, the building was acquired by the Bishop of Todi, Filippo Antonio Gualtiero from Orvieto. From 1711 to 1720, the Palace turned into the seminary of the town, replacing the older one, which was not adequate enough by then.

The building is also called Palazzo del Vignola, whom the majestic travertine gate decorating the facade is attributed to. It was changed several times, until the latest internal and external renovation works carried out by Bishop Alfonso Maria de Santis in 1954.

The Palace was the protagonist of some Todi tragic news, as well: on 25 April 1982, a devastating fire caused the death of thirty-two people, whose memory is kept in a gravestone placed on the main facade.

Currently the Palace is mainly used as an exhibition centre. The antique exhibition is the most popular one: taking place every year at the end of April, the majority of collectors, not only from Todi, long for it.

Placed on the left of the Cathedral, and accessible by a staircase, the Palace was commissioned by Bishop Angelo Cesi in 1593. It was built where the Canons’ houses were situated, as a residence worthy of a Renaissance Prince and Patron.

The building was structured on four floors: downstairs, at the garden level (called “Bishop’s orchard), currently abandoned, there were the kitchens, the stables, the cellars and the warehouses. The first floor was accessible by the main entrance, attributed to Vignola, and housed the curia, the chancery and the archive. From there, a monumental staircase would lead to the piano nobile which housed the Sala del trono (throne Room) conceived as a State Room and glorification of the Bishop authority, where hearings would take place.  The room, frescoed by Ferraù de Faenza, included the cartouches and the portaits of all the pastors of Todi from St. Terenziano to Angelo Cesi. On the same floor, the private chapel and the Gallery, frescoed by painter Andrea Polinori with episodes of Todi history, were placed. From there, the Bishop’s private halls, currently used as Diocesan library, could be reached. Finally, the fourth and last floor was addressed to the servants, only.

A proper green lung of Todi, Parco della Rocca, 411metres above sea level, is among the highest spots of the city. The fortress was built in 1373 by Cardinal Pablo Albornoz and commissioned by Pope Gregory XI to control the town of Todi, just reconquered by the Papal States. In 1385, the Rocca was destroyed by the inhabitants themselves and then refurbished ten years later.

In 1495, the fortress underwent Sixtus IV’s siege who tested the military skills of Giuliano della Rovere, his nephew and future Pope Julius II. The fort was completely demolished in 1503, when St. Fortunato and St. Maria della Consolazione were built with the stones of the same.

Currently, only the Mastio (dungeon) remains of the whole structure, together with some counterforts, placed on one among the highest spots of the small urban park: provided with a playground, the green area is suitable for picnics and walks. Walking along the walls of St. Fortunato convent, you can reach a panoramic viewpoint. On the right, via Melsungen – renowned as “la passeggiata” (the walk) – begins. From there you can enjoy an amazing view of the whole underlying valley.

The 7,295 hectare Park covers approximately fifty kilometres of the most important river in Italy, following its course from Montemolino bridge up to Alviano lake, crossing Corbara artificial lake.  In its Northern stretch, nearby Montemolino, the Tiber is described as “furious” because of the water impetuosity. Immediately after, nearby Pontecuti, it is called “Tever morto” (dead Tiber) because of the stream lack of speed. The most interesting and noteworthy areas are the eight kilometres where the river crosses the Peglia-Amerini Mountains ridge, shaping the Gole di Forello (Forello Canyon) biotype. It is an arduous area, scarcely affected by human activity and considered the true heart of the Park by naturalists. Birds of prey such as kites, sparrowhawks and buzzards take shelter among the foliage of holly oaks, hornbeams, brooms and heather, in the area and in the nearby Gole di Prodo (Prodo Canyion), opposite the houses of Civitella del Lago, again an arduous area, explorable by expert and equipped hikers only.

Different fauna and flora inhabit the moist areas of the two artificial lakes of Corbara (made by the Tiber embankment in 1963) and Alviano, which lushness has allowed to set up the current WWF oasis of the same name (Alviano Oasis). The approximate five-hundred hectars of moist area have become the ideal habitat for several migratory and aquatic species. Among them the Mallard duck, the Bule Heron, the Crane and even the Kingfisher.

Besides its beautiful landscape, the Park is suitable for practising the most different kinds of sports: from trekking to horse riding, from rowing to caving.  Finally, the huge number of archaeological ruins from different ages make it an open-air museum, absolutely worth visiting.

Todi theatre was planned by architect Carlo Gatteschi from Arezzo in 1872, and inaugurated by Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Un ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball) in 1876.

Inside the structure is gorgeous, elegant and classy, with attention to every detail. The curtain portays Ludovico Ariosto‘s visit to Todi in 1531 by Annibale Brugnoli, a renowned artist from Perugia who decorated the ceiling at the Rome Opera House.

The whole structure hosts 499 seats and is made of four different kinds of daises. The wide ovoid parterre is a gem of  the 20th century architecture, whereas the four terracotta medallions representing Metastasio, Alfieri, Rossini and Goldoni were made by sculptors Angeletti and Biscarini.

Since 1992, the theatre has hosted the Stagione in prosa (Season in prose) providing a large number of prominent shows, from operettas to musicals, up to performances with dancers such as Paganini and Kemp and concerts with singers like Paoli and Vecchioni.

Todi offers a wide range of leisure activities both for its inhabitants and for tourists, because of its landscape, historical and cultural wealth. You can alternate suggestive Old Town walks with visits to the Municipal museums and modern galleries, as well as interchange sport activities for all tastes: hiking, trekking, horse riding, canoeing, rafting and even paragliding among the breathtaking landscape of the Tiber River Park, as well as “urban” activities such as bocce, football and tennis in the town modern structures.

The community is provided with an indoor stadium, athletic tracks, swimming pools, horse riding centres, gyms and pitches.

We can mention the Internazionali di Tennis (Italian Open) for the most curious and demanding ones. Every year in July, the tennis tournament takes place in Ponte Naia. But we can also suggest visiting some of the interesting permanent exhibitions of contemporary Art in town:

Ab ovo Gallery: an open window to the world of contemporary European applied Arts, in Todi Old Town.

Todi Fine Art: free-entry permanent exhibition conceived as an experimental blend of Arts and technology, providing for ancient materials such as stone by modern technologies of photography.

Bibos’s place: Artists Andrea Bizzarro and Matteo Boetti’s permanent exhibition, placed inside Giuliana Soprani Dorazio’s gallery since 2013. Event scheduling reflects the two artists’ interests: on the one hand, the historicised 20th century authors, on the other the promotion of young artists, in a constant game of generation gap.

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UMBRIAN-ETRUSCAN ORIGINS AND THE ROMAN AGE

Between legend and archaeological ruins, Todi origins still remain shrouded in mystery. According to tradition, the town was founded in 2707 B.C. by the Veii-Umbrian tribe. It is said that, while the men were bivouacking after having started the building works downstream on the Tiber banks, a mischievous eagle took their tablecloth away, dropping it on top of the hill behind. The sign was welcomed as a message from God, the town was built there and the eagle became the emblem of the town, reproduced in numerous effigies.

Besides fantastic stories, the archaeologists could spot the core of an original village, dating back to the 8th-6th centuries B.C., inhabited by farmers and shepherds. It was soon subjugated by the nearby Etruscans. The same name of the town proves this. From the Etruscan “Tular” or “tulere” meaning “border”, came the following Roman name Tuder, the Medieval Tudertum and finally the vernacular Tode, up to the current name: Todi, which inhabitants are called Tuderti or Tudertini.

The first walls, built between the 3rd and the 1st centuries B.C., are attributed to the Etruscans.

 In 89 B.C. Todi gained the status of Roman municipium and underwent an urban-architectural development. Its core was Piazza del Popolo (People’s Square), the ancient Forum where the Capitolium (currently the Cathedral) and the public buildings would stand out, but almost nothing remains. The echo of the flourishing Roman Age is still enshrined in the underground tunnels of the Square, in the Nicchioni and in the names of the roads recalling the ancient town gates: Porta Aurea, Porta Libera and Porta Fratta in the South-West, Porta Catena and Porta Marzia in the South- East.

THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE COMMUNES

The Fall of the Western Roman Empire involved Todi, as well, which underwent the Barbarians’ raids. Firstly the Goths who were pushed away by the providential intervention of St. Fortunato, Bishop and Patron of the town. Then the Longobards who split the conquered territory in dukedoms and turned into authoritarian feudatories, constantly fighting against the local lords. The most popular families involved in the battles were the Counts of Montemarte, the Arnolfi and the Atti.

Only since the 13th century, the town has enjoyed the best time of its history: the town walls were expanded up to embracing the two surrounding buttresses on the Northern and Southern sides, delimited by the monumental gates of Porta Orvietana, Porta Perugina, Porta Romana and Porta Amerina. Therefore, the town took its final shape which has remained intact almost up to the present day.

During those years, Todi expanded its authority over the nearby towns of Amelia and Terni which started paying tribute to the town. It exercised its power over the Papal feuds of Alviano and Guardea, took the power of the Nera valley away from Orvieto and started to establish important political and commercial relationships with Perugia.

In 1236, the wealthy town gave birth to Jacopo de Benedetti, renowned as Frà Jacopone da Todi, the epic poet of the Passion of Christ and the author of some among the most popular Laudi of the Italian vernacular literature.

Jacopo was a notary who had married Vanna, a noble woman who died approximately one year later, crushed by the rubble of a collapsed floor while she was dancing at a ball. On that occasion, the future friar saw the cilice on his wife’s thigh. After a long period of spiritual crisis and pilgrimages, he converted and took vows. His remains are kept in the crypt of St. Fortunato Church and are currently a favoured destination for pilgrims and tourists.

FROM THE RENAISSANCE TO MODERN TIMES

When Boniface VIII was elected as Pope (1294), Todi underwent a further economic and political development. In fact, the new Pope began a diplomatic activity, really appreciated by Todi Ghibellines. He took direct control of the town ecclesiastical heritage from the Rector who was allied to the Guelphs. With the help of the Catholic Church, the town managed to seize Montemarte Castle, a point of contention between Todi and the rival Orvieto, for a long time.

The crisis began a few years later when Boniface VIII died, in the 14th century, and Todi fell into Charles IV’s hands who assigned it to the new Pope and to a large number of Princes and Captains. Among them, Malatesta da Rimini, Biordo Michelotti and even Francesco Sforza.

Only in the 16th-17th centuries Todi underwent a short stage of resumption. Bishop Angelo Cesi’s last architectural and urban interventions are ascribable to this period; gems such as the Fountain of the Rua or Cesia Fountain (named after him), the Crucifix Church and the masterpiece of the Church of St. Maria della Consolazione, attributed to Bramante, set forth the synthesis and conclusion of the urban outlining which would have developed with small works only, during the following centuries.

The town has settled by now. Different ages have blended harmoniously and without contrast.

In the latest decades, construction has involved outskirts, only, leaving intact the Old Town, with its connotation of ancient and rural centre.

Umbrian handicraft has ancient roots and ranges from wood to lacemaking, to pottery, up to wrought-iron, with a large number of workshops in the whole Region.

Because of a huge number of woods with fine trees, such as ashes, cherry tree, durmasts and walnuts, Todi area has developed and proved great skills in working such material.

Handcraft has moved along two parallel tracks: on the one hand mass handcraft, linked with daily life objects or farm tools, on the other educated handcraft from inlay work to the decoration of the interior of churches and palaces.

The two ligneous choirs of the Cathedral and the Church of St. Fortunato are noteworthy. They were made in the 16th century and respectively commissioned to Bencivegna da Mercatello and Antonio Maffei da Gubbio. Both the artists wanted to be flanked exclusively by local craftsmen to accomplish their work, as clear evidence of Todi inhabitants’ skills since ancient times.

Along the town roads, workshops of period furniture, of refined ebonists and of skilful woodcarvers, inlay workers, sculptors and restorers keep alive a very ancient tradition, passed on from generation to generation.

The special handcrafted works, from small pieces of furniture to furnishings, with attention to details, resemble rare antiques.

FOOD

In terms of food and wine, Todi cuisine embraces perfectly Umbrian tradition: simple and natural ingredients, blended skilfully and coming from a rural society, yet unaffected by the nearby Regions over time.

Soil products such as cereals, beans and vegetables alternate with meat and wild mushrooms, asparagus and truffles coming from the surrounding woods, whereas fish is basically absent since Todi is far away from the sea.

Among the most popular and fragrant recipes we can mention Palomba alla Ghiotta and Pasta Dolce dei morti (Sweet Macaroni), typical pasta made during All Saints’ feast days.

OIL AND WINE

As everywhere in Umbria, Todi produces top quality oil and wine.

Todi “green gold”, PDO labelled, comes from the Colli Martani production sub-area, a central zone of 15 Municipalities. Among them, Massa Martana, Giano dell’Umbria and Montefalco.

As for wine production, instead, Todi belongs to the “Strada dei vini del Cantico” (Cantico Wine Road), one of the food and wine tours called “Strade del vino” (Wine Roads) aimed at making excellent local products well known. Grechetto di Todi is among the wines of the tour (1 DOCS – controlled and guaranteed designation of origin and five DOC – controlled designation of origin). It may be a variety of Asian origins where a “Greek style” wine used to be produced and was named after.

Though growing in other Umbrian areas, the Grechetto vine seems to find here its highest expression, as witnessed by ancient authors such as Pliny the Elder who would praise Todi grapes in the 1st century A.D., and Sante Lancerio, Pope Paul III’s cellarman who selected Grechetto for the Vatican canteen in 1500.

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