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Gubbio

Gubbio is a gem of the Italian Middle Ages, where history, culture, traditions and nature come together to offer an unforgettable experience. Visiting Gubbio means immersing yourself in a fascinating past and discovering the beauty of a city that has been able to preserve its authentic character over the centuries. Gubbio has ancient origins, dating back to the Umbrians, a pre-Roman people and reached its maximum splendor in the Middle Ages, a period in which many of its most important monuments were built.

The Palazzo dei Consoli, symbol of the city, is an extraordinary example of Gothic architecture and houses the Civic Museum, where you can admire the Eugubine Tables, an important testimony of the ancient Umbrian language. Built between 1332 and 1349 to a design by architect Angelo da Orvieto, the palace stands majestically over the Piazza Grande, offering spectacular views of the city and the valley below. Built of local limestone, it is characterized by a severe but elegant façade. Its massive structure is lightened by Gothic mullioned windows and a wide staircase leading to the main entrance. One of the hallmarks of the palace is the campanone, a large bell that tolls for important events and festivities. The interior of the palace is just as impressive as the exterior. On the ground floor there is a large hall called Sala dell’Arengo, used in the past for town meetings. The interiors are decorated with frescoes and artwork that reflect the city’s rich history and culture.

The Palazzo dei Consoli now houses the Civic Museum of Gubbio, a must-see for those visiting the city. The museum contains an extensive collection of art and artifacts ranging from antiquity to the medieval period. Among the museum’s most precious treasures are the Eugubine Tables, seven bronze tablets dating back to the 3rd-1st century BC, which contain inscriptions in the Umbrian language, one of the oldest Italic languages. The Eugubine Tables offer a precious testimony of the religious and civil practices of the ancient Umbrians and are considered one of the most important epigraphic documents of pre-Roman Italy, providing an important key to understanding the ancient cultures of the region.

Another place of great charm and significance for the city of Gubbio is the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo which combines architectural beauty, historical importance and spiritual value is in fact one of the most venerated and important places of worship in the city, dedicated to the patron saint Sant’Ubaldo. Located on Mount Ingino, the basilica was built around 1514, built on the site of a previous church dedicated to the saint. St. Ubaldo Baldassini, bishop of Gubbio who lived in the twelfth century, is particularly venerated for his miracles and his devout life. The basilica has become the center of worship for the saint, which is particularly felt by the people of Gubbio.

The Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo is a Renaissance-style building, with Gothic influences. The façade is simple yet elegant, with an ornate portal and a series of windows that allow light to illuminate the interior. The interior of the basilica is characterized by a single nave, with a coffered ceiling and several side chapels adorned with frescoes and works of art. One of the most significant aspects of the basilica is the presence of the incorrupt body of St. Ubaldo, preserved in a glass urn above the high altar. This relic attracts numerous pilgrims and devotees every year, especially during the festivities related to the saint.

The Corsa dei Ceri is one of the oldest and most heartfelt traditions in Italy, celebrated every year on May 15 in Gubbio in honor of Sant’Ubaldo, This unique event is a manifestation of faith, culture and city identity, which involves the entire Gubbio community. The origins of the Corsa dei Ceri date back to the Middle Ages: it was established to celebrate the translation of the saint’s body from the cathedral to the basilica dedicated to him on Mount Ingino. Over the centuries, the race has evolved, taking on its current form and becoming a symbol of devotion and city identity. The Ceri are three large wooden structures, each weighing about 300 kg and exceeding four meters in height. Each candle is surmounted by a statue of a saint: St. Ubaldo (protector of masons), St. George (protector of merchants) and St. Anthony Abbot (protector of farmers and animals). The candles are attached to stretchers and carried on the shoulders of the ceraioli, the participants in the race.

The day of the Corsa dei Ceri is full of rituals and significant moments: The day begins with a mass in the Church of the Masons, followed by the blessing of the Ceri and the evocative moment of the “rising” in Piazza Grande, where the Ceri are erected vertically. In the afternoon, the candles are carried in a procession through the streets of Gubbio, accompanied by traditional songs and music. The actual ride starts in the late afternoon. The ceraioli, divided into teams, lead the Ceri in a frenetic and spectacular race through the narrow streets of the historic center, finally climbing up to the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo on Monte Ingino. The goal is not to finish first, but to complete the journey with honor and dignity, keeping the candle in an upright position and without dropping it.

An extraordinary and one-of-a-kind spectacle that transforms Mount Ingino into an immense Christmas decoration visible from miles away is the Gubbio Christmas Tree known as the largest Christmas tree in the world, a luminous creation that brings with it a spirit of celebration and wonder. The Gubbio Christmas Tree was lit for the first time in 1981, thanks to the initiative of a group of volunteers from Gubbio. The idea was to create something special to celebrate Christmas, using the slopes of Mount Ingino as a giant natural canvas. Over the years, the tree has become a symbol of Christmas not only for Gubbio, but also for Umbria and the whole of Italy. The tree measures about 750 meters in height and 450 meters in width, covering an area of over 130,000 square meters, is composed of over 700 multicolored lights that outline the shape of the tree and a bright comet star placed on the top. The lights are arranged in such a way as to create a perfect Christmas silhouette that can be seen even from afar. The lighting ceremony of the Gubbio Christmas Tree is a highly anticipated event that takes place every year on December 7th, on the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The lighting of the tree is a magical and festive moment, which involves the entire community of Gubbio and attracts visitors from all over the world. Often, a figure of national or international prominence is invited to press the button that lights up the tree, making the event even more special. Its lighting brings joy and light not only to Gubbio, but also to anyone lucky enough to admire it.

Gubbio’s location, nestled between hills and mountains, makes it ideal for hiking and outdoor activities. The Monte Cucco Park, nearby, is famous for its caves, hiking trails and paragliding opportunities. The cuisine of Gubbio is typically Umbrian, characterized by simple and genuine dishes. Local specialties include crescia (a kind of torta al testo or focaccia), cured meats, black truffles and wild boar dishes. There is no shortage of Umbrian wines, including Sagrantino di Montefalco and Grechetto.

Gubbio is a gem of the Italian Middle Ages, where history, culture, traditions and nature come together to offer an unforgettable experience. Visiting Gubbio means immersing yourself in a fascinating past and discovering the beauty of a city, tasting traditional foods, enjoying the lush nature, a city that has been able to preserve its authentic character over the centuries.

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