Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Perugia - city of Raphael and an ancient university. Last night, most of the students seemed to be out in the Cathedral square just behind my Residenzia celebrating a football game. They left - noisily - between 1am and 3.30am. Come back Florence, all is forgiven!

Apart from that the city has many fine works of the Renaissance but, unlike Tuscany, the baroque has had its influence. Today I have come 60km north to the small city of Borgo San Sepulchro (where Butonie has its spaghetti factory ... but more importantly, Piero della Francesco was born and worked). The city is quiet and quaint, so quiet and quaint that everything (shops, churches, museums) closes at 12.30pm and most dont open until 4pm. Luckily the Museo Civico opened at 2.30pm and I was able to see the great Resurrection by della Francesca. It is very powerful - the figure of the Risen Christ seems to be gaze at you saying - "I have overcome". His figures are quite unlike any others and, from a bust made of him when he was alive, he was a handsome young man. His paintings carry that same beauty about them.

I was also very impressed by the cathedral (when it opened). Built in 11th c. it has retained its romanesque solidity and is bathed in a gentle light from its alabaster windows. There was some great art there, too. An Ascension by Perugino; a moving 11th c. Volto Santo; and 15th c. Madonna. The whole place, in its simpicity, provides a moving setting for these polychrome works. And, as a final gift, I found the 14th c. fresco of St. Thomas Becket. I sense he may be there to remind people of the fate of the church under a secular power (the 14th c. saw the Papal States reasert its power over the city).

Then back to the train which wandered through the Umbrian countryside, poop-pooing at level crossings and finally making the steep ascent to Perugia.

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