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mail: Bill Thayer 
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The Palazzo dei Consoli


[image ALT: A four-story stone building on a spacious brick-paved piazza high overlooking a city; the building has neighbors only on one side. It is roughly cubical, with a crenellated roofline from which on the left a very thin square belfry pokes up one more story. The building's many windows are round-arched, of different sizes in each story. The entrance door also is a round arch, and is not at ground level, but reached by a an elegant staircase the bottom of which fans out to meet the Piazza della Signoria. It is a view of the Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio, Umbria (central Italy).]

Built in 1332‑1337, this is one of the most beautiful medieval public buildings in Italy.


[image ALT: A set of three arches, maybe 8 meters tall, supporting a large medieval building with arched windows and a thin square belfry: the arches are seen from below, and are those that support the Piazza della Signoria in Gubbio, Umbria (central Italy).]
Less obvious, certainly from the photo above, is the tremendous engineering work required to create a sizable flat space on the side of a sharply sloping hill. The Palazzo, the large windswept piazza della Signoria in front of it, and the smaller Palazzo Pretorio out of view behind us were all erected on a massive arched substructure, part of which you see to the right of this text. The eye remains superior to the camera, taking it in in a second; but a very narrow street makes the underside of this platform very hard to photograph: you would probably need an extreme wide-angle lens.

Inside, the Palazzo dei Consoli — the "Hall of the Consuls", seat of the medieval government — disappoints somewhat, breathing more power than beauty; such no doubt was the intent, too. More places for acrophobes to stay away from by the way, especially the interior balcony over the cavernous ground floor.

The building now houses the Pinacoteca Civica, with a few good paintings and a small Roman lapidary collection: but the crown jewels are the Eugubine Tables, a set of seven bronze tablets from the 2c or 1c B.C., setting down in Umbrian language but Etruscan and Latin script the rubrics of unsavory priestly rituals, sacrificing puppies and making shish-kebabs out of the leftovers, etc. (Sorry folks, no pix here. Photography is jealously reserved in the Pinacoteca, precisely because of the Tables, which are publishable stuff. . . .)


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Site updated: 11 Jul 98