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Todi and its Surroundings


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Todi from the east, by late autumn twilight


[image ALT: A hill with houses dribbling down the side, crowned with a steepled church]

[ 3/31/09: 6 pages, 33 photos ]

The City of Todi
On a sharp ridge above (and studiously ignoring) the Tiber valley, this rather inward-looking town of 12,000 has one of the most striking medieval piazzas in all of Italy, often used for period movies; three sets of walls (the outermost is medieval, the second one is on Roman foundations, the innermost still includes Etruscan masonry) with their gates; a group of mysterious Roman niches two stories tall against one of its cliffs; a dozen interesting churches, three of them major; a number of good restaurants, one of them truly wonderful; and in general a good deal of character and charm.


[image ALT: A ruined crenellated fort being invaded by vegetation.]

Cacciano
The village is pleasant but of no special interest; on the other hand, the large ruined castle — hidden in a low brush pocket a few hundred yards away — is quite beautiful.


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Campi


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Cecanibbi
A charming small village, no more than a cluster of stone houses hanging onto a massively walled castello. But flowers everywhere and a nice church with a few bits of well-preserved 16c fresco.


[image ALT: A lone tractor plowing a field in the mist.]

Chioano
Not much of a place, really: a few houses and a small church of uncertain age. And by a very cold very foggy morning, this picture: one of the best I've ever taken.


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[ 1/24/07: 2 pages, 7 photos ]

Collazzone
Not stone, but mostly brick here: tortuous narrow streets, a large old church (undergoing major restoration when I was here in 1994), and some fortified gates give the town a lot of character.


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Cordigliano


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Figareto (Ficareto)
Just a few houses on the windswept ridge, but with a fabulous panoramic view including Todi and much of the Tiber valley. The real attraction is the chapel of S. Arnaldo, about 600 yards away.


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Fiore
The village is a bland sort of place on a road; but the large castello nearby is a well-sited and photogenic element of the landscape looking northwards toward Todi.


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[ 8/13/05: 1 page, 1 photo ]

Fratta Todina
An unusual place: for once it's the old  village that doesn't quite gel and is rather ungainly, despite a nice tower and the remnants of a medieval bishop's summer residence; and the modern  spread, sprung up along the road to Perugia, that is surprisingly attractive.


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Izzalini
For some reason this place has made a tourist attraction of itself, although it's rather less attractive than many of the similar castle villages in the area. It's not really that bad, but still, with its antique dealers and pottery displays, and bedizened with its British and German flags, this is somewhere to stay away from.


[image ALT: A squat, heavy hexagonal stone tower at the edge of a parking lot. It is a view of the defensive tower at Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 8/13/05: 5 pages, 22 photos ]

Massa Martana
The walled town, with its single small piazza and about six cobbled lanes, is tiny but very urban and apparently quite ancient as well: Roman inscriptions have been embedded in its gate for longer than anyone knows, and other mysterious half-buried remains are visible just outside the walls. A little ways off you'll find an attractive church and convent of the classical period.


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[ 1/21/07: 4 pages, 11 photos ]

Montecastello di Vibio
A small town rather than a village, with medieval walls of peculiar interest; the castello that gave the town its name now houses a hotel and a good restaurant. The town is especially proud of its theater, the smallest in Europe: seating 100, it was recently restored, reopening in December 1994 to a regular schedule of visiting productions.


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Montemolino (5 km N of Todi)
On a hill dropping sharply to the left bank of the Tiber, a pleasant village with wonderful views, a striking castle and an attractive Romanesque church, plus an active social life.


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Montenero
A particularly massive castle.


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Montignano


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Pesciano
A very livable place, essentially a few stone streets surrounding a castle perched on a hill with splendid views; at the foot of the hill, a wayside chapel with particularly good medieval frescoes, beautifully restored a few years ago.


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Petroro
A particularly attractive village shaded by many tall trees, with a nice church.


[image ALT: A compact, almost round, village of old houses on the lower slopes of a densely forested hill; at the top, a town with a steepled church and a domed church prominently visible. It is the town of Pontecuti, and in the background the city of Todi, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 9/7/99: 1 page, 2 photos ]

Pontecuti (5 km W of Todi)
A bridgehead on the left bank of the Tiber, it is a small compact town, mostly stairs rather than streets, sloping up the hill on which Todi sits. The 17c bridge is particularly attractive, and there are some slight medieval remains.


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Ponte Rio (Ponterio) (3 km E of Todi)
A busy small suburb of Todi down in the valley: it could really be called "Todi Scalo". This is where Todi's main train station is, and there are several restaurants and at least one hotel.


[image ALT: A small Romanesque stone church, seen three-quarters from the apse. Over the front, a two-arched open belfry of the type known as a 'campanile a vela'. It is the church of S. Lorenzo at Porchiano near Todi, Umbria (central Italy).]

Porchiano
Neat as a pin, and with a very urban feel for so small a village. On a separate little mound fifty yards away, a very attractive Romanesque church.


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Portaria
One of the loveliest towns in the area: people from Todi see it as a nice place to spend a Sunday afternoon, in part because of a good restaurant, in part because of its great charm. The town is built of stone, with flowers everywhere, and hangs rather precipitously on the flank of a hill above some incredibly steep terraced vegetable gardens. You can see its two tall towers and its walls from very far away, yet from nearby it's rather hard to find.


[image ALT: A one-lane asphalted road with no traffic, heading toward the left background; on the left it seems to be bounded by a high wall, and on the right, which is clearly seen, several small farmhouses, and in the foreground, a low sloping wall. It is a view of Raggio, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 6/4/09: 1 page, 3 photos ]

Raggio
A textbook example of a one-street farm town; at least until it peters out towards the south, sloping down to a slow-moving stream in the woods.

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Santa Illuminata
Not a village or a town: this is an isolated ancient abbey, its origins in Late Antiquity, with a couple of very ancient sculptures in its walls. The building is being restored and a small agriturismo  now adjoins it.


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Sismano
One of the beautiful places of Umbria: a massive, ponderous castle and around it a single circular arc of a street of old stone houses, each doorstep a mini-garden of flowering potted plants. Just outside the gate, a low whitewashed church with traces of antiquity to it.


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Torrececcona


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Torregentile
An immaculately clean stone-built village tucked away in the pine trees.

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Torreluca
No more than a compact block of abutting stone houses and a very ruined medieval tower around a single central space, the whole village would fit in a very small city block. About a hundred yards off, a single-cell church retains some still-attractive but recently flood-damaged frescoes.


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Villa San Faustino
The town is a sparse collection of houses; the Romanesque church of San Faustino, a few hundred yards away, is a large, aristocratic, well-proportioned structure built on a massive base of beautifully squared Roman stone masonry with several embedded Roman inscriptions. Closer in, there is a second, somewhat neglected, smaller medieval church as well.


[image ALT: A narrow dirt path along a steep drop in the land: a view onto a long continuous range of low mountains many miles away, and the intervening agricultural plain, is largely blocked by the upper part of a crumbling old stone house; we see the tiled roof and pair of chimneys. The house itself presumably being entered from well below and on the side opposite the camera: at any rate, it presents no windows or doors to us on this side, and is partly overgrown with vines and weeds. It is part of the now abandoned fabric of the hamlet of Zampani, near Massa Martana in Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 6/10/09: 1 page, 5 photos ]

Zampani
This dying village of ruined stone houses, overgrown with weeds, has magnificent views west over a wide swath of the Tiber valley, and a rather sweet Renaissance church. Since I passed thru, it has lost its last inhabitant, and its survival now depends on developers.


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Site updated: 10 Jun 09