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S. Martino in Campo
A Frazione of Perugia​*

A town of central Umbria, a frazione of Perugia: 43°02.2N, 12°24.1E. Altitude: 179 m. Population in 2003: 2200.

[image ALT: The upper story of a brick building, with a round central window; to the side, a clock tower. It is a view of the façade of the church of S. Martino in Campo, a frazione of Perugia, Umbria (central Italy).]
The largest building in town by far is the 19c church, the upper story of which you see here; closed, unfortunately, when I visited S. Martino.

San Martino in Campo — St. Martin in the Plain, as opposed to S. Martino in Colle, on the Hill, about 3 km to the W, is your average Umbrian farm town, with no extraordinary sights to draw artists or foreign tourists. It is also smaller than the official population figures suggest: while the total inhabitants of the frazione may be in the thousands, the core village is easily traversed on foot in two or three minutes and must count no more than three hundred people if that.

The key probably lies in the map, which shows the inexorable, tentacular southward extension of Perugia: S. Martino, once a village of its own, is on the verge of being absorbed into the suburbs of its large neighbor, and the population figures include many scattered houses thruout the adjacent countryside.

[image ALT: An obelisk, about 4 meters tall, on a stone base almost as tall again, in a small public garden next to a low apartment house; a wreath is placed in front of it, two low stone markers, one on either side, are inscribed with about 35 names. It is the War Monument at S. Martino in Campo, near Perugia, Umbria (central Italy).]

The War Monument, or more properly the Monument to the Casualties of War, is unfortunately a standard fixture thruout Europe. The obelisk is in a little triangular park between the train station and the church; the names of the dead, about 35 of them, are inscribed in bronze letters on two low markers in front of it and to either side.

The main inscription reads simply

San Martino in Campo
ai suoi caduti
per la patria

San Martino in Campo
to her children who fell
for their country.

Another marble plaque can be seen in town, much less conspicuously placed on a building that, as far as I could tell, has had no official or public character:

[image ALT: A rectangular marble plaque on a brick wall, with a seven-line inscription. It is a plaque commemorating King Umberto I of Italy, at S. Martino in Campo, near Perugia, Umbria (central Italy); the text is transcribed and translated on this webpage.]

il RE buono prode magnanimo
spento da mano assassina
in mezzo al suo popolo
gli abitanti di S Martino in Campo
questo ricordo consacrano

XIV Ottobre MCM

the good KING, brave, magnanimous,
extinguished by an assassin's hand
in the midst of his people
the people of S. Martino in Campo
consecrate this memorial

October 14th, 1950

King Umberto was shot dead on July 29, 1900, so that his plaque in S. Martino marks an anniversary, sort of: I've been unable to determine what, if any, the significance of the October date.

More interestingly, Umberto was a very conservative ruler, whose memory is pretty much abhorred by liberals, the labor movement, and the left; now socially conservative though Umbria may be, her voting record has been mostly socialist or communist, and while he seems to have been a man of personal honor and rectitude and to have had his admirers (see for example this much more attractive memorial plaque dated 1910) it's surprising to see the inscription before us here, erected less than five years after a referendum by which Italy voted herself a republic and did away with her kings: one senses an agenda and a bit of local sentiment; for now I haven't been able to trace it any farther.

[image ALT: A painting of the crowned head of a woman. It is a detail of a madonnina, or wayside shrine to the Virgin Mary, in S. Martino in Campo, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 3 photos ]

A little politics, of any stripe, goes a very long way with me; to round out our tour of the town, then, a madonnina, a wayside shrine to the Virgin Mary, not far from the church.

[image ALT: A zzz. It is the parish church of S. Martino in Campo, near Perugia, Umbria (central Italy).]
— and our parting view, of the church from the site of the madonnina.


* If you have stumbled on this page looking for a Romanesque abbey, this is not the place you want: you're looking for the church in Capraia e Limite (Tuscany).

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Page updated: 26 Oct 18