Borderland, at the crossroads of four regions, Città di Castello really something different and exciting. The Umbrian town, which lies a few kilometers from Tuscany, Marche and Emilia Romagna, It is enclosed in the Upper Tiber Valley, which it is the main center, fulcrum of an area that includes eight rich in history common, art and culture. Città di Castello, a clear medieval plan, dotted with Renaissance buildings and greenery around, It rose to prominence for being the birthplace of one of the most beautiful Italian actresses of recent years, Monica Bellucci (and the city is said to his mother as a young man was even prettier than the already beautiful daughter), but from an artistic point of view one can not but remember that this land belongs to one of the greatest exponents of contemporary art, Alberto Burri, of which the City of Castle houses the entire collection. I tell you now that I would be shorter tell you in this itinerary, but when things are so many to tell or suggest, it's difficult…
WHAT TO VISIT: After doing a walk 'wandering’ for the course and the alleys, just to make you road system behalf of the town, I advise you not to miss some monuments, first of all Palazzo Vitelli in Sant'Egidio, in the city centre. A residence that housed the mid-sixteenth century Paolo II Vitelli, descendant of Niccolò Vitelli, ally of Lorenzo de Medici in the second half of the fifteenth century. At the Vitelli family, Città di Castello owes its Renaissance appearance. During the period of dominion of this family, of all the buildings they were erected territory, churches and villas, the works of art that can be visited in this building, and not only, and that still bear witness to the importance of this family. The palace, often used for exhibitions, It is beautifully frescoed. Be sure to take a picture even to the bizarre cylindrical tower the Cathedral, built between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, only witness of the Roman origins of the Cathedral. To visit the Cathedral dedicated to Saints Florido and Amanzio, with various alterations, and the church of Saint Francis on the altar dedicated to St. Joseph dominated the Marriage of the Virgin (now replaced by a copy), painted by Raphael in 1504, and preserved in the Brera Gallery in Milan.
The real treasure of Citta di Castello, at least for art lovers, however Palace Albizzini, fifteenth-century mansion that houses the collection of works of art by one of the greatest contemporary exponents, Alberto Burri. The collection is managed by Burri Foundation, It established in 1978 for the painter's will, and it is enclosed in two buildings. The first is Palazzo Albizzini, where exposure through in one hundred and thirty works, dated from 1948 to 1989 and stored in twenty rooms, all the work of the master: Tar from the first to Molds, passing for sacks, the Plastics, the Woods, and Ferry, the Cellotex and the Cretti. The collection continues, following the historical evolution of the artist, with cycles of paintings of great size drawn from the late seventies, which are hosted in Ex Seccatoi tobacco, an immense space, 30,000 square meters in which 128 works are on display, who bought the same Burri to make their own atelier, restoring it in a minimal and conservative manner so that in itself was an expression of their lifestyle, shy, solitary and reserved.
Two local specialties are represented by the tradition of making the frame and canoeing. The first is the textile museum Tela Umbra, that still manufactures handcrafted artifacts using pure linen, worked on hand looms at the end of '800, using original drawings of medieval and renaissance. The paintings that come out by the expert hands of women are beautiful, but even more beautiful is the story behind this lab, linked to the figure of a young woman of vision and a big heart, Alice Hallgarten, wife of Baron and Senator of the kingdom Leopoldo Franchetti. The woman, of American origin but love with Italy and he died of tuberculosis at the age of 37, He tried with great ideas and innovative tools for the time to teach a job and give a future to local women. He identified in the frame and in textile weaving a possible way of liberation from poverty. In parallel, He created in his own home, Villa Montesca, two rural schools dedicated to the children of farmers Upper Tiber Valley, experimenting teaching methods ever experienced in Italy. His life intertwines with that of Maria Montessori in unpredictable ways, and I recommend you read the pages dedicated to her in the Tela Umbra site: You will be thrilled to Alice as I did.
The second peculiarity of Città di Castello is linked to the presence of the Tiber and a great sport: canoeing. On the river there is the Canoe Club Citta di Castello. Now, I confess that, despite having insisted they experience the thrill of a ride in a canoe, I desisted (and also I am desisting I also burned my nose!), but if you are fans of the genre or simply want to enjoy a different trip on the Tiber, I suggest you book a lesson with instructors (fantasic, many of them national or even world champions) and try to paddle admiring nature of the place.
TRUFFLE: The town of Citta di Castello (who invited me to a three-day tour to get to know the city better) He is working patiently to a local promotion activities and its features, from the promotion of truffle. If you were to visit Città di Castello, so do not forget to do a tasting of truffles and its derivatives (every season has its, and now the king is the summer truffle, also called “scorzone”, but here there are also white truffle and whitebait). Città di Castello is one of the Italian centers for the collection of this tuber so sought: in the first weekend of November it held the white truffle and food products, while the nearby town of Pietralunga home at the end of July, the festival of scorzone, which is perfumed, delicate and also affordable (around 150 euro per kilo). Obviously, the advice is to also bring you a bit 'at home, as I did, so much so that soon you will see a variety of recipes based on truffle blog.
To purchase a good truffle I suggest two addresses: the new store dthe Truffles Pen, company run by friendly Mark and Roberta, which it specialized in the truffle trade, mushrooms and high quality food and wine production. In his shop, in addition to the fresh product, I recommend you try the truffle butter and a delicate chocolate truffle cream. The other address is the 'Company Tartufi Bianconi, where you are welcomed as if you were family. In addition to the 'truffle seeking', you can do in the woods in the company of the owner Saverio Bianconi, do not miss a visit to the truffle museum within the company, with an overview of the history of this tuber, tasting products, the cooking classes and the wine pairings.
THE WINE: Città di Castello is not known for its wine production, but I found some small wineries that produce bottles that is worth a try, all at a very affordable: The Palerna (try the Red Valdimonte and Cospaia), Bianchini Cantina and Donini Wines (good Grechetto). Among the goodies I could taste: snails and Cosimo Cosino, a farm that offers baked, skewers and stuffed in the chili flavors; cold cuts and meats of Butcher Giulietti, which carries with pride the production of "mazzafegato”, a sausage that's Slow food, produced using the so-called "fifth quarter" of the pig, or with a portion of its entrails, including the heart.
THE FOOD: A small overview of the local gastronomy has to Feast of Mattonata, which is celebrated in one of the oldest districts of the city. There are dances, mangiafuoco, music, songs and long tables with the most typical dishes of the place, beginning with the "Ciaccia", a stuffed focaccia with roasted sausages and caramelized onions, or with meats or cheeses, in pieno stile street food. There is also another variant frit, made with plain flour, water, baking powder and salt. It is a festival that celebrates the ciaccia every first weekend of October in Citerna, small medieval town, which I recommend you visit those who come around here. Typical dishes, to also try some of the local restaurants such as Trattoria da Lea: beans in white, salami traditional Umbrian, Red tagliatelle with ragu and pecorino goose, Fettuccine Al Tartufo, crostini with chicken liver pate, codfish with tomato sauce. Few, poor and simple traditional sweets, including the classics nooks, that in Città di Castello are accompanied by a Holy wine Upper Tiber Valley, Slow food, which here has a special feature: Is that smoked. Actually, you must not think of a sweet wine that tastes like smoke, but it retains some hints, because those who still produces traditionally leaves the grapes to dry hanging from the kitchen ceiling, where in winter a fire is lit in the fireplaces. The smoke that escapes from the embers gives these grapes taste slightly smoky. For an aperitif with bubbles, with a good selection of cold cuts, cheeses and bruschetta the right address, trendy but always true, is Syrah, room where you can also dine and boasts an extensive wine cellar.
WHERE TO SLEEP: I stayed in the country house Felicita Paterna, which it is located on a hill about eight kilometers from the center of Città di Castello: with its four scenic villages dating back to 1200, some of which have been renovated to offer hospitality, the company welcomes guests in five different structures. It is a company that is also wildlife and hunting, with 450 hectares of organic farming, where you can find woods, barley fields, alfalfa, tobacco. Did you know (and I did not know) that between the late 50s and mid-60s of the twentieth century Città di Castello and the Upper Tiber Valley became an important center of the drying of tropical tobacco, punctuated by drying almost completely abandoned. This type of cultivation later gradually decreased and is today limited to the production of tobacco varieties “bright”. Within the estate it is easy to meet pheasants, foxes, daini, wild boar and quail that nest in this area. Finally, an all day dining restaurant offers local dishes and breakfast with homemade sweets made. If you prefer to stay downtown, I recommend the’Antica Canonica, a historic property once used for accommodating the canons, It located in a fifteenth century building located a few meters from the main entrance of the Cathedral.