This tour begins in the heart of town, in front of the main facade of Palazzo dei Priori in Corso Vannucci. The lunette of the vast portal contains statues of the city’s three patron saints : Lorenzo, Ercolano and Costanzo. There is a spacious vaulted vestibule just inside the portal and to the right an ample staircase.
The National Gallery of Umbria (Galleria Nazionale) is housed on the second floor. It contains numerous paintings dating from the 13th to the 19th century by Umbrian artists who figured prominently in the history of Italian art. These include Masolino, Pietro Vannucci, better known as Perugino, Pinturicchio, Beato Angelico and many others.
Back outside and to the left of the portal we find the Collegio della Mercanzia (Merchants Guild) and the Collegio del Cambio (Bankers Guild) built into ground floor storerooms of the Palazzo dei Priori. They bear witness to both the importance of the “humble arts” in the commercial life of the city and the prosperity achieved in the epoch of the Comune. We then begin to descend Via dei Priori from its summit.
The street begins under the archway below the bell tower in Palazzo dei Priori. After a few meters we find Via della Gabbia on our right. The gabbia (cage) for which the street is named recalls a grim page of medieval history when condemned prisoners were locked in a hanging cage.
To the left we have the Sant’Agata church. Continuing down the hill we come to Piazza Ferri, where we can admire the Baroque architecture of San Filippo Neri. Still further down the street and beyond the escalator we find the Torre degli Sciri. It is the only antique tower which survives in its original state. The oratory of the Confraternita di San Francesco, another fine example of Baroque art, is next to the tower.
We pass by Porta Trasimena on our left and after a few paces come to San Francesco al Prato. The Prato is one of the rare grassy squares and in good weather it turns into a crowded gathering place. Seated comfortably on the grass we can take in the elegantly sober architecture of San Francesco al Prato and the lovely facade of the Oratory of San Bernardino in a single glance.
The two buildings are joined by an arch that spans the entrance to the former Convent of San Francesco, present day home to the Accademia delle Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) and Museum.
The Museum contains a noteworthy collection including Antonio Canova’s plaster casts. Going back up the hill along Via del Poggio and then in Via Armonica, we walk along the Etruscan walls to arrive in Piazza Morlacchi.
Then on to Via della Stella and climbing Via Fratti, we arrive in Piazza IV Novembre. Seated on the Cathedral steps -another popular gathering place- we face the north facade of Palazzo dei Priori. This facade and the stairs leading to the Sala dei Notari were part of the palace’s original structure designed by Lorenzo Maitani.
- Palazzo dei Priori
- Merchants Guild
- Sant’Agata and San Severo di Piazza Church
- San Filippo Neri Church
- Santi Stefano e Valentino Church
- Escalator “Cupa-Priori”
- Sciri Tower
- Oratorio della Confraternità di San Francesco
- Madonna della Luce Church
- Porta Trasimena
- Porta Santa Susanna
- Oratorio di San Bernardino
- Academy of Fine Arts
- San Francesco al Prato Church
- Muro Etrusco
- Palazzo Florenzi
- Teatro Morlacchi
- San Martino del Verzaro Church
- Oratorio di Santa Cecilia