Bettona, a natural balcony overlooking the Umbria valley
Bettona rises on a “natural terrace” overlooking the Umbria Valley, near the confluence of the rivers Chiascio and Topino and at a short distance from the Tiber. From the top of its hill it is possible to see the towns of Assisi, Spello, Cannara Bevagna, Torgiano and Perugia. This auspicious location was the fortune and raison d’être of ancient Vettona: an Umbrian centre strongly influenced by Etruscan culture. A Roman municipium after the social war of 90 B.C., included from the Augustan age in the sixth region of Italy (Umbria), with the fall of the Roman empire it became first a Byzantine and then Longobard possession and in the Middle Ages established itself as a free commune. Its naturally fortified position between Perugia and Assisi was always of considerable strategic importance and in 1352, because Giovanni Visconti failed to keep a watch on it, the citizens of Perugia occupied it, “demolishing and breaking down walls and all the houses, only sparing the churches” and, to the even greater humiliation of municipal pride and autonomy, taking back to Perugia the highly venerated relics of San Crispolto, which were not returned until 1371. Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, papal legate in Italy, who was charged, whilst the Holy See was in Avignon, with recapturing and governing the lands of the Church, delivered the town from Perugia control in 1367, rebuilding it and providing it with its existing circle of walls. From then on papal control over the towns was exercised first by means of consecutive assignations to the Trinci family of Foligno and the Baglioni family of Perugia and, from 1648, through the direct rule of the Church.
The town is surrounded by well-preserved. An outstanding view can be had from a number of spots. The main civil and religious buildings can be found around the central space created by Piazza Cavour, on the site of the ancient Forum, and Piazza Garibaldi.
Six churches, two of which are provided with bell towers, are found within a short distance of each other. The oldest houses in Bettona all had a small enclosed vegetable and flower garden, with a cistern for rainwater and a well, creating a successful balance between the built-up areas and the surviving green spaces.
Do not miss
- The art and archaeological collection of the Museum
- The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore which, according to the tradition, is situated on the place where San Crispolto made his first miracle. The apse is decorated by the Italian Futurist painter Gerardo Dottori.
- The “Stories of San Crispolto” by Stefano Notari housed in the Church of San Crispolto
- The remarkable painting cycle by Giotto’s school with the fresco of the “Passion of Christ” in the Oratorio of Sant’Andrea
- Barrel-vaulted etruscan tomb dating back to the 2nd -1st century B.C and situated in Colle, on the north slope of the town
- From the garden of Piazza IV Novembre you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views over Assisi
- A wolk along the 13th century walls that incorporate large parts of the original Etruscan ones, made up of sandstone blocks. In the Etruscan part a big stone stands out for its singular shape which resembles a female backside and it is known as “culo delle monache”.
- The products related to the pigs breeding and to the processing of the pork meat, the olive oil, the “zuccherini” (traditional Christmas sweets) and the roast goose.