UMBERTIDE: The old fratta
Located in the Upper Tiber Valley, Umbertide stands at the confluence of the Reggia stream and the Tiber River. Although there is mention of an ancient Roman Pitulum, its origins remain uncertain. In the 12th century it was known by the name of Fratta filiorum Uberti, as it was a feud of the descendants of Umberto, marquis of Tuscany. In 1189 one of these, Ugolino di Uguccione, subjected his lands to the authority of Perugia, including among them the castle of Fratta.
In 1374 the Rocca, or fortress, was constructed as part of an extensive system of fortifications built by the pope to maintain more effective control over his territory in view of the return of the papacy from Avignon to Rome. Between the late 14th century and the early part of the next century, it was occupied by the armies first of Biordo Michelotti and then of Braccio da Montone, both with the intention of moving from this stronghold to conquer the rule of Perugia, to the fate of which Fratta would be increasingly tied.
It remained in the Papal States until the Unification of Italy, except during the brief period of French rule. In 1862 it was renamed Umbertide in honor of the king of Italy, Umberto of Savoy.
“Long before the sun had reached the zenith we arrived at the little town of Fratta, where we stopped both to explore the district and to exercise our pencils in recording a very characteristic passage of the river. [....] Just outside of the town we found a cheerful and pleasant little inn that promised well for a cleanly and comfortable domicile. On signifying our desire for some refreshment the table was presently spread in an abundant, if not sumptuous manner...”
Do not miss
- Signorelli at the Santa Croce museum
- The Rocca, a superb medieval fortress now used as an Exhibition Center for contemporary art
- The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria della Reggia
- The Gothic Church of San Francesco
- The Teatro dei Riuniti, a rare, exquisitely restored theater
- The Convent of Santa Maria della Pietà
- The Church of San Bernardino
- The Abbey of San Salvatore di Montecorona, with an ancient crypt
- Tasting the abrecciata, a traditional local dish with beans and grains cooked together in a large pot, or maccheroni with walnuts