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Not many people know what saffron really is or how this very precious spice is produced. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is a spice derived from the stigmas of the crocus flower, a plant species in the family Iridaceae. In Città della Pieve, saffron is cultivated in small fields using annual crop techniques, consisting in the digging up of the corms at the end of each vegetation cycle (July and August) followed by their replanting in a differenft field.
This technique allows for the selection of the best corms and in general results in longer stigmas that give better quality saffron. The flowers are picked by hand between October and November, in the early morning hours when the petals are still closed, so as to avoid damaging the critical active ingredients present in the stigmas: i.e. crocin, that provides the typical bright red hue; picrocrocin that gives saffron its bitter taste components; safranal, that generates saffron’s typical fragrance. Immediately after being harvested, the stigmas are separated from the flowers and desiccated at temperatures specifically selected to maintain intact the characteristics of the spice. All of the cultivation procedures, ranging from corm plantation to flower harvesting, stigma separation and desiccation, are done by hand.
Documentation of the production of saffron in Città della Pieve dates back to the 13th century, when the spice was used mostly to dye fabrics, seeing the city’s renown for textile m nufacturing. Mention of the cultivation and use of saffron is found in the Charters of Perugia of 1279 and in 16th century statutes of Città della Pieve. Today, the existence of the Il Croco di Pietro Prugino Consortium, that groups various producers dedicated to saffron cultivation, guarantees the continuation of this important heritage throught the protection and safeguarding of the typicality and specificity of Città della Pieve saffron.
Click play to see the video
The urban layout of Città della Pieve dates back to the first half of the 13th century when the ancient Castel della Pieve, already subdued by Perugia since 1188, was established as a free city. The urban grid presents the typical solutions of the first communal civilization: the wide and curved streets show the presence of the class of knights who went to war with their horses; the side streets or alleys, both twisted and fragmented, instead indicate the pedestrian class, urbanized peasants, who used the bow and crossbow. So in the clash between the two classes, the knights could escape the pedestrians’ arrows using the curvature of the streets; instead the pedestrians were defended by the structure of the alleys, impenetrable for the horses.
Palio dei Terzieri
The historic “Pallium” that is disputed by the “Terzieri” every year, is a beautiful tapestry painted by the Pievese master Antonio Marroni, depicting archers in the act of paying tribute to the Master of the Field (judge of the contest), before the start of the competition is signaled. Against the blue background the most significant monuments of the city and, below, the symbols of the “Terzieri”: the medieval Castle, the Well of Casalino and the Fortress of “Borgo Dentro”; the upper crest of Città della Pieve with the two “Biscioni Visconti” tribute to the alliance with the Republic of Milan. Framing the tapestry is a decoration of trophies and armor of the sixteenth century.
The day of the launching of the challenge, on August 15th, the Pallium is returned by the winnng “Terziere” of the previous year to the hands of the “Podestà of Castel della Pieve”, to be jealously kept in the Town Hall, where it will emerge the day of the Bull Hunting, to appear in the grand parade preceded by the banner of the city.
Not many people know what saffron really is or how this very precious spice is produced. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is a spice derived from the stigmas of the crocus flower, a plant species in the family Iridaceae.
In Città della Pieve, saffron is cultivated in small fields using annual crop techniques, consisting in the digging up of the corms at the end of each vegetation cycle (July and August) followed by their replanting in a differenft field.
Preparing the Palio dei Terzieri
The Touch Screen is the area of the interactive itinerary of the Multimedia Rocca where it is possible to discover all the heritage of Città della Pieve. Divided into sections you can watch videos, read information, discover the typical products, the areas adjacent to the historic center, have a preview of all the artistic routes and learn about the various restaurants and hotels. The simple and intuitive interface will help you find what you are looking for.
Palazzo della Corgna
Hall of the Muses Virtual Tour
Where to Eat
Al Poggio dei Papi - Loc. San Litardo, 34
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 297027
Antica Cantina - Via Vannucci, 25
Città della Pieve - Tel. 327 - 7386646
Bistrot del Duca - Via Po' di Mezzo, 3
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298008
Certe Notti - Str. Stat. 71, 54 Po' Bandino
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 226781
Da Bruno Coppetta - Via Vannucci 90
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298108
Dandy's - Via Garibaldi, 20
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 299320
Il Capriccio - Vocabolo San Litardo, 25
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298105
Il Fornello - Vocabolo Fornello, 205
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 294235
Il Pozzetto - Via Stradone, 178 Moiano
Città dellla Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 294598
Il Saltapicchio - Via Marconi, 26
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298435
Il Vin Verso - Via Roma, 27
Città della Pieve - Tel. 346 - 5611851
La Fonte del Folletto - Str. Stat., 71 Nord, 13 - Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298752
Le Sibille - Viale Cappuccini, 7
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298927
Locanda della Picca - Località Il Monte
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 299403
Matrioska - Strada statale 71 Nord, 54
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 222170
Quo Vadis - SP308 Fondovalle, Loc. Ponticelli - Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 249030
Ristorante Silvana - Vicolo del Gesù
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298311
Ristorante Zafferano - Via Vanni, 1
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298063
Ristoro Bio Le Due Valli - Vocabolo Madonna delle Grazie n.6
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 299822
Rosticceria Il Castello - Via Garibaldi, 65
Città della Pieve - Tel. 331 - 4462551
Taverna del Perugino - Via Vannucci, 37
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 298848
Trattoria Serenella - Via Fiorenzuola, 32
Città della Pieve - Tel. 0578 - 299683
Wine And Oil
Città della Pieve wine belongs to the D.O.C. Hills of Trasimeno. The production is mainly red wine consisting of 80% approx. from Sangiovese grape and the remainder from typical Trasimeno grape varieties. The Città della Pieve wine, fruity with a slightly bitter aftertaste, is particularly suitable for meats and vegetables. The oil, which belongs to the D.O.P. “Colli Orvietani”, is mainly made up of the leccino, moraiolo and frantoio varieties. Pievese oil is characterized by being rather fruity and low in acidity.
That saffron was produced in Umbria and therefore also in Castel della Pieve starting at least from the century. XIII is testified by the Statute of Perugia of 1279 where the sowing of the plant by foreigners was forbidden in the then countryside of Città della Pieve. It was therefore a sort of customs protectionism operated by the authorities of the dominant city. In the Statutes of the Gabella di Castel della Pieve of 1530, the collection of saffron appears, among other rubrics. It should be noted that the Pievesi producers must report their quantity to the Municipality by 8 November and consequently pay the tax. Fines are foreseen for those who do not report correctly and anyone is invited to report under high remuneration.
In the Statutes of the Damage Given, also dated 1530, all possible damage to the saffron fields by individuals or animals and the relative compensation to the owner are listed in detail. From the above it is clear that the production of saffron was very important for the economy of the city. The plant was mainly used for dyeing fabrics, if Castel della Pieve was an important center for the production of cloth since the century. XIII. At the end of the 1970s the agronomist Alberto Vigano planted some saffron bulbs from Spain on his properties located in the Pievese area. In those years, other crops were derived from this experience, carried out by some farmers from Pievesi who were also fascinated by the spice. In June 2002, with the active collaboration of the Municipal Administration of Città della Pieve, the Monti del Trasimeno Mountain Community and the Faculty of Agriculture of Perugia flanked by other subjects such as Gal Trasimeno Orvietano, Slow Food - Condotta Trasimeno and Category Associations, was born the Alberto Viganò Consortium "Il Croco di Pietro Perugino - Saffron of Città della Pieve".
The Consortium is made up of 30 members. Saffron is marketed exclusively in threads to ensure its authenticity.
MADONNA DEGLI ANGELI – SALCI
The itinerary runs through the ancient path of Via dell’Alpe di Serra to Rome. At about 2 km from Città della Pieve you meet the church Madonna degli Angeli, built in Gothic style during the 14th century. The façade is characterized by an ogival door and a bell-gable. Inside the church you find many frescoes by Sienese and Orvieto school between 14th and 15th centuries. Particularly important is “The Annunciation” (half 14th century) by the Sienese painter Jacopo di Mino del Pelliciaio, who was inspired by the analogue subject of the painting by Simone Martini which is preserved in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. In the same period “ The Nativity” was painted, a fresco that belongs to the circle of the Orvieto painter Ugolino di Prete Ilario. Many other painters have depicted the Madonna with child theme adopting a more popular style and often adding the portrait of the patron: a sort of ex-voto, a propitiatory vow to escape the death danger of the future child. From the church Madonna degli Angeli you go down towards the valley, through a wood. Then you have a straight path characterized by century-old oaks at the sides. You reach, then, the hill where there is the village-castle of Salci. The earliest records date back to 1243, when Emperor Frederick II established in a certificate the territorial boundaries of Città della Pieve. The castle was harshly contested by Orvieto and Città della Pieve until the end of the 15th century. Since 1497 it has belonged to the Bandini family, Lords of the ancient Castel della Pieve. In 1568 Pius V raised Salci to the seat of a Duchy entrusting it to Lucrezia Bandini with the privilege to establish fairs and markets. Since 1574 Bonelli family have ruled Salci. In 1886 the territory of Salci was bought by Marquise Vittoria Spinola, Vittorio Emanuele II and “bella Rosina” ‘s daughter. The plan of the castle, dating back to the the14th century, is composed of two communicating courts: one is quadrangular (Square Bonelli) and overlooks the ducal palace and the church Saint Leonard, the other one, that has a more elongated shape (Square Crescenzi) , was used as a market place and is surrounded by a series of low-rise buildings for the residence of the employees. The village has two doors: the Orvieto one in the east, the Siena one in the west. On a hill, outside the Orvieto door, there is a building called “The Granaro”, an ancient house of the renters, converted into a neo-Gothic castle by Vittoria Spinola at the end of the 19th century.
SAN BIAGIO – SAN DONATO
The itinerary runs through the ancient Via dell’Alpe di Serra towards Cortona. Along the way you can appreciate the sweeping views from Città della Pieve to Lake Trasimeno and the Valdichiana, the landscape which inspired the famous and harmonious backgrounds by Perugino. As a matter of fact, the maestro (master) of Città della Pieve has often travelled this road in his movements between the hometown and Florence. This path is particularly sentimental because it is surrounded by a landscape of sweet hills with a view of the lake and also of the wide space of the Valdichiana that opens towards the horizon: the real landscape, which is always present in the mind of the Pievese maestro, as a mark of origin. At about 3 km from Città della Pieve, in the direction of Moiano, on a woody hill there is the church of San Biagio, which directly looks at the church of San Donato. The church has a medieval origin as you can see from the stone blocks characterizing the apse, which are similar to the ones of the Civic Tower of Città della Pieve. It was reshaped between the 18th and the 19th centuries. From the church of San Biagio you go down towards Moiano and then you go up to the church of San Donato, an ancient medieval pieve (church with a font) located at the crossroad of Via dell’Alpe di Serra and the road to Paciano and Panicale. The original building has been reshaped over the centuries especially between the 18th and the 19th centuries as you can read on the tombstone dated 1819 placed in the wall on the left of the entrance door. Also the neoclassical bell tower dates back to that period.
In order to appreciate the relationship between the real landscape and the ideal one by Perugino, you should follow the itinerary which from Città dell Pieve goes to Panicale through the village of Paciano. When you arrive in Panicale, real Belvedere on Lake Trasimeno, you can see how the lake appears in its real greatness. Its perimeter seems to be conceived by a harmonic mind: the peninsula of Castiglione del Lago, on the left, is symmetric to the Polvese Island on the right and between these two, in the centre, there are the Maggiore Isle and the Minore Isle. All around there is a chain of mountains with wavy profiles and on the left there is the slightly rough extension of the Valdichiana. This view has surely inspired Perugino in the fresco depicting “The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” in the church with the same name in Panicale. The fresco, painted in 1505, is characterized by a central pyramid composed of four elegant archers who dance around the body of the saint who peacefully receives the arrows. The pyramid stands on a perspective square which reminds the “Delivery of the keys to Saint Peter” painted by Perugino in the Sistine Chapel. The theme of Saint Sebastian can be connected with the spread of the plague. The saint was considered powerful against the epidemic because he suffered the torture of the arrows. As a matter of fact, in the biblical tradition, epidemics were represented as the result of a launch of arrows made by the angels in order to fulfil the divine revenge.
IL BUTARONE – LA FABBRICA
Between Ponticelli and Chiusi station, in the valley, you come across a battlemented tower, the Tower of Butarone, of medieval origin, which was a customs place between the territories of Perugia and those of the Republic of Siena and later between the State of the Church and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The tower was also a military outpost, as it is suggested by the name Butarone or Bottarone, that is to say big hit. Nearby you find a building called La Fabbrica, composed of a bridge on which stands an elegant building. It is a regulator of the waters of the Chianetta Canal made in the late 18th century during the reclamation of the Chiana Romana Valley. In 1780 the “Hydraulic agreement” was signed in the convent of Saint Augustine in Città della Pieve between Pius VI and the Gran Duke Peter Leopold I of Tuscany for the final reclamation of the Valdichiana Valley. A watershed was created in the place of the present Chiusi station. For this reason the waters in the north of Chiusi were channelled towards the Arno through the Canale Maestro of the Chiana Valley, those in the south were channelled towards the Tiber, through the Chianetta Canal. Andrea Vici was appointed engineer of the reclamation of the Chiana Romana Valley and he was also a talented architect, pupil of Vanvitelli. So probably the conception of La Fabbrica is by Andrea Vici.
César Vásquez Altamirano