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THE CITIES OF UMBRIA



WORKS BY EDWARD HUTTON

Uniform with this Volume



FLORENCE AND NORTHERN TUSCANY

SIENA AND SOUTHERN TUSCANY

ROME

VENICE AND VENETIA

THE CITIES OF LOMBARDY

THE CITIES OF ROMAGNA AND THE MARCHES

THE CITIES OF SPAIN

Also

IN UNKNOWN TUSCANY. Illustrated in Colour.

Demy 2>vo. js. 6d, net.
COUNTRY WALKS ABOUT FLORENCE. Illustrated with

Line Drawings. Fcap Zvo. 5^. net.




PORTA AUC.USTA, PERUGIA



THE CITIES OF UMBRIA



BY



EDWARD BUTTON



WITH TWENTY ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR BY
' A. PISA
AND TWELVE OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS



FIFTH EDITION



METHUEN & CO. LTD.

36 ESSEX STREET W.C.

LONDON



First Published August igos

Second Edition January jgob

Third Edition, Revised . . . May igo8

Fourth Edition Septemberigio

Fifth Edition ....... JQ'S



TO ALICE

In hoc saltern lihro inveniam faciem tuam



I May 21, 1904



37GJ



CONTENTS



IMPRESSIONS OF THE CITIES OF UMBRIA

I. PERUGIA, . . ' ,

II. ASSISI, ....

III. SPELLO, . . . . ,

IV. FOLIGNO AND MONTBFALCO,
V. TBEVI AND THE TEMPLE OF CLITDMNUS,

VI. SPOLETO, ....
VII. ON THE WAY TO NARNI,
VIII. TODJ, ....

IX. ORVIETO, . . .

X. VITERBO, ....
XI. CITTA DELLA PIEVE,
XII. GUBBIO, ....

XIII. MONTONE AND CITTA DI CASTELLO,

XIV. THE WAY TO UKBINO, .
XV. URBINO, ....

XVI. FABRIANO, GUALDO TADINO, AND NOCERA UMBRA,



PAGE

xi

3

23

49

54

64

68

76

80

88

103

115

118

126

133

137

157



VUl



THE CITIES OF UMBRIA



THE UMBRIAN SCHOOL OF PAINTING



PAGS



XVII.


UMBRIAN ART, . . • •


167


xvm.


PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA,


187


XIX.


MELOZZO DA FORLi,


198


XX.


LUCA SIGNORELLI AT ORVIKTO, . ,


202


XXT.


BENEDETTO BONFIGLI, .


. 215


XXII.


FIORENZO DI LORENZO, .


223


XXIII.


PIETRO VANNUCCI : IL PERUGINO,


235


XXIV.


PINTORICCHIO, ....

UMBRIA MYSTICA


252


XXV.


JOACHIM DI FLORE,


. 261


XXVI.


ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, .


. 277


XXVII.


ST. CLARE, ....


306


XXVIII.


BROTHER BERNARD,


315


XXIX.


BROTHER ELIAS, ....


321




CONCLUSION, ....


. 332




INDEX, . . . . •


335



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



IN COLOUR

PORTA AUGUSTA, PERUGIA, Fronttspiece

PIAZZA s. LORENZO, PERUGIA, to facc page 4



PIAZZA DEL MERCATO, PERUGIA, • . . .

VICOLO S. AGNESE, PERUGIA,

CAPPELLA DEI PELLEGRINI, ASSISI, . . . ,

ASSISI,

NAVE OF THE LOWER CHURCH OF S. FRANCESCO, ASSISI,

S. FRANCESCO, ASSISI,

CLOISTERS, S. FRANCESCO, ASSISI, . . . ,

PORTA VENERIS, SPELLO,

PORTA VENERIS, SPELLO,

NEAR THE TEMPLE OF CLITUMNUS, . . . .

DUOMO, TODI,

PALAZZO PUBBLICO, TODI,

DUOMO, ORVIETO,

S. GIOVANNI BATTISTA, GUBBIO, . . . .
VIA DELLE OCCHI, GUBBIO, . . . , .
PALAZZO DEI CONSOLI, GUBBIO,



12

20
24
30
32
40
44
50
52
66
80
84
94
118
122
124



X THE CITIES OF UMBRIA

PULPIT, LOWER CHURCH OF S. FRANCESCO, ASSISI, . tO fact page 302
CHAPEL IN S. FRANCESCO, ASSISI, .... „ 328



FROM PHOTOGRAPHS BY MESSRS. ALINARI

THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC — ROMAN SCHOOL,

MADONNA AND CHILD — OTTAVIANO NELLI,.

ADORATION OF THE MAGI— GENTILE DA FABRIANO,

THE RESURRECTION — PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA,

THE ANTICHRIST — LUCA SIGNORELLI, .

THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI — BENEDETTO BONFIGLI,

OONFALONE DI S. BERNARDINO — BENEDETTO BONFIGLI

MADONNA AND CHILD WITH SAINTS — FIORENZO DI
LORENZO,

ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS — FIORENZO DI
LORENZO,

THE PRESEPIO — PIETRO PERUGINO, ....

ADORATION OF THE MAGI — PIETRO PERUGINO, .

THE MADONNA — BERNARDINO PINTORICCHIO,



. to face


page


174






178






180






196






210






216

220



224



246



PREFACE

/^NE day of sunshine, mysterious and full of silence, as
^^ I was wandering among the hills about Fiesole, where
hundreds of years ago Lorenzo of the Medici held his
court, and, as I have been told, Botticelli first saw La Bella
Simonetta in the spring, out of the splendour and sweet
spaciousness of that gentle world, or perhaps from the
cypresses that crown the soft round hills with mystery, there
came to me an old chant, older, perhaps, than Christianity,
that I had heard years and years ago when I was a child
at Perugia, that city under the Apennines where they still
guard the wedding-ring of the Blessed Virgin. It was an
old tune that seemed to bear in its few notes all the romance
of that world so long ago with its lovely gods ; something
of the simple and correct beauty of all that; and yet to
suggest an underlying sadness and regret of the beauty
that had passed away. A sudden longing seized me as I
lay under the olives to hear the Mass sung in that bleak
old church, to look once more on the Umbrian Hills, and to
see the light that never was in any Tuscan vale, flooding
the valley of Spoleto, and the countless indestructible cities.
And as I lay there watching a peasant, whose clear-cut
features proclaimed his race, sow his seed broadcast, as of



xii THE CITIES OF UMBRIA

old, over the plough-land, while behind him and above him
the vines flung themselves from myrtle to myrtle under
the profound and soft sky, I determined to set out that
night for Umbria, the true Italia Mystica, whose saints
have captured the world, whose valleys have beckoned many
armies towards Eome. Once more I would see Assisi, that
Italian Nazareth, early in the morning, and follow the road
towards Foligno, the city of the Blessed Angela, most human,
perhaps, of all saints, and say farewell to St. Mary of the
Angels. Above me all day, like a Eeligious prostrate in
his brown habit, on his knees, bending towards Rome, Monte
Subasio would tower, whose snows are in springtime the
one hard field of light in all the valley of Spoleto ; for it
is a valley of infinite softness and space, and the gesture
of the mountains is of a profound nobility. At eventide
I would come to Foligno, where in S. Felicita Blessed
Angela besought of St. Francis a little happiness after great
sorrow till she heard Christ whisper, one breathless morning,
' I love thee more than any woman in the valley of Spoleto.'
And I, too, would beseech of St. Francis a little happiness,
in St. Mary's of the Angels ; and what might I not find —
yes, even one so in love with life as I — in a land that held
such gifts 1 So I set out not without hope.

It was night when I came to Perugia. The hostelry was
comfortable, the host kind and thoughtful, the sunset as
ever had been a passion of sudden glory. In that vast
country, for so it seems, far from any real city, it is those
primitive and absolute movements in the sky — the sunset,



PEEFACE xiii

the sunrise, and high noon, the gathering of the clouds
over the hills, the terrible onslaught and march of the storm
the mystery and silence of cloudless sunshine — that move us
that are of importance to us, as they never can be in a city,
where they are obscured by the foulness of life, the unnatural-
ness of existence amid millions of petty details, insignificant
and mortal. But here in Umbria, where Perugino was, in
fact, merely a realist who, so far as landscape is concerned
at any rate, painted just what he saw, the sweet movements
of heaven are of a due importance, and thrust themselves
not roughly, but very surely and quietly nevertheless, upon
our notice, assuring us almost with music of the existence
of God and His angels, and the beauty and simplicity of
life.

Tired by my journey, for Florence is far from Perugia,
I fell asleep into the night that had a blessedness scarcely
to be found in the North — seeing that the floor of heaven
here seemed softer than a blue mantle on which lay a
scattered multitude of lilies — to dream of to-morrow, that
delight of the traveller, its gifts, its dust and heat, its shade
and pleasant shallow streams, its weariness and satisfaction.

Just at dawn I was awakened, and went out into that
virginal hour, having eaten a mouthful of golden-coloured
bread, very pleasant to the taste, and a little honey, which
I bought in the market-place. Behind me and before me
lay the beautiful valley clad in a mist that was rose-colour
and gold, and softer than the bloom upon the grapes. Many
cities seeming white and very pure lifted their towers into the



xiv THE CITIES OF UMBRIA

sky. Perugia herself was in the attitude of prayer ; Assisi,
a little grey, lay still asleep upon the skirts of Subasio;
little Spello seemed to stretch her arms towards the sky;
while Trevi on her hill kept sentinel, armed at all points,
her housetops battlements, her wind-vanes bright swords.
Only Spoleto under her monastery, holding the very precious
dust of Filippo Lippi in her heart, seemed to be watching the
dawn which presently swept over her hills, covering them
with a matchless glory. And it seemed to me in that hour
that if the noblest day's journey in the world had to be
chosen, it is by this way we should pass, down this valley we
should come, perhaps from Florence to Arezzo, past Cortona,
the city of Signorelli, that still holds, though hidden, the
dust of that great unfortunate man who built the tomb of
St. Francis and hid his body for six hundred years ; past Lake
Thrasymene where St. Francis kept his fast, and Perugia
where Perugino learned the nobility of perfect space, and
Assisi and Foligno and Spoleto, whose mighty fortress har-
boured Lucrezia Borgia, and Terni with her waterfalls, and
so over the mountains to Narni, till from afar suddenly the
classical form of Monte Soracte rises out of the Campagna,
and at last after passing the vineyards of Monte Rotondo, at
a little village called Castel Giubileo, far, oh ! far away, we
might see the dome of S. Pietro rise like the immense hope
of the world, inexpressible and as yet unbroken, into heaven,
blue and white like the sky itself. The supreme nobility of
this Latin landscape, the cradle of our civilisation, moves us
as no other sight perhaps in the world can do. This is the



PEEFACE XV

land of our second birth, and still beyond the remotest of

horizons she holds for us most of that which is very precious.

• ••«•••

Those cypresses beside the Tiber, that villa over the valley,
the sound of the bells that came to us lying under the olives —
do you remember, little Princess, do you remember 1 or have
you forgotten everything now that I am so far away ?

Ah, no ! you cannot forget that day when we, two pilgrims
from a less lovely world, came to Assisi; and, seeing our
simplicity, the Brother told us all his stories. That day at
least you will not forget, for did it not seem to us that we
had met St. Francis himself in the rose-garden beside St.
Mary of the Angels, and when we had thanked him did he
not hang his medals round our necks for remembrance — one
for you and one for me ; and since we secretly wished it, I
think he blessed us? How tired you were when, for our
delight, we had tried to see Giotto's work in that dark lower
church glowing with precious frescoes; how delightful and
cool you found the quiet Campo Santo ; how happy we were
over our bread and wine ! Do you think I can forget your
laughter, or the shadow of the swaying cypress that every
now and then passed over your hair as a cloud passes over
the sun, or the folds of your dress, or the gesture of your
hands ? Those old dead saints into whose dreams we came
for a little moment, how long and long will it be before they
hear your laughter again 1 And I, who was so happy with
you in the byways and olive-gardens of Umbria, how shall I
visit them again now you are far away ? No ; I shall not dare



\



xvi THE CITIES OF UMBRIA

to visit them again without you. I shall wait, and since you
are now so busy making others happy, I have reminded
myself of all those things you have perhaps forgotten,
that I may bring them to your remembrance and place them
under the benediction of your hands.

Indeed, if we had world enough and time, for a little
moment we might be content with remembrance. But Italy
is changing — already how many thousands have looked with
indifference on that which we found so precious ; how many
thousands, think you. Princess, have laughed at the stories we
took for true ? It is an army that passes.

But amid all the mediocrity of life from which it is so
difficult to escape, am I not compelled to pardon and to cease
to ask : Life, why have you disappointed me 1 — since you
have blown in the sweetest blossoms and passed me lightly,
lightly in my dreams 1

Do you remember, little Princess, do you remember f

May 21, 1904.



{



IMPRESSIONS OF THE CITIES OF UMBRIA



PERUGIA

AS you come to Perugia from Florence and Terontola,
past the mystical lake of Trasimeno, where, on an
island surrounded by whispering rushes that seem ever to
be commanding silence, St. Francis spent the Lent of which
the author of the Fioretti tells us, you might think the
city that reveals herself so fantastically, first on the right
hand and then on the left between the low Umbrian Hills,
only a great fortress, the castle of some belated tyrant. On
a nearer view there is something of a great dignity in her
isolation on her hill-top, which is, after all, not the last low
spur of the indestructible Apennine but the deposits, age
after age, of the Tiber flowing towards Eome and the sea.
And even as long and long ago the Tiber left her, so that
now even after the fiercest storms or the deepest snows she
hears nothing of his terrible song, so at last the world too
has fallen away from her, leaving her alone on her beautiful
hill, surrounded only by elemental things — the sun, the
moon, the stars, and the unchanging mountains. More
than a mile away the railway slinks towards Rome and the
sea, fearful of her aspect, since it may never approach her,
and has only dared to come so far by devious ways, and with
many hesitations. She is so proud on her mountain, over-
topping the soft green hills of her Urabria, for within her
immense horizon no other city, ruddy or white, is like to her.
Her brows are still pale in the morning, and golden with the



4^ THE rjITZES OF UMBRIA

setting sun ; the sky is still above her serene and beautiful ;
her eyes, which are perhaps tired with waiting for the
sunrise, may still rest themselves on her own green fields
and many gardens of olives. It is only at evening some-
times that you may surprise a kind of fear in her eyes,
when suddenly above the Vesper bells at sunset she hears
the electric tram, that has so lately been thrust upon her,
rush without ceremony or weariness up her hillside, and
with clanging iron and all the noise of modernity hurry
through her ancient Corso, past the Palazzo Municipio,
which in its beautiful old age it threatens to destroy,
and has already brutally shaken ; past the Duomo, which it
ignores, into the Piazza Danti, whence it has already expelled
the beautiful bronze statue of Pope Julius iii. But after all,
this modern contrivance, with its network of wires, its noise,
and its convenience, is the one modern thing that has
invaded her. The great beautiful oxen still stand patiently
in her market-place, or draw the plough over her fields ; her
sons still sow broadcast, over the land they tread with their
bare feet, the corn and the maize -, the priest still blesses her
fields; the tiny cross of bamboo with a branch of olive,
silver in the wind, still marks her fields as the gifts of God
to her who still remembers Him. In her cathedral the
wedding-ring of the Blessed Virgin, mystic, wonderful, is
safe in its many caskets. Her beautiful miracle-picture of
Madonnina draws its crowd of pilgrims, and she herself, the
queen of hill cities, is still beautiful within and without her
Etruscan walls, on which Rome and the Middle Age and the
Renaissance have not forgotten to leave their marks as
beautiful and as indestructible. Her streets are even yet
named nobly — Via della Cupa, Via della Conca, Via dei
Priori, Via di San Francesco, Via delle Stalle. She has not
stooped to flatter the new Royal House, as Rome and
Florence and Naples have done. Her gates, many and



PERUGIA 5

splendid, have too in their very names a suggestion of her
inviolable beauty — Porta Eburnea, Porta Augusta, Porta Sant'
Angelo, Porta Sole, Porta Marzia. Within her palaces is some
of the sweetest work of Perugino, and Bonfigli, and Fiorenzo di
Lorenzo ; and her prospect is of a thousand hills and valleys.
Far, oh, far away to the north and west, lie the bare mountains
above Siena ; while to the south the hills are crowned with
famous and lovely cities — Assisi, Spello, Trevi, Spoleto ; and,
like a rosy flower in the green valley of Spoleto, you see
Foligno, the strange city of Blessed Angela ; while beyond,
Monte Subasio looks towards Rome with the city of St.
Francis kneeling on its skirts, a religious, in the homely brown
habit, vowed to God. Like a lily at her right hand towers
St. Mary of the Angels, delicate with the colour of the day —
white, or almost rosy, or sombre, under her sky. And far
away to the west rise the mountains above Orvieto and
little Todi on her hill, and, all between, the sweet Umbrian
plain and the valley of the Tiber. And though in early
morning this exquisite landscape is delicate and fragile and
half-hidden in mist, at sunset it has something of the 'large-
ness of the evening earth,' and a majesty of silence and
repose, that is as it were suggested by the beautiful gesture
of the mountains. It is above all this perfection, absolute
queen from horizon to horizon, that Perugia stands, ever at
attention on her hills, terrible of aspect with all her beauty,
and with great angry eyes as of old searching out her
enemies.

Of Etruscan origin, being indeed one of the principal
cities of that strange, unknown people, we know nothing of
Perugia till she submitted herself to Rome in B.C. 309.
That is but the first of numberless surrenders — to the Popes,
to many tyrants, to her own terrible sons, to the brutality of
the mob, to Italy, and the modern world. The hand of the



« THE CITIES OF UMBRIA

Emperor Augustus has rested on her throat as certainly as
that of the latest tyrant, Baglioni or Pope. It was Augustus
who in B.C. 38 rebuilt the city, which one of the citizens,
Caius Macedonicus, in order to save her from the great
emperor, burnt to the ground, so that she is now Augusta
Perugia, and Perusia Etrusca no longer. Yet, in spite of
capitulation and outward obedience, she has ever nursed in
her soul a fierce spirit of liberty, which has made her story
one of the bloodiest in the history of Italy.

It was in the sixth century that Justinian, desiring to
drive the Goths out of Italy, sent the general Constantine to
Umbria, a vastly larger country then than now. Constantine
seems to have made Perugia his headquarters, and to have
been left unmolested till, in the year 545, Totila, that
terrible and magnificent figure, appeared, and having obtained
possession of Assisi, prepared to drive Constantine from
Perugia ; but he found her, as ever, not easy of conquest ; to
be overcome rather by treachery than by fighting. The
siege which followed is said to have lasted for seven years,
but at last Perugia fell before the fury of the Goth, ' upheld
to the last by a new power, namely, that of her faith.' It
was the first of her patron saints, S. Ercolano, who upheld
her, and, as it were, in those early years of terror and fight,
formed her character there in the midst of mystical Italy,
making her for ever after not unmindful of those mysterious
powers which in all ages men have been anxious to win to
their cause, since it would seem to be fatal to permit them
to be unfriendly. So to the starving city S. Ercolano, its
bishop, comes with wise counsels ; and as in ancient Rome, so
in Perugia, in spite of the scarcity, food is thrown from the
walls, and the Goths discouraged. Bonfigli has painted the
story with all his simplicity and sweetness in the Cappella dei
Priori, now Sala Numero Due of the Pinacoteca. It would
seem that an ox having been fed with what corn remained to



PERUGIA 7

the city was thrown over the walls, when the Goths, finding
it, supposed the Perugians to have so much to eat that they fed
even their beasts with corn. ' But by chance,' says Ciatti,
whose history of the city is full of an old-world sweetness,
*But by chance a young priest spoke from the walls with
some Goths, and all unknowing revealed the terror and
death reigning in the city.' And so the stratagem of the
good bishop failed ; yet on that day Perugia fell not without
honour, and in all her future has never forgotten S.
Ercolano, who was martyred in her cause, seeing she chose
him for her patron saint.

In 592 Perugia, on her high hill, became a Lombard
duchy, but was soon restored to the Byzantine Empire.
Through all that mysterious Middle Age she grew stronger
and more fierce. Her invaders were many, she suff'ered
many violations. In the year 726 we find her, together with
many another Italian city, siding with the Pope against the
Emperor Leo iii., the Iconoclast, when he published his
edict against images in churches. It was about this time
that Rome became practically independent under the Popes,
and it will be in the memory of the reader that the con-
troversy with Leo led to the separation of the Greek and
Latin Churches in 729 ; to be united again at the Council of
Lyons in 1274, only to be separated finally in 1277.
Certainly, during those years of fierce and brutal energy,
Perugia owed much to the Papacy. Thus, in 744, when
King Rachis of the Lombards besieged Perugia, Pope
Zacharias came to plead with him not unsuccessfully, and it
is certainly true to the spirit of that romantic age that the
king became a monk after listening to the Pope, retiring to
the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino.

A time of some confusion follows. As ever in Italy, the
aim of the statesmen was the balance of power, at that time
between the Emperor and the Pope, as later between the



8 THE CITIES OF UMBRIA

great cities and provinces. By this means a certain com-
munal liberty was attained.

In the year 800, however, Charlemagne having invaded
Italy in 774, overcome the Lombards, and been crowned as
Emperor of the West by Pope Leo iii., Perugia came under
the dominion of the Pope as a gift from the Emperor. From
this time Perugia remained under the Papacy save for a
short period in 1375, when, the Pope being in Avignon, a
Eepublic was declared. The history of the city during those
years is one of continual warfare with her neighbours — Assisi,
Siena, Arezzo, Cittk di Castello, Gubbio, Foligno, Spoleto.
In 1358 Perugia won her greatest victory over Siena.
Having succeeded in defeating almost all her rivals she
laid upon them heavy burdens : thus Foligno was for-
bidden to rebuild her walls, Citta della Pieve was compelled
to provide bricks to pave her streets, Arezzo to yield her
marble to decorate the cathedral of San Lorenzo. Yet in
spite of her fierceness, her strength, and her pride, she was
ever unable to master herself, falling always a prey to her
own passions, consuming her energy not in wars with her
rivals alone, but also in massacre and havoc among her own
citizens. Thus she wasted herself, turning her fierceness
against herself at last till her streets ran with blood, her
cathedral was defiled, her greatest sons assassinated, and
she herself a mere beautiful bastion on a bleak hillside.

To describe the quarrels of the Baglioni and Oddi would
serve no useful purpose. Their names are known for every
kind of brutality and murder to every traveller in Italy from
the sketch of Perugia which the late J. A. Symonds published
in his Sketches in Italy. Matarazzo too, to whom of course
Mr. Symonds was indebted, in a masterpiece of simple
narrative — ^if indeed that naive chronicle be the work of the
distinguished humanist — is full of the dramatic story of their
hatred, their glory, and their despair. I am content to



PERUGIA 9

refer the reader to those pages. It is, however, worthy of
notice that it was during the years of internal revolution,
when every sort of crime was rampant, when murder and
destruction went barefaced up and down the streets, that
Perugino and Fiorenzo di Lorenzo were painting their quiet
and lovely pictures of the birth and death of Christ, while
the young Raphael was at work in the studio of his master
Perugino. It has been said that in the St. George of the
Louvre, and perhaps in the horseman trampling upon
Heliodorus in the stanze of the Vatican, we have a picture



Online LibraryEdward HuttonThe cities of Umbria → online text (page 1 of 30)