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Perugia - Etruscan City State


The Knights Templar in Perugia

Perugia's (Euro)Chocolate Festival in October


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Perugia was a major Etruscan City State in the 500s and 600s BC, and is now the capital city of Umbria.  Apart from its spectacular hill-top position and grand renaissance facades, it is widely known as a university and language school centre.  As the late afternoon sun goes down on the grand Piazza IV Novembre, the youth energy level rises as the steps of the Cattedrale fill up.


Facing the Cattedrale is the Palazzo dei Priori, home to the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria.  Of particular interest in 2004 was a blockbuster exhibition of work by local lad Perugino.


Between the Palazzo and Duomo is the magnificent Fontana Maggiore - built in the late 1200s with reliefs and sculptures by Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni ..... 







The middle basin has 24 "trumeau style" marble statues interspersed with blank panels.  On the lower basin the narrative is in 50 relief panels grouped in twos between abstract "columns".      The subjects of these panels, as detailed with photos in Gino Casagrande's most interesting web pages, are:

1. The Expulsion from Earthly Paradise (one panel).
2. Political and moral history (six panels).
3. Manual work done in each month of the year (twelve panels) - LINK TO ZODIACS AND LABOURS OF THE MONTH
4. One panel between (3) and (5).
5. Intellectual work with the Seven Liberal Arts plus Philosophy (four panels)

Sadly, on the Dom's last visit to Perugia (October 2007) the emphasis was on locating a frescoed Templar church on a steep Perugian hill, so this example of monthly labour reliefs et al escaped attention and will have to wait to be captured later.







Perugia has a Knights Templar commanderie church with 1200s Templar and other frescos, which give a rare contemporary picture of their dress.  The church was built for the Templars in the mid 1200s, and passed on for a short time to the Hospitallers when the Templars were suppressed in 1312, after which it was a nunnery for 200 years.  Eventually it was secularized in 1860. 


To find the church head off from the top of town down the road alongside the church of the main hospital, and past the extensive hospital buildings to the cemetery below (was there a gravitational logic in this?).  Our church is just opposite the  cemetery.  It is dedicated to San Bevignate - a hermit with a large local following, whose name never actually seems to have made it into the official Vatican list of saints.  


Sadly, in 2007 the place was closed for restorations, which did not have a great air of activity about them.  However, we have just heard from a friend that the church is due to reopen in late March 2009 as a space for concerts and cultural activities.


The frescos below from San Bevignate are in a booklet published by MSM (in English).  Books published by MSM.







The famous Perugian Bacio chocolate (above) - il bacio means "the kiss" (it's masculine!).  Each year hundreds of stalls are set up in Perugia for the week of the International Chocolate "Exhibition", and thousands of Italians flock into town every night to indulge their chocolate passions.  Bontà means "goodness", which translates into "so thick that you can stand the spoon up in it".




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