Situated on the slopes of Monte Ingino, Gubbio is a beautifully preserved medieval hill-town but of much
more ancient origin. Originally known as Ikuvium, it was an important settlement for the Umbrian tribes,
whose unique language is preserved on the town's most famous archaeological artefacts, the Eugubbian
tablets which you can see in the palazzo dei Consoli. These bronze plaques are inscribed in the Umbrian
language giving detailed instructions regarding the performance of pagan rituals. The town was
conquered by Rome in the 2nd century BC and today, there are some outstanding architectural remains
from this period, including the spectacular Roman theatre just outside the city walls that is the second
largest surviving example anywhere. This partially restored structure is used in the summer for lectures
and classical drama.
During the middle ages the town prospered, warred with its neighbours, won some battles, lost a few
others, was ruled by sundry fractious families and the occasional despot, before becoming part of the
Papal States in the 17th century. Thereafter it quietly declined in importance and wealth - which helped
to preserve its medieval architecture. It became part of a united Italy in 1860.
Much of Gubbio is built of grey stone, quarried from the surrounding mountains. This helps impart a
chilly, slightly sinister feel to the town, which alongside its famous Christian festivals, has long held a
reputation for witchcraft and the practice of the black arts. Don't let this put you off - on the contrary;
it only adds to the interest.
Market day is Tuesday, with all manner of stalls sprawling across the lower part of the town, punctuated
by animated huddles of gnarled locals rasping away at each other in the impenetrable local dialect -
Time from Mazzaforte: 40 minutes
Market day: Tuesday
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