Perugino and Renaissance Art Walk, Perugia

Perugino and Renaissance Art Walk (Self Guided), Perugia

Perugia today is a well-known cultural and artistic center in Italy that regularly plays host to a multitude of annual festivals and events. The most glorious period in the history of the city, from an artistic standpoint, lasted from the 13th to the 16th centuries.

Perugia’s most celebrated artist, Pietro Vannucci (1450–1523), better known as “il Perugino”, nicknamed so after his hometown, is one of the foremost masters and key protagonists of the renewal of Italian art during the early Renaissance. He is also famous as Raphael's teacher.

The Basilica di San Pietro in Perugia, part of the eponymous Catholic abbey, is a treasure trove of frescoes and paintings by Perugino and his grand student. From here, make way to Corso Vannucci, the main artery of the historic center and one of Italy’s top destinations for people-watching – packed all day long with tourists and locals alike.

The outset of Corso Vannucci is marked by the Perugino Monument. Further down the street you will find the Baldeschi al Corso Palace, the medieval residence now turned into a museum. Practically a stone's throw away from it is the Nobile Collegio Del Cambio (the Noble College of the Money Changers' Guild) whose hall is adorned with frescoes by Perugino, depicting a mix of Roman deities and Christian imagery, reflecting the humanist learning of that period.

The nearby Palazzo dei Priori, presently home to the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria (the National Gallery of Umbria), holds an important collection of Renaissance art, one of the finest in Italy. Also, most visitors to the city can't help noticing the preponderance of a spectacular Renaissance building in the heart of the city — the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (Cathedral of San Lorenzo).

To acquaint yourself more closely with these and other monuments of the Renaissance era in Perugia, take this our self-guided walking tour and discover a wealth of art in one of Italy's most beautiful places!
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Perugino and Renaissance Art Walk Map

Guide Name: Perugino and Renaissance Art Walk
Guide Location: Italy » Perugia (See other walking tours in Perugia)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Basilica di San Pietro (Saint Peter's Basilica and Abbey)
  • Monument of Pietro Vannucci "Perugino"
  • Palazzo Baldeschi al Corso (Baldeschi al Corso Palace)
  • Nobile Collegio Del Cambio (Noble College of the Money Changers' Guild)
  • National Gallery of Umbria
  • Capitular Museum
  • Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence's Cathedral)
  • Cappella di San Severo (Chapel of San Severo)
Basilica di San Pietro (Saint Peter's Basilica and Abbey)

1) Basilica di San Pietro (Saint Peter's Basilica and Abbey) (must see)

The basilica di San Pietro in Perugia is a part of the eponymous Catholic abbey, established in 996 by abbot Pietro Vincioli, later canonized as Saint Peter. The basilica stands on the foundations of a previous cathedral that was reportedly built as early as the 4th century AD for the first bishopric of Perugia. The land beneath it had been sacred to the pagan Etruscans and Romans for many centuries prior to that.

The Abbey coexisted peacefully with the people of Perugia until 1398 when the locals burned it down after the abbot, Francesco Guidalotti, had arranged the killing of a leader of the Raspanti Party. Most of the Perugians held membership in this party and so, quite naturally, they got furious. Following the death of the last monk of San Pietro, in 1899, the property of the Abbey was taken over by the Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences of the University of Perugia.

Inside the main court is a 13th-century polygonal clock tower. Romanesque blind arches on the façade of the basilica are a product of later restoration. The interior, akin to an early Christian temple, features the Gothic choir, made of wood, dating back to the 16th century, and the triple-arched portal, designed by Galeazzo Alessi in 1571.

The sacristy, added in 1451, carries a great deal of frescoes and paintings by the likes of Perugino, Parmigianino and Raphael. Among the ones by Perugino there are five smaller paintings depicting Santa Scholastica, Santa Ercolano, Santa Constantino, Santa Pietro Abbate, Santa Mauro and Santa Placido. In the right aisle, above the door leading to St. Joseph's Chapel, there are three more 17th-century copies from Perugino made by Giovanni Battista Salvi, aka Sassoferrato. Also, in the left aisle, at the Sacramento Chapel, you can find the Pietà, the late work by Perugino, where the painter portrays himself in the face of Giuseppe di Arimatea.
Monument of Pietro Vannucci "Perugino"

2) Monument of Pietro Vannucci "Perugino"

The monument of Pietro Vannucci in Perugia was created by the Italian sculptor Todi Enrico Quattrini.

The sculptural complex conceived by Quattrini features an all-round figure of the great master in the likeness of his self-portrait in the Collegio del Cambio. In his left hand the artist holds the end of his “robone” (ceremonial dress) wrapped around his figure; in his right hand he holds a bundle of spread sheets, on one of which appears to be the fine sketch of a Virgin drawn in a typical Perugian style.

The statue stands on a high cubic marble base covered with four bronze bas-relief panels depicting some episodes from the life of Perugino and his greatest pupil, Raphael. At the base of the monument, the agile silhouette of a winged genius of vivid naturalism painting holds a palette and a brush lightly raised in the direction of the overhanging Vannucci figure.

The bronze parts for the monument were cast at the Albanesi foundry in Rome. The statue was solemnly unveiled on 23 September 1923 in the presence of Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy Aosta.

The original location for the sculpture – outside the Turreno Theater – was picked in 1907 by a designated group of artists. However, it took the monument another sixteen years to be inaugurated, first in Piazza Sant'Isidoro (later known as Piazza della Repubblica), and then, in 1940, moved to the center of the Carducci Gardens, where it stands today.
Palazzo Baldeschi al Corso (Baldeschi al Corso Palace)

3) Palazzo Baldeschi al Corso (Baldeschi al Corso Palace)

Palazzo Baldeschi al Corso is the former residence of Baldo degli Ubaldi, the famous 14th-century Italian lawman, who, in 1369, decided to split from his brothers, and for that purpose had enlarged his existing dwelling by merging it with neighboring properties – in Corso Vannucci, Via Danzetta, Via Baldo, Via dello Struzzo and Via Baglioni.

Further additions to the building were made in 1480 and 1489-96, and then in the 1870s when the Baldeschi family modified it further. The latter was done in a bid to bring the medieval appearance in line with more modern trends. The result was a gradual transformation into a homogeneous structure, akin to a palace. It was at that time that the travertine portal – onto the Corso street – had appeared along with the identical travertine windows, spanning the entire length of the building and contributing to its overall unitary aspect.

In 2002 the palace was acquired by the Cassa di Risparmio di Perugia Foundation, and is now home to their outstanding art collection, featuring, among others, 147 extraordinary pieces of Renaissance Majolica (ceramics) – originally from the Sprovieri Collection of Poggio Mirteto, near Rieti, and the Frizzi Baccioni collection of Scarperia, near Florence.

The main floor is used for temporary exhibits, while the second floor is given to the Marabottini Collection – a donation of over 700 paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, miniatures, waxes, glasses, ivories, porcelains and furnishings, all dated between the 16th and 20th centuries.

The third and the fourth floors of the palazzo, after careful restoration and refurbishment, have been hosting the Foundation’s own collection of artworks: more than 200 pieces, spanning the 15th to 19th centuries, by renowned masters like Perugino, Pinturicchio, Signorelli, Matteo da Gualdo and Niccolò di Liberatore, known as l’Alunno.
Nobile Collegio Del Cambio (Noble College of the Money Changers' Guild)

4) Nobile Collegio Del Cambio (Noble College of the Money Changers' Guild)

The Nobile Collegio del Cambio is a historic seat of the Money Changers' guild of Perugia. From 1452 to 1457 the corporation of local bankers, known as "Arte del Cambio", established their headquarters at the Palazzo dei Priori in Corso Vannucci. The Guild's coat of arms – griffin above the coffer – adorns the building to this day.

The architectural design was by Bartolomeo di Mattiolo and Lodovico di Antonibo; the pictorial inner decoration – notably that of the Sala delle Adienze (Audience Hall) – was entrusted to several artists, the most famous of whom was Pietro Perugino. Inside the Hall are the series of lunettes frescoed by Perugino.

The College's main door, designed by Lodovico di Antonibo himself, was carved by Antonio da Mercatello in 1501. The wooden furnishings made by Domenico del Tasso feature the grotesque decoration used in this type of furniture for the first time.

The College Chapel of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), built in 1506 - 1509, was painted entirely by Perugino's pupil, Giannicola di Paolo, between 1515 and 1518. In the vault, the Eternal Father is depicted among the apostles, evangelists, doctors of the Church, and the patron saints of Perugia. In the altar there is a Baptism of Christ and on the sides – an Annunciation (1515-1516). Contrary to what some may mistake for the ostentation of wealth, the lively coloring of the walls, accentuated by the great profusion of gold and lapis lazuli, is meant to brighten up the space in the absence of windows.

The collection of coin weights, displayed here, is the world's richest: containing over 550 items used for verification of coins circulated in Perugia, the Papal States and other Italian city-states between the 15th and the second half of the 19th centuries.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
National Gallery of Umbria

5) National Gallery of Umbria (must see)

The National Gallery of Umbria is housed in the Palazzo dei Priori. Its collection comprises the greatest representation of the Umbrian School of painting, ranging from the 13th to the 19th century, strongest in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. The collection is presented in twenty-three galleries in the Palazzo.

The origins of the collection lie in the founding of the Perugian Accademia del Disegno in the mid-16th century. The Academy had its original seat in the Convento degli Olivetani at Montemorcino, where a collection of paintings and drawings began to be assembled. With the suppression of religious houses imposed by the Napoleonic administration, and imposed once again by the united Kingdom of Italy, much of the heritage of Italian art that had come to be the property of the Church became the property of the State.

In 1863, the civic paintings collection was formally named to commemorate Pietro Vannucci, but the problem of establishing an appropriate site to house the collection was not solved until 1873, when it came to be housed on the third floor of the Palazzo dei Priori, in the center of Perugia. With the addition of acquisitions, donations and bequests, the pinacoteca became the Regia Galleria Vannucci in 1918, under the patronage of the king.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Capitular Museum

6) Capitular Museum

The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, better known as the Capitular Museum of San Lorenzo (Museo del Capitolo della Cattedrale di San Lorenzo), is adjacent to the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. The museum was commissioned by the Chapter of the Cathedral (hence the name "Capitolare") and is located in one of its outbuildings: 25 rooms adjacent to the cloister, next to the Cathedral, on the ground floor and below, inside the crypt.

The first exposition here was opened in 1923. In the 1980s the museum was closed for archaeological excavations, during which some underground rooms were discovered. The museum was reopened in 2000, and today preserves many unique artifacts, the best known of which is the altarpiece Pala di Sant'Onofrio by Luca Signorelli.

The exhibited items date from the early Middle Ages through the 19th century. Among them are the paintings, sculptures, and rare manuscripts from the 6th to the 17th centuries, as well as ecclesiastic furnishings. Here you can also see the works of artists from the school of Perugino and the Umbrian Renaissance, including Benedetto Bonfigli, Bartolomeo Caporali and others.
Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence's Cathedral)

7) Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence's Cathedral) (must see)

Duomo di Perugia (Perugia Cathedral), also known as the Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Lorenzo, is a Roman Catholic church and the most prominent religious site in Perugia.

The construction started in 1345 and was completed in 1490. However, the cathedral wasn't consecrated until 1587. The external decoration in white and pink marble lozenges was never completed; a trial section of it is still seen on the main façade, enhanced by a Baroque-style portal designed by Pietro Carattoli in 1729.

Unlike most cathedrals, the one of Perugia has its flank towards the city's main square. Here you can see the statue of Pope Julius III by Vincenzo Danti (1555), regarded as a hero in Perugia for having restored the local magistrate, previously suppressed by Paul III.

The massive tower was built between 1606 and 1612. The 68-foot hall of the church contains three naves of equal height. In the right nave is the Sacrament Chapel, designed by Alessi (1576), with the altarpiece of the Pentecost by Cesare Nebbia (1563). The next bay leads to the Baptistery Chapel, with the Renaissance perspective view in marble by Pietro di Paolo di Andrea da Como (1477). In front of it is the venerated image of Madonna delle Grazie, by Giannicola di Paolo, who was the follower of Perugino. The right nave ends with the Chapel of St. Bernardino, enclosed by a 15th-century railing. Its altar houses the most important artwork of the church, a Deposition from the Cross by Federico Barocci (1567–1569).

The sacristy was entirely frescoed by Gian Antonio Pandolfi in the 1570s. The cloister houses several architectonic and sculptural fragments, including a head attributed to Giovanni Pisano and a Renaissance bust of the Redeemer.

The reliquary of the Holy Ring, considered one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance goldsmith's art, is kept in the chapel of San Giuseppe, for which Perugino had painted his famous Marriage of the Virgin (1501-1504), now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Caen. Replacing it is the work by Gian Battista Wicar of 1825.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Cappella di San Severo (Chapel of San Severo)

8) Cappella di San Severo (Chapel of San Severo)

Cappella di San Severo, dating back to the 11th century, was built on the ruins of a temple dedicated to the Sun. Between 1748 and 1751 it was rebuilt in its present form. Inside you will find a fresco of the Trinity surrounded by angels and saints. Half of it was painted by Raphael, half by Perugino, datable to around 1505 - 1508 (intervention by Raphael) and to 1521 (intervention by Perugino).

The small chapel, currently composed of a room adjacent to today's church dating back to the eighteenth century, was once part of the left aisle of the fifteenth-century church. Here Raphael was called to work in 1505 (as can be seen from the date on the fresco), when the artist moved between Florence and Perugia and experienced a first peak of popularity with works such as the Pala Baglioni , which would shortly thereafter wide open the doors of Julius II 's Rome .

The commissioners of the fresco are to be identified in the two commendatories of the monastery of San Severo, Troilo Baglioni , former bishop of Perugia , and Cardinal Gabriele de 'Gabrielli of Gubbio , bishop of Urbino. However , not all scholars, including Cavalcaselle , take the date of 1505 as good, suggesting that it perhaps refers to the start of the works, which ended at least two years later: in 1505 , in fact, Raphael's style was still closely linked to the Umbrian school, while in the San Severo fresco there is an unprecedented monumentality.

The artist from Urbino completed only the upper part of the fresco and once he settled in Rome he no longer had the opportunity to go to Perugia. He waited until his death in 1520 to entrust the work to another artist, the old master of Raffaello Perugino , who completed the lower half with a nostalgic re-enactment of fifteenth-century ways.

The work was seen and described by Vasari , who underlined the striking signature of Raphael. A portion of the fresco has been lost over the years, also due to not too accurate historical restorations .
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Perugia, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Perugia

Create Your Own Walk in Perugia

Creating your own self-guided walk in Perugia is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Perugia Introduction Walking Tour

Perugia Introduction Walking Tour

Perugia was one of the twelve foremost cities of the Etruscan Federation. It was mentioned by Quintus Fabius Pictor, a Roman historian. He tells of a military expedition of Fabius Maximus Rullianus against the Etruscan League and Perugia in 309 BC.

By 216 BC, Perugia had seen the light and allied itself with Rome in the Second Punic War against Carthage. Things went swimmingly until 41 BC....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles