WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE BEVAGNA
Bevagna is a splendid medieval town, full of interesting and beautiful sights: Roman mosaics, the Roman theatre and temple, and many beautiful churches and monuments. Unusually for Umbria, Bevagna is not a hilltown, but is quite flat, sitting in a shallow basin at the foot of the northern end of the mountainous backbone of Umbria; at the end of a long day of touring it's nice to come home to a place where you don't have to fight sharp inclines on your after-dinner walk.
Bevagna is part of “I Borghi più belli d'Italia” (the most beautiful small towns in Italy). You couldn't disagree, as you will indeed perceive a magic atmosphere, walking through the streets towards the main square, one of the most magnificent squares in Italy.
Travelers whose legs are weary from climbing the streets of hill side towns and cities will enjoy walking around Bevagna, which, while charmingly interesting, is essentially on a level.
The Medieval beauties admirable through ancient narrow streets, the unbelievable calmness and tranquillity of its natural landscapes, the unique possibility to taste the delicious local food and specialties of Umbrian cuisine: that's why you should choose Bevagna.
Bevagna is also famous for DOC and DOCG wines like the lovely Sagrantino DOCG and DOP extra virgin oils. Many wineries and oil mills, where is possible to directly purchase the products, are operating in the area of Bevagna.
The prosperous town of Bevagna, has pre-roman origins. Inhabited by Etruscans, from whose language it probably got the name ("Mefana", Mevania in Latin). The prosperity was due to the navigability of the Rivers Topino and Timia, and to the passage of Via Flaminia, the actual main street crossing the whole town.
Agrippina Minor, wife of Emperor Claudius and mother of Emperor Nero, had a countryside residence near Bevagna and she was not the only member of the Roman upper class who fell in love with this corner of Umbria.
In the year 1000, Bavagna was a free commune. Its fortifications made the city difficult to destroy, but some tried. In 1152, Frederick Barbarossa set the city on fire destroying some of the artifacts from Roman times. Subsequently the town was controlled by local strongmen, like the Dukes of Spoleto. Ultimately, Bevagna was made part of the Papal States under the rule of the Popes, where it remained until the unification of Italy in 1861.
Today the medieval town has a population of about 2,500 with another 2,500 in the outlying area.
Bevagna offers many tourist attractions. Cut off from the industrial development in the region, Bevagna has preserved virtually intact its medieval urban structure, which for the most part follows the plan of the ancient Roman town. It is still entirely surrounded by its medieval walls, with their many towers,bastions and by medieval gates, which have been built between 1249 and 1377, partly on top of the Roman which show the stratifications of the various construction periods from the 3rd century B.C. until the 1st century. In fact, part of walls are in “opus reticulatum” (typical Roman brickwork of small square bricks).
Main sights in Bevagna: Palazzo dei Consoli, known from 1187, with Teatro F. Torti (1886), Romanesque church of S. Michele Arcangelo (12th-13th centuries)
Romanesque church of S. Silvestro (1195), Church of Sant'Agostino (1316), Church of San Nicolò, Church of Santa Maria in Laurenzia, built in the 13th century and later enlarged, Church of San Vincenzo (known from the 12th century), The medieval walls, Ruins of a Roman Temple, Ruins of a Roman Theater, Roman Therme with mosaics of marine life.
1 Corso Amendola
2 Piazza San Silvestro
3 Corso Matteotti
4 Via Santa Margherita
5 Piazza Garibaldi
6 Piazza San Filippo
Coming from Foligno, turning to your right after the gate Porta Foligno, in Via S. Francesco you will follow the curved front of a row of houses which traces the plan of the Roman Theatre of the 1st century. Near the theatre rises the Chiesa di S. Francesco with its contigous convent attached to the town walls, dating back to 1275, built on the ruins of Roman temple from the 2nd century on the highest peak of the town. In this church there is the stone on which S. Francis stood during his sermon to the birds at Pian d’Arca. The lateral dome with majolica decoration by Santi Buglioni is also remarkable.
In the same area there are the ruins of a Roman temple, and the "thermal building", decorated with white and black marvelous mosaics from the 2nd century AD with sea-life scenes (a triton chasing hippocampi, a lobster and squids), where Romans once bathed.
The main piazza, the Piazza Silvestri, is surrounded by three large churches and the Palazzo dei Consoli. The churches, the Town Hall and the fountain (built in the 19th century and spouting potable water) are positioned in a way which is very unusual; their façades are neither aligned to nor opposite those of the other buildings. The lack of symmetry adds to the beauty of the piazza, rather than diminishing it.
Palazzo dei Consoli is a fine example of gothic architecture (since 1886 it has been the home of a very nice theater) with its elegant travertine and sandstone façade, double rows of Gothic windows and the wide loggia.
The churches of St. Sylvester and St. Michele were built in the 12th century, just a few years apart, by the same architects, Brunello and Ridolfo. They were decorated with white and pink stones. Note especially the remarkable fresco above the door on the Chiesa San Michele that shows an impressive imposing Romanesque façade, with Umbrian decorations.
The beautiful late 14th-century portal of San Domenico (13th-14th cent.) adds grace to the asymmetrical square, which also takes in other styles such as the false Gothic of the 19th-century fountain and the Roman column with a Corinthian capital, which seems to have been left there just for show.
In Bevagna there are other medieval, Renaissance and even Baroque churches: San Filippo, decorated with elegant baroque stucco work and frescoes, Santa Maria del Monte and its Monastery, San Vincenzo, with Roman elements in its unfinished façade, Santa Maria della Consolazione (from the 1700s), Sant’Agostino with graceful and luminous frescoes of Umbrian school from the 14th-16th centuries, Santa Maria in Laurenzia (with a fine portal with a relief of the Madonna del Latte), Santa Margherita with its Monastery which hold interesting paintings, etc.. In addition to numerous churches in the city, are also present the Chiesa di Madonna della Valle and Madonna delle Grazie (contains several paintings and a Maestà on the main altar, which is considered to be miraculous), which dominates the city, built along the ancient Via Flaminia by a traveler returning from Rome in the sixteenth century.
The town hall has a wonderful little museum, inside Palazzo Lepri (built in the 1700s) containing a complete historical account of the town.
Bevagna includes in its territory some smaller towns and hamlets, of a few hundred inhabitants, such as: Gaglioli, the small but densely medieval fortified village in the midst of its olive groves has a 14c church; the settlement may date back to Roman times; Limigiano with the medieval abbey church of S. Michele and Torre del Colle, an old feud. Near the crossing of Limigiano, stands the aedicula of Pian d’Arca, remembering the sermon St. Francis addressed to the birds.
Between Bevagna and Cantalupo there is the Convento dell’Annunziata of the 11th century which conserves a wonderful majolica altar piece. Nearby lies the Lago Aiso (or Abisso=abyss), which is formed by a Karst-phaenomenon similar to the springs of the Fonti del Clitunno. Its deep and chilly waters have ever since nourished phantastic folk-tales.
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