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A weekend in Umbria to discover ancient castles, palaces and gardens

Sunday 21 May, free visits on Historic Houses Day


If you still need an incentive to open yourself up to the wonder of Umbria, a region in Central Italy lacking in beaches and coastline but dutifully provided with everything else, the programme of 21 May, the day of historic residences, could give you the right incentive.

On the penultimate Sunday of this month, in fact, ancient castles, fortresses, parks and gardens, mostly private and usually closed to the public, are instead made open to visitors. And also free of charge.

This means that the gates of the Abbey of San Crispolto al Piano (Bettona), the Castle of Monticelli (Marsciano), the La Goga estate (Castel Rigone di Passignano), Palazzo di Sorbello (Perugia), Palazzo Tempestivi - de Petra (Montefalco), Villa Sant'Angelo in Panzo (Assisi), of Casa Menotti (Spoleto), of Villa Pianciani (Spoleto), of Villa Cesari Tiberi (Montevibiano vecchio), of the Castle of Postignano (Sellano), of the Castle of Poggio (Guardea) open wide in front of the most curious travellers and lovers of history, stories and wonderful landscapes.

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Un post condiviso da ermimb (@ermimb)

Each of these places has a rich and troubled past, which deserves to be discovered calmly, with stops, including gastronomic ones, and moments of relaxation to meditate on the centuries that those stones have seen pass and the events, often bloody, that they have witnessed. And this is not a figure of speech! The Abbey of San Crispolto was built in 720 AD by the Benedictines and boasts one of the oldest crypts in the region. Monticelli Castle was a border fortress of the Eastern Roman Empire until 774 and then a Benedictine monastery until 1470.

Postignano Castle was built between the 9th and 10th centuries along an important road connecting Spoleto, Foligno, Norcia and Assisi. Damaged by the earthquake and already depopulated, it was classified as a monument of historical-artistic interest by the Ministry of Culture and has been well restored. La Goga was a country palace linked to farming, which inherited its distinctive shape from the 17th century renovation. At the end of the 19th century, the estate came into the possession of the industrialist Ferdinando Cesaroni as part of a vast expansion and agricultural modernisation project that included several properties in the Trasimeno area.

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Visits can and should be booked, but nevertheless you will not be able to visit more than two or three historical residences for reasons of time. It is therefore better to arm yourself with Google maps and organise a reasoned itinerary that avoids spending too much time in the car and that includes an ample break for lunch, as good food and good wine are strong points of the green Umbrian lands.