Todi’s Timeless Charm
The charming Italian town of Todi offers the traveller a mix of art, history, nature and easy access to other must-see Italian towns and cities.
Located in the southern part of Umbria in central Italy, Todi is perched on the crest of two hills and overlooks the east bank of the lush Tiber Valley.
In the centre of Todi (www.umbriatravel.com) stands the Piazza del Popolo, one of the most authentically medieval outdoor spaces in Italy, which is why it is often used for filming period movies. The square is built on the site of the ancient Roman forum.
Underneath the square are enormous ancient Roman cisterns, which are open to visitors. Many of the cisterns, with more than 500 pits and connecting arched passages, remained in use as late as 1925.
The 11th-century cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata with its imposing central rose window dominates the square. The church is built on the site of an ancient Roman temple, probably one dedicated to the deity Apollo. Behind the church is an ancient Roman house which still retains its original mosaic floor.
There are also three public buildings on the main square, all dating back to the 13th-century and built in the Lombard-Gothic style.
The Palazzo del Popolo is one of Italy’s oldest public buildings and houses the city’s art gallery. The ornate Palazzo del Capitano displays the findings and remains of Todi’s illustrious past. Its spacious rooms are frescoed with important events and figures from the town’s history. The trapezoidal-shaped Palazzo dei Priori has a huge 14th-century bronze eagle – the symbol of the city – on its facade.
Walking down the intricate web of medieval streets you will reach the beautiful domed church of Santa Maria della Consolazione, whose central Greek-cross plan and apsidal transepts recalls architect Donato Bramante’s plans for St.
Peter’s Basilica. The highest point in Todi is the early Christian temple of San Fortunato. By climbing to the top of the church’s bell towers, visitors can enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. Nature-lovers will delight in the surrounding landscape of rolling hills, golden sunflowers, vineyards and olive groves.
The neighbourhood also offers many historical castles, fortresses and ancient buildings to discover .
In the 1990s, Richard S. Levine, a professor of architecture from the University of Kentucky, named Todi ‘the ideal city’ thanks to its combination of nature, history, tradition and its ability to reinvent itself over time. Typical Todi dishes to try are La Palomba alla Ghiotta, a wild bird that is roasted slowly before being cooked in a pot, panzanella bread (soaked in salt and vinegar) and sweet macaroni. Local wines include Grechetto and Trebbiano wines, which were enjoyed by Etruscans, ancient Romans and medieval princes alike.
Todi is a comfortable drive from Rome and Florence and is good base from where to explore other Umbrian towns such as Spoleto (44km), Orvieto (38km), Perugia (46km) and Assisi (60 km). ANSA Michelle Pellegrino
(Todi, located in the Provincia di Perugia, Regione Umbria)