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Getting There

By car, the SS298 branches north from Perugia, off the E45, through rugged scenery. Gubbio is not served by train, but there are eight or nine daily Umbria Mobilità buses (www.umbriamobilita.it; (tel) 800-512-141) from Perugia (4.60€; 5.50€ if you pay on board) to Piazza 40 Martiri (70 min.), named for citizens killed by the Nazis for aiding partisans during World War II.

 

Festivals & Markets

Gubbio's biggest annual bash, the Corso dei Ceri, held on May 15 to honor St. Ubaldo, is one of Italy's top five traditional festivals. Three teams of burly young men in colorful silk shirts carry three 15-foot-long wooden battering ram-like objects called ceri, or "candles"; the festivities involve three giant painted ceramic jars full of water being tossed from the candles into the surrounding crowds (the shards are collected to signify good luck for the next year), before the ceri are boisterously paraded through the city streets. After an enormous seafood banquet and a solemn religious procession of the relics of St. Ubaldo and the ceri, the day ends with a race between the candle-carrying teams -- the finish lies more than 300m (984 ft.) of vertical elevation along a switchbacked road at the mountainside basilica of Sant'Ubaldo. The real contest is to see how many times the runners let their candle fall; those that touch ground the fewest times are the real winners of the day.

The last Sunday in May marks part one of the annual face-offs between the archers of Gubbio and those of rival Sansepolcro in the Palio della Balestra. At 5:30pm, before the main crossbow competition begins, sbandieratori come out to practice their mesmerizing flag-tossing. At 7pm, there's a procession through the streets, which are lined with people in colorful medieval costumes. (The return match takes place in Sansepolcro in September.)

The Gubbio Festival brings performers of international status to town for 3 weeks of mainly classical instrumental music in late July. During the Torneo dei Quartieri on August 14, the city's crossbow sharpshooters duke it out, and there's flag-tossing and a historic procession -- a warm-up for the competition in Sansepolcro 3 weeks later. Gubbio shows off its revered albino tuber at the White Truffle and Agricultural Fair from October 29 to November 2.

The Guinness Book of World Records votes are in: Gubbio is home to the World's Largest Christmas Tree, formed by more than 800 lights zigzagging up Gubbio's mountainside to a star at the top (though places that have real trees dispute this title). Every December 7 since 1981, the town's forces of good taste have failed to keep someone from throwing the switch on this monstrosity, and it's left on until January 10.

On the last Sunday of every month, there's an antiques market on Piazza 40 Martiri, where the regular weekly market is also held on Tuesday (8am-1pm).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.