56km (35 miles) N of Perugia; 128km (80 miles) SE of Florence; 234km (145 miles) N of Rome
Up in the far north of Umbria, 42km (26 miles) from Gubbio, the main point of interest is Città di Castello, a working place quite unlike the hill-towns elsewhere on the tourist trail. In the Middle Ages it was known as Castrum Felicitatis, the "Town of Happiness." More recently, as a tobacco, printing, and textile center, it developed an artisan aura that's only reluctantly fading. There's no distinguished piazza and little medieval masonry, so you'll have to settle for enough art treasures to satisfy an expert, and perhaps the ugliest cathedral in Umbria -- a magnificent pile that has to be seen to be believed.
By Train -- The hourly FCU train (tel. 075-575-4034; www.fcu.it) takes 1 1?4 hr. from Perugia and costs 3.05€.
By Car -- Northern Umbria is sliced in two by the E45 (SS3bis), making access to Città very easy. From Perugia, exit the E45 at "Città di Castello" (not the first "sud" exit), turn right at the first and second roundabouts, and you'll eventually pass the free Parcheggio Ferri, 3 minutes from the Duomo via the scala mobile (escalators) over the road.
By Bus -- Umbria Mobilità buses between Gubbio and Città run around three times a day (6:20am, 1:40pm, 5:35pm), and take a little over 1 hour.
The helpful tourist office (tel. 075-855-4922; 8:30am-1:30pm and 3:30-6:30pm Mon-Fri; 9:30am-12:30pm and 3:30-6:30pm Sat; 9:30am-12:30pm Sun) is under the Logge Bufalini in Piazza Matteotti.
Exploring Città di Castello
The center of Città's old town is anchored by Piazza Matteotti, a modest, workaday square, and the unmissable 16th-century Duomo (Mon-Sat 8am-noon and 3:30-7:15pm; Sun 8:30am-1pm and 3:30-7:30pm; free admission) a short walk along Corso Cavour -- its cylindrical campanile seems lifted from a Breton château and grafted onto an architectural mess. The cool, tranquil interior is a cavernous space with a stunning roof and 18th-century frescoed dome, though the art on display is nothing special. On Thursday and Saturday mornings, the local market fills the streets around here; be sure to grab a luscious porchetta panino (2.50€) from the stalls by the Duomo.
If your Italian's up to it, the best way to pass 45 minutes is a guided tour (minimum two people) of Tipografia Grifani-Donati (tel. 075-855-4349; email@example.com; Mon-Fri 9am-12:30pm and 3-7pm; Sat 9am-1pm; 10€) at Corso Cavour 4. This family printer has occupied the former church of San Paolo since 1799; you'll see lithographs and engravings printed in the original workshops, still in use. You can also visit the site on your own for 3.50€. If time doesn't allow for a tour, pop into the shop farther along the street (no. 5b; Tues-Sun 9am-1pm and 3-7pm) to buy a postcard (1€) with a difference -- Ex-libris images designed by Grifani.
The best-known of Città's art galleries is the Pinacoteca Comunale (tel. 075-852-0656; www.cdcnet.net/pinacoteca; Apr-Oct Tues-Sun 10am-1pm and 2:30-6:30pm; Nov-Mar Tues-Sun 10am-1pm and 3-6pm), in a fine Renaissance palazzo on Via della Cannoniera, with 30 rooms tracing the development of Umbrian art from its early roots to the 1900s. Sadly, despite Raphael and Luca Signorelli both being active in Città, only one work from each remains -- a damaged Holy Trinity by Raphael and Signorelli's 1498 Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, not one of his classics. Best of the rest is Room 16, dedicated to Raffaellino dal Colle ★. Ask for the English-language handout; explanations are the most detailed and academic anywhere in Umbria. Admission is 6€ for adults, 2-4€ for children 6 to 14 years, and free for children 5 and under.
An otherwise dry Museo del Duomo in Piazza Gabriotti, next to the Duomo (tel. 075-855-4705; www.museoduomocdc.it; Oct-Mar Tues-Sun 10am-1pm and 3-6:30pm; Apr-Sept Tues-Sun 9:30am-1pm and 2:30-7pm) is enlivened by the 6th-century Treasure of Canoscio (a precious collection of 25 silver articles), an embossed, 12th-century silver altar front, the Paliotto, illustrating scenes from the New Testament, and Rosso Fiorentino's dark Cristo in Glory. Admission is 6€ for adults, 4€ for students, and 2€ for school children (free for those 5 and under).
Completing the trinity is a modern art museum, the Collezione Burri (tel. 075-855-4649; www.fondazioneburri.org; Tues-Sat 9:30am-1pm and 3-6pm; Sun 10:30am-12:30pm and 3-6pm), in the Palazzo Albizzini at Via Albizzini 1. Burri's home town has an unmatched collection of his textured, abstract art, including his 1963 Grande Plastica -- not something Raphael could have dreamed up. Admission is 6€ for adults, 4€ for university students, and 2€ for school children.