Now, I know we’ve been slacking on keeping this updated, but we’ve got some exceptional posts coming up for you in the next few days, starting with this entry about Gubbio, a town we’ve visited a couple of times over the last few weeks.

Gubbio is a charming, if somewhat touristy, hilltop town known for a variety of things, most notably its Corsa dei Ceri (Candle Race), its Palio della Balestra (crossbow tournament), its funivia (a cable car) and the Eugubine Tablets.

During our first trip we managed to visit a couple of churches, the Museo del Palazzo dei Consoli (which houses the Eugubine Tablets and the Candles) and take a ride on the funivia.  The Eugubine Tablets are of both great historical importance, for their description of ancient Roman religious practises, and linguistic importance, since they survived as a rare recording of the ancient Umbrian language.  Taking a picture of the tablets without getting a dreadful reflection proved difficult (at least for me).










Riding the funivia is a pretty terrifying experience, not least because of the casual boarding procedure, during which passengers are instructed to grab on to a rapidly approaching cable car and jump on board – causing them to swing wildly as the ground falls quickly away underneath.  The funivia transports you from Gubbio to the Basilica of St Ubaldo (the patron saint of Gubbio) in the hills above the town.  Calling it a cable car is somewhat generous and it feels more like you are being carried along in an unstable birdcage.  I was able to prise a petrified hand off the cage to take a video of the journey down.  We thought The Golden Age of Aviation by The Lucksmiths would be an appropriate soundtrack.


We returned to Gubbio on May 15th for Corsa dei Ceri, one of the oddest spectacles I’ve ever had the delight to witness.  The weather took a turn for the worse, but enthusiasm remained.  The morning schedule begins with a loud procession through the city streets followed by the raising of the three Candles by three teams of men in traditional color-coded costumes (in honour of St Ubaldo, St Giorgio and St Antonio) in the Piazza Grande, followed by the hurling of three large jugs into the crowd.  At various important times of the day, bells across the town are rung – by men hanging precariously in the belfry, pushing them by hand.  You might just be able to make them out in this picture.










However, the real action happens in the afternoon.  The Candles return to the Piazza Grande through the streets of Gubbio (and a mass of people).  And here’s where the race begins, up a precipitously steep path to the Basilica high above the town.  Now, this (as the video clip below shows) is not a straightforward task.  And since tradition dictates that St Ubaldo always wins, the real contest is who can drop their candle into the crowd the fewest times.

Gubbio also has a strong association with St Francis.  Legend has it that Gubbio was terrorised by a large hungry wolf and that St Francis brokered a pact between the wolf and the people of Gubbio, with the agreement that if the people would regularly feed the wolf, he wouldn’t attack the townsfolk or their livestock any longer.  The deal was sealed with a shake of the paw.  Rumour has it the skeleton of a large wolf was found by some workmen under one of the churches during excavations in 1872.  The event has been memorialised in numerous works of art and outside the church of San Francesco.










Gubbio’s crossbow tournament is in a couple of weeks – but, unfortunately, it clashes with the only day of the year that many Umbrian wineries are open to the public.  So we’ll see if that turns into another Gubbio or a winery post, but be sure to check for updates.

Here are some more assorted Gubbio pictures.

3 Comments to “Gubbio”

  • Love the funivia vid…. perfect soundtrack- caio, bella !


    • lol- *ciao

  • Dan casually remarked that you had a blog of your European adventures when I wondered aloud how you guys are doing. I’ve now caught up and am enjoying living vicariously through you guys. Can’t wait to read your upcoming posts.

    XO Liz

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