"4.000 Years of History"
Todi is a real jewel in the heart of Italy, with its historic monuments, the fascination of its medieval atmosphere and the unique beauty of its countryside. The ancient town, according the tradition, was founded in about 2000 BC by the Umbrians, an Italic population after whom the Umbria region was named. The legend says that Tuterus, a chief of the inhabitants of the Tiber Valley, decided to build a town near the river, but one day while the future inhabitants of Todi were sitting on a table-cloth for their meal, suddenly an eagle took the table-cloth and dropped it on the top of the nearby hill. People considered the incident as a warning sign of the gods and built the town of Todi on top of that hill". Another etymology says that the name of Todi derives from "tular", meaning border, since the town was for a long time along the border between the Etruscan and Umbrian territories. In the 3rd century BC the Romans conquered Umbria and in the 4th century AD Christianity spread all over the region. After the fall of the Roman Empire Todi was sacked by the Goths, Greeks and Lombards.
A great figure of the time was bishop Fortunato, who led the inhabitants in the struggle against the Goths; one of the most beautiful churches of Todi is dedicated to him: The Temple of San Fortunato. The church, built between 14th -15th century, is the second largest in Umbria after the Basilica of Assisi and is an example of late Gothic architecture. An unforgetable panorama can be enjoyed climbing to the top of the magnificent tower-bell. Between San Fortunato and the Marzia Gate there is the most typical and well-preserved medieval quarter: in the early Middle Ages Todi was a medieval castle ruled by feudal barons, then after 1000 A.D. the town expanded: commerce and handicraft return to flourish, the heads of the arts and craft associations - the Priors - took over the government, and Todi was a free commune since the early 12th century.
The palaces symbol of spiritual and civil medieval life are located in Piazza del Popolo, the heart of Todi and also the ancient center of the Roman town, which was closed in the Middle Ages by four doors: Palazzo del Capitano (1293 A.D.), Palazzo del Popolo (1214 A.D), one of the oldest medieval palaces throughout Italy, Palazzo dei Priori, built in 1334 A.D, with its bronze eagle, the ancient coat of arms of the town.
Just in front of the Palazzo dei Priori there is the Cathedral, a gothic church dedicated to Santa Maria Annunziata, dating back to the early 12th century; in the 14th century the bell-tower was added, than, in the 16th century, a beautiful central rose-window. In 1500, after a long period of decay, Todi enjoyed the innovative and artistic forces of the Renaissance period; the Tempio della Consolazione is a clear and beutiful example of that time. The construction began in November 1508; the church is a building with a central plan with five elegant, majestic domes. Later Todi lost independence, and was for centuries a part of the Papal State until 1860, when in the Second Independence War Italy the North and South of Italy were united under the Savoy king of Piedmont.
*** Images by courtesy Regione Umbria
Civitella del Tronto