On the steep slopes of the Monte Ingino and overlooking a picturesque valley, the centuries old pallazzi of Gubbio exudes a warm glow in the late afternoon sunset and it doesn't require a great deal of imagination to feel that you have stepped back into the middle ages when meandering along the town's quiet, treeless lanes.
Like many hill towns from Toscana to Le Marche, Gubbio has taken on the feel of a museum and a day and a night here is time definitely well spent.
15 May 2002 - Gubbio, ItalyA quiet little town this place may be but on festival day it takes on a totally different feel. I arrived in the late afternoon of the 14th April, got some accommodation and then had a look around the town as it was gearing up for the next day's celebration. The Corsa dei Ceri (Candles Race) is held each year on the 15th May to commemorate the city's patron Saint. The event starts at 5:30AM and involves 3 teams carrying a 'candle', in fact a massive wooden pillar holding the statue of a rival Saint.
Almost the whole population of the town and surrounding areas turn out in one of three colours to show which team they belong to and suddenly this small sleepy town becomes over crowded and the centre of all attention.
Gubbio - Night before the Corsa dei Ceri
Its a festival and it seems that everyone is out. In Italy the evenings always come alive with people of all ages strolling through the streets, eating ice cream and pizza and having coffee or beers in the bars. Its very family orientated and nothing like what would happen in the UK where the streets would soon fill with delinquents, shouting and eventually vomit.
Gubbio - Arrival the day before the festival
It is clear from this photo just how packed the streets get and why this festival is regarded as one of Italy's liveliest.
Gubbio - The festival the next morning
And here we can see the supporters of the respective teams.
Gubbio - Piazza Quaranta Martiri
From the main square and bus stations, Piazza Quaranta Martiri. The name is in honour of 40 local people killed by the occupying German forces in 1944 in reprisal for partisan activities. It was in this square that I enjoyed the local delicacy - roasted pig.