Posted by: Brad Nixon | May 4, 2016

Todi, Italy: Umbrian Hill Town

Many a traveler dreams of visiting that perfect Italian hill town. They do exist, in large numbers. Some are famous: San Gimignano, Orvieto and Montepulciano come to mind. Frances Mayes created a one-woman industry when she took up residence in and renovated a farmhouse near Cortona, then wrote a book, Under the Tuscan Sun. Real Estate agents in Tuscany probably still send her holiday cards in appreciation.

Today I’ll take you to a hill town 85 kilometers south of Cortona (and, in a later article, at least one or two more). It’s not in Tuscany, but further south, in Umbria: Todi (toh-DEE).

Todi marked

Rome is at the bottom of the map. At the top is Perugia, principal city of Umbria. Todi is in the upper center, circled in red.

Todi Brad Nixon WS LR (640x454)

Todi has been an important place since it was founded by the Umbri in the 8th-7th Century B.C.  The rival Etruscans eventually took over, then the Romans. The Romans lost a significant battle to Hannibal at Lake Trasimeno (left of Perugia on the map), but, reportedly, his advance was stymied by Todi’s double walls. Portions of the two walls, the inner one Etruscan, the outer one Roman, are extant, and ringed by a third wall from the Middle Ages.

Todi is a thriving town of approximately 17,000 people. This brief look at the town will focus on historic structures, but it’s also an excellent place to discover how modern-day Italians live and work in a place that still has much of its Medieval character. (In the 13th Century, Todi may have had as many as 40,000 residents.)

Todi’s Medieval heritage is on display around the Piazza del Popolo, including the Gothic cathedral. The current structure dates mostly from 1190, succeeding an earlier structure destroyed by fire.

Todi duomo Brad Nixon LR (640x395)

The Piazza slopes down from the cathedral, and is surrounded by a number of other buildings that will lure you to spend more time in Todi than you expect, so plan accordingly.

At the opposite end of the Piazza from the cathedral is the Palazzo dei Priori (Prior’s Palace) from 1293.

Todi Palazza dei Priori Brad Nixon LR (640x479)

On the left, adjacent to the Priory, is the Palazzo del Populo, one of Italy’s most earliest seats of communal government. Today, it houses the city’s art museum.

Todi occupies a hill that has two crests. The Piazza del Popolo sits on one. On the second is the medieval church of San Fortunato (the city’s patron saint, who’s buried in the crypt). It’s on the site of a 7th Century church, some details of which survive. The Gothic building we see now was built beginning in 1292.

San Fortunato Brad Nixon LR (640x533)

Those steps leading up to the church are a notable piece of work, themselves.

San Fortunato steps Brad Nixon LR (640x450)

In a later article, we’ll drive 25 kilometers north to another Umbrian hill town, Deruta. I look forward to visiting it with you.

Have you been to Todi? What else should travelers know about the sights, the food, the culture? Please leave a comment.

© Brad Nixon 2016, 2017


  1. I haven’t been to Todi yet but I love Umbria the towns of Perugia and Gubbio are my favorite 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes to both. I may include an article about Gubbio. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Palazzo del Popolo is adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment. I enjoy hearing from readers.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: