Posted by: Brad Nixon | May 19, 2016

Gubbio, Italy: Maiolica and Medieval Glory

I wrote recently about the Umbrian town of Deruta, famous for its hand-painted maiolica ceramics. As I said in that article, maiolica is also produced in numerous other Italian towns. Another of those places is the medieval hill town, Gubbio, in the northeast corner of Umbria:

Gubbio map marked

Gubbio, which is approximately 150 km east of Siena, appears in the red circle at top right, northeast of Perugia (yellow circle).  Deruta is circled in black at the bottom edge. For reference, tiny Pierle, which I wrote about HERE, is west of Gubbio, also circled in black, and farther west at the top left is the hill town of Cortona, familiar to many travelers.

Gubbio is an ancient place. Like Todi, it was a center of the Umbrian culture that preceded the Romans, and, also like Todi and Deruta, it truly blossomed after the fall of Rome, and became a power to reckon with in the Middle Ages. The Romans did leave their mark, including one of the largest surviving amphitheaters, still visible on the outskirts of Gubbio, but the town you see today has a markedly Medieval character.

Gubbio Palazza view Brad Nixon (476x640)

The building looming high above the town is the Palazzo dei Consoli, from the early 14th Century. In the mid-1400s, Gubbio fell into the sphere of Federico da Montefeltro of Urbino, a city I wrote about HERE. Federico added some touches to the Palazzo that echo some of the decoration inside his palace in Urbino.

Gubbio’s a true Medieval hill town, which means that to explore it, you will climb steep, cobblestone streets.

Gubbio steep street Brad Nixon (428x640)

At every turn that provides a view above, you see the Palazzo.

Gubbio Palazzo dei Consoli Marcy Vincent (453x640)

Eventually, you reach the wide-open Piazza Grande in front of the Palazzo. This photo captures only a portion of the panorama of ancient architecture that borders on the space. Here, late on an afternoon in the empty square, The Counselor strikes a De Chiricesque pose.

Gubbio Piazza Grande Brad Nixon (510x640)

There are numerous other buildings to see, including the cathedral, churches, towers, gates and museums. But you must save time to wander into at least a few of the many shops full of the town’s handmade, hand-decorated maiolica.

We have one piece from Gubbio, a generous gift of friends. It’s a large example, 10″ tall.

IMG_3503 Gubbio maiolica Brad Nixon (640x480)

Gubbio isn’t on every tourist’s itinerary, but merits consideration as you plan your travel. In addition to its proximity to Perugia and Assisi, it’s not far south of Urbino and close to Cagli, which I wrote about HERE.

© Brad Nixon 2016, 2017. Photo of me in front of palazzo © Marcy Vincent 2017, used by kind permission. Map © Google.



  1. Delightful photos of Gubbio. Yes, now as for that De Chirico shot. I would say the angle that you took the photo showing the dark interiors of the arches, the strong black diagonal shadow emanating from the building towards us, the viewers, plus the long thin left-to-right shadow at The Counselor’s feet greatly contributes to the De Chirico effect. Nice work. Like the Gubbio bowl, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely , Gubbio is so different from the rest of Umbria. I went there for its medieval festival ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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