Montefalco takes its name from the passion for falcon hunting of Frederic II who spent an entire year here in 1249. Montefalco was already an important municipality in Roman times due to its dominant position above the valley connecting Spoleto and Perugia. From the 11th century the town flourished in the culture of the free communes and the Renaissance. The 13th and 14th centuries saw many clashes with the surrounding communes, particularly because it often sided with the Papacy against the Ghibelline lords of Foligno, the Trici family. The Foligno seigniory dominated the town for about 50 years, until it was liberated in 1424 by Francesco Sforza. The regaining of freedom led to the drawing up of the municipal statutes and a veritable rebirth of the arts and the economy. This period saw the evolution to Montefalco’s present historical town-centre layout and the artistic development that reached its height with the masterpieces by Benazzo Gozzoli in the High Renaissance period. It was only in a much later century, after having lost and regained its independence, that the town received the title of “city” from Pope Pius IX in 1848.
ART & CULTURE
Montefalco encloses an important heritage of art that makes it an essential point of reference to understand Umbrian painting, starting from the church museum of San Francesco, constructed for the Minor Friars between 1335 and 1338. The museum is laid out in three exhibition spaces: the ex-church, known the world over for the fresco cycle painted by Benozzo Gozzoli between 1450 and 1452 that depicts the Life of Saint Francis, and where there is also displayed a Natività by Perugino (early 16th century), and frescoes by the Umbrian school; the Art Gallery with works by Francesco Melanzio, Antoniazzo Romano and the Umbrian school from the 1300s to 1700s; and the crypt with archaeological findings, sculptures and pieces from various eras. Cinta Duecentesca, thirteenth-century walls, is the name given to the compact city-walls restored in the 14th century by Lorenzo Maitani, which are still today in good order.
The medieval layout of the town is dominated by the church of Sant’Agostino, featuring frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Bartolomeo Caporali, built at the same time as the convent in the second half of the 13th century above a small building dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The main square of the town, Piazza del Comune, offers a concentration of aristocratic palaces such as the 14th century Palazzo Pambuffetti, Palazzo Senili and Palazzo Santi-Gentili (15th century), Palazzo Langeli and Palazzo De Cuppis o Camilli (16th century). The Town Hall, Palazzo Comunale, was constructed in 1270, then embellished with a loggia, and in the 18th century the bell tower, Torre Campanaria, was added and topped with a fastigium to modify the facade.
Sagrantino PDO and Rosso di Montefalco
This is the land of sagrantino, an ancient varietal in its land of birth. From the Latin sacer, a sacred wine for the celebrations of Christian tradition that marked the rhythm of rural life, it was originally consumed in the passita style. Whereas the main component of Rosso di Montefalco is the sangiovese grape, when sipping the Sagrantino PDO wine one experiences a dark wine of wonderful structure with a bold tannin presence, which in its sweet version perfectly balances its harsher tones. Such a high level of polyphenols means that the wine can age for a long period.
Montefalco and the wider area of the Martani hills has always had a great olive and wine-growing tradition, and has now made Umbria world famous thanks to Sagrantino, the real ‘star product’ of this area. Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG and its vine were behind the ongoing transformation that began in the 1980s and 90s, that has created a model in Montefalco that would be hard to replicate anywhere else.
(source and read more: https://www.umbriatourism.it/-/montefalco )