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curated by Fabio Mariotti






General news, the streets and the Rocca


















The Fratta of the fifteenth century is for the State of the Church, especially in the last part of the century, a point of vital strategic importance. Located on the border with the Florentine possessions, it acts as a northern bulwark for the defense of Perugia.

The urban area is made up of three well-defined nuclei. The first, consisting of the city center enclosed in the castle walls and divided into third parties: "della Greppa", the part between the current via Cibo and the Tiber, from Piaggiola to the bridge towards San Francesco; "Superiore" also known as "della Campana" (from the bell placed on the tower at the top of the Piaggiola), from the north walls, then from the Rocca, towards the center up to the church of San Giovanni; the third, "Inferiore" or "Porta Nuova", which from the center reached the walls towards the south, along the course of the Reggia to the exit door of the bridge over the Tiber.

The second nucleus, of the "Borgo Superiore", located outside the northern walls, beyond the bell door and the descent of the current Piaggiola, was divisible into two parts. One was called the "Mercatale", today's Piazza Marconi, the square of the churchyard of Sant'Erasmo; the area then pushed towards the church of Sant'Andrea (where the old hospital will rise in 1877) up to the furnaces. The other part was the "Castel Nuovo", which included the current Boccaiolo (via Bovicelli) and the nearby area, where the church of Santa Maria dei Meriti was also located.

The third nucleus, also outside the walls, called "Borgo Inferiore", was located south of Fratta, beyond the Reggia and overlooking the Tiber (now Piazza San Francesco). The heart of this area was the "sodo dei frati" or "pratale", the open space overlooked by the church and convent of San Francesco, the small church of Santa Maria (later called Santa Croce), owned by the brotherhood of the same name of Disciplinati . In the village there were numerous blacksmith shops and also a mill owned by the bishop of Gubbio.

Fratta enjoyed fair freedom; the arts of haberdashery and apothecary, the trade of leather, bamboo, wine, iron artefacts and ceramics were flourishing.

There was a decent postal service that used cursors, couriers, infantrymen and mail "cavallai" who could do a good job as the town was not very far from the main roads.

Education was provided by the community of Fratta, whose representatives the parents turned to to enroll the children, paying the tuition of the teacher. The expenditure related to the number and type of teaching subjects: Latin, arithmetic, religion and geography. In 1486 the local judiciary made an invitation to education open also to non-owners.

There were seven hospitals, attached to the churches, for the poor, pilgrims and the poorly ill; twelve places of worship, including churches and chapels.

In Fratta, in the fifteenth century, there lived a Jewish community of about twenty people, who had settled here since the previous century.


The roads of communication

In the fifteenth century our Fratta was outside the great roads of the Roman State that started from Rome in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, and if they were so then, at the beginning of the fifteenth century they were certainly no longer numerous and better practicable.

However, to the north there was only one main road, which after the Bracciano lake (Baccano) branched into two bridges:

- one continued in the direction of Florence, via Bolsena, Siena, San Casciano;

- the other road headed towards Fano, via Terni, Foligno, Nocera, Cagli. The latter had a branch from Foligno and from here began a road that passed through Perugia, Lake Trasimeno, the Val di Chiana, the central Arno valley, until reaching Florence as well.

They were traveled by most of the people then on the move: armies, horseback rides, large four-wheeled chariots of merchants, pilgrims, religious, processions of princes, cardinals, governors moving from one city to another, beggars, men of the services of mail that ran on foot or on horseback from station to station. Fratta was in an isolated position and did not see much of this transit except occasionally and, in any case, to a very limited extent.

Our castle needed communication with the city of Perugia and this was possible through the plain of the Tiber. The dominant city carried out an activity of protection of the mills on the Tiber (Ponte Felcino, Ponte Pattoli and others), so these certainly had to be connected to Perugia with a driveway.

Considering this and also that Fratta was the castle on the northern border of Perugia, therefore always kept militarily ready, it is easy to understand that there must be a road from Fratta to Ponte Pattoli, in Perugia.

Beyond this road (which will later be called "del piano"), Fratta was also joined to Perugia by a mountain path, not suitable for vehicles, for pedestrians and horses only as the harshness of the places (several climbs) made it inadvisable to pass, especially in winter, to small wagons. It began over the bridge over the Tiber, on the left (today's road to the Abbey of Montecorona).

















After about three hundred meters it left, on the right, the small road that went up to Romeggio (crossroads visible even today) and continued straight on. It passed under and near today's Palazzo del Sole (Ramaccioni home), then climbed, as it does today, towards the base of Monte Acuto.

At the Villa di Monte Acuto it turned left, along the base of the mountain, passed to the side of the observation tower-house (still existing - group of the Ferranti house), passed to the side of the Galera hospital (standing but uninhabited) and arrived to the plateau of Galera (appreciable as an abandoned complex) and arrived at the stronghold on the border with Perugia (not used).

From here it descended to the Nese, passing by the side of that hospital (leper colony?) And continued to the Villa di Pantano and Cenerente, from where the final climb to Perugia began.

Another road was that of Montone, but not wanting to pass through that territory, you could take the road that led to the Niccone stream, immediately after the Tiber bridge. From Niccone, after crossing the river on the boat beyond Montecastelli, we found ourselves on the road traced from Città di Castello, on the plain and quite passable. Finally there was the road to Tuscany, at the mouth of the Niccone on the Tiber.

In proportion to the large national traffic, the transit in our areas appeared to be very limited but, given the commercial importance of Fratta, there was always a movement of people and goods that greatly helped the inhabitants, in search of solutions to their problems. newspapers.


Works on the Rocca

The Rocca di Fratta was commissioned in 1374 and most likely designed by the architect Matteo Gattapone from Gubbio. It was placed to the east of the castle walls, the only stretch devoid of forts, both to increase the defense of the castle on the side of Perugia, and to better stretch the gaze over the entire plain of the Tiber towards Montecorona.

The Rocca consisted, at the beginning, of a simple parallelepiped outside the enclosure which, in the southern area, had a high tower raised about forty meters from the lawn below. This volume was built in the first cycle of works, from 1375 to 1384, while the completion, as the original design wanted, took place with a further intervention between 1385 and 1386, when it was joined to the castle walls. This is how the Rocca looks at the beginning of the fifteenth century. It has opposite sides twelve meters long and perpendicular ones, seven. For the passage of people it is connected to the castle of Fratta by a door (visible and accessible even today) equipped with a drawbridge that pivoted on the fort, fell on the castle walls supported by a single beam and passed over a roof built in the second phase of the works (1385-86). A small crenellated building called "cloister" in which there was a guard post was built at the stop, inside the village, since this military area was guarded to prevent access even to the inhabitants of Fratta.

















The Rocca also had another entrance equipped with a drawbridge. It led outside the castle to the lawn below. It was the "door of rescue", an element common to all forts and fortresses. It was used, in times of war, to bring back some soldiers who remained outside or in other extraordinary cases. This second drawbridge was supported by a single beam whose space is still existing and visible from the area below. It rested on a high stone wall, which remained until the mid-nineteenth century. The natural bed of the Reggia stream passed between the wall and the tower. From here began the road, steeply descending, towards the meadow below. The whole was called "calzo de fuora".

In January 1405 the large masonry vault was built that united (and still unites) the Rocca with the castle walls, in place of the roof under the drawbridge. The stretch of castle walls facing the Piazza del Comune (now Piazza Fortebracci) was also raised, about three meters high and equipped with slits. The west drawbridge was removed and only the "rescue" bridge remained, in operation until the end of the eighteenth century. In 1495 the Fratta was occupied by the Perugian exiles of the Degli Oddi family. They were fought by the Baglioni who brought the siege here until, on 11 September 1495, Fratta surrendered to the forces of Perugia. The dominant city, having got our castle back, thought it best to restore it and increase its military defenses, so that it could withstand any other attacks. From 1495 to 1499 the lateral circular crenellated towers were erected, one to the north and one to the south, and the Rocca took on its present appearance.

For the construction of the towers the "cloister" and a stretch of walls had to be demolished (to build the north tower), while a new entrance door was opened on the side of the town square.









Photo of the fortress by Fabio Mariotti (the ancient one from the historical photographic archive of the Municipality of Umbertide)

Photo of Monte Acuto by Enrico Milanesi (



- Calendar of Umbertide 2004 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2004

- Renato Codovini: History of Umbertide - The XV century. Unpublished typescript, 1992

- A. Guerrini: History of the land of Fratta now Umbertide from its origins until the year 1845 -

Tiberina typography, Umbertide, 1883

- MG Moretti: Health and spezierie alla Fratta (15th - 20th century): Brief introduction to the exhibition,

Umbertide, Municipal Library, 27 September - 12 October 2002. Dream Service, Umbertide, 2002

- P. Vispi: The living room and the work of Pico della Mirandola in Umbertide - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide, 1996


Seconda di copertina.jpg
Monteacuto (Enrico Milanesi).jpg
The country road that leads to Monte Acuto
Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli (Calendar of Umbertide 2004)
Rocca - 1912.jpg
La Rocca in 1912 and today. In the old photo you can see the side tower still covered and the facades of the different houses from today 
Notizie generali, le strade e la Rocca
Copertina Cal. 2004.jpg

The economy and the freedom of the fair

curated by Fabio Mariotti

The economy of the territory of Fratta in the fifteenth century was based on a modest agricultural activity and a flourishing artisan activity. Already in the early fifteenth century we see timid stable settlements in the countryside of agricultural workers who go to work lands quite distant from the village. Lands gradually "rancate", that is, cultivated. But times are still uncertain, the danger is directly proportional to the distance from the castle walls. The passage of armies that raided cattle and crops, together with gangs of thugs made the cultivation of the countryside very risky. Agricultural workers, therefore, could not produce large quantities of various kinds. Only two centuries later, in the middle of the seventeenth century, the cultivation of wheat still had an income of three or four parts against one of sown seeds.

The handicraft activity in the castle of Fratta was, on the other hand, more advanced and productive, also regulated in the statutes of 1362. It was a predominantly corporate economy, with watertight compartments, with each Art strictly observing those rules that had been given with its own legal system, also including penalties for offenders. But it was the religious aspect that united the components.

The productivity of the artisans was only sufficient for their immediate needs, but at times it could exceed the limit of what is strictly necessary and give them some more satisfaction.

The brick kilns that produced building materials gave remarkable results. Other small businesses, with attached workshops and workshops, produced terracotta pottery of all kinds, necessary for the daily life of the village and peasant families.

Various grain and oil mills, making use of the driving force of the water of rivers and streams, employed a fair number of people. Then there was the processing of woolen cloths, by means of the fulling machine and the finishing of metal products that used stone wheels, also moved by water, for sharpening. All these mechanisms were located inside the major mills and used the same water that moved the large grain mills.


The fulling machine. The art of woolen cloths

The art of wool was also practiced in Fratta, albeit for a while

a minor product that had to satisfy only needs

local. The worked cloth was used to sew the clothes of

common use, worn by most of the inhabitants,

almost all poor.

The processing was possible as in the major mills

there was always the "fulling machine", a mechanism equipped with coarse

wooden "hammers" which, moved by the water of the dam,

they beat the suitably treated wool (boiling water

and some glue). Probably, it was about

one station for each mill, leased to third parties for several years.

In a notarial deed of 12 November 1464 we speak of the

“Mulino dei Calvi” with the fulling mill attached to it

it was used to "crease woolen clothes": it was in adherence

to this mill, it was rented for three years. The news of existence,

near Fratta, of this fulling mill, and the melt for which it was needed, are

the oldest news on the subject.


The ensemble of the other Arts manufactured the objects necessary for the life of the community; they were blacksmiths, carpenters, magnani, painters, tailors, panacuocoli (bakers), gilders.
















All people who today we would call economic operators and very often had a great limit in the difficulty of finding the necessary capital. Since there were still no credit institutions as we understand today, they had to resort, in case of need, to the loan of the Jewish "banks". In Fratta there were about twenty of them and some of these exercised the activity of bankers. Although opposed by the population and by the legislation of the city of Perugia valid also in Fratta, they always managed to carry out their work in a positive sense and the Perugian community itself resorted to Jewish "prowess" in case of need. Forced to wear a yellow disc on clothes, excluded from public offices, Jews were also denied the possibility of buying real estate, making playing cards and dice. There was nothing left for them but to devote themselves to interest-rate loans and the study of medicine.


The leather trade

It was widely practiced in our Fratta, as in the upper Tiber valley and in Perugino.

The great leather trade had its main headquarters, for central Italy, in the cities of Pisa and Ancona. Pisa imported it from Spain (from Cordova, Cordovan leathers), from southern France and from the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco). Ancona, on the other hand, imported it from the so-called Morea (Middle East), from the Aegean islands and from the coastal countries of the Black Sea.

From these two cities, then, by means of large four-wheeled wagons, the leather arrived in Perugia (via Lake Trasimeno and via Fabriano). Here Fratta was supplied in limited quantities, increased by the same goods coming from Città di Castello, whose merchants were directly connected with the Marche "leather roads".











The "bambage" trade

Also the bambage (or bambagio) arrived from the countries of the Middle East (Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Egypt), with the ships up to Ancona; then the merchants introduced it to the Perugian territory. With bamboo, a by-product of cotton, women's veils were made for the head, neck and shoulders.

Those who dealt with this product were called "bambagiari" and were part of the homonymous art. They had shops to trade both pure bamboo and its derivatives, such as trimmings, sold by haberdashery.



The art of haberdashery

Those who traded in genres related above all to clothing were enrolled in the art of haberdashery: sewing threads (they are called "refe"), balls and skeins, handkerchiefs (for the head, neck, shoulders), veils (for hats ), "shirts", woolen socks, hats, ribbons of all kinds, pins, earrings, needles (handmade) and anything else related to dressing. We do not find handkerchiefs for the nose (yet to be invented), sweaters (they were made at home, on the domestic loom), jackets, overcoats and cloaks (the tailor sewed them).














However, there were no shops specialized in a single type of goods. It was therefore easy to find, in that of the haberdasher, fabrics, garments (for the decoration of churches, curtains for the house), but also wax, candles, "facole", soap roots.


The art of "spetiaria"

Those who practiced the art of spetiaria had a shop, also called aromataria, where they sold the kinds that even today we call spices, but with a wider range, as the use of these kinds is greater. Many were used for the pharmacopoeia. In these shops, however, many products went beyond the spice field, including the most disparate genres, anticipating the bazaars and modern supermarkets.


The shoemakers

There were, in the fifteenth century, in Fratta, several shoemakers (calceolarius) enrolled in the relative Art and simple cobblers. The activity of the shoemakers consisted in building and selling shoes, for which they needed to buy leather, hides and tools for use.

The cobbler (sutor), more simply, was adapted to accommodate footwear, without entering the trade of the same.



















In the municipal historical archive there is a contract dated 4 September 1448 with which the father entrusts the minor son to a shoemaker to learn the trade. The boy had to go and live in the house of the shoemaker who, in turn, undertook to train him and give him room and board. The boy is Mariotto, son of Domenico di Ercolano da Pietramelina; the shoemaker is Nardo di Francesco, from Fratta.

Domenico di Ercolano undertakes to have Mariotto stay at Nardo di Francesco for a year and not to send him to other shoemakers. He guarantees that Mariotto will always be submissive and obedient as every good disciple must behave.

Nardo, for his part, undertakes to instruct him in the art of shoemaking, to give him a salary of three and a half florins for the whole year, in addition to room and board.



In the fifteenth century, in central Italy, gold coins, florins and ducats were used for large amounts, together with their submultiples and the many coins of the various existing states.

The florin was related to the Bolognini (small denomination Bolognese coin). If it was intact (that is, of the right weight, not filed to appropriate part of its gold as often happened), it was worth forty bologninis. If, on the other hand, it had a weight lower than that of minting, it was considered in proportion to what was missing. The florin was also quoted in "soldi": one hundred if intact.












The Florentine florin was sometimes compared to the Perugian lira. Towards the middle of the century there is parity between the two currencies. In fact, we find, in 1464, a sum of eleven thousand florins which, a few lines below the same document, become eleven thousand lire.

The "soldo" (submultiple of the florin) is sometimes compared to "soldi" (Perugian currency submultiple of the lira).

Finally, we have another monetary measure, the "libra". It took five for a florin.

In Fratta both florins and duchies (but also other coins) were used indiscriminately. In a notarial deed, the "penalty" to be given to those who do not comply with the agreements is established as "100 gold ducats", despite the prevalence of the use of counts in florins in Fratta. In 1471 we find the "carlino", of low value, of Neapolitan origin. It was worth twelve baiocchi. Also in this year there is also the "large duchy of gold": it has the value of a florin and about 75 baiocchi. . . .


Freedom of the fair

Weekly markets and fairs took place in Fratta since the 14th century, regulated by the Statutes of 1362. In 1400 there seems to be only the Sant'Erasmo fair, which took place on 2 June, the feast day of the saint, in front of the ancient and homonymous parish church, in today's Piazza Marconi.



















As in the other castles and villas in the area, it was subject to a taxation imposed by Perugia (dominant city), which the community of Fratta then paid to the traders who intervened, thus recovering the sum paid.

The fair tax involved a certain burden for the merchants, requiring them to make a choice as to whether or not to come to Fratta, depending on the advantage. In practice, it conditioned the influx of people to these demonstrations.

In consideration of this, the community of Fratta tried to free the fair from the "gabella", in order to increase the competition of sellers, therefore to have the greatest quantity and variety of goods, lower prices (competition law), ultimately a advantage for the population, as well as greater earnings for innkeepers, marshals, "carters", shops in general.

The result was achieved starting from 1441, when he requested it in Perugia. The approval came from Cardinal Firmano (Domenico da Fermo), apostolic delegate for Umbria and the relative concession, called "privilege", concerned the annual fair on 2 June, probably the only one of the century.

Fratta no longer had to pay the tax like the other communities of the Roman state and consequently no longer asked the merchants for anything. The concession was issued for two consecutive days, so long did the Sant'Erasmo fair last since 1441.

In 1444, on 31 October, the same cardinal Domenico da Fermo reaffirmed the concession (which had to be renewed annually) and allowed the fair to be extended to four consecutive days: from the first (eve of the feast of the Saint) to 4 June, a decision that the Comune gladly accepted.

On October 30, 1445, Pope Eugene IV confirmed the "privilege" by specifying that the exemption is "tam entering quam in exeundo", both upon entering Fratta and at the exit at the end of the event and concerns all the people who intervene with the beasts and with goods ("cum eorum animalibus et mercantiis").

The provision also remains extended to the inhabitants of Fratta who took part in this fair which in those four days "solemniter celebratur".

Fratta was informed of the Pope's provision by the cardinal legate of Perugia, Domenico da Fermo.

In the sixteenth century, however, the duration of the event was increased to eight and even ten days.

Photo by Fabio Mariotti (that of the shoemaker from the Historical Photographic Archive of the Municipality of Umbertide)

Photos of the coins from the Internet



- Calendar of Umbertide 2004 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2004

- Renato Codovini: History of Umbertide - The XV century. Unpublished typescript, 1992

- A. Guerrini: History of the land of Fratta now Umbertide from its origins until the year 1845 -

Tiberina typography, Umbertide, 1883

- MG Moretti: Health and spezierie alla Fratta (15th - 20th century): Brief introduction to the exhibition,

Umbertide, Municipal Library, 27 September - 12 October 2002. Dream Service, Umbertide, 2002

- P. Vispi: The living room and the work of Pico della Mirandola in Umbertide - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide, 1996






CENTRO STORICO 21 - Copia.jpg
The area where it is thought that in ancient times there was a fulling mill
Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli
Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli
Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli
Il Calzolaio M.Corona 1911.jpg
1911. Shoemaker in Montecorona
           Florin                                  Duchy                                Bolognino
Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli
L'economia e la libertà di fiera

The Jewish community



curated by Fabio Mariotti




The gradual formation of a small Jewish community in Fratta probably dates back to the end of the 12th century, when a strong migratory current of Israelite merchants from Rome tends to spread first to the Umbrian cities, and then to expand towards all of northern Italy.

There were large settlements and an established Jewish tradition in Perugia, Città di Castello and Gubbio. In Perugia, in the district of Porta Sant'Angelo to which the Jewish community of Fratta had joined, there was one of the two synagogues of the city and there was the largest number of Israelite dwellings.



















The period, however, is not peaceful for the Italian Jewish world.

At the beginning of 1485, in fact, Bernardino da Feltre also arrived in Umbria, who had raged in northern Italy to obtain the suppression of the Jewish banks in favor of the nascent Monti di Pietà. He preaches, strongly supported by the Order of Minors, a violent anti-Israel crusade that gets good results. From that period the presence of Jews began to diminish in Gubbio. Even Perugia and Fratta were not immune from forms of intolerance, which however did not reach the excesses recorded elsewhere. The Jewish community of Frattigiana, although small (about twenty people), must have had a certain economic importance. In fact, as early as 1398, a certain Beniamino di Aleuccio della Fratta was practicing as a banker in Mantua.

There are documented presences of Jews from Umbria after the mid-1400s. For example, a notable banker, Dattilo di Salomone, lived in Fratta: there is evidence of a conspicuous activity of him and we know that he was represented in court by his brother Manuele. His name and that of his family recur several times in Perugia's history as the most important financial group. Probably related to the financier Dattilo, and also their inhabitants in Fratta, were Solomon, Elia and Davide "Dactoli". The latter signs, also on behalf of the brothers, a petition to the Perugia magistracy in 1483.















Other activity, besides banking, in which many Jews were highly regarded, was medical art. In the Fratta of the second half of the fifteenth century they practiced it in two. The first was Manuele da Monticolo. He lived in a rented house in the Terziere Superiore (Rocca area) and his presence is documented since 1477. Between 1484 and 1486 there is Manuele di Angelo, from Padua, in Fratta. He had previously practiced in Montone and lived here in a luxurious residence, owned by the monks of Camporeggiano, located next to the palace of Count Carlo Fortebracci, lord of the place. Evidence of this second doctor remains both in the municipal archives of Umbertide and in that of Gubbio.

The activity of some Jews in Fratta was therefore at a considerable level. But if those who influenced the city's social life enjoyed freedom and consideration, probably not everyone had an easy life. There was in fact a strong denigration activity against them on the part of the Franciscan friars minor. Roman legislation, applied by the judiciary of Perugia, had already imposed on them, from the previous century, a mark on their clothes. It consisted of a round of yellow fabric with a diameter of about fifteen centimeters that had to be sewn on the front to be recognized and differentiated from Christians. Women, on the other hand, had to be distinguished by a certain type of veil on their heads and to wear hoop earrings.

Everyone knew that it was good to show themselves as little as possible, but on the occasion of a funeral, to get to the burial place, they had to cross some streets, choosing them from the least frequented and in any case avoiding the town center. But even here they often found "Christians" waiting for them to mock them and throw stones at them. This event, called "the stone-throwing", in use in Perugia since the beginning of the century (in Fratta there is no certainty about it), will continue for the whole of the following one.


Photos from the Internet



Calendar of Umbertide 2004 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2004

Renato Codovini: History of Umbertide - The XV century. Unpublished typescript, 1992

A. Guerrini: History of the land of Fratta now Umbertide from its origins to the year 1845 - Tipografia Tiberina, Umbertide, 1883

Bernardino da Feltre.jpg
Perugia. Porta Sant'Angelo
Bernardino of Feltre
Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli
La comunità ebraica

The hospitals, the plague and the wars


curated by Fabio Mariotti



In the fifteenth century we find seven hospitals in Fratta. They belong to churches or brotherhoods and are all small, two or three rooms in modest houses, often incorporated into the churches themselves. Usually the Augustinian fathers, one or two friars, lend their work there. Here the poor sick people of the town and travelers who need care during the passage to Fratta are hospitalized.


Sant 'Antonio

It was located in Castel Nuovo, at the bottom of the Piaggiola. We have news of it in 1400 and 1404. In 1411 he joined the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, also located in Castel Nuovo. He had some assets, two plots of working land in Villa Galera (Monte Acuto), in the words Vignale and Fossato and also owned a land in the word Seripole, on the border with the Reggia stream.


Saint Mary

Also located at the bottom of the Piaggiola, it was legally "united" to the church of "Pieve di Santa Maria di Castel Nuovo", at least since the year 1397. It bordered on one side with "the things of the church" (a vegetable garden:) and on the other with the "foveo" of the Community, the moat along the castle walls (Baglioni palace area).


Santa Maria and Sant'Antonio

They merged in 1411. In 1423 they decided to register their properties in the land registry of Perugia. The recording is made by Giovanni Corbelli di Fratta, rector and governor of the hospitals, through his procurator, Francesco di Simone. They own a house in the Borgo Superiore of Castel Nuovo and four plots of land in the municipality of Montone, in the word Buschi.


Holy Cross

It is located in the Borgo Inferiore, in today's Via Soli. It dates back to the first half of the fourteenth century. It belongs to the brotherhood of the same name which has about forty real estate properties. The number of properties is so great that it also puts the Perugia land registry office in difficulty when Bartolomeo di ser Nicola, procurator of the brotherhood, goes to register some of them. The cadastre officer is forced to report the list in a new book, specially begun, as there was no more room in the sheet referring to the brotherhood.


Fraternity of the Body of Christ or the Good Jesus

This was also in the Borgo Inferiore, adhering to the south side of the church of San Bernardino, not yet built at the beginning of the century. We have news of it in 1448 when, on April 15, the friars of San Francesco ceded their house near the cloister of the convent to the Disciplinati della Fraternita di Cristo. Among the clauses, the buyers are obliged to "build a hospital for the poor of Christ". In 1477 the hospital received a bequest of 5 florins to purchase beds.


Saint John

Within the castle walls, in the Porta Nuova district, on the border of the church of San Giovanni (today via Mancini).

On 4 June 1455 the bishop of Gubbio, Antonio Severi, negotiated with the community of Fratta the sale of a refurbishment located between the church of San Giovanni and the hospital house. The six people appointed by the Municipality to deal with the matter give this piece of street to the Bishopric on condition that it serves "for the poor of the hospital" and that the expansion work is completed within six years. It was therefore a question of joining, with a new construction, the hospital house to the church of San Giovanni, in order to enlarge the hospital.



It was located in the Borgo Superiore, in the central area known as the "Mercatale", adhering to the church of the same name. The building is still visible in its entirety, even if it is used as a dwelling. It was taught by the friars of Sant'Agostino, who acted as nurses. It owned land and was the largest hospital in Fratta.


The doctors


In the fifteenth century, in Fratta there is the figure of the general practitioner, called "physicist" and that of the surgeon, the "cerusico". One of these carried out the function of "conduit" doctor, hired by the community who established his rights and duties in a notarial contract which showed the cases in which he could get paid by clients and the visits to the many poor that he had to carry out for free. In the event that the doctor was dealing with a very serious or at the time unknown disease, he could have recourse to the "pro corpore mortuo" clause: by contract he did not assume responsibility if the sick person died. In other cases he proposed two alternative sums to the family of the sick (paying): if the spouse recovered, he would have the greater sum; if, on the other hand, the treatment had no effect and the patient passed away, he would have been satisfied with the lesser sum.

In this century, only Jewish doctors worked in Fratta. One of these, maestro Manuele da Monticolo (Bolzano), worked in Fratta from 1447. In the years 1484 and 1485 another Jewish "physicist" worked, Manuele da Pavia. In 1485 the Israeli Emanuele di Angelo arrived from Padua, who lived in Perugia. One might wonder why the communities hired Jewish doctors. Because they were paid half of a Christian doctor. In fact, the salary was 25 florins a year for a Jew, 50 or 60 for a Christian. It was the consequence of the ostracism of the Roman state towards the Jews and not of the different professional skills of the doctors. Jews were as good as Christians when they weren't even more skilled and better prepared.



The plague

The plague, present continuously at short intervals, was the worst disease that could happen in this century. We have little information about our country, but since the infection affected large areas, when the epidemic occurred in Città di Castello and Perugia, Fratta was certainly not immune. In 1438, for example, a pharmacist from Fratta wrote a list of medicines to be used against the plague, among which, mainly, vinegar.

In 1400 the plague hit central Italy, especially Tuscany. In Perugia and in the countryside 35 thousand (!) People died and thousands of deaths were also counted in Città di Castello. This being the case, there will also have been many infections in Fratta and consequently many victims.


















In 1411 and 1417 the plague raged again. In the last year it particularly affects Anghiari. In 1429 he returned to Perugia and throughout its territory, including Fratta. Following this, the Perugian Magistracy ordered for the first time to check the healthiness of the meats for sale in the "butchers". In 1435 an epidemic broke out in Città di Castello, from March to November, and in the end a thousand typhernates perished.

In 1438 plague in Fratta, where our good pharmacist describes the remedies that according to him would have avoided the disease. Another wave of contagion arrived ten years later and in 1463 the disease hit Città di Castello again hard.

The year after the plague invaded the whole territory of Perugia and on 14 September 1464 in Montone the Council decided to "have recourse to the saints of Paradise to be freed". Six years later, however, the fiefdom of Braccio Fortebracci will again be under contagion.

From 1467 to 1476, the plague returns at regular intervals throughout the whole of Perugia.

In 1478 we have the news of the plague in Fratta. Città di Castello was not immune and counted five hundred dead. The following year, in October, the plague began again. It particularly struck Gubbio and Perugia. It lasted three years and in the city of Sant'Ubaldo alone four thousand people died.

In July 1468 it broke out again in Perugia. Here lived Pico della Mirandola who was forced to leave the city and take refuge in Fratta where, at that moment, the disease had not manifested itself.

This terrible epidemic tormented our area and the whole of Italy for many centuries, without any cure being able to help the populations.

Vinegar and other substances with a sour taste, considered the most effective remedies (even in a great treatise of 1610 present in the Vatican library), with which clothes and food were washed and the body was sprinkled, were only used, unfortunately , to make the life of time even more difficult.


The wars


Ladislao, king of Naples, upset the territories of central Italy, intending to conquer a good part of them. On 25 June 1408 he enters Perugia. The Florentines and the Pope try to oppose him by all means and the Tuscans call Lodovico d'Angiò (crowned king of Naples by the Pope) to contrast him with Ladislao. Lodovico entered the states of the Church with Malatesta da Pesaro, Angiolo della Pergola and Braccio Fortebracci. The latter, before joining the Anjou, had gone to Città di Castello and near Fratta had defeated Julius Caesar of Capua, captain of King Ladislao, strong of two thousand knights. In 1411 Braccio Fortebracci returned to Umbria, surprised Montone and Fratta by sowing destruction and fright, then headed for Perugia, which he conquered in 1416, two years after Ladislao's death. When Martin V died in 1431, Niccolò Fortebracci, grandson of Braccio, reached Città di Castello and in a few days took possession of a large part of the upper Tiber valley. The Perugians tried by every means to dissuade him, but in the end everything turned out to be in vain. More effective was the announcement of the arrival of an army sent by the Florentines and other allies, including the counts of Montefeltro: over four thousand horses and many infantrymen were heading towards the Tifernate territory, but Niccolò Fortebracci did not wait for their arrival. withdrawing his forces to Montone, where he organized the defense. And when on 18 July 1431 he learned that the Florentines had returned to Tuscany, he left Montone, fell on the nearby castles, conquering them. On 12 August Niccolò Piccinino arrived at Fratta with one hundred and fifty horses, on his way to Romagna; the following year three thousand infantrymen and knights will arrive under the command of Francesco Sforza, fighting with Niccolò Fortebracci, and they will cause considerable damage to the inhabitants. Subsequently, the soldiers of Francesco Piccinino and the archbishop of Naples governor of Perugia will be added, who, in contrast to each other, will pass through the territory of Fratta and will bring grief and violence.


















Fratta saw a great multitude of people arrive in its territory in 1475 due to a riot that broke out in the Tifernate territory. In 1479 the struggle between Perugia and the Florentines was rekindled and our territory suffered enormous damage. Many castles were destroyed, the inhabitants cruelly killed. Captain of the Florentine army was Niccolò Vitelli, excommunicated by the Pope.

From 1488, the fights between commoners (raspanti) and nobles (gravediggers) in Perugia were joined by others, involving the Baglioni and Degli Oddi families, with disastrous consequences for all. The Degli Oddi were driven out, but they tried to get allies and soldiers, especially in the Duchy of Urbino, to return to the city. The arrival of Charles VIII in Italy and the Pope's policy offered them the opportunity to try to recover Perugia. There were three places of refuge for the exiles: the territory of the Dukes of Urbino, relatives of some Popes, of Siena and Fratta, where the Baglioni initially turned their weapons, informed that the Degli Oddi had found asylum in this area. It was the year 1495: Guido and Astorre Baglioni arrived at the abbey of San Salvatore di Monte Acuto (Montecorona) with a thousand foot soldiers and two hundred horses; they reorganized quickly, going to place the artillery near the church of San Pietro di Romeggio.















At the first blows, Baglioni's men realized that the projectiles did more damage to the houses than to the walls of Fratta, as these were on the embankment. On the other hand, there were numerous sorties of the besieged who every day managed to receive help from Assisi, Urbino, Matelica, Siena, Foligno and other friendly lands. The Folignati, meanwhile, had promoted the formation of an army which, towards the end of August, under the command of Niccolò and Sforza Degli Oddi, was heading to Fratta. The Baglioni, having known the initiative, abandoned the siege of Fratta and returned to Perugia, pursued by their enemies as far as Corciano. The battle was fought on 4 September 1495 with the Baglioni victory. Fratta, a week later, fearing reprisals for having given hospitality to the Degli Oddi, returned to submit to the Perugini.


Photo by Fabio Mariotti



Calendar of Umbertide 2004 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2004

Renato Codovini: History of Umbertide - The XV century. Unpublished typescript, 1992

A. Guerrini: History of the land of Fratta now Umbertide from its origins to the year 1845 - Tipografia Tiberina, Umbertide, 1883

Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli
Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli
Abbazia Montecorona.jpg
Chiesa di Romeggio.jpg
                The abbey of Montecorona                                            The church of Romeggio
Gli ospedali, la peste e le guerre


He arrived in the ancient fortified village in the summer of 1486





curated by Fabio Mariotti    












Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Fratta: a combination that gave fruitful results. The great humanist, originally from Mirandola, in the province of Modena, famous for his intellectual abilities and prodigious memory, arrived in the summer of 1486, driven by a plague epidemic that broke out in Perugia where he had taken refuge following the stormy affair. amorous with the wife of Giuliano di Mariotto de 'Medici, a Florentine.

The fortified village of Fratta offered guarantees of good sanitary isolation from contagion, being completely surrounded by water and having only two entrances (the door of the decagonal tower at the beginning of the bridge over the Tiber and the Porta della Campana), from which it was easy to check every person who entered. In Fratta he found an environment

serene, calm despite the echoes of the political struggles between

Perugia, the Papacy, Florence and Città di Castello.  

It is not out of place to think that he was staying in some house of the

Terziere Superiore, in contact with the large and rich local Jewish community.

Unique opportunity for a scholar of Hebrew culture and language.

At the same time, Pico also improved his knowledge in Aramaic

and Arabic to deepen what he called the treasures of literature

oriental: Zoroaster, the Oracles of the Magicians, the writings of Esra and Melchiar.

Very intense relationships with that world, albeit also in Fratta

the winds of the anti-Semitic crusade promoted by the Friar Minor blew

Bernardino of Feltre.

They are from the same period "Commentary on the love song" by Girolamo

Benivieni, "In Praise of Peace" and letters to well-known personalities: Taddeo

Ugolini, Marsilio Ficino, Domenico Benivieni.

















Some letters written by Pico during his stay in Fratta translate into a cross-section of the social life of the time.

Meanwhile, complete 1 "'Oratio de dignitate hominis", considered the manifesto of the Renaissance.

According to fig, the dignity of man is in the absolute freedom of choice, in being open to any possibility of life. No one has a "nature" predetermined by laws, restricted within precise limits. Free "blacksmith" of himself, unlike other creatures, man can choose between decaying to the rank of brutes or rising to the divine, implementing in himself, still mortal, the conjunction of the finite and the infinite.

"Revolutionary" concept, born in the shadow of the Rocca and matured by heterogeneous sources such as Plato, Aristotle, Hermes Trismegistus, Thomas Aquinas, the Cabala.

Shortly before his death, which occurred in 1494 at the age of 31, Pico della Mirandola approached the preaching of Girolamo Savonarola, to whose defense he devoted himself passionately, writing two works addressed to the ecclesiastical authorities and a letter intended to raise public opinion. All in vain: on 23 May 1498 fra 'Savonarola was condemned and burned in Florence, accused of heresy.

Pico's stay in Fratta was therefore fruitful. And it is to be proud that he wrote the manifesto of the Renaissance and the highest celebration of the centrality and freedom of man in his relationship with God right here.





















Texts taken directly from the volume by Pietro Vispi

"The living room and the work of G. Pico della Mirandola in Umbertide"


From the preface (or rather not preface, as the author Gianni Codovini defines it)

"To the Author (and not only)

First of all, thanks for having returned us a really high page of our Fratta, as well as for having given us a rigorous example of historical research and a coherent working method, which seems to derive not only from his profound theological and legal studies, but also borrowed from a person - Renato Codovini - to whom the city of Umbertide, and myself above all, we owe gratitude and esteem, both for its being the unrivaled local archival source and for its meticulous and discreet way of guiding young scholars and expert researchers in the study historical and documentary. I do not think I am moving away from the truth, or at least not doing violence to the will of the Author if I affirm that, Don Pietro Vispi, with the usual intellectual sensitivity that we know and appreciate, recognizes the methodological debt towards Renato Codovini in that affectionate and beautiful dedication at the bottom of the book that, I believe, everyone shares.

As I say goodbye to the Author and the Reader, I give my general impression that I am increasingly confirming, which is that of an intellectual dear to me, Benedetto Croce: "every true story is contemporary history" (1). The first and essential condition of history - Croce writes - is that the fact, which one begins to narrate, vibrates in the soul of the historian. It follows that every story "if it is really history, that is, if it makes sense and does not sound like empty speech", it is contemporary, whether it examines remote events or considers facts that are close or present. Such is the general moral that I strengthened by reading the precious book by Pietro Vispi. "


Umbertide, September 1995

Umbertide, Tishri 5756.


                                                                                               Gianni Codovini



1. Vds. B. Croce, “Theory and History”; Laterza, Bari, 1976, pp. 1-5, but also “History as thought and action”, Laterza, Bari; 1938, pp. 170-172.




















The stay in Perugia and Fratta


"The period of time that concerns the stay in Perugia and then in Fratta is actually very short, but, if compared to the very short life of the count, and above all to how much and how he produced in this short period, we could almost say that it is was one of the most important lived by Pico.

As already mentioned in the brief biographical notes, in the spring of 1486 Pico returned from Paris and, after stopping for some time in Florence, apparently wishing to go to Rome, when he was in Arezzo, on May 10, he found himself embroiled in the unclear matter of the kidnapping of Margherita, wife of Mariotto de 'Medici. As we know, the intervention of the Magnificent put Pico out of trouble, who, either for an already decided program, or for another reason unknown to us, retires to Perugia.

The question arises quite spontaneously: why Perugia? An answer could be given by looking closely at the interests of Pico contemporaneous with the event.

John had so far studied especially Aristotelian and Averroist philosophy with extreme depth, but this very study "clarified to Pico the urgency of solving the problem of the relationship between his ever more daring doctrines and the Catholic religion, as taught by the Church of Rome. . Under the pressure of this problem, his oriental studies also take a new direction. Until now under the guidance of Elijah, he had mainly studied Arab thought in its greatest exponent: Averroes. Now he turns to thinkers who have made the religious experience the object of reflection and, starting from Maimonides, he enters the field of Jewish thought until, fascinated by the most exuberant mystical currents, in the imaginative symbolic interpretations of the scriptural texts he believes he has found a solution to its problems and a way out of its difficulties "(1).

Thus he begins to study the Kabbalah (2), using it not so much from the doctrinal point of view, as instead as a scriptural exegetical method.

The familiarity with the texts of Judaism was born already in Padua through the initiation he had by del Medigo and then continued in Florence, becoming a real attraction, following the friendship that arose with Mithridates; indeed, we have some news of the organization, right in Pico's house, of Jewish conferences to discuss the philosophical interconnected relations between Judaism and Christianity. The two masters, however, did not propose the same perspective to Giovanni; one, Elijah, an Orthodox Israelite, knew the Kabbalah but rejected it as spurious knowledge, the other, converted to Christianity, was instead a fervent Kabbalist. The difference between the two was the cause of a mutual enmity that lasted a lifetime; Pico, however, did not break off relations with either one or the other.

The young count was therefore fascinated “by the mysterious doctrine which Elijah and Mithridates expounded to him; at considerable expense he procures those books which he reads with tireless effort; the result of these readings is that Pico even finds in the documents of the Kabbala, in addition to philosophical doctrines worthy of Pythagoras and Plato, full confirmation of the fundamental mysteries of Christianity, so opposed by the intransigent Jews "(3).

Perugia, as we will say in the following chapter, was the suitable and ideal place for the knowledge and deepening of kabbalistic texts, a place with a strong and cultured Hebrew community, a center for the production of codes and a city qualified by a Studio of now ancient prestige. .

We have many testimonies of the stay in Perugia that can be obtained from the writings of Pico, Elia (4), Ficino, and it was in Perugia that Giovanni was joined by Elia del Medigo; a rich and fruitful conversation took place between the two, but it was soon interrupted: in July a plague epidemic broke out in Perugia which advised them to leave the city.

The refuge, from Pico, was found in Fratta. We do not know the precise reasons for the choice, but perhaps the presence in the small center of a qualified Jewish community, as well as the peaceful isolation, including sanitary, that the well-equipped urban nucleus could offer, should not have been ignored by Pico.

We must then underline a detail that, although accidental, has very intrigued us: in Oratio, when Pico states that the cabbal itself becomes an instrument of refutation for the Jews ... "fundamentalists", he tells us that he has convinced us of the Trinitarian doctrine Christian is a highly educated Israelite, an expert in Kabbalah, named Dattilo (5). We know for sure, and we will illustrate it in the specific chapter, that certainly one of the leading exponents of the Perugian Jewish community, a native and inhabitant of Fratta, was, at the time of Pico, just a certain Dattilo di Salomone, a wealthy banker. It is certainly only pure coincidence, the one just described, and we certainly do not want to draw indemonstrable conclusions from this; however it is the cause of legitimate suggestive fantasies.

We want to spend two words at the end of this part to demonstrate how the Fratta, in which Pico holds himself back, is the current Umbertide.

It is true that the Perugia's toponymy includes more than one of "Fracta" or "Fratta": Fracta Filiorum Azzonis (Collazzone), Fracta Filiorum Fusci (Castiglion Fosco), Fratta di Guido (F. Todina), Fratta Cornia ( near Lisciano Niccone), etc., however, none are ever mentioned in any document without the patronymic specification. The only Fratta, par excellence, as it is also undoubtedly a more remarkable center than the others, and the greatest Perugian fortress, is Fracta Filiorum Uberti, which in the second half of the nineteenth century changed its name to that of Umbertide. As early as 1145, in a diploma of Eugene III, published in the Camaldolese annals (6) - and always afterwards, just as Pico himself does and as always is found in the official papal cartography - Fracta Filiorum Uberti is indicated only by the term of "Fratta" or Fracta "without the fear of falling into misunderstandings of interpretation or toponymic definition.

Pico therefore arrives in our region, eager for studies, personal insights, serenity, in anticipation of the great Roman project. He finds an environmental and human reality that certainly pleases him and stimulates him if he remains here until the immediate eve of the dispute, unfortunately never sustained. "


                                                                                            Pietro Vispi




1. E. Garin, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Life and Doctrine, Florence, 1937, p. 27.

2. The Kabbalah, or Kabbalah, means "tradition", and became one of the cultural components of the Renaissance. It is not easy to define, it basically consists of a form of Jewish mysticism which is still not much studied. This mysticism spread well in the Renaissance, and especially in the Christian world it was used as a method of biblical exegesis. The church has always been suspicious of the Kabbalah, so much so that from the Counter-Reformation in which it was banned, as well as all texts of Jewish origin.

3. G. Di Napoli, op. cit., 55.

4. See Heliae Hebrei Cretensis, questio de ente et essentia et uno. Venetiis, 1546, fol. 142 / r (volume containing Super octos libros Aristotelis ..., by Giovanni di Jandun)

5. Cf. Oratio…, Transl. By E. Garin, fol. 139 / r., Florence, 1942.



Photo by Fabio Mariotti

Photos taken from the Internet (Wikipedia)

Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli




- Calendar of Umbertide 2004 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2004

- Renato Codovini: History of Umbertide - The XV century. Unpublished typescript, 1992

- Pietro Vispi: The living room and the work of G. Pico della Mirandola in Umbertide - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 1996

Pico della Mirandola.jpg
Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli
Lo stemma di famiglia.jpg
The family crest

Pico's work printed in 1601
Tomba Pico a San Marco di Firenze.JPG
Tomb of Pico, G. Benivieni and Poliziano in the convent of S. Maria in Florence
Coperta Pico della Mirandola.jpg
Pico della Mirandola a Fratta
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