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curated by Fabio Mariotti










Life in Fratta

In the land of Fratta the seventeenth century, with the exception of the "War of the Grand Duke" (1643-44) (1), was a century of peace that flowed between the usual difficulties and the numerous religious events (feasts, processions, etc.). ). The life of the Frattegiani was hard from birth: the "archoglitrici", also called mammane, did not attend special courses to carry out their work and had to rely on the only practice they could have. It was probably one of the components of the high infant mortality, especially that of the first day which - consulting the parish archives - was five percent. The percentage remained high even in the first year of life, if we look at a statistic of the decade 1661-1670 relating to the parish of Sant'Erasmo. During this period, 166 people died here (about 17 per year) and of these 45, that is 27 per cent, within the first year of life.

In the same decade, as many as 88 people (53 percent) died before their tenth birthday. More males than females were born and the trend will continue until the second half of the nineteenth century, when the reverse trend will begin. Women had an average life span of two years and two months longer than that of men which was 25 years.

There were many, as has been said, the chances of dying on the first day: the "archglers", even if experienced, lacked any notion of hygiene, just as they lacked the indispensable and prompt medical care to be done in the first minutes after giving birth in case of difficulty. Since there was a danger of death, it was the mother who baptized the child.

The names with which the people were baptized were three (they could also be four or five, the nobles or the wealthiest families also gave eight or nine). When there were many, three were always those of the Magi: Belshazzar, Gaspar and Melchior. People often did not know their date of birth.

Following the provisions of the Council of Trent, publications began to be made

of weddings. The bride's dowry was linked to the actual consummation of the

marriage and failing that it had to be returned.

An attempt was made to leave the patrimony to the males and in particular to the elder.

The head of the family excluded in time as many daughters as he could,

allocating them as children to a future monastic life. These, growing up,

they were kept at home, far from the social life, even if it was restricted at the time,

so that the separation from the family and the entry into the monastery were less

heavy. Here is a reason for the growth of the various female convents too

in Fratta where, in 1604, the construction of the monastery of Santa began

Maria Nuova (at the end of the Piaggiola going down on the left, where it was

the mechanic Remo).

The Petrogalli family. rich landowners of Fratta with manor house

along the Tiber, in 1610 it was made up of two brothers, Marcello and Cristoforo, who

they had two daughters each to take care of. They solved the problem by sending one

in a monastery in Perugia, while two others made them enter the monastery of

Santa Maria Nuova di Fratta established a few years ago, giving them as a dowry how much

required by the rule, that is, more than four hundred scudi per daughter. This sum

it might seem elevated, in fact it was not, as the fourth girl, daughter

Marcello, somehow managed to avoid the convent and get married, had to

bring two thousand scudi as a dowry, a figure four or five times higher than that

paid by his father for his sister and the two most unfortunate cousins.

























This was also the case for male children, not firstborn. In this period little changed even in the way of dressing. French dresses appeared, whereby the women showed the upper part of the chest from the wide square neckline. The men shortened the dress below the belt and, putting down the long white or colored wool breeches, they adopted short breeches, even if not yet tied to the knee as in the eighteenth century. What did not change was that world of ancient habits, taboos, diabolical presences, various witchcraft, where the witches worked tirelessly making or dissolving "bills" and increasing the fears that were handed down from generation to generation.














Hunting was practiced a lot, mostly using hounds and greyhounds. In addition to the "schioppi", the "lepore nets" (ie hare nets) and the "cortinelle", for partridges, were in vogue. The animals with the greatest appetite were “hares, partridges, pheasants, quails, rock partridges, goats and pigs”.

The fishing was practiced with the "cannicciaia" (a reed trap, built so that the fish, once in. They could not get out), with the "ice", leaded net tool to stay underwater, or with the “Tramaglio”, long trawl net. This means of fishing, to which weights were applied to immerse it and corks to keep the upper part at the surface of the water, crossed the first half of the twentieth century and remained almost unchanged.

Among the games, an inventory from 1662 mentions "a shape for making balls". They were terracotta balls with which children always have

played, also using them in Umbertide until the Fifties (of the twentieth century) before the advent of colored glass balls. The "Goose Game" was also very popular, a table pastime like today's bingo, embodied in a large billboard where 63 cartoons were drawn, progressively numbered. More people could participate using a die that was used to proceed forward, with the prospect of encountering penalizing stations.



1. The complete account of the "War of the Grand Duke"

it can be found on this site, in the History Section


Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli

Photo Tiber by Fabio Mariotti

Greyhound photo (Wikipedia)



- History of Umbertide - Vol. V - Sec - XVII - Renato Codovini -

Unpublished manuscript

- Calendar of Umbertide 2002 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2002

Il Boccaiolo (Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli)
The Tiber just before the old snaps
Gioco dell'oca.jpg
Coperta 2002.jpg
An ancient game of the goose
La vita in Fratta

The artisan shops and trade


The potters

The processing of terracotta pots, as well as of pans, warmers, jars, scine and more, useful for everyday family life, was very popular in the 17th century Fratta. It was an activity that came from afar, together with that of building bricks that brought a certain well-being to our society. That the manufacture of vases was relevant is confirmed by the Frattegiano Costantino Magi who, in his manuscript on the History of Fratta (1725), tells us: "The artisan activities of Fratta are mainly around iron and earth, which works with a lot of artifice . Its potters offer Italy very fine majolica of various kinds, that is white, black, stained, the white and the branded ones are very vague. The black women, adorned with arabesques and gold leaf and figures with vivid colors, are so beautiful that they also make a noble ornament for the beliefs of the great ". The processing of the vases took place in the Upper Town and in the market square (Mercatale di Sant'Erasmo).

Another historian who dealt with the subject was the engineer Vincenzo Funghini who in his work Historical notes and observations on ancient Italian majolica (1889) makes it known that a large part of the potter production of Fratta was worked "by scratch" (also called "graffito "or" stick "), made on the engobe. It was superior to that of Città di Castello, known as "alla Castellana". Also in this city they worked "by scratching" (Funghini always says) but with a few simple shades of green or yellow, while the production of Fratta was richer in color and decorations.

















The factories and shops of the potters stood in the Mercatale di Sant 'Erasmo (today's Piazza Marconi). The origin dates back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when they were built outside the castle walls because evidently there was no longer room in the small and winding via "degli Scodellari", inside the castle. An area close to the Old Castle, it was easy and comfortable to go to work, but there was also a ready possibility of taking refuge within the walls in case of imminent danger of war or raids by criminals.

In the year 1643 factories and shops were deliberately destroyed by the soldiers of the garrison due to the war of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and no trace of them remains because the houses that now exist in that square and in the adjacent street were then built on their rubble.

The factories and shops were then rebuilt a little further north, still on the road to Montone, in the area between the mill and the church of the observant Franciscans. In this area there was also the Martinelli vase factory, the only family of artisans of which we have any memory.

The shape of the Fratta plates was the same as that of Deruta, Pesaro, Urbino, the "Durantini" (from the city of Castel Durante, later Urbania). They were different in the paint. What covered the factories of Fratta was not "enamel", but simple "showcase", that is, lead and silica based paint, translucent, or indeed half majolica. The mold-form used

it was made of plaster, an imitation of the "burrine" of Deruta and of the "durantine", which gave a plate with a very wide rim, covered with friezes, leaves and other ornaments. The cups were very deep, mostly small, and barely had a border embryo. This also applies to the cups, placed on a base foot, larger and often equipped with handles. The vases were fashioned according to the whim of the artist, at a time when the taste for fine arts had penetrated all places, even the humblest and even minor artists knew how to give their products a very pleasant aspect. In the "scratch" work the piece, in red earth, naturally dried in the open air, was subjected to a light fire that gave it a certain consistency, preventing it from disintegrating when immersed in the liquid that formed the engobe.




















In the first half of the seventeenth century this liquid was made up of earth from Vicenza and burnt tartar or white earth taken from other areas (white majolica was also produced in Fratta). Instead of tartar, it was sometimes possible to use the dregs of the grapes, also burned, from which the white part was then taken. These components, well ground and mixed with water, were brought to a certain density, as is done with enamel. The jar was immersed in the liquid and placed again on a light fire so that it dried quickly, even if it was always kept raw. Taken out of the oven, the object was covered with transparent varnish so that the decoration was white, on the original red background. From the second half of the seventeenth century the engobbing is obtained with a lighter earth, tending to pale yellow or straw yellow, as can be found in many works by Palaia, Castelfiorentino, Castelli dell'Abruzzo. The Fratta vases appear especially with this color, to be attributed to the absence of the white earth of Vicenza or Valenza or other localities and the use of the yellowish earth of Trequanda, a locality in the province of Siena, later used for all the dozen of the following century. Scratching was not the only method used in the factories of Fratta; some pieces had a real painting on the white or yellowish earth of the engobe in order to form a new modality that is placed between the engobe decoration and that of the half majolica. The colors were light blue, obtained through the use of saffron combined with white, green with very diluted copper-green, red and yellow. The decorations used in our factories were different from each other: the edges of the plate usually painted peacock feathers, flowers, wreaths of leaves; in the center instead birds, plants, heraldic coats of arms or shields, figures, chimeras, grotesques and sometimes sacred subjects, cherubs, cupids, rarely found, all scratched and very colored.


The Smiths

Florentine art in Fratta, all historians talk about it. Our blacksmiths bought iron in Foligno (in 1646 to make it the circle of the dome of the church of Santa Maria della Reggia), but also in Senigallia and were able to forge many of the articles of common use: nails, hammers, files, boilers, pots , pans, basins, which they then sold in their laboratory. The same goes for lead, which came from Gubbio or Rome, which they then worked on, transforming it into objects for the home or for other craftsmen. Brass wire, which they bought in Perugia, is also widely used, mainly to garnish their works. They were adept at casting metals for small utility items. In such cases they had forms that they made themselves from time to time, filled with

a special very fine and compressed earth, into which they poured

the molten metal, obtaining objects that they then sold in their own

shops. The art of blacksmiths was the greatest practiced in Fratta, a lot 

to make it renowned throughout the territory of the Roman state. The annals

of the city of Perugia recall the construction of the gate for the

fountain in the Piazza Maggiore made by the blacksmiths of Fratta.

From 1647 to 1667 there are numerous contracts concerning the

production of sickles to harvest wheat and its sale in Rome.

The first, from the year 1647, says that some blacksmiths from Fratta met

in society, they undertake to build in a year and then to sell

14,000 (fourteen thousand!) Scythes of various types. Other element

remarkable we find it in a clause for which the same contract       

may undergo changes if they are brought to the square in Rome,

at the same time, other batches of scythes for reaping, produced

in other cities or in Fratta.

This means that, in addition to that group, they also existed in Fratta

other companies, capable of such production and related trade in the

city of Rome. Another peculiarity: it is the blacksmiths of Fratta who establish

the selling price of their products, which the wholesalers buyers of that

cities contractually undertake to practice. It is a very strange clause:

in fact today the seller practices the price he wants, to the producer

it only interests to be paid, on time. We find a

new interesting contract for the sale of scythes in 1667: one of the

parti is a woman who works in the commercial field of Fratta.

It is Camilla Mazzoni, wife of Annibale Burelli, and supplies "steel" to

some blacksmiths from whom he then buys the sickles that they will produce during the year.

"On the one hand, Donna Camilla Mazzoni ... from Fratta, on the other hand ... master

Angelo and Mastro Cristoforo promise and agree to make scythes

large wheat for use in the countryside of Rome number four thousand, e

small sickles likewise for wheat, called campagnole numero dui milia ... ". As can be seen from other writings, Mrs. Burelli is favored in this work by her husband who rents the Sant'Erasmo mill. located outside today's gate. This mill had mechanisms and wheels for the grinding of the scythes, which moved with the water of the Tiber channeled up to there: in short, it is easy for Mrs. Mazzoni to undertake commercial business with the blacksmiths of Fratta. This document also proves that there were several artisans who produced scythes by the thousands for the Roman market. They had to be ready in May and, immediately after grinding, were delivered to carters who, with four-wheeled carts, they took them to Rome.




















There is a document in the archive: it dates back to 1666, it was released to a carter from Fratta who had to transport sickles to Rome, via Foligno. The carrier is called Antonio del Cuoghi, he carries eight hundred sickles weighing three thousand pounds, manufactured in Fratta "with acciari bought by Girolamo Francesconi in Sinigaglia from Rafaele Matrici".


The shops

Since the beginning of the century we have found in Fratta a fair number of shops of various kinds which together develop a certain amount of commercial work, such as to be one of the cornerstones of the town's economy. All had the common feature in the great promiscuity of the articles. The "aromataria" shop, which should have had, according to the name, spices (aromas) and medicines, instead also sold wax, nails, tin, glass. There was no specialization in some articles, as it will begin to do towards the end of the nineteenth century, but a considerable confusion of goods placed in a great disorder. Of modest cubage, they were dark and multi-odorant. The only exception to the promiscuity of the genres was the shop of the "slaughterer" (butcher), which contained only meat. They were displayed en masse on the walls, in large and small pieces hooked to hooks. The following did not end at the door, it also continued outside, on the public road, along with cured meats and sausage necklaces. The "butchers" did not use paper to wrap the meat, they put it in a venco and the customer, if he really did not have a "door", took it away dangling at his hips.

The bread shop did not have regular sales as the bread came from the baker in his own oven. The fact remains that it was sold elsewhere, ending up in glass, nails, paints and "codfish".
























Shops and owners

- Pellicciari Adriano : in 1600 it had an "aroma", in 1603 it passed to its heirs

- Pellicciari Gapocho Pietro : from 1605 to 1615 he sold yarns, silk and various other kinds

- Tommaso Pellicciari : in 1603 he sells foil

- Giovan Francesco : in 1601 it has an "aroma", in 1610 it is "spetiale"

- Wedges : in 1603 he was a haberdasher. It is also called "il pettenaro", that is, a seller of combs

- Cecco D'Angiolo : in 1605 he was a merchant

- Stella Anton Maria : in 1609 he sells canvas

- Saints : in 1612 it is merciaro

- Garognoli Fabritio : in 1606 it is "spetiale"; in 1607 he sells wax; in 1609, wax and fàcole; in 1611 he has an "aromatherapy" and in 1630 he sells "robbe for the sick" and other things

- Bernardine food : in 1612 he sells bread

- Burelli Ruggero : in 1601 it has an "aromateria" located in "strata regal", that is the via Diritta (today via Cibo). This is located under the house of Orfeo Burelli. In 1603 it has an "aromatic apotheque", in 1607 it is "spetiale" and this is until 1619

- Burelli Pompeo : in 1605 he sells wax, ropes, facets, aguti (large nails) and "other robbe"; in 1609, medicaments. Pompeo has an "apoteca" located in "strata regal" (now via Cibo), bordered by Ruggero Burelli and on the back with the "fence" of the community (towards the Tiber). In 1619 Pompeo has the qualification of "spetiale" (he sells spices and medicines, but also agutes, wax, ropes, facets and more)

- Burelli Scipione : in 1613 (up to 1648) he sells wax, medicines, torches, little faces and "ghost stuff" for the hospital of Santa Croce. Also sells priest's hats. In 1614 he gave medicine to a poor sick woman. In 1621a workshop still exists in his name, probably run by a son

- Tartagli Erasimo : in 1623 he sells wax

- Pellicciari Giovan Paolo : in 1633 it was "special". Sells "giulebbe, sugar, rosé oil, termentina, bread"

- Bottari Giulio Cesare : in 1637 he sells haberdashery

- Check Alfonso : in 1611 he has a haberdashery shop

- Stella Cosimo : in 1654 he sells salt

- Lazzari Agostino : in 1638 he has a food shop

- Forani Giuliano : in 1634 (until 1653) he was an apothecary and also sold wax

- Francesco Fracassini : in 1641 he sells iron

- Erasimi Giovan Battista : in 1654 (until 1664) he was a "grocer". It sells wax, brushes, tinplate, cloth for clothes

- Mosè di Leone : in 1656 he sells cloth for "camisci" and also ortichokes. He is probably Jewish

- Pharmacy of Montecorona : in 1658 it was transferred from the hermitage to the underlying abbey.

- Herculaneum di Bilardino : in 1659 he sells eggs

- Massi Francesco : in 1663 he sells wax

- Francesco died : in 1666 he sold wax and other "robbe"

- Cristiani Ludovico : in 1667 he sells gunpowder

- Burelli Filippo : in 1672 (until 1692) he sells facules, medicines, medicaments

- Martinelli Vincenzo : in 1683 he sells cloth

- Iacomini Antonio : in 1686 he sells gold and remosino

- Leoni Samuele : in 1696 he sells church chasubles and more. He is probably Jewish


Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli



- History of Umbertide - Vol. V - Sec XVII - Renato Codovini - Unpublished manuscript

- Calendar of Umbertide 2002 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2002

1996. Aerial view of the center of Umbertide. In the foreground Piazza Marconi (ancient Mercatale di  Sant'Erasmo).
At the bottom right you can see the old furnace and further up, along the Tiber, the former Draga (Photo Amedeo Massetti)
Le botteghe artigiane e il commercio
I vasai.jpg
Potters tools (Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli
Piazza S. Francesco.jpg
Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli
I fabbri.jpg
Falci e martelli.jpg
The tools of the blacksmiths - Hammers and sickles (Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli)
Via Cibo.jpg
Il commercio.jpg
Ancient shop
(Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli) 

School, music and theater, hotels


The school

The school was run by a clergyman who lived in a house in the Borgo Inferiore and was paid both by the brotherhood of Santa Croce and by the community. Located in the same house inhabited by the master, it was next to the hospital of Santa Croce, with the "back" (north) side facing the Reggia stream

The subjects were reading, writing and doing the four operations: a course that did not go beyond the current third or fourth grade.

A higher level teaching existed in Fratta already in the previous century and in the seventeenth century, even if we have very little news of it.

We think this "high school" was attended by very few boys, all from rich families, who had to start an ecclesiastical career and therefore needed a higher education capable of placing them in the high school of Perugia.

The brotherhood of Santa Croce owned the headquarters of the school and the house of the teacher and thought of the expenses related to the building, the furnishings and what was needed by the teacher who probably lived alone, almost always came from nearby cities and he remained in Fratta for a few years before being replaced. A document dated 1605 makes it known that citizens who sent their children to school had to pay a certain sum to the municipality. This then gave the teacher a fee, including the dues paid by family members. Payment was made every four months.

The monthly income was enough for the teacher for an almost comfortable life. Not paying the rent, taking into account what he received from the municipality and the various brotherhoods, the extra services, the private music school, he collected about sixty / seventy baiocchi a day, while the living expenses were about thirty.

In 1604 the master was Don Mariotto Ciarli, from Citerna, who was also commissioned by the Confraternity of San Bernardino to celebrate mass in his own church.










He is given ten baiocchi for each "low" mass. In 1606 it is Don Battista Gatti of Castel Durante (Urbania since 1631). The master could also be paid with goods in kind. In 1639 Don Horatio Pulcinelli was the master. In 1644, due to the "War of the Grand Duke", among the many damages suffered by the town, there was also some damage to the public school. The windows of the school and the children's benches had to be redone, although they had been built in 1632. From 1661 to 1669 the teacher was Don Giobelardino, chaplain of Santa Croce, in charge of officiating this church. In 1689 the master was Don Giuseppe Traversini. It will remain until 1694, replaced in 1695 by Don Pietro Paolo Vincenti, from Nocera.


Music and theater

From the books of the brotherhoods we know that these lay societies of Fratta had their own chaplain (he could serve several brotherhoods at the same time), who also performed the functions of chapel master. This person was in charge of the musical part of the various religious offices when there was the obligation to make music and, together with him, there was the group of his students. In a recording dated May 1669, the Confraternity of Santa Croce paid a certain sum to Don Giambattista Fuli, archpriest of San Giovanni, to reimburse him for the expenses incurred in the purchase of "some music books for the service of some young men who go to learn and come to honor our church on all occasions ".

There was therefore a musical activity which, in addition to the choirmaster, also involved some young people who went to learn. That is, there was a real school, suitable for forming a certain musical education.

As regards the theatrical activity, we have the first news in the years 1614 and 1615. They concern the second constitution (a first - we know from the deed - in fact took place at the beginning of the century) in Fratta of an academy called, according to the ways in use at that time, of the "Inestables" and that, among various events, we will see reaching up to the twentieth century.































Between the end of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century associations of people who feel the need to make theater are formed in the various states of Italy. They had a first generic name (Academy, Congregation) followed by a more qualifying term, in a deliberately humorous sense (Sbalzati, Insensati, Illuminati). Those who were part of it were mostly educated people, professionals and writers, but also landowners and representatives of the town's commercial world, all united by the desire to tread the stage. They knew they were an avant-garde and were surrounded by a large majority of uneducated people, with great limitations on the art of theater. Each member had to choose a nickname, also somewhat humorous (the "Stracco", the "Fool", etc.), recorded in the books, used to call each other when they were there. The leader was "the prince", a name that later became "president".

In our Fratta we wanted to follow the fashion of the time and the theatrical association was called "Congregation of the Unstable", that is of the Unstable, as if it were made up of people who in the way of acting, speaking, thinking, were not "stable", firm, decided. Instead, they were educated people, they knew what they wanted, they came from well-known families in the village, united by the desire to do theater, even if more for themselves than for any audience.

We have two notarial deeds of the constitution: one of February 1614, one of March 1615.

This association was transformed, towards the middle of the eighteenth century, into the Accademia dei Signori Riuniti and so much will be established in the following centuries to become our current Accademia dei Riuniti. In the deed of incorporation of 1614 appear Scipione Burelli, Paolo Cibo, Mutio Flori, Pietro Giovanni Martinelli, Pietro Magi, Paolo Spunta, Angelo Francesconi and Cristiano Christiani, all from Fratta. Every year, on the first Sunday of Lent, they had to meet to appoint the head of the Congragation (the "Prencipe"), the one who had obtained the most votes. A "Viceprencipe", a "Councilor", a "Secretary" and a "Depositary" were also elected. The offices assigned could not be refused once the election has taken place, under penalty of payment of a sum of money. The "Prencipe" had great authority over the other offices and over all the members of the Congregation, who taxed themselves the established sum on the occasion of comedies and performances "both spiritual and profane". It was also forbidden to enter the rehearsal room before the comedy was recited, while the actors were obliged not to refuse the part assigned by the "Prencipe". Anyone who did it was required to pay all the expenses incurred for the staging of the show. Accounting was done every month and any receipts were given to the "Depositary".

A year later, on Saturday 7 March 1615, there was another meeting of the partners at the notary. They are always the same people: it is "Prencipe" Mutio Flori and they want to admit three new members to the Congregation, considered worthy of being part of it: Francesco Maria Soli, Alessandro Bartolelli and Giulio Santi.


The hotels

The "hospitji" were, in the broadest sense of the word, places of shelter and lodging for travelers. There were some within the town and in the surrounding villages, but also along the main transit routes between villages. The hospices of the cities had only the function of receptivity that today we define hotel; those in the open country always combined other and different activities more or less inherent to the traffic on those roads. Given the dangerousness of the times and the concentration of the population in cities, towns, villas and castles (closed and protected places), the countryside was sparsely inhabited and there were very few houses between the cities, so you had to travel many miles before meeting the safety of four walls.



This state of affairs, in addition to causing problems for the wayfarer, also created problems for those who decided to manage a hospice in an unprotected place (e.g. Pier Antonio's tavern, close to the church and parish house of San Paterniano. , today's Pierantonio), facing a certain underworld that infested the streets of Italy. Given the danger of social life, these taverns-inns could only be considered safe places in the immediate vicinity of a strong house or a military post. An example, the osteria di Galera, on the border of Fratta, where Perugia had built a strong house (still visible even if very dilapidated) manned by its own soldiers. Since it was very dangerous to keep a hospice in the open countryside and in an unsecured place, only the economic advantage pushed the managers, who were looking for more activities to provide them with the necessary income. In fact, in the country hospices there was an inn, for food; the accommodation (inn); a fairly capable stable, because everyone used the horse to move around; the coach house (the four-wheeled wagons remained outdoors); the seat for the diligence, the "postal courses", a duty to which the managers could not escape and which included, in addition to the scheduled service, also the stop and change of the horse for private couriers; temporary residence and accommodation for public security guards (cops), a compulsory service even if paid; the managers also had to give hospitality to the poorest travelers, or even the sick ones, although it was potentially uneconomical.

In Fratta there was a hospice in the Borgo Superiore, owned by the abbey of San Salvatore di Monte Acuto (Montecorona). It was located near today's Piazza Marconi. There was also one in the lower village "in loco ditto le fabrecce" (piazza San Francesco), called "hospice of the bell".



In 1601 we have the first news of the existence of the Osteria della Corona, also known as the hospice of the Crown. It is located in the place called "le fabrecce" (Borgo Inferiore, precisely, piazza San Francesco, seat of many blacksmith shops). It is owned by Count Ranieri di Civitella. He rented it in 1611 to Antonio del fu Mariano Savelli for fifteen years. The tavern was at the beginning of the square "in front of the public street and behind the Tiber" (roughly where the mechanic Edilio Belia is now). The Savelli family was then one of the richest in the country: Antonio hired Francesco Mori, known as San Marco, to run the tavern. In 1626, the host of the Crown was Jacomo Mori, son of Francesco.

A Pierantonio, Pier Antonio's innkeeper, in 1637, is a certain Baldino.

In Montalto, host in 1637, he is a Warrior. He works near the Tiber, under the Montalto hill, along the road that leads from Fratta to the villa del Niccone.

Photo by Fabio Mariotti (Historical photographic archive of the Municipality of Umbertide)

Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli



- History of Umbertide - Vol. V - Sec XVII - Renato Codovini - Unpublished manuscript

- Calendar of Umbertide 2002 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2002

Scuola, musica e teatro, alberghi
Interno S. Bernardino.JPG
Interior of the church of San Bernardino
Vicolo della Rocca.jpg
Drawings by Bottaccioli
Case del Borgo Inferiore sul Tevere.jpg
Osteria di Pier Antonio.jpg
Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli
Castello di Montalto - 1929.jpg
                1929. Montalto castle from behind                                 Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli 

Clothing and housing


The clothes

The Sumptuary Laws (1) forbade wearing clothes with precious ornaments and embroidery and Cardinal Bevilacqua issued a ban, in 1600, to rigorously remember these provisions and impose severe penalties against offenders, who must have been many.

Among the types of fabric used we find the "hemp steel", with which table blankets and even socks were made; the "linen steel"; The "amuer", a fabric used to make church hangings and pillows, cost four paoli the arm; the "bambage", used for children's clothes, bed pavilions, bed blankets, women's and baby socks; the "brocade", used for church wallpapers and chasubles, church and hall pillows, dresses for women; the "cambellotto", a fabric made of camel hair for women's dresses, sleeves, dryers and busts; the "cambraia", coming from the city of Cambrai in France; the "camorrino", cloth fabric, gave its name to an item of clothing; the "damasco", originally from the city of Damascus, with complex weaving and design; 1 "'ermesino", came from the city of Ermuz in Persia, used for pillows and bed covers, robes, church chasubles, room pillows; the "filo in dente", hemp or linen fabric that was also made on Fratta looms (sometimes we find "filo un dente", which makes us think of the number of teeth on the loom comb used in making it); the "mezzolano", very resistant, made of hemp and wool, warm, usually used for work clothes, with which women clothes were also sewn, mostly in yellow, green and gray colors (they worked in plain colors or even striped, times mixed with silk). Then there was the "twill", made of light wool, barbed, made with the "twill", that is the armor that gave the fabric the herringbone weft. There was silk for the more expensive garments, as well as accessories. Finally, there was the "sgarza", with which the cheap chairs and the "wheelies" of the windows were dressed (in the latter case it could be treated with oil to resist water). The velvet was used for garments, then finished in gold. The fabrics came from Bergamo, Brabant (Netherlands), Brescia, Cambrai (France), Camerino, Cyprus, Città di Castello, Damascus, Perpignan (France), Ermuz, Flanders (Netherlands), Mossul (Middle East), Pergola, Perugia, Turin, Verona.

The rich dress, for women, had a square neckline, with lace, pearl necklace and short sleeves.

The bust covered the upper part of the waist and was usually an outer garment. Men's breeches could have slings with cuts; shirts, lace at the cuffs and neck.














The "Camorra" was a cloth dress, for men and women. It could have been twill and lace. In the men's type it was long to the feet and open at the front, with a long row of buttons. The "ferrajolo" was a men's garment,

wool, black or brown, long, possibly with a jerkin. The cloak, on the other hand, was typically feminine. The "manighe" were widely used because they saved the expense of an entire garment. In fact, the sleeves were used but not the relative shirts. They are mentioned in many inventories of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The "sciugatoro" was a rectangular, fairly well finished garment for the shoulders. However, it also had other uses: bringing babies to baptism or other occasions. If, for example, a heavy object had to be loaded on the head, a "cercina" (twisted cloth) was placed between the "dryer" and the basket.

The "zàzara" was the mop, that is, a wig. It could have been real hair or made with hemp.



1. Sumptuary laws were legislative devices designed to regulate the ostentation of luxury by social class, sex, economic, religious or political status. Known in Italy since Roman times, these rules took on prominence from the thirteenth century, with the expansion of commercial exchanges and the birth of new needs and related symbols of wealth. More and more are those who can show off precious clothes and ornaments, with the risk of undermining the barriers between social groups and entering into conflict with the morality invoked by the Church.

Despite their severity, the sumptuary laws proved to be of little effect and at the end of the 18th century they were almost totally transgressed.




Each house in the village is a block of its own, the height being the pre-eminent size (usually ground floor plus three floors). After the height comes the depth and the width on the street front which is the smallest dimension. Each block is not joined to the neighbor by a common wall, between one and the other there is a void, a cavity, it is not visible from the outside as the wall is continuous on the street front for reasons of public safety , hygiene and aesthetics.


First type - house for a family of medium economic status 

A single owner lives there with his family. It therefore has an entrance for its own use and stairs with a single flight, unidirectional, broken up floor by floor. On the ground floor there is usually a shop (but there may also be a "cellarer" or a "stable"). It has the door on the main street and when the house is divided in two another door opens on the opposite street.

From the entrance you go up to the first floor and the first step is less than a meter from the door. Under the first flight of stairs there is always a basement used as a storage room. On the upper floors the surface is the same, but a diversification can be found in the use of the staircase: someone has one or two passage rooms; others have a corridor that eliminates the inconvenience of passing through the rooms. See the house located in via Leopoldo Grilli, at n. 11.














Second type - house inhabited by poor families

When houses were built for which the rent would be minimal, they tried to eliminate some expenses, of which the largest was that of the stairs. So only one ramp was built, unidirectional and continuous. Starting from the external door, on the ground, it went directly up to the third floor, with a broken uniqueness, on the various floors, by a landing. For greater savings, the space between the two blocks, that is, the interspace, was used when building it.

This resulted in a rigid staircase with high steps. On the landings there was also the entrance, to the right and to the left, of two small apartments per floor. Examples can be seen in today's via Alberti, at numbers 24 and 26. The rooms on the ground floor were vaulted.

Inside the castle walls there were houses of the outlined typology that constituted a harmonious whole well inserted in the architectural complex of the town. There were, however, also small living spaces, irregularly shaped houses with a very narrow double flight staircase, sometimes joined to a spiral staircase. There were also, albeit in small numbers, in the external villages (Borgo di Sopra and Borgo di Sotto), buildings that echoed the country building that had been affirming itself in the middle of the previous century (in the sixteenth century), the peasant house with the external staircase. One of these is still visible, inhabited, at the north end of the Boccaiolo.

Another type of construction present in Fratta is the stately home 

It had an entrance door used only by the owner and family, a staircase to

double ramp quite wide, built on a barrel vault, many rooms at each

floor and the servants' apartment on the top floor. None of these were built

with door and internal courtyard to allow entry and maneuvering for carriages

on horses, as in the nearby Città di Castello and Gubbio.

Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli



- History of Umbertide - Vol. V - Sec XVII - Renato Codovini - Unpublished manuscript

- Calendar of Umbertide 2002 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2002


L'abbigliamento e le abitazioni
Piazzetta S. Maria.jpg
Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli
Via Alberti.jpg
Le case nella piazzetta del
Sezione di un palazzo.jpg
Houses in the Trocascio square
(Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli)
Ultima di copertina.jpg
Last cover page of the Calendar of  
  Umbertide 2002 realized
by Adriano Bottaccioli

Il servizio postale, la viabilità e la sanità


Le poste

Nel Seicento Fratta era già dotata di un servizio postale. Non essendoci ancora i francobolli, le lettere venivano tassate al loro arrivo, pagate da colui al quale erano dirette. Il costo variava a seconda della distanza. Una lettera da Roma, ad esempio, pagava molto di più di una da Perugia. Era chiamata "piego": non esistendo le buste, si piegava nei lati destro e sinistro, poi quello inferiore e superiore, come si fa oggi con i telegrammi. Il postiglione veniva pagato anche dalla comunità di Fratta. Il ricevitore e dispensiere della posta (chiamato anche il "custode delle lettere") era responsabile e gestore dell'ufficio postale. Era impiegato unico, doveva fare tutto: riceveva lettere e plichi da spedire (ricevitore), consegnava le lettere e plichi in arrivo (dispensiere). Nel 1634 tale incarico era affidato a Cosimo Stella che ritroviamo anche nel 1637. Il servizio nello Stato romano era regolato da un bando del cardinale Aldobrandini il quale stabiliva, fra l'altro, che solo i principi e i cardinali potessero avere un servizio di posta proprio. Tutti gli altri dovevano usare il sistema statale ed era loro vietato inviare lettere "a mezzo di propri corrieri o a mezzo di pedoni, mulattieri, carrozzieri, barcaroli, senza licenza espressa e in scriptis del Mastro generale (di posta)". Severe pene per chi contravveniva.













Le strade

La strada principale che attraversava il nostro territorio percorreva l'alta valle del Tevere, da Borgo San Sepolcro a Fratta. Terminava alla confluenza dei fiumi Niccone e Tevere, alla fine del territorio di Città di Castello. Era una discreta carrabile, come pure il piccolo tratto fra la villa del Niccone e Fratta, spettante alla nostra comunità. Nel punto di passaggio sul Tevere, poco a monte dell'odierna Montecastelli, all'angolo fra la strada e il fiume, c'era una casa-torre di origine militare costruita dalla comunità di Città di Castello nel Quattrocento per proteggere il transito sul fiume, distrutta nel 1980. L'attraversamento avveniva in barca e la strada risaliva l'opposta sponda girando sulla sinistra, su un percorso ancora visibile, passando accanto alla "casa dei fabbri", esistente tuttora. Terminata questa curva, c'era la Parrocchiale di Montecastelli e poi l'ultima casa-torre di sorveglianza nell'odierna località Cioccolanti (ancora esistente), dopo di che la strada si dirigeva alla confluenza per la valle del Niccone e la Toscana (Mercatale). A sud est di Fratta la strada proseguiva verso Perugia, attraverso la pianura, ed era chiamata la "strada del piano" per distinguerla dalla "strada del monte". La "strada del piano" usciva da Fratta da due punti diversi. Uno di periferia, a nord-est dell'abitato e precisamente dal confine con Civitella Ranieri (odierno incrocio bar Italia); si dirigeva lungo il lato nord della pianura toccando le prime colline (il "Macchione") sull'odierno percorso di via Morandi fino alla zona industriale Buzzacchero; si dirigeva quindi verso la casa-torre ancora esistente al vecchio vocabolo Cenerelle. Da qui proseguiva verso quella collinetta per scendere a Pian d'Assino dove c'era il guado del fiume. Si è sempre chiamata via "vicinale". L'altra strada usciva dall'abitato di Fratta attraverso la porta di San Francesco, prendeva il nome di "strada della Caminella" (dall'Ottocento si chiamerà via Secoli) e si dirigeva verso la Madonna del Moro: da qui volgeva un poco a nord per ricongiungersi con la strada vicinale di cui sopra. La risultante, come abbiamo detto, arrivava all'Assino uscendo così dal territorio di Fratta ed entrando in quello del castro di Serra Partucci (e parrocchia di Poggio Manente).





Una strada dall'abitato di Fratta si dirigeva verso il castello di Civitella Ranieri: si svolgeva lungo l'odierna via Roma fino alla Pineta Ranieri, scendeva verso il vallone per risalire verso il castello. E' ancora esistente. La strada per l'abbazia di Montecorona iniziava dopo il ponte sul Tevere volgendo a sud (come oggi) e dopo trecento metri c'era il bivio per Romeggio (a lato esiste ancora un antico pozzo). Da qui proseguiva per l'odierna strada che conduce al Palazzo del Sole; dopo centocinquanta metri proseguiva in discesa verso il fosso dei Cardarelli, lo attraversava e risaliva fino alla casa colonica, passando sulla destra (ovest) per poi proseguire verso la chiusa del molino di Casanova, da dove proseguiva con il tracciato odierno.

La strada per la Toscana risaliva la valle del Niccone fino a Reschio, poi verso la val di Pierle. Il primo tratto (valle del Niccone) era nel territorio di Città di Castello, il secondo (val di Pierle) in territorio dei marchesi Bourbon del Monte, ramo di Sorbello. Era importante sia dal punto di vista militare, sia da quello economico per i passaggi di merci dalla Toscana al territorio di Urbino.

La strada per Città di Castello aveva inizio dal Borgo Superiore di Fratta (zona Sant' Erasmo, Piazza Marconi), si dirigeva ad ovest passando per il Molinello e la Petrella, evitando, così, sia il ponte sul Tevere di Fratta che il passo della barca di Montecastelli (si arrivava a Città di Castello costeggiando la sponda sinistra del Tevere).

La strada per Montone, che aveva inizio nel Borgo Superiore di Fratta all'altezza del convento di Santa Maria, proseguiva verso nord con un tracciato leggermente ad ovest dell'odierna strada (verso via P. Burelli, via degli Ostaggi).



La salute

Vari documenti tramandano i nomi dei medici che svolsero il loro lavoro in Fratta nel Seicento


I medici

Dall'inizio del secolo, fino al 1644, il dottor Piero Lignani di Città di Castello viene pagato dalla confraternita di Santa Croce. Alternerà il suo incarico, nel corso degli anni, con Jacobo Pachetto, Pier Gentile, Bonaventura Spinetti, Cova, Ascanio Spinetti. Il compenso annuale, all'inizio del secolo e fin verso la metà, è di dieci scudi per il lavoro che svolgeva all'ospedale di Santa Croce. Veniva anche pagato come medico della comunità che gli passava novanta scudi l'anno.

Nel 1638 è medico il dottor Agatoni e nel 1640 Alessandro Garognoli. Abita in una casa di proprietà della confraternita di San Bernardino.

Nel 1652 è medico Costantino Magi. E' il nonno di quel Costantino Magi che nel 1715 scriverà la "Storia di Fratta Perugina".

Nel 1654 abbiamo Pier Matteo Mancini, che veniva da Mercatello, e dopo di lui Gio Tommaso Spoletini. Nel 1663 ritroviamo Costantino Magi. Seguono poi Ascanio e Francesco Spinetti, Carlo Ranni, Innocenzo Fracassini, Alfonso Spunta. Dal 1667 al 1670 esercitano Spoletini e Costantino Magi insieme ad Alessandro Pellicciari. Dal 1680 al 1682 è ancora medico Gio Tommaso Spoletini e poi, alla fine del secolo, Agostino Fracassini, Paolo Santinelli e Giovan Battista Cherubini che nel 1694 visita i malati ricoverati all'ospedale di Santa Croce. Gli vengono pagati settanta baiocchi per ciascuna delle quattordici visite.

Oltre ai medici, svolgevano la loro professione anche i cerusici. Erano persone molto capaci ed esperte nel cavare il sangue agli ammalati, aprendo una vena del braccio o applicando le sanguisughe (mignatte). Queste operazioni venivano eseguite anche dai dottori e a volte anche dai barbieri. Persona particolarmente esperta è un certo Lutio, barbiere, spesso chiamato ed anche ben pagato. C'erano poi le ostetriche o arcoglitrici, o mammane, o obstetrici: donna Marsilia del Cerusico, donna Mila di Giovan Battista, ' Faustina Remeri, Margarita de Censi, Giustina Mancinelli, donna Olinda e una tale Giulia.












Le malattie

Le malattie peggiori, nel secolo, erano la peste, il colera, la febbre di Maremma (malaria) e la lebbra. La peste ed il colera erano ricorrenti, anche se a periodi di 15-20 anni. Infierivano direttamente in paese o si arrestavano ai confini del territorio; qui potevano essere fermate o dagli sbarramenti doganali (poi si chiameranno cordoni sanitari) con sorveglianza continua o per semplice e casuale affievolirsi del male. La febbre di Maremma colpiva coloro che si recavano per lavori stagionali nelle terre dell'alto Lazio e Toscana del sud e molti di essi, tornando in paese, dovevano essere ricoverati perché assaliti da questo male a carattere ricorrente. La lebbra poi colpiva diverse persone e c'era un apposito istituto per ricoverarle, la Casa degli Incurabili, in Castel Nuovo (dalle parti di piazza Marconi).

Nel 1630 ci fu la peste a Milano (vedi Manzoni, I Promessi Sposi). Si estese nel 1631 all'Emilia, quindi alla Toscana e il pericolo si avvicinò ai territori di Fratta. Si misero allora i "cancelli" ai luoghi di confine, sorvegliati da militari e sanitari. Il più vicino era nella zona dove termina la val di Pierle ed inizia la valle del Niccone, fra i castelli di Sorbello e di Reschio, al confine con la Toscana. Il 12 dicembre 1632 la peste era già in Toscana. Per passare il confine bisognava avere, oltre al passaporto normale, anche il "passaporto di sanità". Il contagio fu contenuto, ma nel 1643 un'altra ondata invase il territorio perugino. Arrivò in Fratta a novembre. Era il tempo della guerra col Granduca di Toscana e negli ospedali di Fratta, oltre ai soldati feriti, c'erano anche diversi ammalati di peste che, nel febbraio dell'anno dopo (1644), non si era ancora attenuata. "Contagiosa e maligna, con delirio e con copia grande di vermi per la grande putredine propria di detta febbre", colpiva persone di ogni età e sesso. Molti ne morivano e per lo più erano persone che svolgevano attività produttive, come capi di bottega e capi famiglia, in quanto più esposti ai contatti con la gente. Non fu trovato rimedio "se non lo smeraldo preparato e l'applicazione delle mignatte ("i vivificatori") messe immediatamente dopo il quarto giorno dall'inizio del male". A Fratta morirono una trentina di persone, per lo più capi di bottega e di famiglia, benché si fossero ammalati in più di trecento in due mesi ed a marzo morirono ben centocinquanta soldati. La peste tornerà a Città di Castello nel 1656 e nel 1689.























Nel 1658 la farmacia dei Padri camaldolesi di Montecorona, situata all'eremo, fu portata a valle, nell'abbazia. L'anno seguente scoppiò ancora un'epidemia di peste, ma Fratta ne rimase indenne e in occasione della Festa della Immacolata Concezione fu fatta una processione di ringraziamento ("per rendimento di gratie per haverci preservato dalla peste").


Gli ospedali

All'inizio del XVII secolo nel castello di Fratta non ci sono più gli otto ospedali del secolo precedente (del Cinquecento). Ne sono rimasti soltanto due: nel Borgo Inferiore, a lato della chiesa di Santa Croce, e nel Borgo Superiore, l'ospedale di Sant'Erasmo. Questi ospedali appartenevano alla confraternita di Santa Croce. In uno prestavano l'opera i frati Cappuccini. L’"ospedale de sotto", detto anche "di Santa Croce", seguitò nella sua opera umanitaria fin verso il 1845 quando, in attesa che si costruisse l'ospedale nuovo (1877), fu chiuso e trovò sede in alcuni locali presi in affitto in più case del paese. L'ospedale "de sopra" era quello situato nel Borgo Superiore, nella piazza del mercatale, aderente alla chiesa di Sant'Erasmo. L'edificio è visibile tuttora, disposto in direzione nord-sud ed è costituito dal piano terra e dal primo piano.

La sua volumetria ci fa pensare che fosse il maggiore dei due ospedali ed infatti, nel corso della Guerra del Granduca, molti feriti furono trasportati dall'ospedale di Santa Croce a quello di Sant'Erasmo "...per meglio loro salute". In questo ospedale prestavano la loro opera i Frati Zoccolanti di Santa Maria, cioè i Minori Osservanti, che svolgevano la funzione di infermieri.

C'era anche un ospedale a Galera, una villa posta alla base di Monte Acuto, al confine con Perugia.


Disegni di Adriano Bottaccioli

Foto di Mariotti Fabio



- Storia di Umbertide – Vol. V – Sec - XVII – Renato Codovini – Manoscritto inedito

- Calendario di Umbertide 2002 – Ed. Comune di Umbertide - 2002

La rovinosa piena del Tevere del 1610


La violenza dell’acqua distrusse due arcate del ponte sul Tevere che

rimase inagibile fino al 1617, anno in cui fu ultimata la ricostruzione

























Il 1609 ed il 1610 furono anni di grandi e devastanti piogge che ingrossarono la portata del Tevere. Il Bonazzi definisce la piena del 1609 “Immensa”. Alla Fratta fu catastrofica quella del 20 ottobre dell'anno successivo che distrusse un pilone del ponte e fece crollare due arcate. Rimase in piedi solo quella adiacente alle mura castellane. Fu un grosso colpo per tutta l'economia della zona perché si interrompevano i collegamenti con il nord e quelli con la Toscana attraverso la valle del Niccone.

Passarono quattro anni prima che iniziasse l'opera di ricostruzione, nonostante le pressioni di Giovan Battista Spoletini, personaggio influente e introdotto presso la corte del Papa Paolo V.

I lavori iniziarono nel 1614 ed il progetto di ricostruzione prevedeva la riedificazione del ponte con due arcate soltanto, secondo i piani del progettista G. Rinaldi di Roma, incaricato direttamente dal Papa Paolo V. L'impresa del capo mastro muratore Bernardo Cappelli vinse l'appalto per la somma complessiva di 7.000 scudi che furono addossati per 9/12 alla città di Perugia (scudi 5.250), per 2/12 a Città di Castello (scudi 1.167) e per 1/12 alla Fratta e a Montone nella misura di 2/3 (scudi 389) e 1/3 (scudi 194) rispettivamente.



















Spoletini fu nominato sovrintendente alla costruzione, che ebbe un inizio disastroso perché il 30 agosto del 1614 un'altra piena del fiume distrusse i lavori già fatti e travolse le impalcature predisposte.






















Anche allora quando succedevano cose del genere, si mettevano in moto i processi per la ricerca delle responsabilità. Giovan Battista Spoletini fu subito accusato di frode all'amministrazione pontificia per aver permesso alla ditta l'utilizzazione di materiali scadenti e il 15 giugno 1615 fu arrestato. Ottenne la libertà provvisoria versando mille scudi di cauzione e alla fine del processo fu assolto con formula piena e risarcito dei danni subiti.

Per certi versi la piena del 30 agosto fu provvidenziale perché costrinse i responsabili della ricostruzione a rivedere interamente il progetto. L’impeto della corrente e la portata del fiume convinsero i tecnici più riottosi che due arcate erano poca cosa per un manufatto del genere e avrebbero lasciato un varco troppo esiguo al deflusso delle acque, con il prevedibile crollo dei piloni inadeguati a sopportare l'impeto delle piene. Fu disegnato di nuovo il progetto con tre arcate, esattamente uguali a quelle crollate nel 1610.

Intanto i lavori erano stati bloccati e si rifece una nuova gara d'appalto, che fu vinta dal mastro muratore Ercolano di Civitella per 6.050 scudi.

La ricostruzione riprese il 4 settembre 1617, condotta dai mastri muratori Francesco Valentini e Filippo Marinelli sotto la direzione dell'architetto Guido Bettoli e la sovrintendenza di Filippo Fracassini.

La cerimonia di inaugurazione e di posa della prima pietra si svolse con un rito solenne,

presieduto dal rappresentante del Papa, monsignor Antonio Diaz, Governatore di Perugia,

accompagnato dalle più alte Autorità locali. Costantino Magi, nel suo manoscritto,

racconta nei particolari lo svolgimento della celebrazione e a lui ci riferiamo per riportare

gli elementi essenziali di quel lunedì 4 settembre 1617.

La solenne processione partì dalla chiesa di San Francesco dove si era radunata tanta gente

non solo della Fratta, ma anche delle località vicine. In testa sfilavano le quattro

Confraternite: quella di Sant'Antonio della Morte, con le cappe nere, apriva il corteo; seguiva

quella di San Bernardino, o Buon Gesù, con le cappe bianche, e dietro la Compagnia di Santa

Croce, con le cappe azzurre; chiudeva la serie delle Confraternite quella del Santissimo

Sacramento, con le cappe rosse. Dietro a loro sfilava tutto il clero regolare e secolare tra due

cori di Musici e due Trombetti. “Ultimo a tutti questi seguiva il Prelato, accompagnato dal

Magistrato e da molte altre persone e della Terra e Forestieri più principali, e poi la frequenza

del popolo d'uomini prima e poi di donne e suonando intanto tutte le campane della Fratta

con molt'allegrezza, si passò il fiume per un ponte di legno fatto per tale effetto”.

Vicino al fondamento era stato eretto un altare con un grande baldacchino ricoperto da drappi

di seta rossa. Il Governatore vi prese posto con al fianco due Priori della città di Perugia, nel cui

territorio si trovavano le arcate crollate, i quattro difensori della Fratta in abito da cerimonia, e il personale ecclesiastico che assisteva l'alto prelato. Il rito si svolse tra applausi scroscianti uniti agli squilli delle trombe e al rullo dei tamburi, mentre tutte le campane del castello suonavano a distesa. Dall'alto delle torri si fece sentire un nutrito crepitio di artiglieria e ci fu chi pianse di commozione e di gioia.

La prima pietra, benedetta e posata da monsignor Antonio Diaz, recava su di un lato una croce ed il nome di Gesù; sull'altro la scritta:


“D.O.M. Deipare Virgini

Ill.mi Praesidis Antonii Diaz Rom. Episcop. Casert. manibus ad totius reparationis molem fulciendam vimque demolientis amnis derimendam

hic primus iniit lapis

Pridie nonas Septembris - Anno humanitatis reparatae MDCXVII

Pauli V - Pont. Max. - An. XIII”.
























I due archi crollati furono ricostruiti in mattoni posati sull'originario pilone, ritenuto idoneo a reggere la spinta delle piene. Nei primi giorni di settembre del 1619 il ponte era finito e le due arcate ancora oggi resistono alle sfuriate del Tevere.

Nell'agosto 1673, la superficie carrabile “dalla Madonna del Ponte sino alla Porta del suo capo ovest”, cioè la parte che era stata ricostruita, venne lastricata con mattoni e con lastre di pietra (le due grandi guide su cui scorrevano le ruote dei carri), dal mastro Horatio Angelini per un importo di “tre quattrini il piede”.



“Umbertide nel secolo XVII” di Renato Codovini e Roberto Sciurpa – Comune di Umbertide, 2004

Le mura che circondano il castello di Fratta


a cura di Fabio Mariotti


Relazione ritrovata nell'Archivio Comunale di Umbertide, Fondo Amministrativo Storico.

Risale alla prima metà del 1600 e l'estensore è ignoto. Potrebbe trattarsi

di un sopralluogo effettuato in occasione della predisposizione

delle difese per fronteggiare l'esercito del Granduca di Toscana nel 1643.



































"Nella Terra della Fratta è situata una fortezza con una torre di forma quadrata alta piedi(1) 110 e larga(2) 2,86 e le sue mura di larghezza piedi 4 e once 8, la quale ha due porte principali, una a ponente e riguardante verso la Terra con suo ponte levatoro(3), fossa e controfossa aldidentro, qual porta viene guardata da due bocchette per due pezzi di artiglieria. L’altra porta verso levante(4), parimente con ponte levatoro, che appoggia in un rivelino(5) a tondello, chiamata “del Soccorso” in cui vi sono due bocche per l'artiglieria. Nei fianchi della medesima Rocca vi sono due torrioni in forma rotonda che abbracciano la medesima con i suoi merli larghi piedi 60.

Tutto questo forte contiene al primo piano una caminata a andito dove sono 1'impostatura per 14 pezzi d'artiglieria; sotto di esso vi sono due stanze per uso di polveriera, una per uso di cantina e l'altra per la legnara con carcere e segrete e da un lato due pozzi d'acqua perenne e in fondo della detta Rocca vi è sempre l'acqua.

Nel secondo piano vi è una stanza col camino e due altre contigue per quartiero delli soldati dove si possono alzare comodamente dieci letti. Vi è anche il forno per comodo per la cucina. Vi è ancora una stanza con quattro buche per le sentinelle che corrispondono sopra la porta grande di detta Rocca e in questo piano vi sono otto imposte per pezzi otto di artiglieria.

Nel terzo piano vi è lo scoperto di detti due torrioni con sua sentinella dalla parte del fiume Reggia, nel quale si richiedono sei pezzi d'artiglieria per ciascheduno.
























Nella medesima Rocca, principiando dal piano dei torrioni, vi sono cinque stanze una sopra l'altra, una dando l'ingresso all'altra mediante le scalette di pietra, tutte a volta con loro camini ed altri commodi, quali ponno servire per abitazione del castellano e sua guardia potendosi alzare letti sei per ciascheduna.

Nella sommità poi della Rocca vi si possono mettere pezzi quattro di artiglieria.

Ai lati di questo forte, dalla parte esteriore, si producono le mura castellane de detta Terra, fatte a scarpata di altezza di piedi 30, tutte terrapienate; e dalla parte di mezzogiorno per la distanza di piedi 316 dalla Rocca c'è un torrione sopra il fiume Reggia alto 50 piedi con i suoi fori per l'artiglieria, il fondo fatto a volta.




























Continuando la muraglia da questo torrione per piedi 227 sino ad altro torrione che riguarda la Porta di San Francesco, alto piedi 60 dall'alveo di detta Reggia. Questo torrione ha la comunicazione con altro fortino sopra la Porta di San Francesco e il ponte, con i suoi merli, luogo per le sentinelle e fori per l'artiglieria.

Alla testa poi del medesimo ponte posto sopra il Tevere vi è un altro baluardo con muro di grossezza di piedi 6 in circa, detto della Saracina continente due stanze per uso dei soldati con fori quattro per l'artiglieria e buche per le sentinelle, dove vi è la saracinesca per serrare la porta e impedire l'ingresso al ponte.


























Dalla parte poi di ponente sino a settentrione continua la suddetta muraglia castellana per piedi 250, bagnata dal fiume Tevere sino ad un angolo a forma di torrione e da questo sino alla porta della Piaggiola, cioè per piedi 200, si erge un torrione alto piedi 60 e largo 48 ed ha la comunicazione sopra le muraglie castellane dalla porta di settentrione terrapienate come le altre.






























Queste muraglie per altri piedi 514 si uniscono al fortino o Rocca come sopra descritto".


La relazione evidenzia alcuni aspetti che è bene sottolineare:

1. il perimetro delle mura castellane era di 1800 piedi circa;

2. la porta principale della Rocca, nella Piazza del Comune, aveva ancora il ponte levatoio con fossa e controfossa;

3. la Porta del Soccorso era munita di ponte levatoio che si gettava sopra un ramo della Reggia;

4. la Rocca poteva essere munita di 42 pezzi di artiglieria, fra pesante e leggera;

5. l'altezza delle mura castellane era di 30 piedi;

6. la Saracina sopra il ponte del Tevere non disponeva più del ponte levatoio e veniva chiusa con una saracinesca (da cui il nome). Essa aveva due locali soprastanti, comunicanti tramite una scala a chiocciola (quello superiore conteneva i meccanismi per azionare il ponte levatoio) e poteva essere armata con quattro pezzi di artiglieria.



1. Un piede perugino corrisponde a cm.36,54

2. Per larghezza, qui e più avanti si intende la misura del perimetro del quadrato

3. E’ l’odierna porta d’ingresso alla Rocca, sulla piazza omonima

4. Oggi non esiste più. Consentiva l’uscita verso la piazza del Mercato

5. Era una sporgenza in muratura posta sopra la Porta del Soccorso. Se ne vedono ancora le tracce. E’ stato eliminato tra il 1910 ed il 1920


Disegni di Adriano Bottaccioli

Foto dall’Archivio fotografico del Comune di Umbertide e di Fabio Mariotti


“Umbertide nel secolo XVII” di Renato Codovini e Roberto Sciurpa – Comune di Umbertide, 2004

L'Abbondanza di Fratta

Un servizio di assistenza per mantenere basso il prezzo del grano

in favore della popolazione più disagiata


a cura di Fabio Mariotti


Erano molte, nel Seicento, le opere di assistenza e beneficenza messe in piedi dagli organismi religiosi. Tra queste primeggiava l'Abbondanza, un particolare servizio che aveva il compito di fare provviste di grano e di rivenderlo al prezzo di costo, o addirittura inferiore, nei periodi di scarsità del prodotto. In altre parole, l'Abbondanza era la versione Seicentesca di quello che nei secoli successivi sarà il Monte Frumentario.

La prima notizia certa sulla sua esistenza risale al 1630, quando il Comune si fece prestare 2.000 scudi dal conte Ranieri “... per servitio dell'Abbondanza”. Il prestito, garantito dalla vendita successiva del pane, era un'operazione senza rischi e il rientro del denaro era sicuro.

L’addetto al servizio veniva chiamato “Procuratore dei Grani” e aveva la responsabilità della gestione complessiva del settore, comprese le provviste, il commercio e la tenuta della contabilità.






























Per chiedere il prestito di 2.000 scudi prima accennato, fu necessario avere il consenso del vescovo di Gubbio e non delle Autorità perugine e centrali. Il che fa supporre che l'Abbondanza, almeno all'origine, fosse un'iniziativa inserita nel programma degli interventi umanitari della diocesi, anche se gli organi del Comune avevano un ruolo determinante per quell'intreccio solido e costante tra il momento amministrativo e quello religioso, che era la caratteristica dei tempi.

Il riconoscimento formale avvenne nel 1678, quando il Governatore di Perugia, monsignor Lorenzo Lomellini, emanò l'atto ufficiale della costituzione dell'Abbondanza di Fratta. Il nuovo "status" poneva questo importante e delicato settore sotto la tutela ed il controllo rigido del governo centrale e del Governatore di Perugia, ma indipendentemente dal rispetto formale delle procedure le cose continuarono a svolgersi in stretta collaborazione tra il Comune di Fratta, il Procuratore dei Grani e la Curia di Gubbio.

In omaggio alle norme generali impartite dal cardinale Cibo, fu creato un consiglio di tre Abbondanzieri, che duravano in carica un quadrimestre, e venne istituito l'organo dei revisori dei conti, composto da due membri, per il controllo di tutta la parte amministrativa. L'avvicendamento quadrimestrale degli incarichi e l'organo del revisorato dei conti stavano ad indicare l'importanza di questo presidio umanitario, e non a torto se si considera che l'Abbondanza, con i suoi 3.000 scudi di bilancio annuale, era l'azienda più grande della Fratta, di gran lunga superiore allo stesso Comune.

In una nota del 29 maggio 1655 della Confraternita di Santa Croce venne registrato uno scudo in entrata “... hauto dalli Signori Abbondanzieri della Fratta quali pagano per cinque mesi per appigione della stalla dove essi tengono le fascine...”. Il riferimento alle fascine chiama in causa il Forno Pubblico e quasi con certezza in quel periodo l'Abbondanza gestiva il forno, anche se non sappiamo sotto quale forma, se dell'appalto o ad altro titolo.































Documentazione d’archivio


Alla Fratta c'era bisogno di grano e i Magistrati e gli Abbondanzieri si erano subito attivati per avanzare la richiesta al Governo Centrale, seguendo la via gerarchica, in ossequio alle disposizioni impartite.


Al Governatore di Perugia


“... Dovendo la Comunità della Fratta provvedere nell'anno corrente di grani per servitio pubblico per la tenuità del raccolto, ha ordinato la Sacra Congregazione del Buon Governo che, quando fatte le necessarie diligenze non si trovi chi offerisca all'appalto del forno, si esamini prima che quantità ne possa occorrere per lo spiano del pane da farsi dal Forno Publico, e poi conceda licenza all'Abondanzieri eletti di prendere a nome proprio sino alla somma di scudi mille cinquecento a Censo al minore interesse possibile, con 1'obligo loro d'estinguere detto Censo nel corso di tutto l'anno con ritratto che si farà del grano nello spiano del quale si dovrà non solamente calcolare il prezzo, ma anche ogni altra spesa che ne fosse occorsa senza che ne segua scapito di sorta alcuna e non vi s'interessi in conto alcuno la Comunità, ma tutto resti a carico degli Abondanzieri, i quali dovranno essere rilevati indenni dal publico consilio dello scapito che fortuitamente facessero, con far osservare poi per regola di buon governo gli ordini dati sin sotto li 18 agosto dell'anno scorso e Dio la prosperi”.


Roma 30 luglio 1678


                                                                                                                                                     Di Vostra Signoria come Fratello

                                                                                                                                                     Il cardinale CIBO

                                                                                                                                                     Giovanni Bussi Segretario


* * * * *


Stralcio del verbale dei revisori dei conti che documenta il riconoscimento ufficiale da parte del Governo Pontificio dell’Abbondanza di Fratta che esisteva ed operava già negli anni precedenti in forma non ufficiale


Adì 20 agosto 1680


“Furono rivisti li conti della loro amministrazione alli signori dottor Giovan Tommaso Spoletini Cassiero, Cristofano Stella e per esso al signor Monti suo figlio, Vittorio Spunta e Francesco Illuminati Abondanzieri della Terra della Fratta, quale Abondanza fu eretta con ordine di Mons. e Lorenzo Lomellini, Governatore di Perugia, l'anno 1678 adì 21 di agosto dalli molto illustri signori Annibale Pellicciari e Compagni, moderni Difensori di questa Terra della Fratta e fu trovato nell'anno della loro amministrazione haver detti Abondanzieri comperato some di grano quattrocentosettantacinque (475) comprate da essi in conti in diversi partiti come appare da libri..... Alla quale Abondanza è stato dato principio con scudi quattrocentonove (409) e baj quarantacinque (45)”.



Archivio fotografico del Comune di Umbertide



“Umbertide nel secolo XVII” di Renato Codovini e Roberto Sciurpa – Comune di Umbertide, 2004

Le fornaci, l'attività edilizia, la caccia e la pesca

Le fornaci di laterizi

Le fornaci di laterizi erano strutture produttive importanti e diffuse alla Fratta e nel suo territorio. Ci riferiamo ai grandi impianti che producevano materiale edilizio e non alle numerose aziende familiari, munite di piccoli forni, che si dedicavano alla produzione di vasellame di ceramica e di altri oggetti del genere. In questi grandi impianti i prodotti più ricorrenti erano i mattoni, la calce “viva” e “smorzata”, le “scine” per il bucato, gli orci e altri tipi di vasi di grandi dimensioni.

Si trattava di un lavoro impegnativo, con orari particolari che reclamavano una presenza costante, per cui spesso era tutta la famiglia che si dedicava all'attività della fornace.

Alla Fratta quella più rinomata e importante si trovava nei pressi di Santa Maria ed apparteneva al conte di Civitella Ranieri. La sua struttura edilizia esterna esisteva fino a qualche anno fa, dove oggi è stato realizzato il quartiere “La Fornace”.




Si producevano due tipi di mattoni: “quadri” e “scorniciati”. Il primo tipo era quello maggiormente diffuso e comprendeva mattoni comuni, pianelle da tetto e da solaio, mezzanelle, quadrucci, quadroni per pavimenti, tegole e coppi per la copertura dei tetti. Ad eccezione di questi due ultimi prodotti, il resto era costituito da paràllelepipedi di terra cotta di varie dimensioni per cui tutta la produzione si indicava con il termine di “lavoro quadro” e “lavorare in quadro” aveva il significato di realizzare un prodotto comune che richiedeva minori tempi di esecuzione.

Il materiale “scorniciato” aveva finalità ornamentali ed aggraziava l'aspetto estetico degli edifici. Non si trattava di un lusso o di una ricercatezza esagerata poiché il gusto del secolo, e anche di quelli successivi, ricorreva a simili ricercatezze anche per le case coloniche. Si era soliti abbellire le facciate con rilievi sporgenti, marcare le sagome delle finestre e dei portoni d'ingresso con tratti meno spigolosi, evidenziare con i “marcapiani” i vari livelli delle abitazioni, collocare accanto alle finestre i “reggi-vaso” che non si utilizzavano per i gerani ma per poggiare il vaso da notte, ricavare nicchie per l'immagine di qualche santo protettore. Questo tipo di laterizi veniva eseguito su ordinazione del costruttore. Il fornaciaio predisponeva “lo stampo” di legno dalle giuste dimensioni che dava la forma voluta all'argilla e poi la cottura avrebbe pensato a rendere stabile il manufatto.

Oltre alla fornace di Santa Maria del conte Ranieri, c'era quella di Poggio Manente, detta la "Fornace del Poggio", che apparteneva ai conti di quel territorio, e la fornace della Badia dei frati Camaldolesi di Monte Corona, situata lungo il Tevere, a poca distanza dall'Abbazia.

Quella di Monte Acuto attraversò un periodo di particolare fortuna perché apparteneva al mastro e valido architetto Filippo Fracassini, l'appaltatore delle opere più importanti della Fratta. È chiaro che i mattoni necessari alle opere prese in appalto se li fabbricava da solo, realizzando un doppio profitto. Costui, infatti, nel 1637 vendette tremila mattoni alla chiesa della Madonna della Reggia di cui stava rifacendo la cupola. Nel 1641 ricevette dalla stessa 25 scudi “per le cotte della fornace” e nel 1646 altri trenta scudi “per coprire la fabbrica”; l'espressione lascia supporre che si trattasse delle tegole di copertura del tetto.

Il 25 gennaio 1610 i frati Camaldolesi affittarono la loro fornace ad Agostino Meneconi di Villa del Colle di San Savino, per tre anni. Riportiamo una parte del contratto per renderci conto in modo diretto dell'attività che si praticava:

“In prima Agostino conduttore si obbliga a dare gratis et amore al detto locatore et suoi successori tutta la calcina che cuocerà in detta fornace et anche tutti i pezzi del lavoro che nel cuocersi si rompessero.

Item che il locatore sia obbligato a portargli la legna per cuocere, a sue proprie spese, mentre per tutte le altre spese deve essere tenuto il conduttore.

Il conduttore deve dare al locatore la metà di tutto il lavoro che cuocerà nella fornace, mentre l'altra metà resta per il conduttore Agostino che la venderà a chi vuole. Se però questa metà gli fosse richiesta dai frati, egli di preferenza dovrà venderla a loro e questi gliela pagheranno a scudi due e due giuli ogni mille pezzi di lavoro quadro, cioè di lavoro comune”.



L’attività edilizia

Se si metteva il naso fuori dalle mura, un aspetto colpiva l'occhio in quei primi anni del secolo: la periferia del paese costituiva un cantiere edilizio imponente e affaccendato. Erano in fase di realizzazione opere di grande mole come il tempio della Madonna della Reggia, la costruzione del convento di Santa Maria Nuova e il livellamento della piazza di San Francesco.





Proseguivano, infatti, i lavori di costruzione della Chiesa della Madonna della Reggia diretti dall'architetto Mariotto da Cartona. Nel 1601 il capo mastro Vincentio aveva completato la scala “lumaca”, ossia la scala a chiocciola che dal piano terra saliva ai livelli superiori.

La costruzione del monastero di Santa Maria Nuova iniziò nel 1604 e nel giro di tre anni fu completata da parte del costruttore Giovan Battista ser Migni (o Sermigni). Il 13 luglio 1608 un decreto del vescovo di Gubbio, monsignor Andrea Sorbolonghi, destinò l'edificio a convento femminile precisando che non poteva ospitare più di sedici suore. Il convento, oltre alla sua funzione specifica, rivestiva una importanza notevole ai fini della difesa perché chiudeva un tratto della sponda sinistra del Tevere, rendendo più sicure le vie della Piaggiola e del Boccaiolo.























A pochi passi dal convento c'era la chiesa di Sant'Erasmo e la Piazza del Mercatale lambita dalla “forma” del mulino, cioè dal canale artificiale scoperto di adduzione dell'acqua della Carpina che alimentava il Mulinello e il Molinaccio, quest'ultimo proprio a ridosso delle mura castellane.

Qualche anno dopo, proprio davanti al monastero delle monache, iniziarono i lavori del convento e della chiesa di Sant'Agostino. I padri Agostiniani in precedenza risiedevano presso la chiesa di Santa Croce in angusti locali e nel 1616 chiesero ed ottennero l'autorizzazione a costruire “un convento sopra le mura castellane e sul davanti la chiesa rispondente nella via di Castel Nuovo”.

La chiesa aveva sull'altare maggiore una tavola rappresentante la Madonna del Soccorso, tanto che veniva chiamata anche Chiesa del Soccorso. Nell'altare di sinistra c'era uno stupendo dipinto di Bernardino Magi raffigurante la Vergine con i Santi Eremiti Paolo ed Antonio.

Il convento ebbe una vita breve per la mancanza di fondi ed il 7 di agosto del 1656 il Papa Alessandro VII Ghigi lo soppresse. Nel 1613 presero il via i lavori della Piazza di San Francesco. Nella circostanza si verificò una convergenza di interessi tra la municipalità della Fratta e la Confraternita di San Bernardino (o del Confalone). La prima vedeva nell'opera non solo una bonifica urbanistica, ma un baluardo di sicurezza e di difesa a ridosso della sponda sinistra del Tevere. Il piano, infatti, prevedeva la costruzione di una grande porta sul lato sud della piazza (poi detta Porta del Borgo Inferiore, ancora esistente) in aderenza al vecchio mulino di Sant'Erasmo. Il Borgo Inferiore sarebbe stato così completamente chiuso alla penetrazione dall'esterno.






La seconda, oltre al vantaggio di disporre di un comodo spazio pianeggiante davanti alla chiesa, avrebbe potuto costruire altri due edifici, di modeste dimensioni, per unire la porta agli altri fabbricati esistenti, proprio nell'angolo sud del lato della chiesa.

I lavori furono avviati con rapidità e nello stesso anno erano finiti. A ricordo della costruzione della porta fu murato un mattone di laterizio con l'incisione: “S.F. 16XIII” (San Francesco 1613), visibile anche oggi sull'angolo destro in fondo alla piazza.

Terminati i lavori in muratura, si doveva mettere mano a quelli di livellamento della piazza che degradava verso il Tevere e di conseguenza alla sistemazione dei fabbricati della scarpata per adattarli al nuovo livello. Ma non c'erano i soldi e bisognava aspettare tempi migliori, che non si fecero attendere.

Successe, infatti, che nei primi giorni del 1614 morì donna Lavinia di Oratio, moglie di Giovan Battista Cherubini, che lasciò 100 fiorini (66 scudi romani) alla Compagnia di San Bernardino per la celebrazione di Messe in suffragio della sua anima, come si era soliti fare in quel tempo.

Il marito di donna Lavinia, d'accordo con la Confraternita di San Bernardino che deliberò in merito il 17 gennaio 1614, decise di utilizzare la somma per l'edificazione del muro di sostegno sul lato del Tevere per consentire il contenimento dei materiali di riporto necessari al livellamento. I lavori furono eseguiti da un certo Giovanni di Matteo, del Colle di San Savino, sotto il controllo dei “soprastanti” Pietro Magi e Ludovico Tartaglia, nominati dalla Confraternita. L’atto notarile di Paolo Cibo, stipulato il 17 marzo dello stesso anno, formalizzò gli impegni e dette il via ai lavori.


Una giornata di lavoro

La popolazione locale è sempre stata intraprendente e laboriosa e le avverse vicende che si accanivano contro le prospettive di una vita tranquilla non furono mai causa di scoraggiamento. Il vero signore del secolo era la povertà, anzi la miseria, ma gli abitanti del castello strappavano la vita con dignità e tenacia, vivendo alla giornata perché non è possibile programmare il futuro quando si dipende totalmente dagli altri. Si vedevano persone impegnate nei lavori più umili, che andavano dalla raccolta dello stabbio nelle adiacenze del paese, al taglio dell'erba sulle greppe delle strade per rivendere fieno e concime a coloro che lo chiedevano. C'era chi si dedicava alla raccolta delle foglie di gelso nei mesi di maggio e di giugno per il piccolo allevamento di bachi da seta custodito gelosamente in cucina, e chi andava in campagna a ritirare i prodotti della terra per conto delle varie Confraternite del paese.

Ma la prima metà del secolo offrì ulteriori risorse alla solita vita di sempre che incrementarono la possibilità di racimolare qualche baiocco per le famiglie locali.

La Fratta era diventata un grande cantiere edile che fremeva di opere e di braccia con la ricostruzione del ponte sul Tevere, della cupola della Madonna della Reggia, del convento di Santa Maria Nuova, della chiesa di Santa Croce, dei lavori per il livellamento della Piazza di San Francesco, della costruzione del convento di Sant'Agostino, solo per ricordare le opere maggiori e più in vista.

C'era bisogno di tante braccia e di una grande diversificazione dei ruoli. L’indotto che ruotava intorno a queste opere era davvero notevole e metteva in moto una buona serie di attività artigianali che raggiunsero una vivacità elevata. Il settore dei trasporti fu quello che ne beneficiò maggiormente perché il legname, i laterizi, le pietre, la calcina e tanti altri materiali necessari per i lavori edilizi dovevano essere trasportati con i mezzi del tempo, basati esclusivamente sulla trazione animale.







La richiesta di facchinaggio era grande perché nei cantieri, ad eccezione dell'opera specializzata dei muratori, operava tutta manovalanza generica che eseguiva gli ordini impartiti dai vari mastri. Non era raro vedere i carri che andavano e venivano in continuazione trasportando il materiale necessario e scaricarlo con cura, mentre poco distante, il fabbro, con la forgia in piena efficienza modellava i ferri occorrenti vicino al sollecito manovale che, dentro una grande buca scavata per terra, “spegneva” la calce viva da impastare poi con il mucchio di rena lì accanto.

La regola fondamentale era quella di fare economia di tutto e tra i beni personali da salvaguardare con cura, oltre ai vestiti “buoni”, c'erano le scarpe. Dovevano durare a lungo, soprattutto se avevano la suola di cuoio, e si usavano solo per le grandi occasioni. Negli altri casi, specie d'inverno, si mettevano gli zoccoli con il fondo di legno, imbottito di bullette di ferro perché l'attrito con il terreno non li deteriorasse tanto presto. Gli operai del cantiere viaggiavano così e i loro movimenti si avvertivano bene, perché quel tipo di suola cingolata faceva tanto rumore.

Alla fine di maggio c'era chi prendeva la via della Maremma per i lavori della mietitura e della trebbiatura del grano. Si ritornava con qualche baiocco, ma più spesso con quella febbre che ti toglieva dal mondo.



Caccia e pesca

Oggi sono due attività del tempo libero che rivestono le caratteristiche di un piacevole svago. Nel secolo di cui stiamo parlando non era del tutto così, in particolare per una grande categoria di persone che vedeva nella loro pratica la possibilità di ricavare qualcosa di utile per lo stomaco.

Un bando emanato dal Governatore di Perugia nel 1604, oltre al calendario venatorio, ci fornisce molte altre notizie relative alla caccia e il suo esame è interessante per ricostruire i comportamenti dei cacciatori e le tecniche per la cattura degli animali.

Anche a quel tempo il cane era l'amico e il collaboratore indispensabile dell'uomo per le battute di caccia che volessero avere esiti positivi. Le razze più diffuse erano il bracco e il levriero. Negli inventari e nelle annotazioni del secolo sono ricorrenti le "catenelle" per queste due razze, mentre non vengono segnalati altri tipi di cani che certamente erano presenti, in particolare quelli da guardia.

Si cacciava con lo “schioppo”, ma venivano usate spesso le “reti per lepori” (lepri) e le “cortinelle” per prendere le starne. Gli animali più diffusi, e pare ce ne fossero in abbondanza, erano “lepori, starne, fagiani, quaglie, coturnici, capri et porci”. Nella seconda metà del secolo fanno apparizione i “carnieri” per riporre la selvaggina cacciata (ma sicuramente c'erano anche prima) e le “borscette da migliarino”. Il migliarino è un uccello dell'ordine dei passeracei, lungo circa 16 centimetri, con un piumaggio bruno rugginoso nella parte superiore, bianco nel ventre macchiato di nero. È un volatile gregario e si associa ai fringuelli, insettivoro d'estate e granivoro d'inverno. In Italia si trova di passo da ottobre a marzo, ma può anche essere sedentario nelle zone paludose dove viene comunemente chiamato zigolo palustre.

In data antecedente al bando del 1604 era stato emanato un editto (14 settembre 1602) che regolava il calendario venatorio e ribadiva il divieto di caccia dal primo di marzo alla fine di luglio con le solite sanzioni “... sotto la pena a chi contrafarà di tre tratti di corda e di 50 scudi da dividersi secondo il solito”. In caso di recidiva il contravventore veniva incatenato in una gabbia di legno e messo alla berlina di fronte alla gente. L’editto prevedeva addirittura la pena dell'esilio per i casi più gravi.

Non si facciano turbare dalle contestazioni i responsabili del cosiddetto “sport” della caccia, fonte permanente di opposte vedute, perché il cardinale Bevilacqua era molto più severo di loro e per un uccello si rischiava l'esilio, in un periodo in cui la selvaggina abbondava.

Anche la pesca si praticava abbastanza, considerato che il castello era da ogni parte circondato dall'acqua. Il tratto di fiume che andava dalla torre crollata nella piena del 1610 fino al ponte, era chiamato “la pescaia” e anche alcuni poderi vicini ai corsi d'acqua disponevano di un piccolo bacino per la conservazione dei pesci.









Ma a parte questo espediente, lungo il corso del Tevere, della Carpina, dell'Assino, della Reggia e del Niccone si pescava in diversi modi e con diversi sistemi un ottimo pesce, perché le acque non erano inquinate come adesso.

Una buona raccolta si faceva presso i molini, con il sistema della “cannicciata”. Essa consisteva in una specie di trappola di canne, all'interno della quale il pesce entrava e non poteva più uscire. Nei canali artificiali di adduzione dell'acqua alla ruota del molino non era difficile organizzare un tranello simile. Il pesce pescato doveva essere abbondante se nei contratti di affitto di alcuni molini, tra gli obblighi dell'affittuario, spesso rientrava quello di dare al proprietario una certa quantità di libbre di pesce.

Un altro sistema di pesca molto in voga era quello con il “ghiaccio”, storpiatura locale del “giacchio”. La notizia è riportata in un'annotazione del 1611 e Lorena Beneduce Filippini ci informa che il giacchio era “una rete circolare piombata tutta intorno alla circonferenza, che presentava al centro, dove convergevano le maglie, una cordicella che il pescatore al momento del lancio legava intorno al polso.

Esso veniva sistemato sulla spalla a mo' di mantello e al momento opportuno veniva lanciato come un disco. La rete, dopo una breve traiettoria, ricadeva aperta ad ombrello sull'acqua. In virtù del peso dei piombi si chiudeva a campana, rinserrando il pesce. Il pescatore a questo punto si serviva della corda legata al polso per recuperare il giacchio con la preda”.

Il metodo più comune, però, era quello del tramaglio, usato fino a pochi decenni fa.






Disegno di Adriano Bottaccioli


Archivio fotografico storico Comune di Umbertide


“Umbertide nel secolo XVII” di Renato Codovini e Roberto Sciurpa – Comune di Umbertide, 2004

Il servizio postale, la viabilità e la sanità
Case sulla Regghia.jpg
Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli
Porta di sotto 1_edited.jpg
Map of Fratta (Drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli)
The door of San Francesco or della Caminella
Via Mancini.jpg
Drawings by Adriano Bottaccioli
vista aerea dell'eremo 1998.jpg
1998. Aerial view of the Hermitage of Montecorona
6 Costantino Magi.jpg
La rovinosa piena del Tevere del 1610
Mura castellane.jpg
Ponte e Saracina.jpg
Le mura che circondano il castello di Fratta
Presentazione libro.jpg
L'Abbondanza di Fratta
Le fornaci, l'edilizia, la caccia e la pesca


Chronicle of the siege of the castle of Fratta from November 1643 to April 1644




























The so-called "War of the Grand Duke of Tuscany" took place from 1642 to 1644 between Pope Urban VIII and the league formed by Duke Odoardo Farnese, lord of Parma and Piacenza, of which Ferdinand II Grand Duke of Tuscany (whose troops besieged the Fratta), Alfonso III Duke of Modena and the Republic of Venice. It broke out due to the occupation and destruction of the fortified place of Castro, near Rome, a fiefdom owned by Duke Odoardo Farnese for whom he had not paid taxes to the pope for years and refused annexation to the Papal State (as claimed by the pontiff ) despite the offer of these to buy it.

It was in the autumn of 1643 that the war entered the upper Tiber valley and the Fratta territory. The war ended on April 1, 1644 and the peace between the league and the pope was signed on the following April 4.


In 1642 the castle of Fratta began to be fortified

In the first decades of the seventeenth century the fortress of Fratta was garrisoned by a corps of Corsican soldiers. In 1642 there were already so many "noises of war" that our magistracy began fortification works, starting with the preparation of the Porta Nuova fort, no longer used militarily for many years.

After that, the parapet of the east curtain was rebuilt and then the bell door was worked on, replacing the old and now rusty hardware and equipping it with a "door". The gates of Castel Nuovo were completed, that is, that of the market (it overlooked the Mercatale di Sant'Erasmo and closed the entrance before the current mechanic) or of Sant'Antonio (from the name of the church that was located roughly behind the 'current pastry shop of Sandra) and that of half of the Boccaiolo, building large brick walls from the outside. Then the two drawbridges of the Rocca were rebuilt, the one that looked inside the town and the one outside, known as the "del Soccorso" gate.


The passage of troops in the territory

Throughout the summer of 1643 soldiers of all kinds passed towards Città di Castello, the northernmost stronghold, on the border with the enemy state of Tuscany. Once through Fratta 5,000 infantry and 500 horses passed with weapons in hand and ammunition for 150 some of dust, lead and fuses.

A congregation for the defense of Fratta appointed

The judiciary of Fratta, considering the pressing "rumors of war", appointed one who had to supervise any future war needs. The congregation members immediately got to work and first had the ditches around the walls cleared and the elm trees, pergolas, and reeds that had grown there over the years cut down.

They rebuilt the parapet of the north curtain (between the Rocca and the Piaggiola) that passes behind the town hall, they repaired the tower on the side of the bell door and built a drawbridge at this door, on top of the Piaggiola. The Porta di Sotto, which leads to San Francesco, was walled up and embanked and a "gate" was placed on the front, as on the Tiber bridge, continuing with the walls of the "Madonna", probably the "Majesty" built at the beginning of the bridge on the Tiber. A third gate was placed in the middle of the Piaggiola, in front of the drawbridge. At the extreme west of the bridge over the Tiber they rebuilt the door to the tower called "Saracina" and fixed the old and rusty gate, so that it could be raised and lowered

quickly, blocking the way to anyone who wanted to enter the bridge.

The doors of the church of the Madonna della Reggia (Collegiata) were closed from the outside with a brick wall four feet wide. Parapets were built around the cornice under the dome and slits were made in the windows. The church, thus fortified, became a depot of food and ammunition, continuously manned by twelve soldiers. They kept six hundred pounds of gunpowder, two hundred of lead, one hundred feet of fuse and twelve muskets, to which the Cardinal Legate added a pack of powder, another of balls and one of fuse.

Fratta was very keen on Rome and at the end of August Cardinal Francesco Barberini ordered the local magistracy to give a detailed account of the existing fortifications and trenches, of the provisions and ammunition that were in the fortress, of the number of garrison soldiers. Having received an answer that the commander was missing, Barberini appointed Giovan Battista Bono, a Piedmontese from Cuneo, with the title of "Governor of Arms". He also sent to Fratta, shortly after, a company of militias from Pesaro, made up of two hundred soldiers, followed by another, stationed in Fossato, made up of two hundred men.

Giovan Battista Bono had a crescent-shaped trench erected with great speed in front of the "Saracina" of the bridge over the Tiber, which covered the whole view of the road to Città di Castello, completed on 30 August.


The Florentine cavalry arrives from the Niccone valley

On November 6, most of the Florentine cavalry left the Pierle valley and entered the Niccone valley. He then passed under Montalto avoiding the conflict with that garrison, almost ignoring it although he knew that it was devoid of artillery, and around noon he reached the vicinity of Fratta. Here they brought two squadrons, one directed towards Romeggio and the other to the "Palazzo della Tramontana", in the word "il Bagno". Seeing this, the governor Bono had the workers who worked in Prato withdraw, equipped the walls with soldiers, placed them at the gates and in the church of the Madonna della Reggia, distributed the necessary ammunition and waited for the coming of the enemies, to counteract them. fortified the place of Santa Maria degli Zoccolanti (Santa Maria della Pietà).

The Florentines, in the meantime, after having demonstrated their presence and strength, went away passing through Polgeto and Montacuto, sacking the countryside as all the soldiers used to do, leaving the garrisons of dragons in the two castles (Polgeto and Montacuto). The bulk of the army, passing through Colle del Cardinale, returned to the Magione camp, where other forces were quartered. The next day, November 7, the soldiers in Fratta tried to recapture those two castles, but they only managed to overwhelm the Florentines barricaded in Montacuto and, at two in the morning, they took those prisoners to Fratta to the house of Governor Bono, who lived near the Rocca. , in the street that led from Porta della Campana to the Piazza del Comune (now Piazza Fortebracci).

On the morning of the 8th, Tobia Pallavicino, field master, commander of the piazza in Città di Castello, arrived. He made an agreement with the enemy cavalry who went to help the few dragons left to garrison Polgeto: the siege ended and the Florentines returned to Magione to camp. Governor Bono did not like it as in Polgeto there was a Florentine officer who, together with the soldiers, awaited the arrival of the main army: the appointment was four days later to give the final assault on Fratta. Before evening, squadrons of enemy cavalry were seen on the hill of Romeggio, part of which had come from Magione by the Monestevole road and part from the Cardinal, the Nese and Montacuto hills. From Fratta you could hear the noise of the wagons driving twelve guns with the necessary baggage and the circumstance caused a lot of fear among the defenders, despite the fact that forty mules loaded with supplies had been stolen by the peasants who had attacked those baggage not defended by the soldiers.


From Romeggio the bridge over the Tiber starts

The following day, in Romeggio, other enemy cavalry stationed themselves under the castle tower with twelve flags spread to the wind, clearly visible from Fratta. From the castle to the church of San Pietro below one could see the infantry, another squadron of cavalry near Montalto and an infantry corps at the "Palazzo della Tramontana", not far from the "Bagno".

The bulk of the Florentine army stopped at Romeggio and Polgeto where their commander, Prince Matthias dei Medici, and General Borra were. Part of the soldiers of Romeggio began to descend from the fields below San Pietro to the bridge over the Tiber, but the musketeers of the Fratta garrison, who were guarding it, shooting continuously, kept them at a distance, not allowing them to get close. While the battle was in progress, the soldiers of the bridge increased the defenses of the crescent trench made on the Prato. Two gates were placed alongside, so close that only one man could pass at a time.

With a large amount of earth, the main door and the door made a short time earlier were earth-grounded, the gate placed about halfway across the bridge, at the height of the church of the Madonna del Carmelo (locked every evening). Even the small church of the Madonna del Ponte (built on the pylon downstream) had slits behind which soldiers could be stationed. The two villages were closed by building trenches, while the houses were equipped with slits.

In San Francesco and in the convent there was no wall that did not have openings suitable for shooting. The doors that gave onto the garden of the convent, the walls of the houses and the church of San Bernardino, the Osteria della Corona, the blacksmith shops, the houses along the left bank of the Tiber and those where there were soldiers were embanked. on the alert, weapons in hand.

That night between 8 and 9 November the plains and hills were illuminated by large and numerous fires: the enemy had lit them towards the Niccone valley, Monte Migiano, Romeggio and Polgeto; in the plain "di Sopra" the bonfires responded much bigger and more painful than the houses and haystacks that burned.


The flood of the Tiber slows the attack

At about 4 in the morning the alarm was given to keep weapons in hand because the enemies were seen approaching the bridge of the Tiber. It had rained a lot since the night before and the water continued to fall copiously and relentlessly. The Tiber began to swell. The flood prevented the Florentines from crossing the river and attacking the town from the other sides. They remained stationary in the places reached by the "squadron" army, as if the assault were to begin at any moment: they waited for the river to decrease its flow. The baggage, the wagons and all the booty they had made in Romeggio, Polgeto and Palazzo del Corvatto began to move towards the Niccone. The passage lasted three continuous hours, to the great amazement of our people and of the soldiers who, having been ordered to defend only the country, found it impossible to react to prevent the loss of so much livestock.

The Florentine army, having brought their carriages and prey to the Niccone, waited for the waters to subside. In consideration of this, Tobia Pallavicino, commander of the Fratta soldiers, suddenly decided to set fire to the houses and shops of the Upper Borgo, including those of the market where the potters' workshops were. In the circumstance, for a trivial mistake, the church of Sant'Erasmo was also burned, but some soldiers put out the flames not before serious damage was produced.


Snow also comes to the rescue of Fratta

The night between 9 and 10 November was propitious for the town: an east wind from Grecale blew which brought cold and in the morning all the hills were covered with snow, with serious obstacles to the enemy. The general of the papal cavalry Cornelio Malvasìa came to help Fratta with two hundred knights and several loads of ammunition and sappers' tools: they immediately lined up in the Prato with unsheathed sabers to discourage the enemy from attacking plans. II Malvasìa also had a trench built in the field behind the Rocca and another in the middle of the market square, from the ditch to the church of Sant'Erasmo, to protect the retreat from the defenders of the outermost trenches. Faced with the impending dangers, the bishop of Gubbio decided to transfer the nuns of Santa Maria Nuova to his city, in a cloistered convent, until calm returned.

On this day another reinforcement arrived, wanted by the commander of Perugia. He was the "Terzo" of Pier Francesco del Monte, who had better and better equipped soldiers with him than the other two "Terzi" who were in Fratta, so he was assigned to defend the convent of Santa Maria. Pier Francesco del Monte was very generous and very prudent in his decisions; he behaved like a gentleman and also the troops acted correctly, respecting the goods of the Fratigiani, not causing quarrels. In the night between 10 and 11 November the Florentine army was still stationed on the side hills of the Niccone valley, in Montecastelli, Civitella Guasta and al Bagno, and always kept the fires lit, waiting to cross over to the other side. Towards 2 in the morning, lights were seen moving towards the river and in Fratta the rumor spread that the enemy had managed to ford the Tiber. In the village they turned on lights in the windows and stood with weapons in hand; a small nucleus of cavalry verified at Faldo that the enemy had not crossed.

This happened two days later: on the morning of November 13th. A team of five hundred horses, among the best, forded the Tiber above Fontesegale and pushed towards Montone and the Capuchin convent. It had begun to rain again and these knights, seeing that the rest of the army had not followed them, thought it best to turn back, worried by the risk that the waters, rising again, would isolate them from the rest.


The capture of the commander Tobia Pallavicino

On the morning of November 13 Tobia Pallavicino, after writing two letters to his superiors in Perugia, decided to go and check the defenses in Montone. He took a few men with him, thinking that the squadron of Florentines had returned to the other side. Instead, when he reached the Rio torrent he found him in front of him, he was surrounded and taken prisoner.

He was then brought before Prince Matthias de 'Medici, who however treated him with kindness and humanity. The general command of Fratta passed to Cornelio Malvasìa. On the evening of November 12, the Florentines left the vicinity of Fratta taking to the valleys of Niccone and Nestore, due to the rain that bogged down the roads and swelled the rivers, of the goodness of the fortifications of Fratta (which they had seen closely) and the strong defense of numerous troops.


The conquest of the castle of Montecastelli

On November 18 there was an arms event in Montecastelli, where the Florentine army had left a garrison of sixty soldiers. In those days the commander in Fratta was Pier Francesco Bourbon of the Marchesi del Monte and he, wishing that the countryside was totally free, decided to conquer that castle, to secure the road to Città di Castello. He sent soldiers armed with muskets and "firecrackers" who arrived at dawn. After an hour they managed to break down a door and entered; the Florentines surrendered and were taken prisoners first to Fratta and then to Perugia. Subsequently new fortifications were made in Fratta; in January 1644 two burnt palaces of the Camaldolese fathers were razed to the ground and a third place in via Nuova, belonging to Cavalier Soli, to use the bricks to build fortifications at the Porta del Prato.

On 12 January a new door was built opposite that of the market, from the canton of the church of Sant'Antonio to the house of the same. On February 15 the wooden door in the curtain of the Prato trench was rebuilt again.


The end of the war

On April 6, letters arrived communicating the re-establishment of peace between the Roman state of the pope and the Grand Duke of Tuscany.


Historical calendar of Umbertide 2002 - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 2002


Guerra granduca -Mappa assedio.jpg
Guerra granduca - Ponte sul Tevere.jpg
Guerra granduca - Stemma del Granducato.png
Guerra granduca - Ferdinando II.jpg
Drawing of the bridge over the Tiber with the church of
Carmelo sul pilone (demolished in 1867)
The coat of arms of the
Grand Duchy
Ferdinand II
The map of the siege - drawing by Adriano Bottaccioli - From the Umbertide Calendar 2002
La guerra del Granduca di Toscana
The new dome of the Collegiate and the church of Santa Croce

The dome of the Madonna della Reggia

The dome of the Madonna della Reggia that overlooked the massive and agile octagonal-based temple, after a few years of life got tired of its solitary splendor and its superb height that exceeded that fortress in front. Galeazzo Alessi and Giulio Danti had done everything to place her in a prestigious throne, but she soon began to give serious signs of instability, threatening to go down to see what the facade of the church it covered was like.










It seems almost certain that he did not manage to collapse, only because the careful and scrupulous control of the cult officials intervened first, otherwise he would have produced incalculable damage to a monument that is rare in its characteristics and dear to the piety of the faithful. Thus in 1619 the dismantling work began, with the utmost respect for the underlying structure of recent construction (1).

The original dome, completed under the technical direction of the Perugian Bino Sozi, who took over from Alessi and Danti who had died, had a lowered arch, of Romanesque inspiration, and departed from the official taste of a century that celebrated the triumphs of the Renaissance with its daring architectural thrusts reaching towards the sky.

Externally it was lined with lead,

malleable material

but heavy, like all domes

of that time.

We do not know if for the weight

excessive or due to structural defects

load-bearing that supported it,

it was necessary to proceed to his


But the memory and the image not

they have been entirely lost.

In a canvas attributed to Bernardino

Magi , from 1602, which still does

located in the church of San

Bernardino although in a state


a landscape view is reproduced

of the time Fratta. Among other interesting things about the document

pictorial, the lead dome that rises high above each is clearly visible

other urban structure.

After the demolition work, the provisional roofing began

of the temple, at least judging by the numerous material orders

building that the time records show. In the meantime, yes

he was working on the drafting of a new project that Rutilio presented in 1621.

The works were not directed by the architect Rutilio who, delivered

the design disappears from the management of the factory, but from Bernardino

Sermigni della Fratta who made use of the work of a talented colleague such as

Filippo Fracassini, fresh from the recent reconstruction of the two arches of

bridge over the Tiber and engaged in the construction of the church of Santa Croce.

The new dome, this time round-arched, was completed in 1641 with felice

and pleasant technical insights, such as the internal colonnade that we do not know

whether to attribute to Rutilio or Sermigni.









The final touch of the lantern above the dome dates back a few years and is placed between 1646 and 1647, while the ball and the cross were raised in 1663 (2). The war of the Grand Duke, in progress at that time, had also slowed down the work of the church most dear to the people of Fratta.

The ancient photos are taken from the historical photographic archive of the Municipality of Umbertide


The history of the church of Santa Croce



At the beginning of the century the church maintained its original appearance of a small parish church, set back from the square, on whose main altar the Deposition of Signorelli dominated, which had been placed there around 1516. It had two small chapels along the side walls, almost certainly the only ones. In one of these there was a picture of San Vincenzo, as it would seem to confirm a note attached to a notarial deed of 1605 with the inscription: “Giuseppe Laudati, a painter from Perugia, painted the picture of San Vincenzo in Santa Croce. He was a pupil of Carlo Maratta ”.





















The altar of the second chapel was adorned with the painting by Marino Sponta, della Fratta, which represented the Presentation in the Temple. The work dates back to around 1618, because in that year Sponta had eight scudi in advance for his work; another five he took on 21 December 1620, and on 19 January 1621 the final balance of nine scudi. The modesty of the figure is also recognized by Antonio Guerrini (3) with the remark that the Presentation in the Temple cost "the mere gratification of 22 scudi".

Between 1614 and 1615, the two chapels, one of which was dedicated to San Francesco da Paola, were gilded (4). The work was carried out by Muzio Flori and Berardino Sermigni. But something must have gone wrong because in 1620 some unspecified works were commissioned: "Messer Berardino Sermigni is obliged to redo the two chapels ... for six shields".








Also from the same period dates the masterpiece of the "great wooden exhibition" to embed the Deposition by Signorelli, hanging on the back wall, behind the main altar. The author was Pietro Lazzari, from Sant'Angelo in Vado. The exhibition was commissioned and ordered by the Confraternity to give a more worthy location to the work of the Cortonese artist and in the various existing annotations it is indicated with different expressions: "Mostra Lignea", "The Chapel", "The Ornament of the Altar Maggiore ”,“ The Chapel Ornament ”.

On April 30, 16131a great work in walnut wood, costing 212 scudi, had to be finished and assembled because a payment note from Lazzari's collaborator says: "... and the more the said Giovanpiero baj fifty and a barrel of wine to put on the Ornament ". Where “putting on” should be synonymous with definitive editing.

A few years later, in 1615, Flori and Sermigni, who had recently finished the work in the two chapels, gilded the Lazzari exhibition. It was a long and patient operation that ended in 1619 and cost 216 scudi.

Despite the repeated interventions of enlargement and decoration of the church, the Confraternity of Santa Croce, the most active and economically more solid of the time, was not satisfied and was thinking of a bigger and more majestic temple. Thus began, between 1632 and 1634, the definitive works that gave the ancient chapel its present appearance.

For this reason, the recently completed wooden exhibition was dismantled piece by piece and with its precious painting placed in a safe place: not only to protect it from the risk of damage, but also to allow the consolidation of the back wall on which it rested. Only when the work was completed did it resume its place.

The design and construction were the work of the local architect Filippo Fracassini who “sacras aedes Sanctae Crucis a fundamentis erexit”. It was located on the same front line as the other two churches (San Francesco and San Bernardino) in the square of San Francesco, which had existed for some time.

Filippo Fracassini, therefore, in the first half of the century, undertook to create three important works: the bridge over the Tiber, the dome of the Madonna della Reggia and the church of Santa Croce. Don Silvio Fidanza, parish priest of the villa of Monte Migiano and his contemporary, whom Antonio Guerrini defines as "very learned" (5), on the death of the self-taught architect in 1650, dedicated this epigraph to him:

















[ Honor to God, to the Cross and to the Virgin. Filippo Fracassini, very famous despite not having studied, reconstructed to perfection the bridge destroyed 3910 years after the universal flood, on September 4th (6). He built the church of Santa Croce from its foundations, dedicated to the death of Christ, in 1649. He completed the church of Santa Maria della Reggia, dedicated to the nativity of the Virgin, in 1645 with creative measures .]


The new church, as mentioned, replaced the small and ancient chapel, officiated by the Augustinian Fathers, already dedicated to the cult and veneration of the Holy Cross, since before 1338 (7). The Compagnia dei Disciplinati (8) was erected in this small parish church which in 1556 took the name of Confraternity of Santa Croce.

The church, vaguely inspired by Baroque according to the style of the time, rich in stuccos and decorations (now completely removed), is 23 meters long and 11 wide, with three altars for each

lateral side, in addition to the elegant high altar. The works ended in 1649. Later, in 1677, two of the chapels were decorated with stuccoes by the master stucco artist Giovanni Fontana, from Foligno.

Today the church, which the diocese of Gubbio has ceded to the Municipality of Umbertide, has been transformed into a Civic Museum and right on the main altar stands the beautiful table of the Deposition from the Cross by Luca Signorelli (fully restored), one of the most important works of artist from Cortona, painted in 1516.

The Compagnia dei Disciplinati first, and the Confraternity of Santa Croce later, had a particular veneration for the Cross and the passion of Christ because their church was dedicated to them. It cannot therefore be ruled out that, when Luca Signorelli was commissioned the work in 1515 or in the early days of 1516, a trace of the work to be carried out was also indicated. The painting "on panel" was made quickly in the same year 1516 and this means that the artist had an organized workshop and valid collaborators.





The main theme, highlighted in the work, is that of Christ being deposed from the Cross which stands out in all its dramatic plasticity in the foreground. But the painting, as a whole, has a broader scope and represents a synthesis of the salient moments of the Passion of Christ and an epic of the Cross, depicted in the three panels of the predella. The central scene, placed in the foreground, sees two followers, climbing stairs supported by Nicodemus and Joseph, intent on supporting, with white linen, the body of Jesus freed from the nails that hung him on the Cross. At his feet, a group of figures, in the center of which the Madonna appears, fainted and abandoned on the knees of a pious woman; further away, the Magdalene standing under the Cross, in the compassionate and symbolic gesture of collecting the blood of the Crucifix in her hands joined and open in the shape of a basin. There is also John, the beloved disciple, who could not miss in the moment of pain. With a notable historical leap, to connect the scenes represented in the predella below to the central theme, next to the Madonna stands the figure of Elena (the mother of Constantine), richly dressed, with her fingers intertwined and absorbed in meditation. But the cycle does not end here and we can see in the background, at the top left, the three crosses, symbol of the crucifixion, while on the right the transfer of the body into the sepulcher takes place.

Below, in the three small panels of the predella, the legend of the discovery of the true Cross of Christ is entrusted to the colors, according to a very widespread tradition in the Middle Ages that had its roots in the “Golden Legend” of Iacopo da Varagine. The story begins with the queen of Sheba visiting Solomon (curiously reported on the center tablet) who, inspired from above, kneels to worship a large wooden trunk that served as a bridge over a small stream. Legend has it that this trunk became the Cross of Christ. The narrative cycle of the epic of the Cross continues with Constantine throwing havoc in the armies of Maxentius, unleashing a golden cross as he had been suggested in the dream (tablet on the left), and with his mother Helen who finds the true Cross on the Golgotha (central tablet). The tablet on the right takes a leap in time up to the 7th century, when the Persian king Chosroes, having conquered Jerusalem, took possession of the Cross and stolen it. The pictorial narration ends with the emperor Heraclius who, having recovered the cross, brings it triumphantly to Jerusalem.

On the sides of the painting rise two columns from which the profiles of elegant candelabra bounce, finely worked and surmounted by the writing. “ Lucas Siquorellus de Cortona Pictor pingebat ”.



1. See in this regard the valuable work by Pietro Vispi, The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria della Reggia, Ed. Scuola Radio Elettra & MSpa, Città di Castello, 2002.

2. See Umberto Pesci, History of Umbertide, p. 112, R. Fruttini Typography, Gualdo Tadino. 1932.

3. Op. Cit., P. 234.

4. Archive of Santa Croce, catalog no. 22, years 1609/1686, paper 32.

5. Op. Cit., P. 332.

6. It is an unusual and ingenious way to indicate the date of 4 September 1617, the day on which the reconstruction of the bridge was solemnly inaugurated. To understand this strange dating we must refer to the mentality and culture of the time, which saw in some biblical events, including the universal flood that regenerated corrupt humanity, the fundamental stages of human history. According to biblical chronology, which has no scientific basis, the flood occurred 1,657 years after the creation of Adam (see Genesis chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8) and the birth of Christ after 3,950 from the same creation. So we get: 3.950 - 1.657 = 2.293 years BC, which added to the 1.617 AD correspond to the 3.910 years of the epigraph.

7. Antonio Guerrini, Op. Cit., Pp. 221 et seq. / Umberto Pesci, Op. Cit., Pp. 115 et seq.

8. Francesco Mavarelli, “Historical News and Lauds of the Company of Disciplinates of Santa Maria Nuova and Santa Croce in the Land of Fratta”. It is found in "Umbertide, the work of Francesco Mavarelli", edited by Bruno Porrozzi, Tibergraph, Città di Castello, 1998.


"Umbertide in the XVII century" by Renato Codovini and Roberto Sciurpa - Municipality of Umbertide, 2004

La nuova cupola della Collegiata e la chiesa di Santa Croce
2 - Copia.jpg
La storia della chiesa di Santa Croce
La ceramica Martinelli - l'agricoltura, i vocaboli e gli animali del podere
The ceramics of the Martinelli family - agriculture,
the words and animals of the farm



The pottery of the Martinellis

The Martinelli family, along with that of the Burellis, is one of the oldest in Fratta and we have certain news that it practiced the figulina art since the beginning of the 16th century. He continued the activity until 1940, when he sold the factory to others, which stopped working in 1967. In this century he worked with scratching on cages, with a good manufacturing technique, and it is not to be excluded that some pieces that are preserved in museums in London and Paris and in some private collections come from their laboratory. On the other hand, he still did not use to stamp the brand on the articles produced and this makes the work of attribution of the works more difficult. Filippo Natali, who dealt with the problem with the expertise of the expert, observes:


"... and I am not mistaken in saying that the scratching works that can be seen in some collections, from the 17th and 18th centuries, came out of the Martinelli factory, since even today objects are manufactured that have an archaic imprint, and if they are not engraved moreover, engobbing is used, as the ancients did, which instead of being manipulated with earth from Vicenza is now done with earth that comes from Trequanda in the province of Siena, which, due to its eminently plastic quality, also works to perform veggii (1) and other works that must resist the action of fire, also having the character of refractory earth. The hue of this land is straw yellow, and I believe that this engobing can be used in the products of the factories of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries since many of the works in the castellana style, with what name are distinguished the works of Fratta, which are seen in the collections, including the dishes considered to be of Palaia, and those of Padua, tend to yellowish ".


The Martinelli factory was the most faithful in the use of the scratching and engobing technique which gave the product an archaic imprint both in the shapes and in the figures, even when in the surrounding areas (Deruta, Gubbio, Gualdo Tadino), it had been outdated and majolica or stannifera paint was used, now in common use. The only important element is given by the fact that to perform the engobbing, the white earth of the Vicenza area was replaced by the straw-colored earth of the Sienese which, coming from Trequanda, had a lower transport cost.





The Martinellis had the house and the shop, where they sold the pieces of their production, along the Montonese road, in front of the mill, not far from their ceramic factory. On the facade was the family crest carved in relief on a block of pietra serena: a vase between two leafy branches. Although corroded by time, the relief is still visible, while the underlying inscription is illegible.

A certain Antonio, descended from a branch of the Martinellis, in the 18th century left Fratta to go to work in Milan, in Felice Clerici's majolica workshop, with the qualification of "ceramic painter". The local coloring techniques, often secret, thus merged with those of Milan and made Antonio's fortune. The economic prospects offered, in fact, had to be very attractive to entice him to leave his native country, having a sought-after and well-paid professional competence in a region where the art of majolica was the most popular.



The most significant resources of the economy of the century came from an agriculture poor in means and ideas. The yield of land, even the best ones, was minimal due to the techniques of working and fertilizing the soil. The fields were plowed with rudimentary tools pulled by oxen plowers and the fertilizer used consisted exclusively of the animal pen. The need for more sophisticated technical expedients was joined by the myopia of many owners who, in order to obtain greater and more secure earnings, used to dismember the farm unit into small parts of no more than three mines each and rented the lots obtained in this way to different subjects. (2). Contracts of this type were very frequent at that time and the narrow view of a family economy as an end in itself was to the detriment of a longer-term agricultural business project. The only ones who, besides the land, possessed valid and innovative ideas on the management of the farm, were the Camaldolese Friars of Monte Corona who since then practiced the rotation of the sowing of agricultural products, planted vines and pergolas, improved the property by laying suitable trees the nature of the soil.
























The soils were indicated on the basis of their morphological characteristics, of the trees that grew on them, or of the crops to which they were most suitable. They were therefore classified into arable, arborate, buscati, canapinati, casteneati. cannetati, cerquati, populations, olive groves, pergolas, vineati, sodati, silvati, and so on.

The world of the fields was in the hands of a few owners, counts or marquises, who had large estates. Followed by religious communities, brotherhoods, local nobles not noble, and parishes.




Leaving aside the system of renting which, although widespread, still represented an exception, the rule remained that of sharecropping, with the farm managed by the peasant (worker) who divided the products of the soil in half (medietate) with the owner. . The atavistic uses and the clauses of the various contracts provided for substantial exceptions to the medietate, as was the case for grapes and olives that were subject to the "three to two" rule, i.e. 3/5 of the product to the owner (60%) and 12/5 to the farmer (40%).



The farmhouse began to show those evolutionary signs that will become the building rule of the following century. The tower house was still in vogue and this structure will last for a long time for safety reasons. But they made the first appearances, especially in areas where the dangers of aggression by gangs of criminals were less, the first types of modern farmhouses, like those that became widespread later on. Meanwhile, the annex of the hut for the storage of agricultural tools was established, leaning against one side of the house, and therefore called "poggiata".

Some farmhouses, located near rivers or streams, had the "weir", also known as "peschiera", very common in the Perugian countryside. Its function was to allow the capture of fish with little waste of time, in a peasant society that did not have much available. We do not have certain documents on this subject, but more than one farm, close to the course of the river, was indicated with this word and this legitimizes such a hypothesis. The layout reproduced in miniature the “weir” of Fratta north of the bridge over the Tiber, which also had recognition and protection in the Statutes of 1521.

The cost of the land varied greatly in relation to its nature and location. And if an entire farm was the object of sale, the state and characteristics of the buildings above it (farmhouse and agricultural outbuildings) greatly affected the price. At the beginning of the century, just to get an idea of the market trend, a land mine (arable land, arborate, pergola, olive grove) in the word "Caldese" by Romeggio was worth 32 scudi; the same quantity and quality in San Giuliano delle Pignatte, 33 scudi; at “Seripole”, about one kilometer north of the Fratta, 32 scudi. In San Paterniano (Pierantonio), in the word "Campo Longo", a land mine cost 43 scudi and at Petrelle 88. the Faldo area, the Caminella area and the word Buoteni, south of the Caminella, had an almost triple value compared to the hilly ones.


The words of the farms

The vast countryside around the Fratta castle was divided into many localities, each with a specific toponym, and within it the individual farms were indicated with its own word. Locations, villas and words were important not only as geographical references for the locals, but they had also assumed a real legal value, so much so that they were the only recurring and certain indications in land purchase contracts. On the other hand, in the absence of a land registry based on more precise data, the physical description of the farm extension was the only way to indicate its identity and limits.

Leaving aside the toponyms of the localities, many of which are also in use today, we will focus on the words of the farms, which have long since disappeared from current use. Some of them had distant roots and even dated back to the Lombard period; others were more recent and originated from nature or from the position of the land (the Lame, the Lamette, the Piano, the Colle); the presence of aquifers or springs (il Pozzo) or fishing facilities (la Pescaia); from a recent tillage of the soil (il Ranco, le Roncole); from the agricultural destinations of the fields (the Stoppiaccia); from the name of saints, celebrities and common people (Sant'Isidoro, Fortebraccio, Osteria di Piero Antonio).

Given the origin of the words of the farms, we should not be surprised if some of them are repeated even in more than one locality. Calavanne, for example, is found both in the Villa of Sportacciano and in that of San Savino; Buzzacchero is present both in San Giuliano delle Pignette and in Colle San Savino; the Casella, both in Pieve di Cicaleto and in Monte Acuto; the Vaglie both in Monte Acuto and in Polgeto; Campo del Pozzo both in Migianella and in Polgeto; Chiusa del Molino both in San Giuliano delle Pignatte and in Romeggio.

And the list goes on, but we prefer to stop so as not to bore the reader. For fans of this topic, in the attachment we report all the farm words that it was possible to find in the various notarial deeds stipulated in the century.


The animals of the farm

The products of the soil were subjected to the fixed rule of the medietate that characterized the sharecropping management, with rare exceptions such as grapes and olives in which a more disadvantageous distribution criterion was in force for the farmer, as we have seen above. There were no other exceptions to the division of products, unless, for very specific and contingent reasons, the contract provided for some.

The relationships were more complex, however, for the division of profits and losses deriving from the marketing of the farm animals. For example, there is no precise information on the regime to which poultry animals were subjected (chickens, pigeons and geese; it may seem strange, but we never talk about ducks and rabbits). Were they jointly owned, or did they entirely belong to the peasant who governed them with his own feed, except for some spontaneous regalia or imposed on the master on the most solemn occasions? It is difficult to answer without reliable sources. The only certain elements are found in the records of the Confraternities which, despite having numerous farms, often record sums of money for the purchase of similar animals at the market, while there are no charges to the farmer in the same way. This would suggest that the small animals belonged to the farmer who sold them at the market after keeping those destined to end up in his poor table.












The average livestock (pigs and sheep), born in the stable, followed the rule of sharecropping. But when it came to livestock, from medium to large, things could be more complex in relation to the shares of ownership owned. It could happen, in fact, that it was bought entirely, or for a majority share, by the owner. In this case, the purchase price was deducted from the sale, which went entirely to the owner, or divided according to the shares due, and the remaining income (or loss) was divided in half.

Most of the time, however, the purchase of livestock took place in equal parts and then there were no problems on the distribution of profits or losses.

As for the large cattle, which represented the real capital of the farm, this century does not offer variations to the practice followed in the following century, so we refer the reader to this chapter dealt with in the volume relating to 1700.



1. Terracotta warmers

2. The extension of the land was indicated by the measures of capacity for arid: rubbio (4 mines), mina (2 stara), staro (8 cups), cup (4 bowls). In the notarial deeds of the time, the most used units were the mine and the table, a submultiple that was equivalent to 1/150 of a mine. The mine was equal to 160 Roman pounds, (pound = 333 grams; for which the ground of 1 mine, indicated an extension in which it was possible to sow 53.280 kg of wheat.



"Umbertide in the XVII century" by Renato Codovini and Roberto Sciurpa - Municipality of Umbertide, 2004

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