History - Panicale

This is without doubt one of the most beautiful and well conserved medieval castle hill-towns in Umbria, “The Terrace of Trasimeno” overlooking the lake. Built around 1,000 A.D. it was continually improved and better fortified over the following centuries, developing an intriguing structure of curving, climbing streets which form a unique elliptical whole reflected in the outer defensive walls. Three squares, situated at different heights, form an axis: the main square, today called Piazza Umberto 1, was designed to allow water from the communal well to drain away when necessary. The well was replaced with a Renaissance cistern in 1473. The road which currently runs around the outside of the defensive walls was built on the original moat. It was here that Giacomo Panieri, known as Boldrino da Panicale (1331-1391), one of Italy’s most infamous ‘captains of adventure’ or soldiers of fortune, was born. Other famous people from the town include the celebrated painter Cristoforo Fini, known as Masolino da Panicale (1383-1447) whose Madonnas can be seen in Europe’s most important museums, and the writer Cesare Caporali (1531-1601), the first author of mock heroic poetry in the 1500’s, who was so popular that his Rhymes were published in 35 editions between 1574 and 1673.
Church of San Michele Arcangelo. Of medieval origin, this church underwent a lot of restructuring before ending up in its present state dating back to the 1600’s. Here you can admire the beautiful Annunciation attributed to Masolino da Panicale and a Nativity by G.B. Caporali, oil on wood, dated 1519. The organ was installed in 1702 and rebuilt in 1835.
Church of San Sebastiano. This church is late medieval in origin and was rebuilt in 1623. It has a beautiful fresco by Perugino, The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian dated 1505 and restored in 1985. Another Perugino fresco, the Madonna in Gloria, dated 1490, has been carefully taken from the wall and placed on a wooden frame for safe keeping.
Cesare Caporali Theatre. Commissioned at the end of the 1700’s by important Panicale families, the ‘Teatro del Sole’ (Theatre of the Sun) was rebuilt to its present proportions in 1858 by the architect Giovanni Caproni. The mural behind the stage dated 1869 depicting ‘Il Trionfo di Boldrino’ (Boldrino’s Triumph) is the work of Mariano Piervittori from Tolentino.
The whole town within the walls is fascinating; the fourteenth century Palazzo del Podestà and the imposing Palazzo Mancini, built in 1619 alongside the Porta Fiorentina Gate stand out amongst the already impressive streets and buildings. Immeditely outside the walls is the Church of the Madonna della Sbarra (Turnpike) ca.1625, so-called because the toll turnpike was situated in the adjacent road.