Corciano is a small medieval hilltop town near Perugia. The old centre is remarkably unspoiled and well-maintained and the pretty town makes an atmospheric stop on a tour of Umbria. There are a couple of sights which are worth seeing, and the town’s tourist information office incorporates a small museum with very interesting archaeological exhibits. This is an area keen to attract foreign travellers; I visited as a guest of the local promotional agency.
The best place to begin a stroll is the town’s tourist information office, just below the town walls (with parking). Inside is an interesting model of the town and downstairs is a marvellous little archaeological museum, called the Antiquarium. The Antiquarium displays local finds including parts of an Etruscan chariot from nearby Castel San Mariano, bronze statuettes dating back to the sixth century BC and ex-votos from the Lake Trasimeno area in forms including the characteristic lake eel. A necropolis has been found at Strozzacapponi near Corciano (worth visiting if you have a car) which was used by the local Etruscan populace in a time when the influences of Rome were becoming stronger. In the museum you will find reconstructed tombs, and carved stone funerary urns from the burial ground, some of them with scarcely-believable traces of coloured paint. One seems to depict a woman with an early handbag. Probably dating to more recent times are two stone lions which stood until recently in Corciano’s little town square. A local legend recounts how a scorpion in the mouth of one of the lions bit and killed a child; his father is said to have beaten the stone lion leaving it in the damaged state you see today.
Corciano is between a village and a town in size. The walled historic centre is a pleasant setting for a stroll, with lots of medieval atmosphere and views over the green Umbrian countryside and a nearby hilltop monastery. The town has an imposing gateway, the Porta Santa Maria, with a cage hanging outside it, where felons were once suspended (a scene included in present-day historic re-enactments).
Inside the gate is the town’s church, Santa Maria Assunta, which contains a couple of fine paintings. The main altarpiece is by the great Umbrian artist Pietro Vannucci, known as il Perugino. Commissioned five hundred years ago for this spot, it shows the Assumption of the Virgin, to whom the church is dedicated. In the smaller pictures of the predella, beneath, are depictions of the Annunciation and the Adoration of Christ. Another painting in thc church, perhaps even more charming, is a 1472 Gonfalone by Benedetto Bonfigli. It shows the Madonna protecting the people of Corciano, illustrated in the painting with its ring of defences. A gonfalone is a type of banner or standard, and this painting is still carried through Corciano in a historic procession each year. Look out, too, for a twentieth-century altarpiece by Guerriero Giappesi, which includes children in period fashions, and another view of Corciano.
Further up the quaint lanes is a charming little ‘peasant’s house’ museum, the Museo della Casa Contadina, a quaint space filled with a clutter of historic artefacts relating to the everyday lives of local residents. Objects include kitchen paraphenalia and a ‘priest’, a bed-warming device. Many items date back a hundred years, but similar utensils would have been used in living memory. Close by is another small museum, the Museo della Pievania, housed in a former chapel. This contains some seventeenth and eighteenth-century paintings including works by Corciano-born artist Giuseppe Laudati, a number of devotional objects, reliquaries and other curios.
There is not a great deal more to the town; it is simply a charming and evocative place to wander. You may come across picturesque viewpoints, a shop selling oil, the main village square with a couple more shops and a cafe.
Corciano lies between Perugia and Lake Trasimeno, both of which are good holiday destinations. If you are exploring the area, consider a visit to the Etruscan necropolis at Strozzacapponi, between Corciano and Perugia. A supermarket is built over the site; the staff admit visitors to the archaeological area.
There are special events in Corciano throughout the year, including the Primavera dell’Artigianato, a spring craft market, a historical re-enactment in August, an autumn celebration of chocolate, and at Christmas a lifesize nativity scene in the lanes of the town.
A car is undeniably useful if you are touring this area. Perugia Airport is in easy reach, with a bus connection to Perugia centre and train station. Buses serve the area, though they are infrequent and do not always stop in the most convenient places for tourists. Bus line E019 connects Corciano with Perugia and with Ellera (near Corciano), where there is a railway station – details can be found on the Umbria Mobilità website (see links panel). Perugia urban bus G runs as far as Ellera. Bus X runs from the hospital (Ospedale) in the outskirts of Perugia to Corciano via Ellera.
In Corciano there are a couple of bar-cafes, two restaurants offering local cuisine (cucina tipica), and a bakery called il Forno selling specialities to take away. Drivers who are exploring the area will find some excellent out-of-town options such as Ottavi Country House, a restaurant/guest house at San Mariano di Corciano.
The region produces wines, olive oils and other speciality foods. Some local producers sell directly to the public, including Pucciarella, a bank-owned estate located a mile northwest of Corciano, which produces sparkling rosé and white wines. They also have rooms/mini-apartments with kitchenettes upstairs.
If you are visiting the area as a group, you may find it worthwhile enquiring of your hotel or Promozione Corciano if any special visits or tastings could be organised at local agricultural businesses.
In the countryside around Corciano there are quite a few good and varied places to stay. Many are agriturismi, traditional Italian countryside accommodation, ranging from the homely to the elegant. The area’s fine old buildings have been given a new lease of life by this small-scale tourist industry, and you can find tasteful restorations as well as more specialist establishments offering a range of activities, from archaeology tours to horse-riding. Much of the countryside is unspoiled, green and tranquil. Less attractively (although perhaps conveniently) major roads run through some of the valleys, and out-of-town shopping malls, prefab warehouses and even a cinema multiplex have sprung up. These do, however, mean that there are convenient services and bus routes for the accommodation situated nearby.
I visited Corciano as a guest of Promozione Corciano. Their website can be visited at http://www.promozionecorciano.it/ and it provides more information about the area as well as a directory of local accommodation including agriturismi.
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