Todi, Umbria, Italy, walking tour
The hill towns of Italy are magnificent places to explore, and in this program we are taking a deep dive into one of the finest of all of them. It's called Todi in Umbria. We'll be focusing on the little pedestrian lanes and the piazzas, lined with historic buildings. We will see monumental arches in the old, fortified walls and some modern shops. We'll have a look at the main Piazza Del
Popolo in the daytime and at night, and take a walk along the main shopping street that extends out from the piazza. But mostly we are strolling through those charming little pedestrian lanes. The town of Todi is another one of the medieval gems of Umbria. It's very ancient town, origins go back 3000 years. It was first settled by the local folks, the Umbri, built a wall around it, and then the Romans conquered and built their wall around it, 2000 years ago, and then during the medieval times in the Middle Ages, the third wall was built around Todi. So it was very well protected and incredibly preserved.
All of the buildings within these medieval walls are original stone structures, most of them are at least seven or 800 years old. So it's really like walking through a castle, like a huge, fortified castle. It's almost like a Walt Disney fairytale come to life. In fact, there's been quite a few movies that have been shot on the main piazza and around the various alleys of Todi. But it's a thriving, local, prosperous town, lots of young and old, the piazza in the evening is just filled with people socializing and that Italian-style passeggiata. The map shows the entire old town, which is rather compact. It's just one kilometer from north to south, but look at all those white spaces that represent the piazza and the tiny little side lanes that we will be exploring. You could spend many days wandering through this little town. We'll explore the central main piazza with adjacent alleys,
and we'll walk you to the north end of town, and also show you the south end trying not to get too lost, as we follow these narrow, winding, twisty little lanes, going up and down the hills. Get ready for a medieval adventure. The central Piazza Del Popolo will always be the main focus of your visit, a good home base, with its attractive cafes and strategic location. You'll come back here
many times as you wander north and south, and east and west. It just takes fifteen minutes to reach the edge of town from here in every direction. It has been the center of town for 2000 years, ever since the Romans established their forum here. Just below the piazza we enter the main shopping street of town Corso Cavour. Let's have a look at the upper blocks of Corso Cavour, which is the main cluster of shops in the town. They don't have a department store or a shopping mall, but here along this retail strip of Corso Cavour you'll find a nice variety of goods – there's clothing, there's food, jewelry, gift shops, shoe stores. It's especially nice in the evening when
the shops stay open until 8 PM. And it's probably about as far as most tourists ever get when they visit the main piazza a block away. They'll come down here, but unfortunately they miss out on everything else that we're going to show you in today's program. There is so much more to see. Let's begin our walking tour. A lane on the right side of the Duomo will lead you into the northern
part of town. We will return to the piazza later and bring you inside the Duomo, and show you this plaza at night, but for now we are heading north. Looking up at the steep side wall of the Duomo from this narrow lane almost makes it look like you've entered a canyon, as we continue along via Del Duomo. Our route is taking us north with some little side trips in the little back lanes. Continuing on via Borgo, then reaching the Perugino gate at the end of town. Via Del Duomo is the main street of this neighborhood - rather straight and nicely paved, an easy downhill stroll, with intriguing little side lanes branching off that beckon some investigation. Sometimes it's just a residential courtyard leading into the private homes, and you'll see dozens of short arches that are connecting the buildings together and stabilizing them from earthquakes. These large stones are part of the first city wall constructed
in the third century BC by the Etruscans, which are some of the oldest remains in Todi. We'll see remnants of the later two walls coming up soon, but first a little look down some side lanes. It's via Della Maleretta. It goes right next to the Duomo, as via Del Duomo, and then it keeps going down and down, and changes names a few times. There's some cross streets. And it is worth exploring. Let's go see what's down at the end of this road. While walking along, your eye is going to be attracted to these little side lanes on both sides. Sometimes it's a courtyard, other times it's an alley with an arch, such as Vicolo dei Bovalini - translates loosely as cow path. There are some surprisingly tall buildings here, a reminder that way back as
far as the Middle Ages, they lived in multi-story apartment buildings. Secondo Cerchio delle Mura. This arch is part of the second wall that goes around the town, which would've been the Roman wall. The earliest wall is the Etruscan wall, in the center of town. Then the next biggest one out was the Roman, and then finally, the third wall in the larger version was the medieval wall. We'll get to that outer wall in a few minutes, but first we've got a walk there. This gateway marks the boundary of the ancient Roman city, and it's also the point at which this road changes names from Prassede to Borgo. Todi became a Roman colony and a municipium the first century BC, and experienced the typical Roman development, with fragmentary remains found throughout town.
And it's a busy street. Cars come driving right through the ancient arch. (Car noise) There are many arches through the various walls of this town, and many arches on the little lanes. It's really a beautiful collection of old stone architecture. While there are nearly a dozen of these monumental arches still standing, we know from historical records there are many others that have disappeared, yet it's amazing how many of the old buildings of town are preserved, and fully utilized as contemporary housing. The
view from that main lane is somewhat constricted by the buildings around it, but step off into the side lanes and you can look out across the lower town, and across the fields in the lower Tiber River Valley, with productive farms and rolling hills in the distance. Return, over to via Borgo and continue walking north. And then if you walk all the way down the hill you get to the final series of arches that are in the outer wall. Porta Perugina was built in the middle of the thirteenth century as part of the medieval wall around the town. It has an elaborately
fortified multi-arch structure. And because there are not very many exits from this walled city, it's a fairly busy roadway, and spectacular from the outside. They built this larger medieval wall because the population of the town kept increasing, and today the wall extends for four kilometers all the way around the town. From here you connect into the Umbrian road system. There's also a bus stop with a fairly extensive local bus routing available for you. There's
something very special about the beautiful scenery all around Todi - it's just a sublime rhythm of low hills and lush vegetation, especially colorful in the late afternoon golden light. Heading back inside the city walls, you'll notice more of the residential cluster. It's like the small town is divided up into even smaller villages. To reach the slightly out-of-the-way places, and experience something beyond the usual tourist sites, it's helpful to spend a night or two in Todi. It's easy walking downhill, but then you gotta turn around and hike back up. It's about 1/2 a
mile and fairly steep, but worth it to see the entire extent of these medieval walls. From here will walk back up to the main piazza, retracing our steps. It's not far. You can get there in ten minutes- not difficult, and proceed from there, and to our next adventure. It's inevitable that you'll be returning to the central Piazza Del Popolo numerous times during your visit. It's a lively place with people out walking and magnificent architecture all around.
The Cathedral and three major public buildings form a perfect outline of one of the most beautiful piazzas in the country. But if you come quite early in the morning you can have the whole piazza to yourself, along with some workers, who are keeping it clean. It's really quiet at this time of day. Another nice thing about spending a night in Todi, get up early and appreciate the grand architecture of this beautiful plaza. Piazza Del Popolo has several important historic buildings, including Palazzo Del Capitano, which houses the municipal offices and a museum, and the Palazzo Del Popolo, where the governing people's commune used to gather. A large external stone staircase joins these two palaces together. Palazzo dei Priori stands at
the southern end, which houses the courthouse and more city offices. It's 800 years old. The rectangular tower was added in 1367. The Cathedral is a bit older than that, constructed from the 12th-century and what's called the Lombard style, similar to the Romanesque. In later centuries it was frequently renovated and altered, with the facade completed in the early 1500s. The nave is flanked by two wide aisles with rows of Corinthian columns and graceful arches, with a stained glass rose window from the early sixteenth century, and a frescoed last judgment similar to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. You're always welcome to come and pray or perhaps even attend mass if the service is on during your visit.
In the evening the piazza is even more beautiful than during the daytime, especially at twilight, that magic hour. And you might be lucky enough to catch a beautiful sunset just around the corner at Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the famous vistas and lookout points of the city. Down below are the Fountains of Scannabecco, built in 1241, with four water basins used as a sink for the ancient housewives, as well as a source of drinking water for people and horses.
Time for the Italians to enjoy their passeggiata, that social stroll that ends the day when there is still blue sky, lights come on and it's time for dinner. Todi is not a big city but it has many fine restaurants, all within easy walking distance of the main piazza, serving excellent food, of course, and the prices are always reasonable. You'll find that most of the restaurants in town are quite casual with the rustic style and some very old interiors. And very often the restaurant calls itself a pizzeria, but they generally have a full-service menu with fresh pastas and fish, salads and all kinds of delicious dishes, and pizza. Or maybe just grab a quick bite, perhaps a sandwich at a standup café. From the piazza we're walking south through more little lanes. We'll climb the belltower of
San Fortunato Church for an overview. We'll have a stroll in the park and then walk up along the main shopping street on our way back to the Piazza. Exiting the southwest corner of the main piazza soon brings us to Piazza Jacapone, which leads on into the little lane of via Lorenzo Leoni, that will take us deeper into the heart of southern Todi. There are a few cars that will squeeze through on what seems to be a pedestrian lane, but after all, there have to be deliveries made and people live along the street and need to be able to drive home. Some of the side lanes, however, are strictly for pedestrians. This lady walking downhill in her stilettos finds that it's not even a street - it becomes a staircase, the via Della Misericordia.
It's fun to take these little detours while you're walking along on the main lane. You see the side street going down, a staircase going up, you don't know what's around the bend, so go ahead and go down, check it out, have a look. Walk back up the seen little via Della Misericordia, picking up where we left off on the via Lorenzo Leoni. Shoppers beware: there are no stores on this lane, but is it still makes a fascinating walk through this residential neighborhood, marveling at how cars and trucks can squeeze between these old stone buildings.
It's a busy intersection leading off in three different directions, including heading towards the church of San Fortunato where we are heading next, to climb the tower for the view. Construction began in 1292, and yet they never quite finished the upper part of the facade. The central portal leads directly into the nave. Elegant rib columns support the Gothic vaulting with thirteen side chapels, some decorated in the Baroque style. All of that is nice, but we have really come to climb the steps up to the tower for the viewpoint, and you will see that it's quite a hike. You don't want to run up, but we're speeding things along for you so it doesn't take all day to reach the top. Actually it's a pretty easy climb, just take your time. You'll find
it's worth the effort. It is a grand view of the main part of town with the Duomo in the distance and the green hills beyond. The Renaissance church of Santa Maria della Consolazione, located next to town on the southwest side, was designed in the style of Bramante. Porta Amerina is one of the original surviving gates of the outer wall on the south edge of town, with more clay tile roofs and old buildings around it. Next we're going to take a walk along via Roma and some related side streets. But first we'll have a quick look behind the church at the Parco della Rocca. From here you get some lovely views, and there are many little paths and stairs
and green lawns that you can enjoy here, scattered throughout the park, but we're just taking a quick look and walking downhill from here back into the urban part of town, down a two-way staircase. Nice view looking back up at San Fortunato's bell tower that we just climbed, which now leads us down to Porta Aurea, a gate through the second or Roman wall, which leads us into the medieval hilltop quarter along via San Maria in Cammuccia. It's another narrow residential lane with no shops, but marvelous old buildings with many houses and apartments clustered in tightly. Have a look at some of the courtyards and hidden staircases as you walk along. We are definitely into the far back lanes, well off the beaten track of most tourist itineraries, but now we've gotten back to the main shopping street.
This is a busy little intersection with a few cars going by, and pedestrians and are dog waiting for his master here. It's called via Roma, but it changes names a few times as we will soon see while following it along, and were also going to dive into couple of the side streets right here. Vicolo san Silvestro looks promising. Sometimes you have no idea what's down the alley, but one thing leads to another, and maybe you'll get lucky and find some new interesting sites, such as these very old tall buildings, showing different layers of elaborate stonework on the edge of town, with a bench to rest on.
Returning now to the lower portion of our main street. Here it's called via Matteotti, mostly residential down there. But as we turn and walk uphill, we find another splendid gate, Porta Catena, in the second ring of walls. The eagle is holding a tablecloth in its claws, which symbolizes the founding of Todi by the ancient Umbri tribe, way back in prehistory, because he snatched the cloth from people in the valley below and flew up here and dropped it, which they took as an omen of a place to build a city. I dropped into a friendly restoration workshop
to have a quick look at what was going on. Old towns have great need for restoration studios. At this arch the road changes names from via Roma to Corso Cavour. This gateway is Porta Marzia, one of the oldest in the city tucked away on the inner ring of the walls, dating to the Etruscan period, but rebuilt in the seventeenth century. We're almost done with our visit, but there are two more little neighborhoods to have a quick look at on both sides of the main piazza, starting to the east along via San Lorenzo. Typical of all of Todi this too is a residential neighborhood with quiet little lanes, even though we're just blocks from the busy center of town.
With people living in close proximity, it's quite easy for the parents to walk their kids to the local elementary school, and for others, it's a nice place to walk your dog. It is that kind of small-town atmosphere were anybody seems to know each other, and even the dogs know each other. (Dog barks) As they play around with a frisky greeting. Little dog encounters always give neighbors a chance to stop for a friendly chat. Around the corner I found an amazing place to eat, Ristorante Umbria, serving traditional Umbrian local wines, soups, game, pasta with aromatic herbs, vegetable fries, truffles and porcini mushrooms. Chef Fausto Todini was among the first Umbrians to receive a Michelin star back in the 70s. While the dining rooms are beautiful,
the terrace in the back provides probably the finest outdoor place to eat in Todi, transforming this into a destination restaurant that people flock to from many miles away. And our final neighborhood of the visit is just to the west side of Piazza Del Popolo. The lanes step down and up, they become staircases. Many don't have labels. It's almost like entering the Bermuda triangle where you are sure to get lost, but it's a very small area. And it's a residential neighborhood. Typical of the Italian hill towns, the homes are packed in very
tightly together in an efficient use of space. The Archbishop lives here too, since we are right next to the Cathedral. You're free to walk around in these narrow lanes, and when I went down the staircase to this courtyard, I found a little surprise. It looked like some kind of a well. And yes, there was water in this cistern. Looking around at the stonework and up at the arch, you
can't help you get the feeling this is an ancient neighborhood. It must be many centuries old. Then you'll arrive at a terrace where the space opens up dramatically with this grand view looking out across the countryside. The Convent of Montesanto dates back to the year 1235, built as a monastery for nuns. It later became a fortress during the medieval wars and then
converted once again back into a convent for nuns, which it remains to this day. It's sometimes possible to stay here for a few nights on a spiritual retreat. When you turn around and look at the views from this terrace in another direction, you see the backsides of the old stone houses of Todi nestled along the hillside, their wood fireplaces blowing picturesque smoke out the chimneys. We get these views from the terrace of another monastery, which has been converted into a museum, with a beautifully painted interior and artifacts from the ancient days of sculpture and ceramics, displayed in the former church of the convent now called the Lapidary Museum. It's got one of the most ancient collections in Umbria and displays the long history of the town from the Roman age, to the Renaissance, and up to modern times. The museum is located just a block away from the Duomo and the Piazza Del Popolo, so it's easy to get here.
You'll enjoy the best views of the sweeping grandeur of this hillside town from the Oberdon garden. It's a terrace with a great lookout, and it's also the place where you can catch the funicular that goes down to the public parking lot, where you can get your car and drive away, completing your visit to this amazing town. This service is called the ascensore, or funivia, and it's completely free. It operates from seven in the morning until midnight, which makes it very easy to park your car down below in this large parking area, because tourists are not supposed to drive their cars inside the old town. I'd like to end with some practical information about how to get to Todi. You can drive by car, that would be the easiest way if you rented a car. You could get here from Rome in about an hour and 1/2. If you don't have a car and use public transportation,
you might find that the best way to get here is by bus, which connects from many of the main cities of Umbria, and the bus will deliver you very close to the old town, very short walk. If you're coming by train, it's a little challenging, but it can be done. The station's about three miles outside of town and so you'll need to connect into town with a local bus or a taxi. And the train line is not part of the regional Italian train system. On this train map of Umbria, the red lines show the regional railroad routes. The train to Todi is on a private Umbrian train line.
It's not part of the main Italian rail system. So you can connect into this train line, in one of several major cities such as Perugia, or in Terni. That's another place where the Italian train line and the local Umbrian train line connect. That completes this tour of Todi, but we do have another movie about this beautiful town, showing many more sights that we did not get to in this video, so be sure to look for it in our collection. We frequently upload new movies so please subscribe to our channel and click that little alarm bell so you'll be notified. And if you enjoyed the movie, how about a thumbs up, and we always welcome comments down below. Or
if you have questions about the destination, make note and we'll answer them. Thanks for watching