On the Road with Perugino

February 19, 2013 / Art & Archaeology
Citta' della Pieve, Umbria
peruginoBorn in Citta della Pieve, Pietro Vanucci became one of the most famous of the classical High Renaissance painters. He was known as “Perugino” for he spent many years in Perugia, later studying in Firenze alongside Leonardo di Vinci. A master of perspective he was one of the first Renaissance artists to use oils. Although he painted works in the Sistine Chapel and had important commissions in Firenze, he preferred to work close to home in Umbria.

Exploring Perugino’s favorite road, la Strada Pievaiola, (SS220), is like being inside a Perugino painting. He used the undulating hills of the area around Lake Trasimeno and sometimes the lake itself as background.

perugino-pieveThe thin umbrella pines and wispy deciduous trees march atop these hills, each leaf a tiny brushstroke. You will be amazed at the delicate beauty of his paintings when you visit Citta’ della Pieve and Panicale.

A master of exquisite religious scenes and winged cherubim, Perugino was actually quite a thug, arrested once for robbery and battery. He had very little use for religion himself. He died a solitary death of the plague after finishing his last frescos in the Chapel dell’Annuziata in tiny Fontignano, halfway between Perugia and Citta’ della Pieve on the Pievaiola. He was hastily buried in unconsecrated ground, presumably with his money safely tucked inside his saddlebags.


Adoration of the Magi” in the Chapel of the Disciplinati at Citta della Pieve.

The Martyrdom of San Sebastian” in the Church of San Sebastiano in Panicale

Colleen Simpson

by Colleen Simpson

Colleen followed a long-held dream and made a home in Piegaro, which is a pristine medieval glass-making village south of Lago Trasimeno in Umbria. She is the innkeeper at www.anticavetreria.net.

4 Responses to “On the Road with Perugino”

  1. Iris Mathewson

    Lovely article Colleen. I feel so fortunate to have seen some of his beautiful artwork, thanks to you!

  2. Judith Tolchin, Woodland Hills, CA

    Colleen, the moment my husband & I saw the body of water in your first photo, we immediately recognized it as L. Trasimeno. We were in Umbria for 5 days in fall 2007 & stayed at the lovely Villa di Monte Solare not far from the town of Tavernelle–which is also not far from your town of Piegaro. We took a drive around Trasimeno on 1 of our 5 days–we were so enamored of the beautiful countryside & also the great food we had there! But we had no idea that we could have seen some of Perugino’s wonderful paintings in the town of Panicale, which was also in the vicinity of our hotel. Perhaps we need to make a return trip!

  3. Colleen Simpson

    Iris: Yes, we had such a wonderful time together and the photo of San Sebastiano is the one that I took that day we saw the Perugino painting in Panicale!

    Judith: Oh, you must come back for there is so much more to see and many Peruginos locally.


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