Rocca Paolina

April 24, 2009 / Art & Archaeology
roccapaolina1Can you imagine a foreign ruler tearing down a fourth of your city and building in its place a big ugly fortress – not to keep out invaders, but to protect himself from you? That’s exactly what Pope Paul III did in the 1500s after a battle with the powerful Baglioni family who questioned his authority. Adding insult to injury, he used bricks from their towers and homes and constructed a roof over medieval palaces, churches and streets once open to the sky.

There was so much resentment that when Italy became unified in 1860 the Perugini tore down this symbol of their oppression, tossed the bricks inside, built a beautiful piazza, gardens and fashionable palazzi and tried to forget it ever existed.

roccapaolina2However, by the 1970s Perugia had come to appreciate its buried treasure and began the work of restoration. A series of escalators were ingeniously designed so that folks from the lower part of this hilltop town could ride to the upper, inside its towering walls. Debris was cleared and restoration work continues to this day. The Rocca Paolina, once a thorn in the side and now a point of pride, is now the site of festivals and art exhibits and a museum that recounts the history of this fascinating city.

Rosemary and Bob Connelly

by Rosemary and Bob Connelly

Artists who fulfilled their dream to “Live Cheap and Make Art” in Italy. Their website showcases their watercolors and photographs.

7 Responses to “Rocca Paolina”

  1. What wonderful memories I have of my stay in Perugia at the Universita’ per Stranieri! Thanks for the Note, Signori Connelly.

  2. In the 80’s this seemed to be part of the evening commute. People zipping through the passages on their way down to the car park. Amazing.

    One of those stupendous things in Italy that I just tripped over by luck without any foreknowledge. What a surprise to find this “underground city”. And there it was, part of daily life in Perugia.

    Perhaps my favoritest place in Italy, by the way. Such a vibrant community. I’d happily stay there a long while.

    I wonder if they still have the annual peace march from Perugia to Assisi. Anyone know? I met so many wonderful people on that long walk. And the people who turned out to greet us cheered, church bells rang,…

  3. Thanks for the comments! The Rocca is a fascinating bit of Perugia history and one of my favorite places there too. I believe they do the Peace March – Marcia per la Giustizi e la Pace – from Perugia to Assisi every year. Bob and I lived in Perugia for eight months in 2005 and took the train to Assisi and then walked to the top of the mountain where the ruins of the castle look down on the city. It was incredible. Perhaps I will have to write a note about this and include some photos!

  4. jojo

    To quote a great man
    “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”
    c’è cambiando?

  5. Cousin Andrew

    Photos & sketch are great, wish we were there with you guys right now!
    Marnie & I loved our stay in Perugia. Will talk to you soon.

  6. Sharon & Walt

    Hi–Loving all of these little mini-trips to Italy. They keep my sanity in an otherwise insane world. S.


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