Riding high in Gubbio – Paradiso Ceramics Australia | Handmade in Italy


Riding high in Gubbio

Gubbio, the largest city in north eastern Umbria, sits on the slopes of Monte Ingino, a smallish mountain in the Apennines. It's easy to spend an enjoyable day exploring it's narrow winding streets, museums, galleries and shops. 

A street in Gubbio, Umbria
Ceramics in Gubbio

But there's another reason Gubbio is worth visiting.

Near the top of the mountain is the Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo which houses the body of the 12th-century Bishop Saint Ubaldo, kept on the main altar on a grand marble plinth in a glass case (amazingly well preserved for 800 years old!).

Parton Sain of Gubbio, Sant'Ubaldo, in the basilica in Gubbio.

As interesting as he is, the way you get to the church is even more interesting. 

You can either hike 40 minutes up a nearly-vertical road, or you can be more adventurous and take the Funivia or cable car.

Gubbio Funivia sign

The 'car' which will whisk you up (and later down) 360 or so vertical meters resembles a large bird cage, and it never stops.

That means that you stand and wait until it comes around and then (with the help of the attendant) take a flying leap into it and the door is slammed behind you.

It pays to be nimble getting onto the Funivia in Gubbio

If you are afraid of heights, don’t look down.

The trip takes about six minutes and, if you can let go of the bars that you are hanging onto for grim death, you can take spectacular photos of the surrounding countryside and the charming city of Gubbio as you climb higher.

View from the funivia in Gubbio

Spectacular views of Gubbio and countryside

Getting off the hanging basket has the same hazards as when you got on, except this time the attendant grabs you by the arm to swing you out of the moving cage.

You have arrived at a café of sorts but if your stomach isn’t up to eating yet, make your way up a rough path to the Basilica. 

The church is the finishing-point for the annual Saint Ubaldo Day procession on May 15th each year. The 'Corsa dei Ceri' procession includes a race between three teams of men each representing one of the town's three guilds. The participants dress in colourful ceraioli and carry three nearly-400-kilogram wooden stands and statues (Ceri) of their saints through the city to the city gates before sprinting up Mount Ingino to the basilica. 

Three teams shoulder giant ceri and run through the streets and up to the basilica of Sant-Ubaldo.

(Photo: https://giancarlomajocchi.com/project/festa-dei-ceri/)

The huge wooden ceris or candles are stored in the church so they’re worth having a look at too.

The huge ceri or wooden candles are stored in the Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo.

There is another restaurant nearby that must have the best view in Umbria. If your stomach has settled, stop here to replenish your energy for the trip back down.

The restuarant near Sant-Ubaldo basilica in Gubbio has wonderful views


Oh, and there's one other quirky reason to visit Gubbio. 

There's a 16th-century fountain known as Fontana Dei Matti ('fountain of the madmen') located directly on Via dei Consoli on the way uphill towards the Piazza Grande.

Fountain of the madmen in Gubbio

Tradition states that you can gain a license as a ‘madman of Gubbio’ by running around the fountain three times and then being baptized by its waters – but you need a local to perform the ritual! You will then receive a certificate saying how you gained your lunacy along with an honorary citizenship. 

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