Here is what to see in Foligno, one of the most fascinating towns in Umbria. We will guide you to discover squares, monuments, events and natural oases. We will also recommend the genuine gastronomic specialities not to be missed.
We are in the heart of verdant Umbria, in the province of Perugia, in one of the most evocative villages for its rich artistic, historical and cultural heritage. Not to mention the food and wine specialities…
Foligno breathes in the quietness of the countryside, preserving traces of a fascinating past. Its historical centre, the old town, is surrounded by medieval walls lapped by the Topino river, beyond which you can discover the ancient heart of the town with its beautiful squares and most important monuments.
It was here that the Umbrians first settled, in the 10th century B.C., then the Romans and, after them, the Barbarians. Disputed between the Church and the Papacy, a battleground between the Guelphs and Ghibellines in the late Middle Ages, Foligno was already seen as ‘lu centru de lu munnu‘ in those days.
Yes, you got it right, according to legend and the local culture that took shape from it, we are right in the centre of the world. Foligno is thus known for its central position in our peninsula, once considered the centre of Europe and the Mediterranean. Whether or not it is the navel of the world, there is no doubt that the small medieval town is at the centre of its Umbria.
And we will now talk about what to see in Foligno, starting from its characteristic old town! 👇
Visiting Foligno in a day
The Foligno to see is all gathered in its historic centre. It is here that the town’s art, culture and history are concentrated. Visiting Foligno, therefore, takes at most half a day. Not counting a break for lunch to taste the typical dishes and local specialities.
If your time allows you to spend here an entire weekend, you can also discover the delightful surroundings of Foligno: Spoleto, Bevagna, Spello, Montefalco, Assisi, Trevi, Colfiorito, Rasiglia… In any case, get ready for a full and rich holiday, because there is more to see in Foligno than just the town. We will also give you advice on what to do, including events and excursions.
- For those arriving by car, bear in mind that the town is a Limited Traffic Zone (ZTL), but offers plenty of parking opportunities: on-street parking (usually paid/blue stripes), in public car parks, or in private ones. Outside the ZTL zone is the central car park (2.00 euro per hour all day), which can be accessed from Via Pascoli.
- Those arriving by train, on the other hand, will be happy to know that from the station it is only a 5-minute walk to the center.
What to visit in Foligno, the Medieval Town
We are ready and you? Our starting point is the historic centre, the old heart of the town, small but rich in treasures and imbued with an evocative medieval atmosphere.
1. Historic Centre of Foligno
Enclosed by ancient medieval walls, you can visit the historic centre of Foligno on foot or by bicycle, getting lost in the maze of streets and alleys that flow into the squares with their churches and buildings to visit. Our tour begins in one of Foligno’s most important squares, Piazza della Repubblica.
2. Piazza della Repubblica
In Piazza della Repubblica you can visit the most important buildings in Foligno: Palazzo Comunale, Palazzo dei Podestà, Palazzo Trinci and the Cathedral of Foligno.
Palazzo Comunale is a majestic neoclassical building rebuilt between 1546 and 1642. Four letters stand out on the tower: S.P.Q.F. acronym for ‘Senatus Populusque Fulginei’ = ‘The Senate and People of Foligno’. The inscription dates back to the times when Foligno was municipium and then independent municipality, from ancient Rome to the Middle Ages.
But this square also remains memorable because it was here that St. Francis divested himself of his material goods to dedicate himself to works of charity. Opposite the Palazzo Comunale, take note of the small bronze monument and the plaque that says that it was here that St. Francis decided to sell his clothes and his horse to restore the Church of San Damiano in Assisi.
3. Cathedral of San Feliciano (Foligno Cathedral)
Next to Palazzo Trinci is the Cathedral of Foligno (1133), an architectural marvel not to be missed, a fine example of Umbrian Romanesque architecture, built where St. Feliciano was buried in 251 AD.
The most interesting features of the Cathedral are the typical white and pink Subasio stone, rose windows and biforas (windows with two openings divided by a small column). It is worth seeing the façade of the church in Piazza della Repubblica for its Romanesque-style portal and decorations: bas-reliefs in classical style depicting bishops and emperors, the Symbols of the Evangelists and the Signs of the Zodiac.
The interior of the Cathedral is Neoclassical-style. The architect Giuseppe Piermarini, designer of Milan’s La Scala Theatre, was responsible for the renovation. Once inside, what immediately catches the eye is the gilded wooden Baldacchino by Andrea Calcioni, a reproduction of St Peter’s Baldachin by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Next to the Cathedral is the Palazzo delle Canoniche, home to the Diocesan Museum.
4. Trinci Palace
Palazzo Trinci is definitely worth seeing patrician residence, right next to the Palazzo Comunale, and accessed by climbing an imposing Gothic staircase.
We are still in Piazza della Repubblica, where you can visit this splendid late Gothic building from the 15th century, once the residence of the Trinci lords, governors of Foligno from 1305 to 1439. After the end of the Trinci lordship, when Foligno was annexed to the Church, the palace became the residence of the papal governors until the Unification of Italy.
At the present, it houses several museums: the Pinacoteca Civica and the Archaeological Museum, the Giuseppe Piermarini Hall, the Institution Museum and the Multimedia Museum of Jousts and Tournaments.
The Pinacoteca houses wonderful early 15th century frescoes from local churches.
In the Archaeological Museum you can see relics and findings like tombstones and statuettes from the Colfiorito area. The Palace is surprising for the pictorial decorations executed in the 15th century by Gentile da Fabriano, and for its frescoed halls. You can visit the Hall of the Liberal Arts and Planets, the Hall of the Giants, a representation of the seven ages of man; the Domus Romana with its mosaics and the fascinating suspension bridge connecting Palazzo Trinci to the Cathedral.
5. Printing Museum, one of Italy’s first printing houses
Our itinerary includes the Printing Museum in Palazzo Orfini Podestà, located in Piazza della Repubblica adjacent to Palazzo Podestà with which it forms a single complex but being distinct from it. This is why it is called ‘Palazzo Orfini Podestà’.
It was here that a pupil of Gutenberg, the cleric Johannes Numeister, printed the first edition of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy in 1472. Only the first page is now present in the Museum, the rest is in Florence. The museum preserves early prints, paper production and publishing in Foligno from the 15th century to the present day.
6. Church of the Holy Trinity in Annunziata with the Cosmic Magnet, also known as the “Scheletrone” (the big Skeleton)
In the deconsecrated Church of the Holy Trinity in Annunziata you can see one of the most important and debated sculptures of the 20th century, the “Calamita Cosmica” by Gino De Dominicis.
The conceptual work, according to the artist, represents symbolic dichotomies of existence: life in its dual form, real and spiritual, life and death, earth and sky, mortality and immortality. The ‘skeleton’, as the work is also called, is a faithful reproduction of a human skeleton over 20 meters long with a bird’s beak instead of a nose.
7. Piazza Garibaldi
In Piazza Garibaldi it’s worth visiting the architectural complex composed of historical buildings such as the Church of Sant’Agostino, the Collegiate Church of San Salvatore and the Statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi. Originally, the Collegiate Church of San Salvatore was an ancient Benedictine abbey, built between the 10th and 12th centuries.
8. Church of Santa Maria Infraportas
Not far from the centre, in Piazza San Domenico, there is the small Romanesque-style Church of Santa Maria Infraportas (1138), one of the oldest in Foligno.
Infraportas means ‘between the old and new walls’, representing the position of the church when the walls of Foligno were extended in 1300. The church stands where there was once an 8th century chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, St Peter and St Paul. Inside, medieval frescoes decorate the oldest walls.
9. Nunziatella Oratory
In Foligno you can’t miss this small Renaissance-style oratory, which in the 16th century was the home of a wealthy merchant, Nicolò di Giacomo.
The house turned into a church when the fresco of the Virgin Annunziata became the reason for pilgrimage due to the miracles attributed to it. The other noteworthy fresco is ‘The Baptism of Jesus’ painted between 1497 and 1507 by Perugino, Raphael’s master, known as the ‘divine painter’.
What to see in Foligno?
Here is a summary of the 9 attractions not to be missed
- Foligno Old Town
- Piazza della Repubblica
- Cathedral of San Feliciano or Duomo of Foligno
- Trinci Palace
- Printing Museum
- SS. Trinità in Annunziata Church with the Cosmic Magnet
- Garibaldi Square
- Church of Santa Maria Infraportas
- Nunziatella Oratory
Visiting Foligno and its surroundings
We have advised you on what to see in Foligno to have a nice tour of the historic centre. Now, as promised, if you have time, let’s explore its surroundings.
The Abbey of Santa Croce in Sassovivo
A visit to the Abbey in Sassovivo represents a wonderful natural and architectural spectacle. And you won’t even have to go too far from Foligno to reach it.
The Benedictine complex founded in 1802 is about 6 kilometers from the centre of Foligno, at the foot of Monte Serrone. The sensation is that of entering a timeless dimension. A beautiful sensation that takes one away from the present for a few moments. Accomplices of the ‘here and now’, the contemplative spirituality of the place, the nature surrounding the abbey located on a spur of rock, embraced by silent, majestic woods and olive trees.
The Abbey is made of stone, in Romanesque-style and consists of the cloister through which one enters the monastery and the refectory. Note, here, on the back wall the 1595 fresco depicting the ‘Last Supper’.
Church of Santa Maria Giacobbe
In Pale di Foligno, traveling along State Road 77 towards Colfiorito, you will find this sanctuary, the Church (an hermitage) of Santa Maria Giacobbe.
You will be impressed by the charming location of the hermitage set in the rock of Monte Pale, 525 meters above sea level. You have to climb 305 steps to reach it and when you get up to the church, it offers you a marvelous panorama over the Menotre river valley. But be careful when it’s raining or when it’s too hot.
From Pale you can also reach the Menotre Waterfalls. You can park the car below and walk along the path leading to the waterfalls. There are more than one, the first being the largest one flanked by a cave. At the end of the path, you arrive at the small village of Pale.
The path may be impracticable at certain times of the year, when it’s raining, in case of frost or excessive heat; for children and people who are less trained or have unsuitable shoes.
Colfiorito with the Regional Park and Archaeological Museum
In Colfiorito, along the Val di Chienti state road 77, you can have a wonderful time
- if you love nature and excursions
- and/or if you are fascinated by the idea of discovering traces of ancient civilisations.
The first stop is at the Regional Park you can explore by bike or in a trekking outfit to discover the wonderful vegetation and the animal species living in the park. A beautiful example of Biodiversity.
The other is a visit to the MAC – the small Archaeological Museum, a cultural treasure of archeological artifacts found at the nearby archaeological site. For those who wish to go deeper, the tour is interactive with an app that reads the barcodes on the display cases.
If you are here in August, you can join and enjoy the Potato Festival. The event is famous for its specialities and its rich cultural agenda.
Just 18 kilometers from Foligno you can reach Rasiglia also known as Borgo dei Ruscelli or ‘Umbria’s Little Venice’ due to the many streams that flow through its narrow streets, close to the houses by the Capovena spring.
Rasiglia is a very small village to visit the best when it’s not overcrowded during holidays or weekends.
About 9 kilometers from Foligno you can reach Spello, a very characteristic village due to its position overlooking the Umbrian Valley.
Spello is a city of art with a very ancient history, famous for its colorful Infiorate (flower processions). The event attracts many visitors every year on the occasion of Corpus Domini. Inserted in the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Spello also offers much from an artistic point of view. There are many churches frescoed by artists who have made history, such as Pinturicchio.
Montefalco and Bevagna
In the heart of Umbria, not far from Foligno, Assisi and Spello, there are these two medieval towns, Montefalco and Bevagna known also for the production of some of the best DOCG wines in the world, Sagrantino di Montefalco.
Montefalco is known as the ‘railing of Umbria’ for its breathtaking views of the enchanting views from its walls. Alleys, churches, historical buildings, a beautiful sight at every corner of the town. And of course, here you can also taste the good Rosso di Montefalco wine.
Bevagna, a small village full of charm for its churches, monasteries and Roman ruins, is also surprising for its medieval atmosphere.
Assisi is one of the most beautiful villages you can visit around Foligno. One of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the world, the city of St. Francis and St. Clare goes back over centuries.
The monuments not to be missed are the Basilica of St. Francis, the Basilica of St. Clare, the Cathedral of San Rufino and the Hermitage of the Prisons, declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
But Assisi also has civil buildings not to be missed: the Ancient Roman Temple of Minerva, dating back to 40-30 BC, and the imposing Rocca Maggiore.
If you want to ‘lose yourself’ in nature, you can reach the Regional Park of Monte Subasio, a protected natural area that embraces the Fosso dell’Eremo delle Carceri.
What to do in Foligno
We have seen what to see in and around Foligno. Now let’s see what to do and the most interesting activities if you love green spaces and open-air activities, art and culture, or if you are intrigued by the idea of discovering local food and wines.
If you love art, don’t miss the events at CIAC, Centro Italiano per l’Arte Contemporanea, housed in a structure obtained by a former dairy from the early 1900s. Plays and concerts all year round at the Auditorium San Domenico in Piazza San Domenico.
If you love nature, we recommend a trip to the beautiful and relaxing Canapé Park in the heart of Foligno, dating back to 1776. The name comes from the 80 canapés (brick armchairs) surrounding the park.
Along Via Flaminia, between Spoleto and Foligno, at Campello sul Clitunno, you can find the delightful Fonti del Clitunno Park. Another beautiful opportunity to take a walk in nature, surrounded by small lakes, aquatic plants, fish, birds, ducks and swans.
At one time, the springs were considered sacred, places of worship in honor of the God Jupiter Clitunno, for whom the Tempietto was built, a testimony to the ancient Longobard past. Today, the small temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the circuit ‘Lombards in Italy: places of power’.
There is not only Foligno to see but also to eat!
And here we come to the tastiest part of our itinerary. What does Foligno cuisine offer?
Like any traditional Italian village, Foligno offers local specialities and typical products: fresh pasta, meat, salumi, cheese, truffles, mushrooms, local wines and olive oil…
You should taste Umbricelli alla Norcina or ‘al Rancetto’. The latter is prepared with pancetta, tomato, pecorino cheese and marjoram. Umbricelli are a typical Umbrian fresh pasta format, as Stringozzi.
Among the appetizers or for a quick lunch, you can taste ‘torta al testo’. It might look like a cake but it is a flatbread made of flour, water and olive oil.
Umbria is famous for the scents of the undergrowth. And here you can taste the Umbrian truffle or other kinds of local mushrooms.
Main courses are prepared with pork or game meat, accompanied by the local wines, such as Sagrantino or Rosso di Montefalco, just to name the two most famous DOCGs.
Foligno is also known for its prized Extra Virgin Olive Oil, promoted by the Città dell’Olio circuit.
If you love dessert we recommend the traditional Rocciata, a pastry made of wheat flour, water and olive oil to be filled with a mixture of apples, walnuts and sugar. You may find different versions, depending on the additions to the filling (jam, cocoa, sultanas, dried figs, pine nuts).
Depending on when you come to Foligno, you can find some events dedicated to local flavours, music and folklore:
- I Primi d’Italia Festival
- Young Jazz festival
- Foligno Quintana Joust
I Primi d’Italia Festival
The only National Festival dedicated to pasta, soups, rice, polenta… the so-called “I Primi d’Italia” takes place in the historic center of Foligno. Between the end of September and the first days of October, you can take part in this great culinary parade of typical products and ingredients in the town. Four days of tastings, cooking lessons, workshops, demonstrations and shows.
Young Jazz festival
The Young Jazz Festival is the musical event that attracts many visitors every year at the end of May. The squares, courtyards, streets, parks and clubs of Foligno dress up for the occasion offering parallel events: reading, writing, dance, cinema.
The Giostra of Quintana, a knighthood tournaments
Among the things to see in Foligno, there is also a characteristic historical event, a fine opportunity to visit the town: the ‘Giostra della Quintana’. The historical event recalls the medieval past with its ancient tournaments with challenges recurring in June and September since 1946.
Performances and parades of ladies and knights in medieval and baroque costumes animate the streets. Celebrations end with a competition on horseback and festivities in the Piazza Grande.
How to get to Foligno
By car, if you arrive from the North:
- A1 (Firenze – Roma) Autostrada del Sole, exit Bettolle Valdichiana superstrada E45, exit Foligno
- Adriatic Highway A14 (Bologna – Taranto), exit Cesena Nord, E45, Perugia – Assisi – Foligno.
If arriving from South:
- A1 Autostrada del Sole (Rome – Florence), exit Orte, Terni – Foligno, exit Foligno Sud
- Adriatica A14 (Bologna – Taranto), exit Civitanova Marche, Foligno S.S. 77.
- Florence – Rome
- Rome – Orte
Now that you know what to see in Foligno, we wish you a good trip to Umbria!