Umbrian Comuni - Comune di Montefalco
||Casale, Cemete, Fabbri, Fratta, Monte Pennino, Pietrauta, San Luca, Turrita
||Piazza del Commune, Montefalco
||0039 0742 378673
||0039 0742 379506
Montefalco is yet another of Umbria's many hill-top towns. It looks out across the valleys of the rivers Clitunno and Topino (the same river which starts not far from our home in Valtopina). It has been continuously settled since the time of the Umbri - the original Italic tribe which colonised the region and for which Umbria is named after. Since then it has been governed by The Romans, The Lombards and The Vatican until the unification of Italy in 1861. For a while in the Middle Ages, it was known as 'Coccorone'.
Montefalco has two traditional and world-known claims to fame (if one chooses to disregard the unsightly concrete water tower which nowadays dominates the landscape from the top of the hill adjacent to the town).
The town has many historic buildings which relate back to the time of the Poor Clares who were based there during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. St Clare (also known as St Clare of The Cross) was born in the town and died there in 1308.
The other main reason why people flock to the town is the local Sagrantino wine which is famous the world over. This wine is produced from highly-regulated vineyards which must be situated in either the Comune di Montefalco or one small part of Bevagna in order to qualify. Each year visitors are encouraged to follow the 'Strada del Sagrantino' by the numerous roadsigns promoting this particularly expensive tipple.
There are literally hundreds of acres of vines growing on the Umbrian hillsides - but one need have no doubt as to whether they are Sagrantino vines or not. If they are, the numerous signs promoting the product will make it obvious. To be approved is a serious matter - partly for the financial implications (the difference between charging a Euro a litre and several Euros a glass!) but also for the status attached to being an official Sagrantino grower.
Every Easter there is the Settimana Enologica (Wine Week) during which there is an opportunity to try (and an even bigger opportunity to buy) a case or two of either Sagrantino or the cheaper Rosso.
Montefalco is a little bit off of the beaten track which has perhaps fortunately saved it from becoming too over-run with tourists. That said, there are still thousands of visitors each year and, as a result, accommodation and property prices in the town are markedly higher than in the surrounding Comuni. There is no train service (except to Foligno) and the buses from there to Montefalco are somewhat erratic.
The best way to reach the area is by car - take your time and tour Bevagna, Gualdo Cattaneo and Trevi while you are at it. All four towns are of the medieval fortified variety and give a good 'taste' of what life must have been like in times gone by.
Unless you are particularly interested in the local history, attending Wine Week or the buying some wine then, although it is still definitely a 'must see', do remember that there are many other fascinating places in Umbria so don't spend all your time in Montefalco!
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