The cathedral is certainly one of the town’s oldest buildings. According to legend, it rises on the ruins of an old temple dedicated to the Goddess of Happiness built by Pliny the Younger in the 1st century CE. The perimeter of the old temple is visible on the crypt floor.
The beginnings of the cathedral go back to the patron saint of Città di Castello, St. Florido, who with St. Amantius rebuilt the town after a siege by the Goths in 542 CE.
The Cathedral has been modified and restored many times over the centuries. The round bell tower is testimony to the restoration work done in the 9th century, while the north side and its portal date back to the late 14th century.
The current appearance of the Cathedral was created during the Renaissance from 1494 to 1529. The 17th-century façade is unfinished and the main staircase was built in the late 19th century.
The basilica was planned on a Latin Cross and has a central nave with side chapels. The 17th-century panelled ceiling, with its cornices, friezes and rose windows, was created by local masters. The floor and baptistery were realised in the early 1800s by masters from Pisa.
Church of St. Dominic
This monumental church is a large and imposing building with one nave and a trussed roof. The façade is unfinished and the portal on the left side dates back to the 1400s. As you enter the church, you are immediately struck by the sheer size of the interior and the austerity of the medieval architecture, which was restored in the early 1900s. The church contains several partially ruined frescos attributed to masters of the schools in Umbria and Marche.
Church of St. Francis
The church dates back to the 14th century and has preserved its original Latin Cross plan and various external elements from that period. The 18th century restoration work is especially evident inside, where it was completely redone in a baroque style between 1707 and 1718. During the Renaissance, the church contained works by major artists of that time: Raphael painted a “Marriage of the Virgin” for the Franciscans (now in the Brera Museum in Milan), Luca Signorelli painted an “Adoration of the Shepherds” (now in the National Gallery in London) and Giorgio Vasari created a Chapel for Vitelli Family (the first on the left when entering from the back of the church).
Sanctuary of Madonna of Belvedere
On a hilltop five kilometres from the historic centre of Città di Castello stands the baroque Sanctuary of the Madonna of Belvedere.
The building has a semi-circular portico with a vault supported by large pillars, above which the windows of the sanctuary rooms look out. The church is planned on a Greek cross with four short arms covered by a dome placed between two majestic bell towers. From a distance, the complex appears as a large, round church and is often compared to the famous Sanctuary of the Madonna of St. Luke in Bologna due to its similar shape and hilltop position. The church interior is embellished with plasterwork and decorations realised by the famous local plasterer Antonio Milli in the 1700s.
The pillars have 12 niches containing plaster statues of the town’s patron saints: St. Crescentino, St. Cordonio, Blessed Margaret, St. Illuminato, St. James, St. Amantius, St. Florido, St. Peter, St. Donino and St. Paul.