Umbria

Papacy and Religiousness


In the medieval period the events of Umbria became ever closer to those of Rome caused by the influence of the pontefix (also with the opposition of the Emperor) going to and gaining the Longobardy territory.
In the XII century the vigorous flowering of the phenomenon of municipalities throughout the region (Perugia, Assisi, Foligno, Spoleto, Terni, Todi, Orvieto, Gubbio and Cittą di Castello) it was accompanied by the attempts of the Popes to declare the same municipalities Papal sovereignty. There is testimony to that influence by the monasteries, above all those Benedictine, strongholds of the preservation of the classic pagan culture and of the new Christian, indisbutable centres of excersising the arts and the technical-scientific experimentations in the area of medicine, science and agriculture; but there are also numerous testimonies to Parish churches, Abbeys and religious orders which flourished throughout the region and which gave birth to Saint Francis, Saint Benedict of Norcia, Saint Clare, and to the popular Saint Rita da Cascia. Which was also flanked by the minor friars and the minor nuns, rich laymen who stripped off all property for Christ, abandoning the world to concentrate their activities in good works. In 1260 there came about the lay movement of disciplined followers tied to the strong Franciscan experience. In these monasteries there is perserved a great part of the historical testimonies and of Umbrian traditions in the areas of cultivation, production of produce and culinary use marked by frugality, to the care, in a word, of the capacity of doing a lot with a little which still characterises the culinary art of Umbria. The strict observation of the "Eve" days, during the periods in which the Church imposed the «abstinence from eating meat» has certainly influenced daily cooking which still today frequently concentrates on vegetables, greens and aromatic herbs to enrich and flavour even the most simple foods and have always valued fish and other products of the rivers and lakes.
It is certainly in the monasteries that there have been handed down the instructions for making liqueurs such as the rosolio di cedar, the anisette, the elixir of cinchona, and the Archermes, all genuine and that are obtained by placing in an infusion of spirits at 37° grade of alcohol, cinnamon regina, coriander, nutmeg, mace (the membrane which winds around the seed of the nutmeg), cinchona pitaia, cloves and vanilla.
Broad autonomy nevertheless succeeded in preserving the Umbrian municipalities for the internal composition as well as the reciprocal relationship marked by the conflicts of the major centres - above all Perugia - in dominating those smaller and the fighting between the Guelph cities - like Perugia - and those Ghibelline - such as Orvieto. And in this climate of autonomous municipal pride there are the popular feasts which were celebrated and are still celebrated today such as: the Corsa dei Ceri and the Palio of the Balestra of Gubbio, the Giostra of the Quintana of Foligno, the Corsa of the Anello of Narni and the Historical Court of Corpus Domini of Orvieto, only to mention the most important.