The Best Things to Do in Gubbio, Italy

Gubbio's long and fascinating history is reflected in its impressive architecture
Gubbio's long and fascinating history is reflected in its impressive architecture | © 2checkingout / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Philipp Meier
12 October 2021

The ancient Italian city of Gubbio dates back to the Etruscan period, and its stunning architecture, ruins and museums chart the successive epochs perfectly, from Romanesque to Gothic and Baroque.

Set foot in Gubbio, a city in Central Italy’s Umbria region, and you’re instantly immersed in Roman antiquity and Middle Ages ideals. Whether you’re marvelling at the remains of ancient ruins or saintly murals linked to the town’s history, the best attractions in Gubbio give you a glimpse of everyday life across the centuries. Here’s Culture Trip’s pick of the must-visit sights in Gubbio.

Do your best gladiator impression at the Teatro Romano

Archaeological site, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Ancient ruins of the Amphitheater in Gubbio, Umbria, Italy
© travelbild-Italy / Alamy Stock Photo
Buried for centuries, the Middle Ages forgot about this Roman theatre, erected in the 1st century BCE. Now a museum with mosaics and a venue for Sophocles shows, the amphitheatre lies in Gubbio’s southwest under the watch of the Sant’Ubaldo mountain church. Some arched, Roman-typical brickwork colonnades are still intact. Sitting in the fan-shaped arena is like riding a time machine – you can almost hear the 6,000 spectators cheering for gladiators.

Ride the Funivia Colle Eletto

Sports Center, Natural Feature
Map View

Ever ridden a “birdcage” to a mountaintop? Funivia is a ski lift-like cable car that whisks you to Monte Ingino, standing in a rickety, hanging metal basket for six minutes while Gubbio shrinks into miniature below. At the summit, you can enjoy a cappuccino while catching some rays at the café, which is also a perfect place for taking in the dramatic mountain views stretching far and wide. Bolstered by caffeine, you can trek down, stopping for a picnic on the way.

Explore the Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo

Historical Landmark, Church, Architectural Landmark
Map View
basilica of sant'ubaldo in the fortress of gubbio umbria italy
© Massimo De Santis / Alamy Stock Photo
A short hike from the Funivia, the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo is a Roman Catholic church that overlooks the Umbrian valley. Built on pre-existing medieval structures featuring brick walls, it resembles a citadel. But walk through the arched cloister, and you’ll be gazing at five naves, a semi-circular apse and murals of saints linked to Gubbio’s history. Particularly intriguing are the Madonna and child between saints, and the town’s patron saint resting in a Neo-Gothic shrine above the altar, complete with stained glass windows illustrating Sant’Ubaldo’s life. There’s also a museum.

View the architecture of the Cattedrale dei Santi Marino e Giacomo

Church, Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Map View

Constructed over a 13th-century Romanesque church with a pointed portal, the Cathedral of Saints Mariano and Giacomo sits in the foothills of Mount Ingino. The cathedral’s red-brick exterior lends an aura of simplicity, but the contrast inside is stark. The mainly Gothic-style interior boasts a single cross-shaped nave propped up by 10 arches, and practically the whole place is adorned by 16th-century paintings and 14th-century fresco traces. The Baroque-tinged chapel provides an awe-inspiring experience as hushed voices and heeled shoes echo off stone floors.

Learn some gruesome history at Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo

Museum
Map View

In the heart of the historic San Martino neighbourhood you’ll find this 13th-century palace, which was the former private residence and public office of Cante Gabrielli, a counterweight to the then-noble political class. The Gothic-style palace with its distressed, monochromic limestone facade features ogival arches and is now a museum displaying torture devices. Opening its doors, you’ll be stepping inside gruesome medieval Europe.

Admire art and architecture at Palazzo dei Consoli

Historical Landmark
Map View
Gubbio, central Italy. From the top of this old town a suggestive view of the "Palazzo dei Consoli" a huge stone palace built in the medieval times
© Eugenio Pingo / Alamy Stock Photo
Completed in 1349 to create more public space following Gubbio’s rapid expansion, architectural genius Angelo da Orvieto designed this square palace with a battlement. His name is now inscribed above the portal’s arch. Beckoning in Gubbio’s pedestrian zone, this Gothic masterpiece overlooks Piazza Grande, a suspended terrace (the city’s political hub in the 14th century) and a bell tower rising above the formerly Praetorian town. You can access the palazzo’s arch entrance via fan-shaped stairs and dive into art and archaeology at the gallery and museum.

Bargello Palaza

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Formerly the police headquarters, this Gothic palace was built in the early 14th century. Striking though the structure may be – with its natural rock facade and arched windows – the palazzo owes its fame to the fountain at its front. Legend has it anyone who wants to be named a “madman” has to run around it three times and be baptised by a city resident with its water. The crossbow exhibition inside is just as interesting, whether or not you get your “madman” certificate.

To explore more of Italy, discover the best hotels in Bologna, or the best hotels in Positano. These are bookable with Culture Trip. During your Italian adventure, explore the best hiking trails in Sicily, and relax on the best beaches in Rome accessible by public transport. Make sure to also visit at least one of the best restaurants in Sardinia to sample some delicious Italian cuisine.

These recommendations were updated on October 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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