Umbria’s City of Silence, Forgotten in the Passage of Time
An austere, proud mountain outpost, the tiny no-nonsense stone town of Gubbio hangs on to its medieval charm and authentic flavor. Despite its growing popularity with off-the-beaten-trackers looking for a classically picturesque hill town minus day-tripping hordes, Gubbio remains a sleepy backwater stop.
Its lack of big-time tourist attractions and out-of-the-way location are responsible for much of its appeal—and the reason it retains its nickname, City of Silence. Set into the rugged, steep slope of forest-clad Mount Ingino, Gubbio was a modestly prosperous Roman settlement, Iguvium, as is obvious from the ancient Roman amphitheater that sits at the foot of today’s town.
But it is the Eugubium of the Dark Ages, when this was a busy little market center, that one senses most here. All roads lead to the much-photographed central square, the Piazza Grande, whose austere grandeur makes it easy to imagine the harsh atmosphere of medieval life.
From 1387 to 1508, the Montefeltro counts of nearby Urbino ruled the town, putting up visiting emissaries at their aristocratic guest quarters. They have recently been reborn as the Hotel Relais Ducale, offering the same vistas of the Piazza Grande and the Umbrian plains that must have dazzled the dukes’ guests of yore.