Among the most characteristic villages of Umbria and Italy, Bettona is a small town of 4,000 inhabitants in the province of Perugia. Its historic center is a little gem protected by walls of great architectural interest. But what makes this place truly unique and fascinating is the panoramic hilltop setting, where the view stretches from Perugia to Assisi, up to Spello, passing over wide green fields. A perfect destination for a relaxing stay, discovering good food and traditions of this region. Here are some useful suggestions for your visit!
Sightseeing: in and out the walls of the old town
Bettona looks like the typical medieval town, although its origins date back to the Etruscan period as witnessed by some sections of the imposing walls, the first thing you’ll see at your arrival. They stretch for about 1 km and the oldest parts can be easily recognised because of the big square sandstones they’re made with. After passing through one of the gateways and crossing some of the main streets, you will find yourself in the squares Piazza Cavour and Piazza Garibaldi with its fountain. Here is where the main buildings stand: the Town Hall of the fourteenth century, Baglioni Palace, the Biancalana and Podesta Palaces, seats of the Museum of Bettona and the church of San Crispolto, which houses the relics of the patron saint. The Museum, now accessible from the new entry-bookshop at number 3 of Piazza Cavour, is organised into three distinct sections: the archaeological collection with artefacts found during the nineteenth century including Etruscan objects, architectural terracotta products, ceramics, sculptures of the late Hellenistic period and marbles of the Roman period; the Art gallery established at the beginning of the twentieth century, which includes many paintings by different local artists from the sixteenth to the late seventeenth century and finally a section of contemporary art with works coming mostly from churches and other religious buildings. You might be interested to know that in the section of the Archaeological Museum of Biancalana Palace you can access the medieval well, almost 23 metres deep, found in the center of the square Piazza Cavour during some paving works.
The church of San Crispolto is definitely the oldest religious place of Bettona. It was erected by the monks around the eighth century and born as a mausoleum to enclose the Saint’s remains. The current façade was rebuilt in 1800, while the bell tower in Romanesque style belongs to the original building. In the immediate vicinity there is also the small Oratory of Sant’Andrea of the thirteenth century, where you will find a series of frescoes from the school of Giotto depicting the Passion of Christ. Of great charm is also the high church of Bettona Santa Maria Maggiore, which has very ancient origins testified by the Gothic chapel. Inside, in addition to several frescoes, there are paintings and other works of great interest. According to legend, this church was built on the house of the first person saved by a miracle of San Crispolto. In the surroundings you can also visit Torre del Molinaccio, Villa del Boccaglione, an Eighteenth-century aristocratic residence and the Etruscan hypogeum from the second century BC in the small town of Colle. You cannot miss a peaceful walk outside the walls, making a stop in one of the many viewpoints overlooking the entire valley of Umbria.
To taste: typical products and dishes
As any decent town of Umbria, Bettona offers quality wine and oil, products related to farming and pigmeat processing.
If you decide to stop here for a bite, you should try the various dishes based on goose, which made this place really popular: goose livers, tagliatelle with goose sauce, roasted goose. As alternative, you can always opt for a mixed grill or roasted pork.
No doubt there will be plenty of occasions to taste the famous and typical torta al testo, stuffed to taste. The excellent local wines, such as Grechetto, Trebbiano and Sangiovese, will perfectly match with this cuisine!
Events and traditions
Bettona is rich in traditions and throughout the year there are lots of shows and events! The Patronal feast of St. Crispolto on May the 12th is among the main events and includes the fair devoted to the Saint. In the months of May and June local wineries open to visitors, who can taste the wine of the Etruscan hills. During Easter there are some really evocative celebrations, whereas the classic infiorata is organised for the feast of Corpus Christi. The International Horse Festival and the Festival of Sports in the first half of July are probably the most anticipated appointments. During July and August evenings are enlivened by the event ”Bettona under the stars” with dances, music, theatre and poetry. In the first week of August the Festival of the Roasted Goose takes place, with different tastings of dishes based on goose meat. On the 8th of September people celebrate the Madonna del Ponte and in November the olive oil mills open and offer their natural products. Finally in December the small streets of the town become the setting to an extraordinary living Nativity.
To enjoy your stay in Umbria and experience local habits and traditions of this territory, I suggest you these three villas, equipped with every comfort.