"Palazzo Ducale: master view and magic art" Top 5 Page for this destination Gubbio Things to Do Tip by Trekki
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After a few minutes walk along Via della Cattedrale the outer buildings of Palazzo Ducale come into sight, some of which are partly still damaged from 1997’s earthquake. The entrance to the palazzo areal easy to see: the portcullis is open. Some fascinating frescoes, albeit partly damaged or otherwise gone, are inside the archway. And there is also a hole in the wall at a bit higher level (maybe from the earthquake) where the wooden beams and part of the wall construction can be seen. When I stepped out onto the terrace (photo 2) for the first time in April 2008 I found a magnificent view over Gubbio’s houses and the surroundings. Palazzo dei Consoli and its bell tower stick out like the symbol of the town. The small kiosk offers life saving snacks and caffè, but that is a story for the restaurant section.
On the way further uphill (only a few metres though) I saw the fascinating façade of Palazzo Ducale, realised in a kind of illusion painting, suggesting “diamonds” (photo 3). The palace can be visited, and only in August 2010 I managed to do just this, with a special guide: Marcello Minelli, patriarch of the Minelli family, who have a restoration business in Gubbio and who have made the replica of Federico da Montefeltro’s Studiolo. This magnificent wood inlay work was made for Palazzo Ducale in Gubbio in 15th century but was stolen in 18th century and was in private hands for a long time. Metropolitan Museum in New York purchased it 1939 and it is now on display there. In 2000, with the help of funds and organisations in Gubbio, the Minelli family begun with the reconstruction of Studiolo. In October 2009 the work was finished and Gubbio’s Studiolo officially opened for the public. So it was fascinating to walk into the room with Marcello and listen to his explanations of how difficult it was to find wood old enough for this work and how they created the three dimensional illusions, this work is so famous for. Photography isn’t allowed inside the palazzo, and even if I was allowed to take photos, I promised the staff not to publish these. But then, on the Met’s website the original Studiolo is described in many photos. And, local Danae Film Production made a short video Studiolo in Gubbio and a slightly longer explanatory video about Studiolo.
Update, Feb 2013: I just discovered that Minelli family has an own Youtube channel and has made a fantastic video about the studiolo and ist reproduction => here
But it is not only the Studiolo what makes a visit to Palazzo Ducale a must in Gubbio. It is their huge collection of artwork of Mastro Giorgio, the local ceramic artist who became famous for having invented the lustre technology. When I was in the Palazzo in August 2010, they also had a fascinating exhibition about Dante and his Divina Commedia. Again it was also Minelli family who made the showcase woodwork with amazing inlay work for the printed versions of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. In addition, as permanent exhibition or rather illusion: holographic techniques by Paolo Buroni bring Federico da Montefeltro back to his Palazzo in Gubbio. He talks to an angel and there is a holographic puzzle on the floor which is being activated when people walk over this part of the floor. To my delight I found that there is a short video about Famtasma di Montefeltro on youtube.
So yes, it is well worth to visit Palazzo Ducale and I am a bit ashamed that it took me two years to do this. On the other hand, I could not have had a better guide than Marcello Minelli. Grazie mille Marcello for your time and explanations!!
The Palazzo’s website (see website section) is still under construction in parts. But it already gives a good overview on their photo collection (Galleria), and also has some sketches of the palazzo’s architecture.
Opening hours, Palazzo Ducale:
Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Entrance fee: 2 € for adults, 1 € for students (18-25 years), free for kids until 18 and adults over 65.
Palazzo Ducale on Google Maps
© Ingrid D., February 2009, complete revamp and photo exchange, December 2010 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Address: Gubbio, Palazzo Ducale
Directions: From Piazza Grande, walk uphill (either way) and step out on the terrace of Palazzo Ducale.
Phone: +39 - 075 - 927 58 72
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