All about the what to see and do in Gubbio, central Italy.
Looking to find a town to visit full of charm and history off the standard Rome to Florence highway?
Gubbio is a quirky town with a big festival, lots of charm and a crazy hike-or cage ride. Found in the north east corner of Umbria, it could be that ‘off the beaten path’ you’re searching for.
It’s definitely a must if you’ve rented a car for while you’re in Umbria and want to take a relaxing day trip.
The catch about visiting Gubbio is that with out a car it isn’t easy to get too.
So Where is Gubbio, Umbria?
Gubbio is about an hours drive north, and slightly east, of Perugia.
Or a 2.5 hour drive from Florence and about 3 hours from Rome.
Which is probably why it doesn’t get as many tourists as other Umbrian towns like Spoleto or Orvieto. Those towns are easy to get to by train and are closer to major cities.
But Gubbio is well worth the hassle of getting there. It’s an easy, though windy, pretty hour’s drive northeast of Perugia. You can take the new fast highway, or meander along the windy road for a scenic drive.
If you’re coming from Tuscany, Gubbio is just an hour and a half away from Arezzo.
How easy is it to v
isit Gubbio with Public Transit?
To visit Gubbio, you need to head to the North Eastern corner of Umbria. From Perugia, the easiest way is to catch a bus for a couple of euros. In just over an hour you’ll be in Gubbio.
From Rome, a direct train from Roma Termini to Gubbio is around 13 euros and takes 2 hours and 40 minutes. But the train station isn’t nearby, it’s 24 km or 15 miles away. So you’ll have a 25 minute taxi ride into Gubbio.
Before you visit Gubbio: A Short History
The story of Gubbio goes back to the beginning of human history. People have lived in what is now Gubbio since the Bronze Age. The Umbrii, who the province of Umbria was named after, lived here before the Etruscans or the Romans.
Make sure to see the Iguvine Tablets which were found here in 1444. On them is the largest amount of writing in the Umbro alphabet.
From around 200 BC when the Romans conquered central Italy, Gubbio kept its Umbro name: Iguvine. Gubbio was an important Roman city and has the second largest surviving Roman theater in the world.
The town regained its long lost importance in the early middle ages, in the 10th to 11th century. But from then on for hundreds of years, Gubbio suffered from the battles and power struggles. In the 1400s it came under the control of the Montefeltro family from Urbino. They rebuilt the Palazzo Ducale, which you can admire today.
In the 1600s, with the rest of central Italy, Gubbio became part of the Papal States until the unification of Italy in 1860.
5 Things To See in Gubbio:
The Roman Theatre:
Just on the outskirts of Gubbio is an ancient open-air theater. Built in the 1st century BC using square blocks of local limestone, you can see traces of the original mosaic decorations. Originally this theater could hold 6,000 spectators. This Roman theater is the second biggest that has survived.
The Palace built from 1470 for Federico
On one side of the main piazza, it dates from the first half of the 14th century. This grand palace houses the Iguvine Tablets. The Ceri depart from here on May 15 to race around the town.
Built in the 12th century, this is one of my favourites as it hasn’t for the most part been renovated during the 17th century.
The Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo:
Feel like a hike? Take a beautiful walk up the hill behind Gubbio to find my favorite spot. To get there you must hike for around an hour up behind Gubbio. It’s a well-signed walk, with beautiful views overlooking the valley. The marble altar and the windows tell the story of the life of Ubald, the patron saint of Gubbio. There is a lovely little courtyard inside. The Ceri are
Unexpected Things to see in Gubbio: Dinosaurs, Massive Candles and Aqueducts
- On May 15th Gubbio celebrates their patron Saint by racing around to town with three wooden candles that weigh over 880 lbs. Read all about La Festa
- These wooden ‘candles’ are found in the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo which is above the town of Gubbio. Take the funivia, or chair lift, up the mountain and then walk down. It takes just over 5 minutes, they look like metal baskets and fit only 2 people. But you’ll get some impressive views. The cost is 4 euros one way and the walk back down is 45 minutes on foot. Here’s a link for more information.
- On December 8th Gubbio turns on the biggest Christmas tree. It’s a Christmas tree made of lights which covers the entire hill above Gubbio; a festive sight to begin the holiday season.
- Ever wonder how the theory of a meteorite hitting the earth 66 million years ago began? This theory of what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs began in Gubbio. Also known as the ‘Gubbio layer’ an American visiting noticed a layer of iridium (rare on earth, but plentiful in extraterrestrial comets and asteroids) on the side of a mountain that was exposed for a new road being built. You can see the layers of rocks just a five-minute drive up from Gubbio and the beginning of the next activity:
- Hike above Gubbio along a medieval aqueduct. To enjoy spectacular views begin at the car park above Gubbio. The walk is fairly flat and ends with the option of going up to Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo or down into the town of Gubbio. We even saw mountain goats climbing above and across from us.
Restaurants In Gubbio and What To Eat
On a budget or in a rush? Grab a Crescia. A flatbread sandwich from Gubbio, it can be vegan, vegetarian or contain only meat. Dress it up with a glass of wine or fill up your water bottle at a public tap and enjoy it on the run.
If you’re looking to stop at a bar before dinner for a drink and a snack I’d recommend Fecchi Alessandro Enoteca Di Gubbio for a spot with a variety of local wines at very affordable prices.
For a restaurant I haven’t been to many, but La Taverna del Lupo was great. We had the ‘menu of the day’ for 19 euros. It included a small starter, primo (pasta), second (meat and veg) and dessert.
Like most of Umbria, the area surrounding Gubbio is well known for black truffles. If you haven’t tried truffles yet, or if you’ve been enjoying them in other parts of Umbria, try pasta con
Wild boar, called
December is often when we visit Gubbio. And after a hike to The Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo,
If you do visit during the Christmas season, December 8th to January 6th, make sure that as you drive out of town to pull over and see the Christmas tree all lit up.
The People of Gubbio
While Gubbio is a town full of well preserved Gothic architecture, it’s also a town full of life.
For Catholics Gubbio is famous for the pilgrimages of St. Francis of Assisi.
The most famous story of Saint Francis’ time in Gubbio has him convincing a wolf to stop eating the townspeople.
And while the overall appearance of Gubbio is a rather dull grey compared to the sparkling pink stone in Assisi or Perugia, Gubbio oozes charm and character.
The city is full of life, art, and flowers and the grey stones are an excellent backdrop.
And the locals are rather quirky.
They are happy to be referred to as ‘i
When Should You Visit Gubbio?
Any season is a good time for a visit to Gubbio.
In December Gubbio’s famous for their Christmas decorations.
In August it’s a great spot to escape the Italian heat and join the mountain goats with a hike up above Gubbio.
And winter, summer, and autumn bring world-class truffles.
And spring brings what Gubbio is famous for all over Italy; their festival la Festa
Any day of the year you can spend exploring the piazzas and Roman ruins, enjoy an
What you should see after Gubbio?
What should you do after a day or two in Gubbio?
You could drive into Le Marche and find the town of Urbino.
Or stay in Umbria and continue north to Citta di Castello on your way into Tuscany.
Either way, have a great time in Gubbio.
Kate, I didn’t see the link to Gubbio until after I sent the last post. This city will be our base camp and it looks wonderful . Question, we are renting a car in Venice but I am starting to wonder if we might be better to just take trains. One hour to Perugia and no worries about parking. Same with other places on our wish list.
Katy Thomas says
I think you’ll want to have a car for at least part of the time. The train station in Gubbio is not close to the historic town, and you’re going to spend a fair amount of time with infrequent trains and buses. But I do love trains, and you can make it work for half your trip. A great source for all things trains is http://www.seat61.com For parking, I would download an app, parkopedia, that shows you all the parking options in any town and shows good free parking spots.