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Thanks to its enchanting geographic position, at the top of a charming hill (473 metres) rising up in the centre of the Clitunno, Topino and Tevere valleys, the city is known as the "Balcony of Umbria".

The origins

It is equally celebrated for the frescoes in its churches, which make it an essential reference for understanding Umbrian painting. Moreover, its sanctuaries are, for religious tourism, an important part, almost all still to be discovered, of Umbrian spirituality. Montefalco has been an inhabited centre since remotest antiquity. Probably a rural district, the memory of its past is preserved in a rare epigraph of the 'marone' (an ancient Umbrian magistrate). During the Roman period the hill was populated by patrician villas, the memory of which is preserved in local place names: Assegnano, Camiano, Colverano, Rignano, Satriano, Vecciano. Numerous inscriptions and sculptures (Municipal Museum, Cloister of San Fortunato) stand as evidence, despite much scattering, of the most ancient, least known, period.

Christianity in Montefalco

Christianity was introduced, one assumes, by Saint Fortunato, the area's evangelizer, who lived in the fourth century. The Spoleto bishop Spes consecrated a basilica over his sepulchre, commissioned by the magister militum Severo (early fifth century).  This church became the parish church of a vast territory, well-documented from the eleventh century on.

The Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, the place was called Coccorone.  According to a certain tradition, which in the sixteenth century was defined as ancient, this name derived from a presumed founder, the Roman senator Marco Curione. Modern historians instead argue that it came from the Greek 'oros' (mountain).  Coccorone was already a free commune, a typical 'commune of villas' or 'parish commune', that took in the antiquity of the pre-Roman rural district.
In autumn 1185, Emperor Frederick II stayed there for a number of days and in those circumstances, among other things, the city of Spoleto found itself once again in the graces of the emperor, who had destroyed the city thirty years earlier.

The name Montefalco

Suddenly, between the end of 1249 and the first months of 1250, Coccorone took the current name of Montefalco, probably in connection with one of the falcons of Emperor Frederick II, who had stayed there from 9 to 13 February 1240.
The free commune was led in the twelfth/beginning of the thirteenth century by the consuls (1180-1235)and the 'boni homines' (1180-1213) and then, quickly, by the 'podestà' (attested 1239), various councils (special council, council of judges, of the wise, documented starting in 1227) and the municipal 'curia' (cited from 1195), and then came the traditional magistrates (priors of the populace, chamberlains, controllers, clerks, etc.).

The Statute

The Municipal Statute was recorded, with a retroactive value of at least fifty years, for the first time in 1282.  It was then revised on many occasions, until the final version in 1425.

Before the Renaissance

During the fourteenth century, Montefalco was the long-preferred seat of rectors of the duchy of Spoleto (1320 - 1355).
One of these, the French Jean d'Amiel, had two papal fortresses built, availing himself of the advice and technical input of the celebrated Sienese architect Lorenzo Maitani, who directed the work on the Orvieto Cathedral.   But these important buildings were already being destroyed in the fifteenth century.  Later (1379 - 1424 and 1438 - 1439) Montefalco ended up under the dominion of the Trinci of Foligno, who tried to make it a cornerstone of their power. Returned to the Church through the energetic intervention of cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi, it was governed for a short time by Niccolò Maurizi da Tolentino, who reorganised its administration and subdivided the territory into four districts. From then, Montefalco experienced a flowering of artistic and cultural activity that continued uninterrupted for almost a century. This economic and civil flourishing was brusquely interrupted by a grave event. On 18 October 1527, Montefalco was treacherously taken and sacked by a detachment of the Bande Nere, commanded by Orazio Baglioni and occupied for more than a month. Major plagues and the general deterioration of the economic situation took care of the rest.

Montefalco the City

In 1848, after the expansion of the municipal territory with the aggregation of the castles of Fabbri, Fratta and San Luca, split from Trevi, after pontifical reinstatement (1812) Montefalco was bestowed by Pio IX (former archbishop of Spoleto) the coveted title of 'city'.

Illustrious Montefalco Natives

The city is traditionally recognised as the birthplace of eight saints, including the celebrated Augustinian mystic Santa Chiara della Croce (1268 - 1308).  It was also the birthplace of the poet Nicola da Montefalco (fifteenth century) author of a book of love poetry, il Filenico (an autograph copy is kept in the Classense Library in Ravenna); the painter Francesco Melanzio (1460-1519), follower of Perugino and Pintoricchio; the cardinal Giovanni Domenico de Cuppis, decan of the Sacro Collegio, many times predicted pope in the conclaves he participated in, the priest Don Brizio Casciola (1896-1954), friend of illustrious figures (Sabatier, Fogazzaro, Pascoli, etc.). Montefalco also hosted within its walls Pope Julius II in 1507, and was chosen as the adopted city of the celebrated musician and singer Domenico Mustafà (1829 - 1912), former perpetual conductor of the Sistine Chapel..