One of the most beautiful towns in Italy, Panicale has been crowned 'I Borghi piu belli d'Italia', a selection of small villages throughout Italy that are considered to be the most beautiful. While Panicale has probably been inhabited since Etruscan times, it was a medieval castle built on the peak of the hill that formed the village we see today. One of the Italy's famous painters, Pietro Vannuci, known as Il Perugino, was born in Panicale and the local Church of San Sebastiano is home to one of his celebrated frescoes — The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. Chiesa di San Sebastiano was built between the 14th and 15th-centuries, and later remodelled in 1623. The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, a fresco painted by Perugino in 1505, is considered to be one of the artist's most important works in Umbria. Designed to decorate the back wall of the Oratory of San Sebastiano, the martyrdom was conceived as an abstract composition of geometrical figures. The central pyramid depicts four archers that seem to dance around the saint, who appear calm as he is pierced by the arrows. In the background is a bucolic landscape of gentle rolling hills, which was actually modelled on the view from outside the church looking towards Lago Trasimeno and the Valdichiana valley.
In the same church there is also the breathtaking fresco depicting the 'Madonna in trono con Angeli musicanti', which has only recently been attributed to Raphael. It was taken from the St. Augustine Church in 1884, and is now being preserved in the Church of Saint Sebastian. Painted by students of Perugino, one of the startling revelations has been that four of the figures in the fresco, the Musical Angels, were all painted by Raphael, at age 12. It was an extraordinary experience to be able to get so close to these works of art, in private, and in total quiet. Fortified with the art of Perugino, it was time to fortify our bodies with the special Umbian cuisine of Lillo Tatini, our favourite restaurant in Panicale on Piazza Umberto I. Celebrating a very special birthday with our dear friend Paolo who had just arrived from Rome, it was a wonderful day with good friends, great art and fabulous cuisine.
The ancient porto Perugia into Panicale's Piazza Grande
A lovely ceramic tile map of Panicale is under Porto Perugia
The 'Keymaster' of Panicale unlocking the Church of San Sebastiano
Perugino's exquisite 'Martyrdom of San Sebastiano'
Detail of the fresco showing one of the archers preparing his bow before the onslaught of arrows that would soon be launched at Saint Sebastian
Another archer taking aim at the Sebastian
With just two arrows in his thigh, the fresco is unique in that most depictions of Saint Sebastian he is riddled with arrows, however Perugino shows the scene just before the act takes place
An early Raphael fresco of the Madonna con Bambino, which he painted at age 12,
sits to the left of the Perugino - Raphael studied under Perugino
View from Panicale over the Umbrian countryside to Lago Trasimeno
Our favourite restaurant in Panicale is Lillo Tatini on Piazza Grande
Lillo's charming hand painted sign outside her restaurant
The warm and welcoming interior of Lillo Tatini
The lovely suede wrapped menu
Arriving at the restaurant for the birthday celebration of a dear friend,
Lillo brought us each a glass of Prosecco to honour the day
Warm homemade herb and cheese buns
Lillo's outstanding Anchovy Butter
Affettati of prosciutto stagionato do Norcia, pecorino di Pienza, Pecorino di Fossa served with pumpkin marmalade
Warm and luscious Crostini di Fegato
A enjoyed a bottle of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the noted wine from the hill town of the same name
Braised Rabbit with Castelluccio Lentils
Beef braised in red wine
Carbonara del Perugino: Ravioli ripini con uovo quaglia saltati in padella con pancetta
di Cinta Sense e ricotta stagionata di Norcia
Semifreddo with chocolate sauce
My macchiato arrives in a cup with a little lid to keep it hot
Off comes the lid and my macchiato is perfetto!