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Purpose: here the Civic Museum of Palazzo della Penna – Contemporary Cultural Centre, of the Deputation for Italian History for Umbria and of the Culture Area of Perugia Municipality.

Palazzo della Penna, Via Podiani 11, Perugia; inside the Civic Museum of Palazzo della Penna and Contemporary Cultural Center, of the Deputazione of Storia Patria for Umbria, the Assessorato of Culture and other Municipal offices of the Culture Area.


Majestic aristocratic residence, built in more than one phase between XVI and XIX century. It belonged before to the Vibi family, then to the “Arcipreti della Penna”. It presents a bedding of different historic ages: the XVI century building is on the rests of the roman amphitheater, brought back to light thanks to the renovation’s works of the ‘80s; these remains are parts of a building wall in a cement opera, the external side front of a peripheral gallery, now visible for about 35 meters.

On the southerner side the palace includes also a street layout and some traits of the wall of the urban perimeter of Medieval era.


At the beginning of the XIX Century it was renovated and frescoed in the inside. On the first floor paintings of the XIX century inspired to Paride’s Myth, by Antonio Castelletti, an artist of Paciano, a little town in Umbria, following the Neoclassicism tendencies, a pupil of Francesco Appiani from Ancona, and of Cristoforo Gasperi from Perugia. On the ceiling of the first room on the ground floor an Apollo playing the lyre surrounded by dancing shapes following the style of the ancient Greek vase painting of red shapes on a black background. The theme of the decoration of the ceiling of the second room is the “Giudizio di Paride - Judgement of Paris”, in a tondo surrounded by elegant decorative elements with the three goddesses submitted to judgment (Era, Athens and Aphrodite) foremost with the gods messenger Mercury. On the third room, named Apollo’s Room the “Apoteosi di Paride – Apotheosys of Paris”: the mortal prince is greeted on the Olympus by Apollo, surrounded by the symbolic representations of the four season and the ages of man. On the background Saturn with his symbol: the snake biting its back - the uroboro - symbol of the time in a circular sense. Under the oval that surrounds the main scene, the night that escapes the rising dawn, represented by Apollo’s chariot with horses pawing the ground, kept on the bridles by the three “Parche” (Fates), metaphor of time passing by. At the walls, monochromes with battle scenes, biga races, and sacrificial rituals as the Suovetaurilia. At the centre of the third room “Paride principe di Troia armato a Cavallo- Paris, Prince of Troy, armed, on horseback”; on the fourth “Il ratto di Elena- The Rape of Elena”, surrounded by dancing bodies and burning braziers, under which it is still possible to read the signature of the author of the cycle, Antonio Castelletti, and the date, 1812. On the fifth and last room young dancing bodies are represented, probably Maenads, surrounded by fabrics decorated in trompe-l’œil and vine branches, referring to Dionysus. Of the same period the idealistic views in the Landscapes’ room (second floor), by the decorator and set designer Pasquale Angelini, father of the notorious eclectic Annibale Angelini, set designer, decorator and restorer. On the circular small tower of the second floor is a monochrome decoration, probably by Giuseppe Carattoli (1835). THE BARON’S FABRIZIO DELLA PENNA MISSING COLLECTION The palace was defined “quite extended and a magnificent palace” by Serafino Siepi in 1822 and it was reported to the contemporaries as hosting a rich library and an eminent painting collection. From the Inventario dei beni appartenuti al Barone Fabrizio della Penna (Inventory of the assets of Baron Fabrizio della Penna), drafted in 1838 by the notary Giacomo Antonini on the base of accurate evaluations, it resulted that the library counted 1994 pieces, of which a detailed bibliographic description was offered of the total value of the collection. The appreciation shown by Siepi was maximum, also regarding the painting collection, defined a “precious collection of the finest paintings and the most copious compared to others in Perugia”. The initial nucleus of the collection began during the second half of 1600 thanks to Ascanio della Penna (1607-1664), whose elevated taste in collecting was supported by the study of fine arts, nurtured once he entered the service of the Granduchi of Tuscany in quality of page boy, and from the hanging out with the Neapolitan painter Salvatore Rosa, of whom he was in possess of many paintings.

To the baron Fabrizio della Penna Crispolti (1779-1838) we owe in particular the purchase from the Served Fathers in Santa Maria Nuova of Perugia in 1821of the “Madonna col Bambino tra i Santi Girolamo e Francesco - Madonna with child between the Saints Girolamo and Francesco”, “excellent work by Pietro Perugino valued 5000 scudi regi”. Fabrizio Ricci della Penna (-1901) was the responsible for the scattering of the painting collection, his bad administration of the family’s properties ended in the judicial sales of his belongings, decided in 1899 by the courthouse in Perugia.


In continuity with its history, today the palace is the location of the Civic Museum of Palazzo della Penna, with 2 important permanent collections linked to the History of the city. Franco Minissi’s spiral staircase goes down to the lower floors and, passing by the roman amphitheater’s rests here the first permanent collection: Dottori and the Umbrian Futurists, an extended collection of works by the futurist painter Gerardo Dottori (Perugia, 11th November 1884 – 13th June 1977) with his academic debut, the Divisionism representations, the most famous aero-pictorial works and of Futuristic Sacred Art paintings.

On the lower second floor the section dedicated to Joseph Beuys: the big room with vaults hosts the “Unique Work”, six blackboards drawn by the German artist who inspired the Green Movement in Germany already in the Seventies. Together with the Blackboards a documentary exhibition of his staying in Perugia in 1980. The works are a summary of his theories on art related to nature and society; they were realized and then illustrated during the performance promoted by the art critic Italo Tomassoni, in the Sala Cannoniera of the Rocca Paolina on the 3rd of April 1980, which saw the encounter between the German artist and the Italian Alberto Burri, of whom there’s another important work in the city: the Grande Nero, gift to the Municipality of Perugia in 1984, in order to be permanently exposed at the Rocca Paolina.

Inside of the Museum temporary exhibitions are also hosted, mainly dedicated to contemporary art, photography, and to the recent artistic and cultural history of the city. Also preserved other works by contemporary artists, including Brajo Fuso’s (21st of February 1899, Perugia – 30th of December 1980 Perugia) multi-material sculptures belonging to the Hellenic series (1965) collocated in the internal courtyard. B. Fuso has been the artist from Perugia who anticipated the Poor Art, defined by his French friend André Verdet, Débrisart or Scrap’s Art.

The palace’s courtyard is distinguished by an helicoidal monumental staircase which joins three levels of the building, designed by the architect Franco Minissi (12th of March, Viterbo – 25th of August 1996, Bracciano) during 1980.

As a tribute to the poet from Perugia Paolo Vinti, in the atrium there’s the installation: “I am Paolo Vinti” (2011), by Daniele Pampanelli: two neckties (belonging originally to the poet, who was in Perugia rather known for his wearing them loose) on a mirror meaning that anyone looking in the mirror for one second is able to identify himself with Paolo Vinti.

On the 8th of March 2019 another contemporary art work has been here placed, the sculpture named “with no chains”, by some students of the artistic Secondary school of Perugia Bernardino Di Betto. A woman with soft features is seated on a red bench, cevered only by a golden band on her breasts. Like many other installations of red benches, ideally taken by invisible presences, it is placed in order not to forget about the many women who’ve lost their lives, victims of violence. Its colors are red and gold, the red as always evokes violence, but at the sametime the fight to return to the golden era, where harmony will finally triumph.

Inside the museum also a coffee shop.



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  1. Siepi, Serafin (1822). Descrizione Topologico-Istorica della città di Perugia esposta nell'anno 1822. Search this book on
  2. Belloni, Carlotta (1822). La Quadreria della Penna nel Palazzo dei Tre Archi. Search this book on
  3. Guidoni, Enrico (1999). Il Palazzo della Penna di Perugia. Search this book on
  4. Migliorati, Alessandra (2006). Itinerari d'arte dell'Ottocento in Umbria. Search this book on