Palazzo Vescovile in Todi: a gem at the heart of Umbria
Built in 1593 by will of Bishop Angelo Cesi, a patron to many artists who truly spurred Todi’s cultural and artistic production, Palazzo Vescovile was designed by Giovanni Domenico Bianchi – exception made for the entrance portal, which was created by Iacopo Barozzi, known as Il Vignola.
Although it resembles the abode of a Renaissance prince, the building was the headquarters of the diocese’s activities. Its four floors were connected by a majestic staircase, as well as other winding staircases used by servants to go from work to their quarters on the top floor.
On the ground floor, the structure had warehouses, kitchens and stables, as well as the carriage entry. Further in, there were the office of the clerk and access to the first floor – which had one of the most important spaces in the whole building: the Throne Hall. The room’s amazing frescoes by Ferraù da Faenza, known as Il Faenzone, were meant to create a majestic context to celebrate the Bishop’s power as he held his hearings. The paintings represent the pastors who led the diocese before Cesi.
On the first floor, Cesi had his private chapel and private apartments, as well as a garden known as “the bishop’s vegetable garden”. Another highlight is the gallery where Andrea Polinori represented episodes of daily life in Todi and a map of the area.
The Palazzo’s construction was part of a series of cultural initiatives that Cesi promoted, helping Todi flourish and prosper in a “golden age” that reached its peak in the final decade of the 1500s.