Quella terra dell'Umbria più vicina alla pianura che sotto soggiace mi generò fertile di floride contrade
Through the ages Umbria, with its bewitching and varied countryside, has provided the source of inspiration to a host of poets from Classical antiquity to the present day.
The Callimachus of Rome, as he liked to call himself, Sextus Propertrius was born in Umbria and moved to Rome when he was still a boy. Although many of his family’s possessions suffered confiscation, Propertius was nonetheless able to afford a lifestyle among the capital’s wealthy classes, and eventually entered the prestigious circle of artists and poets under the patronage of Maecenas. Among his writings are numerous references to his Umbrian homeland, however, from the Etrurian Hills to the banks of the Tiber, from Mevania (modern-day Bevagna) to the river god Clitumnus (whose sacred springs are near the modern town of Campello sul Clitunno.
There is some doubt as to which precise city Propertius came from, although many historians believe it was probably Assisium, later also the birthplace of Francesco di Bernardone during the Middle Ages. Assisi was certainly the place from which St Francis pronounced his celebrated Canticle of the Creatures, one of the earliest texts in the vulgar Italian language and still a stirring ode to the Creator.
Todi is associated with the mystic spirituality of Jacopone da Todi, whose vigorous and bitter Laudi display all the great poet’s resentment towards a world that he perceived to be decadent and corrupt.
The futurist poetess and painter Leandra Angelucci Cominazzini was born in Foligno. In 1939 she published her Aeropoesia Umbrian poem in the futurist style, in which she sings of Assisi, Trevi, Montefalco, Spello and their blue freshness, as well as of St Francis and St Claire – blinding rays of pure light, love.
Born in Perugia, Sandro Penna is considered among Italy’s greatest 20th century poets. In 1973 he published his only piece of narrative writing, Un po' di febbre, a collection of prose written between 1939 and 1941 in which he dwells on his childhood memories of the places and cities he lived in and loved: Rome, Milan and Perugia, which he describes as being the loftiest and confused paradise of my youth.
"Umbria...Cuore verde d’Italia. Umbria Percorsi d'arte", Agenzia di Promozione turistica dell'Umbria, Perugia, pg. 60, with thanks.