Gubbio became very powerful in the beginning of the Middle Ages. The town sent 1000 knights to fight in the First Crusade under the lead of Count Girolamo Gabrielli, and according to an undocumented tradition, they were the first to penetrate into the Holy Sepulchre when the city was seized (1099).
The following centuries were quite turbulent and Gubbio was engaged in wars against the surrounding towns of Umbria. One of these wars saw the miraculous intervention of its bishop, Saint Ubaldo Baldassini, who secured Gubbio an overwhelming victory (1151) and a period of prosperity.
In 1350 Giovanni Gabrielli, count of Borgovalle, a member of the noblest family of Gubbio, seized the power and became lord of Gubbio. However his rule was short and he was forced to hand over the town to Cardinal Albornoz, representing the Church (1354).
A few years later, Gabriello Gabrielli, bishop of Gubbio, proclaimed himself again lord of Gubbio (Signor d’Agobbio). Betrayed by a group of noblemen which included many a relative of his, the bishop was forced to leave the town and seek refuge at his home castle at Cantiano.
With the decay of the political prestige of the Gabrielli family, Gubbio was thereafter incorporated into the Montefeltro State, and eventually became part of the Papal States when this family extinguished (1631).
In 1860 Gubbio was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy along with the rest of the Papal States.
A fair number of the houses in Gubbio date to the 14th and 15th centuries, and were originally the dwellings of wealthy merchants; they often have a second door fronting on the street, usually just a few inches from the main entrance. This secondary entrance is narrower, and a foot or so above the actual street level. This type of door is called a porta dei morti (door of the dead) because it is commonly stated that it was used only for removing the bodies of any who might have died inside the house. This is almost certainly false, but there is no firm agreement on the true purpose of the secondary doors. One of the most likely theories is that the door was used by the owners to protect themselves when opening to unknown persons, leaving them in a dominating position.
The main monuments of the city include:
The race has strong devotional, civic, and historical overtones and is one of the best-known folklore manifestations in Italy; the Ceri were chosen as the heraldic emblem on the coat of arms of Umbria as a modern administrative region.
A celebration like the Corsa dei Ceri is held also in Jessup, Pennsylvania. In this small town the people carry out the same festivities as the residents of Gubbio do by "racing" the three statues through the streets. This remains an important and sacred event in both towns.
Gubbio was also one of the centres of production of the Italian pottery (maiolica), during the Renaissance. The most important Italian potter of that period, Mastro Giorgio, was active in Gubbio during the first half of XVI century.
Gubbio is also famous among geologists and paleobiologists as the discovery place of the so-called Gubbio layer, an exposed sedimentary layer exposed by a roadcut outside of town. This thin, dark band of sediment marks the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary geological periods roughly 65 million years before present, and was formed by infalling debris from the gigantic meteor impact responsible for the mass extinction of the dinosaurs and their contemporaries. It is extraordinarily rich in iridium, a heavy metal rare on Earth's surface but plentiful in extraterrestrial material such as comets and asteroids. It also contains small globules of glassy material called tektites, formed in the initial impact. Discovered at Gubbio, it is also visible at many places all over the world. The characteristics of this boundary layer support the theory that a devastating meteorite impact, with accompanying ecological and climatic disturbance, was directly responsible for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event.
UMBRIA:THE SHOCK OF THE NEW ; the Crusaders Spread New Ideas on Art and Architecture. Paul Barker Travels to Gubbio to Find out How They Were Developed by the Italians
Sep 17, 2006; On the bright, hot stone of the hill-edge piazza a mongrel collie races around after a yellow football. It dribbles brilliantly....