Just opposite the cathedral on Piazza IV Novembre, and decidedly outdoing it in terms of architectural panache, rises the exquisite Gothic Palazzo dei Priori, often – and rightly – described as one of the greatest public palaces in Italy. Sheer bulk aside, it’s certainly impressive – with rows of trefoil windows from which convicted criminals were once thrown to their deaths, majestic Gothic doorway, and business-like Guelph crenellations – though the overall effect is rather forbidding; its real beauty derives from the harmony set up by the medieval buildings around it.
The Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria is on the upper floor of the palace complex (lift or stairs), with the entrance through its opulently carved doorway. One of central Italy’s best and most charming galleries, this takes you on a romp through the history of Umbrian painting, with masterpieces by Perugino, Pinturicchio and many others, plus one or two stunning Tuscan masterpieces (Duccio, Fra’ Angelico, Piero della Francesca) thrown in for good measure. The entrance is worth every cent if you’re the slightest bit interested in early and mid-Renaissance art.