Perugia, Umbra Institute, Fontenuovo Fresco Project 2015

This semester, Umbra Institute students completed a permanent fresco for Fontenuovo in Perugia. The piece takes inspiration from Berto di Giovanni’s gonfalon of 1526, showing the skyline of Perugia. the fresco took six weeks in 4 giornate. The inauguration on December 9, celebrated the 130th anniversary of Fontenuovo. Special thanks to Orfeo Ambrosi and Umbra Institute for supplying materials and technical support.

The Borgo Bello / OrtoBello Fresco, Perugia 2015


The project consisted of resurfacing, designing, and painting a wall in true fresco. The painted surface is about 130 x 220 cm.

We used 100 kg of slaked lime, 200 kg of river sand, and 25 kg of marble dust, in three layers of mortar. (Materials were generously supplied by the Umbra institute.)

The project took place over three days, with about 30 hours of labor between preparatory drawings, arriccio, and two “giornate,” or painting days.

The work was divided between five student volunteers and the professor of the course “Fresco Painting,” at the Umbra Institute.


The idea behind the painting was based on the requests of the quartiere Borgo Bello, the OrtoBello project, and Umbra Institute professor, Ray Lorenzo.

We wanted to represent the quartiere itself, through the keys of Saint Peter, the symbol of the neighborhood. The golden background represents the wheat that was brought in the city through Porta San Pietro.

In the upper register, there is San’Ercolano, patron of Borgo Bello, who earned the title “defensor civitas” after having defended the city from Totila’s Ostrogoth invasion of 549. In the context of this fresco, the Saint is using his sword– not in defense, but to indicate the productivity of the land. He holds in his hand a product of the soil, the tomato, the symbol of OrtoBello. Other patron saints of the quartiere, San Domenico and San Pietro, are represented by their respective churches, also symbols of the quartiere, in the background. The text COLENDO SIMUL TERRAM, COLITUR COMMUNITAS is the Latin translation of the OrtoBello slogan “Communities that plant together, stay together,”(literally “by cultivating the earth together, the community is cultivated.”)


The project was a student project, so students participated in all aspects of the design, planning, and final painting. They showed much courage, sacrifice, and creativity.

They are Molly Davis, Taylor Tso, Rosa Pietroiusti, Tori Cecchi, and Kathleen Organtini.

We would like to thank Ray Lorenzoand Assistant Professor Viviana Lorenzo , who conduct the course “Urban Spaces, Building Community” at Umbra Institute, Orfeo Ambrosi, Presidente, Associazione Borgo Bello, and the proprietor of the wall, Ingegnere

Gian Piero Bolletti, for their generosity and support during this project. We are able to meet dozens of interested people: citizens, students, nuns, neighbors, who expressed much encouragment.

We hope our fresco will be intact and visible until roughly the year 4000 AD!

Professor and coordinator, William Pettit.

Photo credits Molly Davis.