The Torre degli Sciri Perugia’s last remaining tower, is a must visit attraction if you’re visiting the city for the first time. Situated at the end of Via dei Priori, and overlooking the Porta Santa Susanna district, this 42m structure has become a much-loved historical icon, and offers spectacular views of the city and its surroundings.
The Torre degli Sciri is the city’s only Medieval tower that remains fully intact. There were between 42 and 64 towers in the city; for this reason Perugia was once known as the “città turrita” (the turreted city). As a matter of fact, between the 9th and 13th centuries, city towers had both a military and symbolic function: the taller the tower, the more powerful the family that owned it. It is partly because of this symbolic function that, over time, the towers were all knocked down or entirely destroyed in conflicts between the city’s noble families.
This tower, however, has remained unscathed for centuries. This was possible for two main reasons: the prestige of the ancient Oddi family, which had its domains in this part of the city, and a municipal law that came into force in 1342, and prevented anyone from destroying or damaging city towers. During the 15th century, the Pope brought in severe fines, and even excommunication, to discourage the demolition of Perugia’s towers, which were considered to be the city’s most beautiful ornament.
Torre degli Sciri: from Thirteenth Century to Today
The Torre degli Sciri was probably built in the late 13th century, as a private tower connected to the Oddi family residence. However, following bloody clashes between the Oddi and the Baglioni families, the Oddi were banished. Some time later, the property passed to the Sciri family, com, as the tower’s name suggests, and as you can see from the family coat of arms carved over the building next to the tower.
Above the entrance to the Torre degli Sciri, the Sciri family emblem can be observed: a helmet and crest ornamented with a rooster’s foot. The letters “N” and “I” flank the shield; they probably refer to Nicolaus Iacobi degli Sciri, who lived in the early 16th century. Above, there is also a tabernacle with the dedication MATER DIVINA GRATIA ORA PRO NOBIS. The other heraldic coat of arms, which depicts a lion, is attributable to the Oddi family (the previous owners).
By the second half of the 17th century, the Sciri family had become extinct and the building was inherited by Caterina della Penna, a member, by marriage, of the Oddi family. She decided to donate it to the Franciscan Sister Lucia Tartaglini da Cortona. In 1680 Sister Lucia founded the “Conservatorio”, a boarding school for poor and orphaned girls willing to devote themselves to a life of prayer and work, according to the Franciscan Rule. These nuns were called “becchette” by the Perugians, and as such, the tower also became known as the “Torre delle Becchette”A further name by which the tower is known is “Torre degli Scalzi”, which derives from the Carmelitani Scalzi convent situated in the nearby church of Santa Teresa.
The building was a convent until 2011, when it became the property of the City of Perugia. Thanks to the European Regional Development Fund, in 2015, the city council had the Torre degli Sciri restored, enhancing its usability and accessibility.
Torre degli Sciri: a 360-Degree View over Perugia
The top of the Torre degli Sciri provides undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking views of Perugia.
Visitors can reach the top of the tower by climbing 228 stairs, and once up there, can enjoy an amazing 360-degree view of the city. Our advice is to climb the tower after visiting the historic center: you will be able to recognize and identify almost all of the city’s attractions from above. If you arrive in time for sunset, you will experience a magical moment, as the light of the setting sun blends perfectly with the colors of the city’s buildings.
Currently, the Tower is regularly open to the public, thanks to the local Priori Association volunteers. It also hosts cultural events, including exhibitions, concerts and astronomical observations.