Many myths talk about the birth of Todi; the historical records state that the city was founded by the old Umbrian’s around year 2700 BC. Later on, the Etruscans before and the Romans after (3rd century BC) took over the town, leaving behind them numerous memories: among the most significant, the huge Roman vaults in Piazza del Mercato Vecchio, perhaps originally part of a basilica.
In 88 BC, Marcus Crassus undressed Todi of its assets, then, subsequent to the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was sacked several times by the Goths and the Lombards. One of the most outstanding personalities of Todi lived in those years: Bishop Fortunate, the patron of the city who lead his citizens in the struggle against the Goths.
During the medieval age, Todi was often in fight with the neighboring Orvieto, then became a free Commune in the 12th century; in this period the city flourished and many remarking monuments were built, as Palazzo del Capitano, Palazzo dei Priori, the Cathedral and the very interesting Church of San Fortunato, named after the patron. In the 16th century, after a long period of decay, the city enjoyed the innovative and artistic push of the Renaissance period: a magnificent example of that time is Tempio della Consolazione, one of the most beautiful renaissance churches in Umbria.
Later, Todi lost its independence and was included in the State of the Church, maintaining this status until the Napoleonic territorial rearrangement, as a result of which the city became the center of an immense territory.
Piazza Grande, or Maggiore, is the heart of the historical centre. On this square rise Palazzo del Popolo, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo dei Priori and the Cathedral, making of Piazza Grande a rare example of civil and religious powers situated one in front of the other. Palazzo del Popolo is linked through a wide staircase to Palazzo del Podestà, with its beautiful porch on the ground floor and elegant gothic windows. Palazzo dei Priori, stands out on a different side of the square and dates back to year 1341, revealing a blend of Gothic and Lombard shapes.
Opposite to Palazzo dei Priori rises the Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Annunziata (11th-14th century). The inside has the shape of a Latin cross with three naves, plus a smaller one, and houses numerous art pieces. Not far away from Piazza Grande, stands the beautiful Church of San Fortunato.
The celebrity that Todi enjoys internationally is also due to an academic research carried out in the ’90s by the University of Kentucky; based on a series of quantitative and qualitative parameters, American researchers found out that Todi represents the Ideal City, the place where nature and man, history and tradition form a point of world-wide excellence. Todi was therefore proclaimed the most livable city in the world.