“San Costanzo da l occhio adorno, famme l occhiolino sinnò n ci artorno.”

On January 29, San Costanzo is celebrated, first Bishop of Perugia and one of the patron saints of the Umbrian capital together with San Lorenzo and Sant’Ercolano. The story of the life of San Costanzo and what hovers around it is full of wonder, amazement, faith and mysticism with a pinch of romance and sweetness.

St. Constantius Martyr

In Piero Bargellini’s “A Thousand Saints of the Day”, a collection of the stories of the lives of the Saints, we read the description of Costanzo, which we can date around the 2nd century AD. C, as a man dedicated to faith, goodness and generosity towards the poor and a great sense of duty towards the Christian Church especially during the persecutions of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

It is said that Constantius, under the Empire of Marcus Aurelius was martyred and brutally persecuted: locked up in the calidarium (ancient Roman baths) at very high temperatures, however, miraculously emerging unscathed. He was arrested several times and forced to walk on burning coals but nothing managed to scratch the faith of San Costanzo. Around the year 178 he was arrested again and beheaded in Foligno.

The body of San Costanzo then returned to Perugia where he found rest in what would later be the first Cathedral of Perugia, outside the gates of San Pietro and today known as the Church of San Costanzo.

The wink tradition

For lovers of Romanticism, here is a legend for you according to which, during the celebrations of the Saint, the image of San Costanzo can “wink” at the unmarried girls (and virgins according to medieval tradition) who present themselves in the Church where rest the Saint, to ask if they will marry within the year. Of course it’s a play of light and shadow that makes everything magical with a pinch of love.


To the girls without the anticipation of the happy event by the Saint, the typical dessert from Perugia but above all typical of the Feast of San Costanzo, the Torcolo, will be given by the boyfriend.

The Torcolo of San Costanzo

The typical sweet of the tradition to celebrate San Costanzo is, in fact, the Torcolo, behind which there are many legends and mysteries related to the Saint that still today make this sweet full of charm and history.

In fact, it is handed down that the torcolo is in the shape of a donut to remember the crown and flowers that were placed on the body of the Saint after the decapitation or even that the hole represents the severed head of the Saint and lastly that its donut shape refers to the crown paraded from the head of the Saint once he was beheaded. That’s why a dessert studded with colored candied fruit, in memory of the precious stones of the colora! The five cuts on the donut are, however, attributable to the access gates to the five districts of the historic center of Perugia: Porta San Pietro, Porta Sole, Porta Eburnea, Porta Susanna, and Porta Sant’Angelo.

The torcolo di San Costanzo, despite the great importance it holds during the feast of January 29, is a dessert that is now enjoyed in Umbria throughout the year!

Credit photos
Regione Umbria
Umbria Tourism
Comune di Perugia