Spoleto

An Ancient City in the Foothills of the Apennines
An Ancient City in the Foothills of the Apennines

 

Spoleto - Panorama. Ph. flickr/Giulio Capoccioni

 

Spoleto is an ancient town located in the Umbria region of Italy, in the province of Perugia. The town is located at the foot of the Apennine hills and is a perfect stop for people visiting nearby Trevi, Terni and Perugia.

The earliest mention of Spoleto on record is the establishment of a colony in the area in 241 BC. In ancient times Spoleto was considered a strategic geographical location since it is surrounded by mountains and located in a large valley. The ancient city walls, some of which can still be seen today, were built in the 5th century BC around the small Umbrian settlements to protect the inhabitants. 

Every July Spoleto hosts an interesting Festival Dei Due Mondi.

 

Spoleto - Street with a trompe-l'oeil and a true arch

 

Sightseeing in Spoleto

 

The Amphitheater

The Roman amphitheater in Spoleto dates back to the 2nd century. In 545, the amphitheater was turned into a fort by Totila and in the Middle Ages was used for several different commercial purposes. The San Gregorio Church was later built in the cavea of the theater.

 

The roman amphitheatre in Spoleto. Ph. flickr/Christopher John SSF

 

Rocca Albornoziana

One of the most important places to visit in Spoleto is its ancient Rocca, which was built in the 14th century. The castle has six large towers and the two areas inside were once used by the then-governor and his troops. There is a beautiful courtyard inside the complex, which is surrounded by a porch spread out over two floors. The painted rooms of the castle feature several beautiful frescoes dating back to the 15th century. More recently the historic building was used as a jail.

 

Spoleto - Albornoz Fortress

 

Palazzo Racani Arroni

The Palazzo Racani Arroni is one of the most beautiful palaces in Spoleto. The palace was originally built in the 16th century and is decorated with graffiti by Giulio Romano, a prominent student of Raffaello. There is also a beautiful courtyard within the palace grounds, featuring a noteworthy fountain.

 

 

The Duomo

The Duomo of Spoleto is one of the most significant religious places in the town. The cathedral has been dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and was built in the 12th and 13th centuries.  Built in a typically Romanesque style, the grave of famous  15th century Italian painter Filippo Lippi is here located. Famous is the presence within its walls of a letter written by Saint Francis of Assisi, saint protector of Italy. 

 

Duomo in Spoleto. Ph. flickr/David Bramhall

 

Church of San Pietro

The Church of San Pietro is one of the oldest churches in Spoleto. It was originally built in 419 over an ancient necropolis and had to be later rebuilt in the 12th century. The church has a noteworthy Romanesque façade and beautiful rose windows. It also boasts a stunning relief decoration and is considered to be one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Umbria.

 

Church of San Ponziano

The Church of San Ponziano is a large complex, which lays just outside the city walls. The church is also built in Romanesque style and dates back to the 12th century. The crypt has five original naves and apses, and the frescoes and columns that can be seen by visitors date back to the 14th and 15th centuries.

 

Church of San Gregorio Maggiore

The Church of San Gregorio Maggiore was built in the 11th century in Romanesque style and has recently been restored. The façade features a porch from the 16th century, and a 14th century chapel is also part of the architectural complex.  The large belfry, which was built in the 15th century, is one of the main highlights of the building. Inside the Church is a single nave with beautiful pillars and columns, a must see for all those stopping in Spoleto. 

 

Spoleto, Medieval Street. Ph. flickr/Dorli Photography

 

Getting to Spoleto

 

Getting down to Spoleto is fairly easy because it is situated in close proximity to several other important towns in the region. Visitors can reach the town by train, bus, or car. There are several direct trains from Rome to Spoleto so visitors coming from other countries or regions can travel to Rome and then opt to visit Spoleto from there. The town is located 20 km from Trevi, 29 km from Terni and 63 km from Perugia, so driving to Spoleto from any of these cities is also quite comfortable.

 

 

Moving Around the Town

 

Spoleto can be easily explored on foot since the sightseeing attractions are all located in concentrated areas of the town. There are also many cobblestone pedestrian streets that are quite charming and perfect for a leisurely stroll. Taxis are readily available in Spoleto and are always an option for visitors who do not wish to get around on foot. Parking lots are also easily found in most areas of the town.

 

 

Stay and Accomodation

 

Spoleto has plenty of accommodation options to choose from, mainly because it is a city that does attract a lot of tourists. There are many good hotels, as well as bed and breakfasts, in the town that have comfortable rooms. Visitors can also rent apartments, villas, and farm houses if they plan on a longer stay in the area. Some of the best hotels in Spoleto are hotel Europa Albergo, Hotel Clarici, Hotel Albergo Charleston Spoleto, and Hotel San Luca Spoleto.

 

Piazza del Duomo, Spoleto. Ph. flickr/David Bramhall

 

 

Eating Out

 

Spoleto has many good restaurants and pizzerias where visitors can find delicious, traditional food. Most restaurants in town serve regional dishes as well as traditional Italian cuisine. There are also a handful of restaurants that serve other European fare. The town also boasts many good cafés and gelato shops for visitors to try. Some of the best restaurants in town include Il Tartufo, Albergo Ristorante La Macchia, Eremo delle Grazie, and Trattoria del Festival.

 

 

Shopping in Spoleto

 

If shopping is your aim,  Spoleto has many good places to indulge. Visitors can either shop at the weekly open markets, which are more traditional in nature, or on one of the many pedestrian shopping streets where there are plenty of stores selling clothes, jewelry, and handcrafted items. Terra cotta products and pottery can also be found in many shops around Spoleto. Also, like in most towns in Umbria there are plenty of wine shops where visitors can purchase good varieties of local wines to remind them of their days in Spoleto.

 

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