Herman Hesse also fell in love with its landscape peacefully nestled in the hills. He praised his wife about the valleys, forests, convents and waterfalls of this small town nestled in the heart of Umbria: we are talking about Spoleto. Known as the "city of a hundred towers", this town in the province of Perugia owes its beauty to its privileged position between the Sant'Elia hill, on the slopes of Monteluco, and the Valnerina mountains.
The historic center of Spoleto is a small treasure chest of wonders that testify to its imposing past, a new and pleasant discovery for those who visit it for the first time. Heart of cultural events of international importance, such as the “Festival dei Due Mondi", is the perfect destination for a stop during a trip to Umbria, but it is also the ideal destination for a romantic weekend for two. If you are already thinking of stopping by, here is our mini guide on what to see in Spoleto.
Walking through the history
The first historical traces of Spoleto date back to the Bronze Age, while the most interesting finds, which document the centrality of the city in the Umbrian valley, belong to the Iron Age. From that first ancient settlement descends the Roman colony, formally established in 241 B.C. with the name of Spoletium. It always remained faithful to Rome, especially during the Punic Wars, when it decisively rejected Hannibal after his victory at Trasimeno. Capital of the homonymous duchy under the Lombards,
Spoleto passed under the domination of the Franks until the breakup of the Carolingian empire. Razed to the ground by Barbarossa in 1155, it became a battlefield between the Empire and the Church to which it was finally joined by Pope Innocent III in 1198. Struck by the earthquake in 1298 and torn apart by the conflicts between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the city found peace by Cardinal Egidio Albornoz who made it an important pontifical center in which he sent authoritative governors, among them also Lucrezia
The old town, treasure chest of the territory
Whether you choose it for a quick stop along an itinerary to discover Umbria, or instead you reach it to spend a relaxing weekend under the banner of slow tourism, Spoleto conquers the hearts of Italian and foreign tourists. Walking through its historic center full of history you can breathe a unique atmosphere: the narrow alleys that trace the medieval structure wind through the main points of interest of the city, accompanying the visitor on a real journey through time.
If you are planning your stop in Spoleto, here is the list of places not to be missed.
The Fortress of Albornoz
It is the monument that dominates the city from above and tells of the time when Spoleto was under the domination of the Papal State. The Rocca di Albornoz is the ideal starting point for a journey to discover the city. Built from 1359, the imposing fortress stands on Colle Sant'Elia and from there dominates the entire valley. The building project starts from the desire of Pope Innocent VI to re-establish papal authority in the city: to do so the powerful Cardinal Albornoz was sent to Italy who entrusted the direction of the works to Matteo Giovannello da Gubbio, known as "Gattapone". Protected by a solid system of square towers, the fortress includes a courtyard of honor, which now houses the museum of the Duchy, and a courtyard of arms, home to an open-air theater
The Towers Bridge
More then 200 meters long and 82 meters high, the spectacular Ponte delle Torri has always been one of the symbolic monuments of Spoleto, so much so that even Goethe mentions it in his "Italian Journey" of 1816. Its construction dates back to an era included between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Made of local limestone, the work is supported by nine pillars alternating with pointed arches and is one of the largest masonry works of the ancient age. Its original function was to transport water from the mountain to the city through the canal located on its summit. Thanks to the walkway that winds along the north side, the Ponte delle Torri still represents a connecting element between Monteluco, the Rocca and the historic center of the city.
A walk in the center
Descending from the Rocca, you enter the picturesque historic center of Spoleto which preserves the atmosphere of ancient Rome: the Roman Theater is a testimony of this. The structure dates back to the 1st century BC. C. is part of the monumental complex of Sant'Agata and together with the National Archaeological Museum of Spoleto hosts concerts and shows, including the annual "Festival dei due Mondi".
The beating heart of the center is located in Piazza del Duomo: here the gaze is guided by the famous staircase that winds up to the cathedral and which has captured the attention of the television audience also thanks to the fiction "Don Matteo".
Numerous points of interest overlook the square, including the Teatro di Caio Melisso, the sixteenth-century Palazzo Racani Arroni and the Town Hall, which houses the Casa Romana: this splendid domus of the first century AD. C, whose excavations began at the end of the 19th century thanks to the English ambassador Sir Savile Lumeley, is structured in different environments and has mosaic floors that have come to us almost intact.
In addition to the Roman House, in the Town Hall it is also possible to admire paintings of great value, such as a canvas by Guercino and two frescoes by Giovanni di Pietro known as “Lo Spagna".
The center of the square, of course, is characterized by the Duomo.
Built at the end of the 12th century on the pre-existing Church of Santa Maria in Vescovado, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta dominates Piazza del Duomo with its iconic "gabled facade" decorated with the mosaic of the blessing Christ by Solstreno. It is one of the most fascinating places in the historic center of Spoleto. The stylistic stratification of the decorations and its forms intertwines the Romanesque architecture with the Renaissance style of the portico and with the Baroque interiors that house frescoes by Pinturicchio and Filippino Lippi.
Spoleto is also a land of wines: if after visiting the historic center and admiring the breathtaking landscape that can be enjoyed from the Rocca and from the Sant'Elia hill, you want to take a break before leaving for a new stage of your journey, maybe to Orvieto, or Perugia, you just have to give you an immersive experience in the places of Sagrantino, a autochthonous vine that is one of the oldest in Italy and from which Montefalco wines are produced.
The ideal place to explore this wine-growing context is the Tenuta di Còlpetrone. Let's find out together.
A stop in Còlpetrone
Our journey in the land of Sagrantino takes us to the Tenuta di Còlpetrone: one of the most important producers of the Montefalco DOCG. We are in the heart of a hilly area surrounded by vineyards, a few steps from Spoleto, Orvieto and Perugia: here, during a tasting tour in the cellar, it is possible to taste the uniqueness of Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG, which the estate also produces in “Sacer" version, awarded with the Gold Medal Mundus Vini in 2010, “Memoira", 93 point Suckling in 2013, and “Ò di Còlpetrone".
In addition, it is also possible to taste the “Montefalco Rosso DOC" and the “Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOCG".
Landscape, history, art and ancient vines: Spoleto is truly a fascinating city, ready to conquer you with its magic, are you already planning to visit it?