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Spello, what to see in the Umbrian town and which events to mark on your agenda

  • 10/05/2024

Ancient Roman city, famous for its well-preserved historical and artistic heritage, Spello, in the province of Perugia, is a must-visit destination for those seeking a comprehensive experience in the splendid Umbria. With just over 8,000 inhabitants, it is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy thanks to its timeless charm and rich history, dating back over two thousand years. Spello stands out for the scenic beauty of its historic center, but also for its vibrant culture, traditional events, and a gastronomic history that reflects the essence of Umbrian cuisine. Today, we want to give you some advice on what to see in Spello and which events are not to be missed.


Spello, the Umbrian village worth touring: what to see?

Located in the heart of Italy, this picturesque village is a true open-air museum, where every corner, every stone, and every flower-adorned balcony tells a millennia-old story. From the imposing ancient walls that surround the historic center to the cobbled streets winding among buildings covered in frescoes and adorned with intricately carved stone portals, Spello offers a unique experience that combines art, history, and tradition in a context of rare scenic beauty, perfect for walks and tours on motorbikes or bicycles as well. Not just an architectural gem: Spello is also a center of vibrant cultural and gastronomic life, attracting visitors from around the world - as evidenced by the high presence of foreign tourists (+35% compared to 2022) - with its famous Infiorate, its excellent olive oils, and fine wines. A tour in this village is not just a journey through time, but a true celebration of the sweet Italian life. But let's delve into detail on what the must-see stops and attractions are in Spello.


Spello and religious tourism, the churches you absolutely must see

In Spello, the churches are custodians of a rich artistic and historical heritage. Here is an in-depth look at some of the most important churches in the city. 

  • Church of Santa Maria Maggiore: perhaps the most famous in Spello for its extraordinary artistic heritage. Founded in the 12th century, it is renowned especially for its interior adorned with magnificent frescoes. The Baglioni Chapel, painted by Pinturicchio between 1500 and 1501, is an absolute masterpiece that attracts scholars and admirers from around the world. The frescoes depict scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and are known for their vivid portrayal and refined use of colors. The church also houses works by other important artists, such as Perugino

  • Church of San Lorenzo: another historic church in Spello, dating back to the 12th century. Less ornate than Santa Maria Maggiore, this church is distinguished by its simple architectural elegance and understated interiors. Here, you can admire some medieval artworks and Renaissance frescoes, as well as an interesting Baroque altar. The church is often appreciated for its tranquil and meditative atmosphere.

  • Church of Sant'Andrea: built in the 13th century, it is known for its Romanesque architecture and the frescoes adorning its walls. The interiors of the church house important works of art, including an altarpiece by Pinturicchio and a series of frescoes depicting biblical stories and the lives of saints. The church serves as an important local religious center and is a place of great spirituality and devotion.

  • Church of San Claudio: though less known compared to others, the Church of San Claudio is a small gem located near the historic center. This church offers a fusion of Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements and preserves some 14th-century frescoes. It is particularly appreciated for its tranquil location and panoramic view of the Umbrian valley.

  • Church of the Crucifix: located at the entrance of the historic center, it is another site of interest. Originally part of a convent, the church has been restored over the centuries and today features a mix of architectural styles. Its interior, with a single altar, houses a remarkable wooden Crucifix, along with several valuable sacred artworks.


The Flower Festival of Spello, an unmissable event

Among the most cheerful and colorful Flower Festivals held annually in Italy, the one in Spello has gained increasing importance over time, attracting visitors from all over Italy and abroad. This traditional festival, celebrated on Corpus Christi, sees the streets of Spello transformed into magnificent floral carpets, giving the event an increasingly marked artistic and community dimension. 

The preparation of the Flower Festivala begins months before the event. The "florists" (in this case, the local floral artists) and numerous volunteers engage in selecting and preparing the flowers. The choice is crucial to ensure the variety of colors and the quality of the compositions; the flower buds are then divided into small pieces to create fine details and shades in the images. The floral compositions created during the Flower Festivals are true temporary works of art. The themes of the compositions vary each year and can include religious scenes, reinterpretations of famous artworks, naturalistic and symbolic motifs. The precision and richness of details are astonishing, with participants using flower petals, leaves, herbs, and sometimes seeds to create extraordinary visual effects. 

The true magic of the Flower Festivals takes place on the night before the Corpus Christi procession, known as "The Night of the Florists". The streets of Spello fill with artists, and the alleys of the village are illuminated and animated by music and celebrations.

The climax of the Flower Carpets arrives on the morning of Corpus Christi when the religious procession passes through the adorned streets, blessing the floral artworks. It's a moment of great emotion and spirituality, combining religious devotion with the celebration of art and natural beauty.

 

The Villa of the Mosaics

Another important site of interest in the city, discovered by chance in 2005 during excavation work for the construction of a parking lot, is the Villa of the Mosaics. This discovery revealed a Roman villa from the 1st-2nd century AD, exceptional especially for its well-preserved and intricate floor mosaics - from which it takes its name. Subsequent excavations have revealed that the villa was a residence of considerable importance, with a series of rooms surrounding a central peristyle, typical of Roman villas of the period.

The mosaics that give the villa its name are of extraordinary beauty and complexity. They include various mythological, geometric, and naturalistic scenes, created with small colored tesserae that form detailed and vibrant images. Among the themes are hunting scenes, representations of animals, and floral motifs, which together offer a glimpse into the life and aesthetic preferences of the time.

But the Villa is also significant for what it reveals about the daily life and habits of the ancient Romans in this region. Studies have indicated that the building was likely used as a seasonal residence by a wealthy family, perhaps associated with prominent figures of Hispellum (modern-day Spello). 

The Villa of the Mosaics has been opened to the public with the aim of making this important historical and artistic heritage accessible. The site is equipped with a visitor center that provides detailed information about the mosaics and the history of the villa. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting the mosaics from erosion and deterioration, ensuring that they can be admired by future generations. It is certainly an attractive destination for history enthusiasts, archaeology lovers, and Roman art admirers, and we highly recommend not to miss it!


Where to stay to discover (and taste!) Spello

​Umbria, with its landscapes and history, is also the ideal place for lovers of good food, excellent wine, and PDO olive oil. For those seeking a complete experience just a few kilometers from Spello, Tenuta di Montecorona is a must-visit destination where you can stay, experiencing the peace and quiet of rooms immersed in nature and the specialties offered by the "Abbazia di Montecorona" restaurant, located within the Abbey.

Located between Todi, Assisi, and Perugia, the Estate is nestled in the heart of an imposing Camaldolese Abbey, surrounded by 2000 hectares of land, and is one of the most important agricultural realities in its area. Known for the production of the renowned DOP extra virgin olive oil, it offers the opportunity to explore the region, not far from the picturesque setting of Lake Trasimeno.

Are you ready to leave?

 

 

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