Spoleto: the most beautiful city between Rome and Florence
A vacation in Italy is not complete if you do not feel at least once the beautiful atmosphere of Umbria and Tuscany: history, nature, wonderful people and good food and wine. Spoleto, a nice little town up the hills, is a short drive from Florence (about 2 hours) and from Rome (about 1,30). Spoleto is one of the oldest cities in the Umbria region: a wonderful mix of treasures from Roman and Medieval times. Its history goes back to the Bronze Age and in the past was named “Caput Umbriae” and became the capital city of an important Longobard Duchy.
What to see in the city
Spoleto is one of those places to be discovered slowly, walking through its narrow streets, seeing monuments in the Unesco heritage list (San Salvatore and near Spoleto the Tempietto del Clitunno) and enjoying the wonderful landscape: green hills and green forests all around.
The most beautiful part to visit is the Old Town, a walled city which offers stunning architectures, romantic corners, and wonderfull churches. We suggest to start your visit from Piazza della Libertà, that was a sort of private courtyard, belonging to the Ancaiani family, who owned all the buildings situated in the square. The Teatro Romano is just off the Piazza della Libertà. We suggest to visit the adjoining Museo Archeologico first (entrance in the same street). The exhibits include ancient statues and primitive artworks.
From Piazza Della Libertà, walk up towards Piazza Fontana and through Via Dell’Arco Di Druso. From there, reach Piazza Del Duomo and pay a visit to the beautiful Cathedral. Both the square and the cathedral are spectacular. The outside of the Church is elegant and simple at the same time, and inside you will fall in love with the amazing mosaic on its main facade, wonderful mural fresco behind the main altar (made by the renaissance painter Filippo Lippi), and the beutiful marble floor.
In the Duomo there is one of the only two manuscript of Saint Francis of Assisi. After visiting the Cathedral, walk up through Piazza del Mercato, Piazza del Municipio (the Town Hall) till Piazza Campello. From Piazza Campello, proceed up the hill following the beautiful Giro dei Condotti. This is a picturesque, circular promenade facing St. Elias hill. Along the path, you will find lots of exercise stations, with instructions for all fitness levels.
Following the path, you can stop at Rocca Albornoziana, or you can continue through the woods and olive groves, and eventually back to the escalators, near the Fortress. We do suggest not to miss a visit at the Rocca, a wonderful fortress built from 1359 to 1362 by Gubbio’s master architect, Gattapone. In 1499, the beautiful Lucrezia Borgia lived there, sent by her father, Pope Alexander VI to get her away from her second husband, Alfonso of Aragon. The fortress was built at the top of an oldest prehistoric settlement and was used as a prison until 1982.
From the Rocca’s position at the top of the town, there are stunning 360 degree views around the area, which stretch for miles. Do not forget to bring your camera along…in the sunny days you can see also Assisi! Walking around the Giro della Rocca, you will see the famous Ponte delle Torri, (Tower Bridge). This bridge is 80 metres high (262-feet) and 228 metres long (748-feet) and dominates the valley and the green forest around. It was an acqueduct probably built in the 13th century. Coming from the Rocca, you can walk across the bridge and enjoy one of the most stunning views you will ever see in Italy!
When to go…?
The temperature in Spoleto is moderate, making it nice to visit during almost any time of year. However, its annual summer Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds or Spoleto Festival) is known all over the world and might be a fantastic opportunity to visit this beautiful part of Italy. The Festival takes place during the last week of June and the first two weeks of July and is a mixture of dance, music, and theatre performances. For more information on the event and for the complete activity programme, visit www.festivaldispoleto.com.
To plan your visit!
If you plan to stay in Spoleto for longer than a day or two, you might want to buy the Spoleto Card, valid for 7 days and sold at any Museum in Spoleto. This card includes free entrance to 7 museums (Museo Archeologico, Casa Romana, Museo Nazionale del Ducato di Spoleto, Museo Diocesano, Museo del Tessile e del Costume, Rocca, Modern Art Museum), free local transport (bus lines B, D, AC and shuttle to the centre) and special offers from local restaurants and shops.
- Red Card (standard 7-days card): € 9,50
- Green Card (from children/young adults from 7 to 25 years old, eldery people from 65 years old and groups of minimum 15 persons): € 8,00
The best way to enjoy Spoleto is exploring it on foot. However, being a medieval town, streets are not always even, there are quite a lot of ups and downs and a few stairs. Therefore, walking around with strolleys might not be so comfortable, althou gh I do not think it will be a major issue. Part of the hassle can be easily solved by using the mechanised walkways, which will bring you from the parking areas to the Upper Town.