Spoleto is a peaceful hilltop 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. Spoleto is an attractive destination throughout the year with a fine cathedral, interesting sights and pleasant walks. But it is during June and July that Spoleto comes to life when the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) takes over the historic town centre, with arts events taking place throughout Spoleto. Churches, piazzas and theatres are turned into festival venues, the streets are packed and accommodation is fully-booked.
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.
The lure of Spoleto
Most of the hotels are based at the bottom end of the town which offers better access from the roads. During the day this area of Spoleto is a thriving place with Italians working and travelling around. At night the area really comes to life as Italians of all ages come together around the Piazza Garibaldi to meet and greet. This is a great place to be, with bars and cafes full of life.
Heading up the Corso Garibaldi takes you into the old and quieter part of Spoleto. Some of the paths can be quite steep but take your time and stop to admire the architecture and views – not to mention the designer clothes shops! You will stumble upon lovely restaurants and trattori’s such as the Trattoria del Festival which serves great food from friendly staff.
Continuing up the hill you eventually reach the majestic Piazza del Duomo. The Duomo is one of Spoleto’s finest buildings. Built in the twelfth century, the lovely cathedral is set against a backdrop of hills and valleys. The Duomo is an amalgam of styles, and boasts an apse frescoed by Fra Filippo Lippi, whose tomb lies in the church. The town’s Pinacoteca, or art museum, occupies part of the city hall, and contains works by Umbrian masters including Perugino.
Sitting proudly above the tow is Rocca, and ancient fortress style castle which was used as a prison right up until the 1980s. A novel way of reaching the Rocca is by taking the set of 8 escalators from the bottom of Spoleto. These are a direct link to the castle and a quirky way to travel so far!
Once you have spent a few days exploring Spoleto you may like to visit some of the nearby town and villages by car or bus. We would recommend Assisi which is a stunning medieval town where St. Francis of Assisi is buried in the impressive Basilica of San Francesco. Also worth visiting is Trevi, a quieter hilltop village famed for its olive oil. Spello is also a lovely town with some stunning views and old buildings.
If you are looking for an Italian holiday with lots of old buildings, art and good food then Spoleto will be right up your street.