Spoleto is a hill town in the southernmost part of the province of Perugia. Like many cities in the area, it has a beautiful historic center on the top of a hill, and below this a sprawling and less interesting modern part. The main sights are the Rocca Albernoz, the Cathedral and the Ponte delle Torri, a huge bridge over a valley between the castle and the hill across the valley.
All about Spoleto (province of Perugia)
Region: Umbria. Province: Perugia. Area code: 0743 Zip code: 06049. The Spoleto tourist office (IAT del Comprensorio Spoletino) is located in Piazza della Libertà, 7 – 06049 Spoleto. Tel. +39 0743218620-0743218621.
By car/public transport
Public transport: There is a direct, but not very regular, train connection from Rome Termini. The city is also on the railway line between Orte and Falconara Marittima. Spoleto station is located at the foot of the hill and it is a nice but picturesque climb to the historical centre of town.
By car: From Rome take the E45 to the north, followed by the SS3Bis to Acquasparta. From here you follow SR418. Alternatively you can follow the former consular road Via Flaminia (SS3) all the way, which leads directly to Spoleto and is more scenic but also slower.
A system of 8 escalators leads from the Rocca Albernoz, the highest point of the city, all the way to the lowest point of the historic center and to the so-called Ponzianina parking lot.
The town centre is framed by ancient city walls, some of which date from the Umbrian times, some from the Roman period and some from the Middle Ages.
The 11th century Cathedral is decorated with frescoes by Pinturicchio and Filippo Lippi. Underneath the Sant’Ansano Church ruins of a 1st century temple have been found. Other beautiful churches are the early Christian San Salvatore Church, the San Gregorio Maggiore Church, the San Domenico Church, the Sant’Eufemia Church and the San Paolo Inter Vineas Church.
Archaeological monuments include the ruins of a Roman Theatre and the Arch of Drusus. The Roman Theatre, together with the Palazzo Ancajani can be found on the Piazza della Libertà. Ruins of an ancient Roman domus stem from the 1st century AD and probably used to belong to the mother of Emperor Vespasian.
The Rocca Albernoz towers above everything else and was built in the 14th century. A walk around the castle will reward you with a spectacular view of the Ponte delle Torri.
The most beautiful historic buildings are Palazzo Collicola, Palazzo Campello and Palazzo Ancaiani, all dating back to the 18th century.
The Spoleto Card is a museum pass allowing you to visit the city’s six museums free of charge. The price is 9,50 Euro (age 26-65) or 8 Euro (discount for young people between 15 and 25 years old). The card is valid for one week and can only be used by one person, so identification is required.
A Brief History of Spoleto
Archaeological finds on the Sant’Elia hill and underneath the present cathedral tell us that the area was already inhabited in Umbrian times. In 241 BC the city became a Roman colony and in 90 BC the town became a municipality.
Later the city was conquered by the Byzantines. In the second half of the 6th century Spoleto was chosen by the Lombards as the capital of a vast county.
During the Middle Ages, the region was the scene of battles between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. Frederick I Barbarossa had the city destroyed in 1155. In 1354 Spoleto was added to the papal properties by Cardinal Albernoz. Despite several attempts to gain independence, the city remained in the hands of the church until the French domination.