A day in Spello, Umbria!
Today I’m taking you to visit one of the most ‘flowery’ cities in all of Italy! Located in the province of Perugia, Spello, Umbria, is famous for its flowers, which are even more evident because of the famous ‘Infiorate’, which are designs created using petals and flowers to celebrate Corpus Domini. However, even if you travel out of this period, Spello will leave nothing to be desired! Shall we go to Umbria? So come with me to Spello! Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”.
Amazing video of a tour in Spello
Spello is not a big city, however, as I always tell you: prefer to visit it calmly, as it is, in fact, a very special city! How about a tour in Assis and Spello? Click here to know more Assis e Spello Full-Day Sightseeing Tour!
A little about Spello
And it is with immense pleasure that, today, I speak a little more about Spello for you. With just over 8,000 inhabitants, this gem, located in the province of Perugia, in Umbria, is magnificent in all its details! The city was founded by the Umbros and was named Hispellum, in Roman times; ancient Spello is considered one of the most important cities in Roman Umbria.
In fact, even today, the remains of the great walls, which in the past were much wider, are present there and can be admired. However, life was not always a bed of roses, literally: Spello was invaded by the barbarians, who reduced it from a prosperous city to a poor town. In the Lombard and Frankish ages, the city started from the Duchy of Spoleto, but later came under the administration of the papacy. In 1516, the city was donated by the pope to the Baglioni family of Perugia, to which it belonged until 1648. In the 4th century, Spello was a bishopric and in the early Middle Ages, it was part of the vast diocese of Spoleto. In 1772, Spello was integrated into the diocese of Foligno and regained its glory.
1) A day in Spello, Umbria! VISIT PORTA CONSOLARE AND HISTORIC CENTER
We start our tour through the beautiful Porta Consolare. It is literally the ‘entrance door’ to the city and, if you go by car, that’s where you’ll find parking lots. This door was part of the walls that surrounded the city of Spello and is one of the oldest areas in all of Italy. The structure is monumental and presents us with large blocks of limestone from Mt Subasio.
On the right side, we notice a square tower that houses a clock, which in ancient times was used as an observatory, which allowed the guards to see what happened outside the walls. The door’s strategic position was very favorable in protecting the city, as possible invaders could be identified from afar.
Passing through the door, today, we arrive at the Historic Center of Spello and it is here that, indisputably, the ‘show’ begins: the city presents us with majestic architecture, and, at the same time it is very simple, it is very elaborate, dominated by flowers and stone houses, offering us magical panoramas, hard to find elsewhere.
2) A day in Spello, Umbria! VISIT CHAPEL OF ST ANNE
As we walk through the flowery streets, we come across several churches and, I confess, it is difficult to choose the prettiest one! Let’s start with the beautiful Chapel of St Anne, also called Tega Chapel. In order not to miss your destination, just look for a large sculpture of an olive tree, which depicts a couple in love. Behind the artwork, you’ll soon see a huge glass arch that sits inside an old stone building. Inside the place, we can see, in a discreet way, the remains of beautiful frescoes that seem to struggle not to disappear completely.
A little more about the Chapel
The Chapel of St Anne was designed to be the seat of the Confraternita dei Disciplinati di Sant’Anna (“Brotherhood of the disciplined of St Anne”), since the 14th century. The chapel changed its use at the end of the 19th century, when it operated as a studio, and in 1911 the frescoes that can be seen on the vaulted ceilings and on most of the internal walls were discovered. According to historians, the frescoes preserved inside the chapel date from 1461 and present various themes ranging from the crucifixion of Christ to the portrait of Sant’Anna herself. Scholars have identified some paintings as being by Nicolò di Liberatore, known as l’Alunno; the other paintings, however, are by unknown artists.
3) A day in Spello, Umbria! VISIT THE CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE
Leaving there, keep walking to reach Giacomo Matteotti Square, where we find the beautiful church of Santa Maria Maggiore. It is one of the oldest churches in Spello and its origins date back to the 12th century.
The church was built on the ruins of a pagan temple and its current appearance is the result of a renovation carried out in 1644; however, the stone facade present there is a mixture of different eras. The entrance portal is in Romanesque style and dates back to the 13th century, in addition to having beautiful marble elements that surround the wooden door. Two columns there support a small arch in which there is also a small sacred statue. Right at the top, we can see a rectangular window that illuminates the interior of the church in a splendid way.
The façade, which dates back to the 17th century, has six meters and covers arches that distinguished it throughout its width. Another element that catches our attention is the bell tower, which appears imposing on the left side of the church and retains two ancient bells inside, one from the 13th century and the other from the 15th century. The interior of the church is also impressive, but currently the church is undergoing renovations and access is restricted. However, I give you a preview of what could be seen: a single nave, where we find small chapels on which some small chapels open; a wooden choir; two paintings by Pinturicchio and beautiful vaults.
4) A day in Spello, Umbria! VISIT THE CHURCH OF SANT’ANDREA
A few steps from there, taking Via Cavour, in Matteotti Square, we find the most monumental church in the entire city: the church of Sant’Andrea. This building is the oldest in the city and, according to studies, dates back to the beginning of the 11th century. The current façade of the church was made by several artists, almost all anonymous, as they were continuous and undocumented works.
A little more about this church
The decoration at the entrance to the church is a marble arch from the Romanesque period, in which the material almost intertwines and crowns the wooden door. Once inside the church, we can see a single, but beautiful nave, presented in a Latin-cross shaped plan. The entire church is elegantly decorated with paintings that descend from the ceiling along all the walls, and these paintings were recreated in the early 20th century in Gothic style. At the left transept, there are two frescoes from the 14th century. Other important works are Pinturicchio’s table, dated 1508 and representing the Enthroned Madonna; the Saints, and the 15th century crucifix painted on a table and placed behind the main altar.
5) A day in Spello, Umbria! VISIT THE PALAZZO COMUNALE
Also unmissable is the Comunale Palace, the Town Hall. Located at the Repubblica Square, this palace was built in the second half of the 13th century, and underwent expansions three centuries later. Built in white and pink limestone, it is possible to visit and the entrance is through two arches. Together, these arches form a small loggia with a cross-tiled roof.
A little more about the Palazzo Comunale
On the first floor we can see three barred windows with small columns enclosed by capitals, two of them overlooking via Garibaldi and one overlooking the main square. Between the two arches, there is a plaque representing a lion and a wild boar. Upstairs we can admire two niches built into the wall that feature Spello’s old municipal coat of arms along with the coat of arms of the Maccarelli family, a local family that played an important role in the civil struggles of the village in the 14th century. Inside the building is the municipal library and the municipal historical archive.
There, you can also admire a 17th century lapidary, with several pieces from the Roman and medieval times; and there is more: all were found in the vicinity.
The most famous rooms in the Palace
The Sala dell’ Edito, which is the Main Hall and, until today, is used for exhibitions and weddings. It’s a masterpiece! The walls of this room are completely frescoed with beautiful paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries, and portray the celestial vault, distinguished citizens of Spello and views of the village.
The Sala degli Stemmi is also noteworthy: today it is used as the mayor’s office and also features beautiful frescoes from the 18th century, where 93 noble weapons are depicted. Don’t miss the Sala degli Zuccari, which is now used as a library and also has a fresco from the late 16th century.
6) A day in Spello, Umbria! VISIT THE PALAZZO URBANI
Another nearby palace that deserves to be highlighted is, without a doubt, the Palazzo Urbani Acuti or Palazzo Cruciani. The place is not far from Repubblica Square, but it is a bit ‘out of the way’; anyway, if you can, pay a visit, because it is a beautiful place indeed! This palace was home to several noble families until the early 19th century, and was Spello’s main private building.
A little more about Palazzo Urbani
The name Urbani Acuti comes from the first family that owned the place, which effectively requested its construction at the beginning of the 17th century; Palazzo Cruciani is named after the last family that owned the place, who lived there at the end of the 18th century. Years later, the building was sold to the Vitale Rosi school and, since 1972, it has been managed by the municipal administration, which carried out its restoration and constant maintenance on the site.
Over the centuries, the different families that passed through there changed the building a little, making its structure a mixture – very harmonious – of different styles. The first decoration was the placement of tiles with the coat of arms of the Urbani Acuti family, both on the cornice of the building and in the well located in the center of the inner courtyard. However, what surprises us most is the element that immediately catches our eyes: the beautiful raised balcony. It is made of wood, and has a beautiful wooden roof. The courtyard’s internal arcade is also beautifully decorated with paintings from the early 17th century, as are its stairs and main floor. It’s WELL worth the visit! Really beautiful!
7) A day in Spello, Umbria! VISIT THE ROMAN ARCH
We leave there and, walking, we pass many other small churches along the way: if you have time, don’t hesitate to visit them, they are very charming; if you have little time, head to the Roman Arch. Going up to the highest point in the city, take Via Cappuccini. There, you will soon see the Roman Arch, which dates from the period before Emperor Augustus, and served to link the lower part of Spello to the highest part, Monte Subasio. Good to know that this arch is also known as Porta dell’Arce, because it is very close to Frederick I Barbarossa’s fortress.
8) A day in Spello, Umbria! VISIT THE CHURCH OF SAN SEVERINO
To finish our tour with a flourish, we head to the beautiful Church of San Severino with its famous bell tower. Just to the right of the Roman arch, we see the church at the top of a small staircase. This is also one of the oldest buildings in Spello and dates back to the 6th century, however, its current appearance dates back to the 12th century, when the church underwent a renovation giving it the Romanesque style.
Outside, on the façade of the church, white and pink stones dominate; we can see a small portico in the main door, which supports a barred window inside an arch. Inside the church, you can see the beautiful plan in the shape of a Latin cross, the crossed vaults, which are richly painted with frescoes from the last century, and on the left side the fresco from two centuries earlier, representing Saint Michael the Archangel.
Towers of Properzio and Porta Venere.
Don’t leave the city without visiting the towers of Properzio and Porta Venere: both built in the Augustine period and made of white travertine.
It is impossible not to speak of Spello’s Infiorato; it is the main festival in the village and takes place every year, always on Corpus Domini day. During this period, practically all the streets of the city are even more flowery due to the immense floral rugs with fantastic but temporary images. This is possible, as weeks before, the whole city strives to find the most beautiful flowers so that they can be used at the event. The flowers are cleaned and the petals preserved so that, on the day of the ‘painting’, everything is spotless.
Good to know…
- If you travel during this period, it’s good to know that, from the previous afternoon, the village streets are closed to the public and some structures are installed to protect the works from the wind and rain, so it can be a bit difficult to walk around there; organize your visit to Spello well. The city has about 70 Infioratos and its dimensions vary between 25 and 90 square meters, which gives us a total length of approximately about a kilometer and a half of Infiorato. Ah, the city is usually full of tourists, so book hotels and restaurants in advance!
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A day in Spello, Umbria! Spello is undoubtedly a city to be discovered calmly, but if you have little time and want to visit the main points. I hope this post will help you to get to know one of the most amazing cities in all of Italy a little better.
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