What to do in a day in Spoleto?
With just over 37,000 inhabitants, Spoleto, in the Umbria region, is one of the most famous cities in all of Italy. A city that mixes elegance and simplicity and wins us over without any effort. Today we head to the province of Perugia, where we will get to know the beautiful Spoleto a little better. 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 about Spoleto!
Spoleto is a beautiful, charming town located at the southern end of the Umbria Valley. A city that silently attracts and wins us over without we even realizing it, and today I take you to see the best of Spoleto on a short one-day tour.
A little more about Spoleto
Spoleto is the former capital of the Longobard dukes and therefore has a splendid cultural heritage; it houses a historic-artistic heritage that impresses and pleases even the most demanding tourists. The city has its origins in prehistory, and in the 12th century BC the existence of peoples who already live in the region was proven. Spoleto is in a strategic and privileged position, on top of the hill of Sant’Elia, and has shown itself to be promising since the Iron Age; so, to protect itself, it was not long before the city was surrounded with limestone walls (from the 5th century BC) so that it could keep potential invaders at bay.
Although it is not a big city, Spoleto houses several interesting spots for us to visit, especially because of its rich history. Today, I will take you on a one-day tour through the charming Spoleto! Shall we?
1) What to do in a day in Spoleto? VISIT ROCCA ALBORNOZIANA
Well, it’s not easy to make a list of things to see in Spoleto in just one day, so if possible, stay in town for two or three days, to take a leisurely look at everything. If you’re short on time, but want to take a short tour, it’s impossible not to start our tour on the majestic Rocca Albornoziana, which dominates the city! The construction of this site, considering the period, was very quick: it took only four years, and construction began in 1363. The Rocca is characterized by walls, with six square towers, and is the symbol of the city!
The site is divided into two parts
The Cortile d’onore (Courtyard of Honor), where the National Museum of the Duchy is located – which today operates as an exhibition center; and the Cortile delle Armi (Courtyard of Arms), with a beautiful open-air theater. From there, you can head to Torri Bridge, which links Rocca to Monteluco. This bridge is amazing and unique in its kind; it has impressive dimensions: 230 meters long, 82 meters high and 10 arches. Some historians claim that it was built between the 13th and 14th centuries, using as a base the remains of an ancient Roman construction – it was built right after the sack of Barbarossa. The place is indeed magnificent!
2) What to do in a day in Spoleto? VISIT ROMAN THEATER AND PALAZZO MAURI
We continue the tour and go down to the historic center. As you descend, visit the 1st century AD Roman Theater, which, to this day, is used for seasonal performances.
Taking Via Monterone and turning right, you will find the phenomenal Mauri Palace, where the municipal library is located; on the left you can admire the beautiful church of Saint Ansano and the Crypt of Saint Isaac, which dates from the 11th to the 18th century. There are also visible arches of Drusus and Germanicus.
- Look everywhere! Spoleto is filled with impressive buildings and its architecture is breathtaking! The palaces are wonderful and all very well maintained!
3) What to do in a day in Spoleto? VISIT PIAZZA DEL DUOMO
We finally arrived at the main square of the city: Piazza del Duomo. Unarguably one of the most beautiful in all of Italy, but its shape is a little unusual. It has a different shape than we are used to seeing; the square has a long, wide staircase and starts from the center of the square going to the opposite direction of the Cathedral and, when we see the Cathedral, we understand why this city silently wins us over! Imposing, Spoleto’s Cathedral is a delight! Very well preserved, it is dedicated to St Mary of the Assumption and has very ancient origins: it was built between the mid-12th century and the beginning of the following century on top of a religious building that had existed there since the 8th century, the former church of St Mary of Bishopric. The interior of the Cathedral was completed in the 12th century, and in 1227 the façade and bell tower were completed.
The bell tower
The bell tower is to the left of the Cathedral and has a square base; later it was ‘closed’ as an octagonal tower. The 5-arched portico, which faces the façade, was erected only in 1491 and was intended to make the church have a Renaissance appearance. Inside the church, we can see the Baroque influences, which dominate the place after several renovations, started in 1608, being completed in the 18th century. It was also during this period that the three naves of the Cathedral were rebuilt.
A little more abou the Cathedral
The external façade has a typical cabin format built in pale stone, which abundantly reflects the sun’s rays, literally leaving it lit up at certain times of the day! The portico in front of the entrance presents us with the five arches, already mentioned; they are round, divided by Corinthian columns and their sides have two small pulpits.
The upper part of the façade is the oldest and has a beautiful Romanesque style – it is divided by two horizontal bands that alternate with blind arches, three niches and eight rose windows; impressively beautiful, I must say! The central niche is very important there, where we can see an important work from 1207: the Christ between Our Lady and Saint John the Evangelist.
What to see inside the Church?
Inside the church, after the renovations we talked about earlier, the Baroque style stands out in a Latin cross plan, divided into three naves with six spans. The transept presents us with a clear dome and ends on the sides with two eighteenth-century altars. After the transept, we can see the beautiful semicircular apse, which is elegantly decorated with 15th century frescoes showing religious events such as Our Lady, the Annunciation and the Nativity Scene.
It is impossible not to mention the chapels located in the side aisles and in the cathedral’s transept. There you will find the Chapel of the Holy Icons, which shows us an 18th-century architecture and icons of Our Lady, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which dates from the 16th century, the Chapel of Saint Anne, where you can see frescoes from the 14th to the 16th century, and the Chapel of Relics.
Good to know…
- The Cathedral deserves to be visited calmly, as it really houses impressive details!
4) What to do in a day in Spoleto? VISIT THE CAIO MELISSO THEATER
Also unmissable is the Caio Melisso Theater, next to the Cathedral. To the left of the religious building, we find this beautiful theater, which is the oldest in the city.
The construction of what we see today is from the 16th century, and only from 1657 on this space was destined for use by the Accademia degli Ottusi (“Academy of the Dulls”), which made it its own theater. This theater, after ten years, received approval from the municipality, which authorized the construction of four rows of wooden terraces and officially transformed it into the Teatro Nobile, the oldest public theater in Italy.
In 1864, after undergoing another renovation, the theater was reopened, but it was not long before it was abandoned. The old wooden structures were then demolished and replaced by three rows; the curvature of the stage was also changed and all the interior decoration was redone. In 1880 it was returned to the Accademia degli Ottusi and became the Caio Melisso Theater, a simple tribute to the writer, playwright and librarian trusted by Emperor Augustus, born in Spoleto. The theater is still used today.
5) What to do in a day in Spoleto? VISIT THE OLD CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DELLA MANA D’ORO
It’s impossible not to look at the theater and ignore, next door, the Old Church of Santa Maria della Manna d’Oro (“St Mary of the manna of gold”). The octagonal structure stands right behind the theater and appears to be integrated into it. We are talking about the Church of Santa Maria della Manna d’Oro, built between the 16th and 17th centuries. The base of the church is rectangular and made of tanned stone; its walls have beautiful pilasters and cornices, and its interior underwent renovation in the late 17th century. Inside, you can also admire an old baptismal font from the 16th century.
6) What to do in a day in Spoleto? VISIT THE ARCHBISHOP’S PALACE AND CHURCH OF SANT’EUFEMIA
Leaving Duomo’s Square, continue your tour using Via dell’Arringo: there is the staircase that goes from the square to via Aurelio Saffi and, on the left, soon you can see a beautiful street with an arch that connects two buildings. If you prefer to turn right, you will arrive at the beautiful Archbishop’s Palace, recognizable by the large fresco placed above its entrance. Inside the courtyard of this palace, an 18th century portico allows access to the diocesan museum in the wing called Apartment of the Cardinal.
In the museum, you can admire the 16th century doors and the paintings on the ceiling dating from the 18th century, as well as paintings dating from the 13th and 18th centuries, and sculptures, including the bust of Urbano VIII by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is, without a doubt, a place of incredible beauty and well worth a visit!
Church of Sant’Eufemia
In front of the arcades, stop by the Church of Sant’Eufemia, which dates back to the 11th century. Inside the church, you can see 15th century frescoes and a panel on the 12th century altar. The church of Sant’Eufemia has a beautiful Romanesque style, three naves and two galleries that build up on the side aisles. The roof of the church is vaulted and, between the second and third naves, there is a beautiful decorated pillar. The church’s façade is extremely simple, with light colors and a window to light the interior of the place.
7) What to do in a day in Spoleto? VISIT THE CASA ROMANA AND PALAZZO DEL COMUNE
On Via di Visiale, you will find the Casa Romana, one of the most famous attractions in Spoleto. This is the oldest house in the entire city and dates back to the 1st century AD. It was discovered at the end of the 19th century, after excavations and the finding of an inscription dedicating a Polla to Emperor Caligula, suggesting that the house belonged to Vespasia Polla, mother of Vespasian.
Inside the house, you can see the original mosaic floors and the typical structure of the patrician houses of that period. A corridor leads to the atrium, where there is a cistern. On the sides, you can also visit the secondary rooms and their beautiful mosaics. According to historians, the house was used until the beginning of the Middle Ages and then abandoned due to fire.
Palazzo del Comune (Comune Palace)
From there, head to the splendid Comune Palace. Leaving the Roman house and turning left, take Via del Municipio and, straightaway, you can see the Town Hall. Municipal power came here in 1296, after a long restoration. The oldest part here is the tall tower, which appears majestic and dates back to the 13th century; here is also the sundial. During the 18th century, several expansions and restorations were carried out due to a violent earthquake that nearly destroyed the building.
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One day in Spoleto, I confess, is not enough! The city is a real den of history! However, if you’re short on time, be aware that it’s possible to get to know a little bit of one of the most beautiful cities in the Umbria region. Of course, Spoleto offers more cultural, historical and architectural heritage options, without mentioning the typical delicacies that the local enogastronomy offers us, but it would be impossible to list them in a tour of just one day. Would you like to get to know Spoleto in detail and spend more days in the city? Talk to me! Together we can put together a dream tour for you to discover even more beauties of this very special city!
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