umbria: the gorgeous town of spoleto

We left our Airbnb apartment in Perugia at 9:45 because we had to consolidate our suitcases with our multitudes of purchases. Today would be our next to the last day in Italy. We ate yogurt, granola, strawberries, orange juice and coffee. Then we were on our way to Spoleto, another in a succession of sleepy hill towns.

Inside the walled city, set on a slanting hillside, the upper portion is most interesting. We parked at the bottom, so we had a long uphill climb to the top. There were lots of stairs and steep inclines.

The town has beautiful piazzas and streets with Roman and medieval attractions, superb national surroundings with rolling hills, and a dramatic gorge.

We stopped at a cafe for some salty pastries and coffee. Then we went to La Rocca (or Rocca Albornozlana). We didn’t go into the massive fortress but walked around the perimeter. It was built in the mid-14th century and served as a former papal palace, reflecting the restoration of the Church’s power. It is long and rectangular, with six towers and two grand courtyards.

At the back side of the fortress sat the 14th-century Ponte delle Torri (Bridge of the Towers). Massive and graceful, the 10-arch bridge straddles the deep wooded gorge that separates Spoleto from Monteluco. Built over the foundations of a Roman-era aqueduct, it soars 262 feet above the gorge. From there, one could normally enjoy sweeping views over the valley. Sadly, we couldn’t walk across because it was closed due to damage from the August 2016 earthquake.

We met a man from Germany who was walking from Assisi to Rome, part of the St. Francis Way. He had climbed to the top of the town to take pictures and the walk was supposed to be over the bridge to the other side. He had to find another route to cross. He said he’d done the Camino de Santiago before and liked it because of the numbers of people and the infrastructure; he also liked that he was able to send his pack ahead (like I did) on the Camino. 🙂

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Ponte delle Torri

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Ponte delle Torri

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La Rocca

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Ponte delle Torri

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Ponte delle Torri

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La Rocca

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view of Spoleto from La Rocca

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We then walked downhill to see Duomo di Spoleto, with its Romanesque facade. It was originally built in the 11th-century using huge blocks of salvaged stones from Roman buildings for its slender bell tower. It was renovated during the Renaissance with the addition of a loggia in a rosy pink stone, a stunning contrast in styles.

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Spoleto’s Duomo

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Spoleto’s Duomo

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Spoleto’s Duomo

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Spoleto’s Duomo

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Spoleto’s Duomo

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Eight rose windows and original floor tiles remain from an earlier church destroyed by Frederick I (~1123-90). Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644) had the church redecorated in 17th-century Baroque; luckily he didn’t destroy the 15th-century frescoes painted in the apse by Fra Filippo Lippi (~1406-69) between 1466-1469. The immaculately restored masterpieces – the Annunciation, Nativity, and Dormition – tell the story of the life of the Virgin. The Coronation of the Virgin adorns the half dome (Essential Italy: Fodor’s Travel).

Another fresco cycle, including work by Pinturicchio, is off the right aisle; grotesques were used in the ornamentation. The bounty of Umbria is shown in vivid colors in leaves, fruits and vegetables that adorn the center seams in the cross vault.

We walked through the town until we found a lunch place, newpoint, where I had falafel on a salad with olives and chili sauce, and a Schwepps limone.

We retrieved our car from the square at the bottom of the town then drove south and west through mountain passes much like those in West Virginia. We arrived in Orvieto around 3:15.

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Spoleto’s main square

*Wednesday, May 8, 2019*