Sights and history of Spoleto, Umbria, Italy


Spoleto is well worth a visit both on account of its wonderful location on the slopes of the Apennines and for it Roman, mediaeval and Renaissance art and architecture. The history of Spoleto is long and illustrious and this is reflected in its art and architecture.

Spoleto is strategically located on the important Roman highway, the Via Flaminia, which ran from Rome to Ravenna. Spoleto remained an important stronghold throughout the Italian Dark Age and the Longobards established the capital of their empire in Spoleto during the 8 C. The Longobard Duke of Spoleto ruled most of central Italy.

The Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) has developed into a world famous three week festival of music, drama and dance that takes place every year in late June-early July – not to be missed by avant-garde art enthusiasts.

The Ponte delle Torri mediaeval bridge is one of the most dramatic sights in the environs of Spoleto. The bridge is about 230m long and 80m high There is no certain information about its construction, which most likely occurred during the 13 C and the 14 C. Its current appearance dates back to the 14 C, when the entire area underwent profound changes as part of the building initiatives promoted by Cardinal Albornoz and designed by architect Matteo Gattapone. The bridge had a dual purpose: to unite the fortress (on Sant’Elia hill) to the Mulini fort (Monteluco) and at the same time transport water from the Cortaccione springs to Spoleto.

Ponte delle Torri at Spoleto
Ponte delle Torri at Spoleto
Ponte delle Torri and the Rocca Albornoziana at Spoleto
Ponte delle Torri and the Rocca Albornoziana

Among the main sights of Spoleto are:

  • The Spoleto Archaeological Museum
    The Archaeological Museum is a former Benedictine convent and incorporates the Roman theatre. Among its  displays are Roman artifacts, including an inscription warning against damaging a sacred forest.
  • The Spoleto Diocesan Museum
    The Diocesan Museum of Spoleto displays religious art from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period and the entry ticket includes admission to Sant’Eufemia Church.
  • Church of San Gregorio Maggiore
    San Gregorio was built in 1069 with an exterior constructed from Roman spoils and an interior with patches of Romanesque frescoes, unusual stone confessionals, and a small crypt.
  • Church of San Pietro
    The mediaeval Church of San Pietro, which is famed for the sculptures on its facade, is 2 km outside Spoleto (walkable). The sculptures illustrate biblical stories and mediaeval themes and are among the most interesting and skillful Romanesque stone carvings in Umbria.
  • Church of San Ponziano
    This 12 C church on the outskirts of Spoleto is dedicated to Spoleto’s patron saint. It has a beautiful Romanesque facade and extensive mediaeval frescoes in the crypt.
  • Church of San Salvatore
    In contrast to most of the churches in Spoleto which are Romanesque, the Church of San Salvatore is in fact a Roman structure. It was built in the late 4 C in the style of Classical temples and is remarkably well-preserved.
  • Church of Sant’Eufemia
    Sant’Eufemia was built in the 12 C over a Longobard palazzo neighbouring the Duomo and is known for its unique women’s galleries above the nave. It is now part of the Diocesan Museum.
  • Spoleto Duomo
    The 12 C Cathedral of Spoleto is characterised by a fine Romanesque facade, splendid frescoes by Fra Filippo Lippi and others, and houses among it relics a handwritten letter by St. Francis of Assisi.
The Duomo of Spoleto
The Duomo of Spoleto
Interior of the Duomo of Spoleto
Interior of the Duomo

Worth a visit. More about the picturesque city of Spoleto.