Villa Fidelia, otherwise known as Costanzi, after the engineer Decio Costanzi, its last owner, is clearly visible along the main road that connects Spello to Assisi. It stands on the most important religious sites of the ancient Umbri people: here, for almost ten centuries, was the Santuario Federale (Federal Sanctuary) of the League of Umbrian cities, which dates back to the 4th-5th century BC. After the Roman conquest, the structure was strengthened under Augustus and Constantine: a terraced elevation was built that connected the sacellum (small shrine) of Jupiter, in the area occupied by the holiday Villa now, to the sacellum of Venus, corresponding to the Monastero delle Suore Francescane Missionarie. In his Rescript, Costantino also expressed the wish that a temple dedicated to his gens Flavia be erected at the base of the sanctuary.
The building we see today, which was transformed into a private villa, is the result of changes made by its various owners over time: the Urbani family in the 16th century, the aristocratic Teresa Pamphili Grillo who bought it in the 18th century, Gregorio Piermarini, who installed the Vesuvian garden and the Fonte di Diana (fountain), and finally Decio Costanzi. The latter sold the south building, the ancient sacellum of Venus, to the monastic institute, while the rest of the area has been owned by the Province of Perugia since 1974, using it as a venue for shows and exhibitions.
Important modifications were made by the Foligno-born architect Giuseppe Piermarini (a holiday pavilion that was later modified) and by Cesare Bazzani starting in the early 20th century and thus the eclectic style of the building – combining Baroque and neoclassical elements – can be traced back to these two figures.
The Villa was so prestigious that it was chosen in 1930 as the venue for the wedding of Boris III of Bulgaria and Giovanna di Savoia, the daughter of the king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele III.
Today the complex covers an area of 60,000 square metres, occupied by a vast park and various buildings. Entering, you will notice the visitor’s centre, which is the work of Bazzani, the imaginative Baroque garden, also called the Vesuvian garden, with the fountain of Diana the huntress, and the English Magnolia lawn. Of great interest is the church of San Fedele, the saint who lends his name to the villa, which may have already been a sacred site. The holiday resort, the small theatre and the gardener’s house are all exquisite, as is the harmonious and geometric Italian garden, followed by the lemon-house, the riding area, and the extensive 20,000 square metre park, with holm-oak grove and olive groves.