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What to see in Spoleto

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If you love ancient, Roman and late medieval history, appreciate the forms and decorations of religious architecture, are moved by nature and sculptures, and if, by chance, you have also seen the television series about the detective priest Don Matteo with Terence Hill in the role, then your visit to the city of Spoleto will not fail to fill you with strong emotions.. The ninth season of the TV series was entirely filmed in the city streets, in the most evocative places of the historic center and surroundings, from the Duomo (Cathedral) to the Rocca Albornoziana (Fortress). In the southern part of the town, you will come across the city’s archaeological area, where a long series of Roman monuments are preserved just a few meters from each other. They testify the importance that Spoleto must have had at the time of the empire: the Arch of Drusus and Germanicus, the Roman Theater, the Roman House (perhaps the home of the mother of Emperor Vespasianus, Polla), the Church of St. Ansano with the underlying Crypt of St. Isaac (built with recycled materials on a previous Roman temple and early Christian church) and, finally, the Complex dedicated to St. Agata, which today houses the National Archaeological Museum. Continuing up the slope on the eastern side of the city, before reaching the heart of Spoleto, you will encounter the Church of St. Eufemia in the Archiepiscopal courtyard, the fourteenth-century Palazzo Comunale (City Hall), the elegant Palazzo Mauri, now the Municipal Library, and a series of religious buildings with peculiar architectural features in which works of art by local and non-local masters are preserved, all of which gravitate around Piazza Duomo: the Church of St. Filippo Neri, the Church of St. Domenico, the Church of the Saints Giovanni and Paolo and the Church of St. Maria della Manna d’Oro.

Once you’ve reached the east-central part of the historic center, you will find yourself in the pulsing heart of the ancient town with Piazza Duomo and its elegant arcades, the mosaic with Christ, and the lovely rose windows of the Romanesque Church of St Maria Assunta. After spending as much time as you need, continue north to complete the visit of the historic center and its sites before seeing the wonders that the city offers beyond the well-preserved city walls. In the northern area of the city are the remains of the Roman Amphitheater, the Convent of St. Nicolò, where Martin Luther also resided in 1512, the most interesting Torre dell’Olio (Oil Tower), from which boiling oil was thrown on the invading enemies, the Bloody Bridge (Ponte Sanguinario), preserved only in part and whose name is perhaps due to the blood shed there by the Christian martyrs, and, finally, the interesting Basilica of St. Gregorio Maggiore.

Beyond its walls there are still treasures to be discovered, above all the magnificent Basilica of St. Salvatore, named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011 as part of the documentary “The Longobards in Italy. The places of power (568-774 AD).”  Visit the scenic Towers Bridge (Ponte delle Torri), whose majestic, elegant profile is a unique landmark that characterizes the town, joining Sant’Elia to Mount Luco. You will be quite impressed by the imposing Rocca Albornoziana fortress built atop the St Elia hill to defend the town and valley. Over the centuries, governors and popes resided there; today it hosts the National Museum of the Duchy of Spoleto. Walking past the city gates on the south side, you will have the opportunity to visit three interesting places of worship: the Church of St. Paul Inter Vineas, the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Loreto and, not to be missed, the Church of St. Pietro Extra Moenia. The latter, in fact, is considered one of the most beautiful and interesting churches in all of Umbria with its decorative sculptures on its façade that make it stand out among churches – a very pleasant ensemble of religious scenes and medieval imaginary allegories, told through decorative reliefs of extraordinary beauty.

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