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A carriage ride in the vineyards

A fantastic tour through the vineyards on a horse-drawn carriage, with a final tasting

60€ Per person
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Along the river Clitunno

From Trevi towards the river deemed sacred by the Romans

from 90€ Per person
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Between Trevi and Spoleto on the Valle Umbra cycle path

A quiet cycle ride, protected by the hills of the Umbria valley

from 65€ Per person
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Bevagna, Spello and Santa Maria degli Angeli

The shortest version of its twin tour, but with the same exhilaration guaranteed

from 90€ Per person
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Biking on the Plains of Bevagna

Biking around Bevagna, on the Umbrian countryside, immense beauty and very little effort

from 90€ Per person
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Cross Country – Discover Montefalco by MTB

Come and discover Montefalco, biking off the beaten track

from 90€ Per person
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Cross Country – from Bevagna to Gualdo Cattaneo

Spectacular landscapes only for the best cycle-trained legs

from 90€ Per person
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Cross Country – Mountain bike in Umbria

Mountain bike in Umbria. Get ready to pedal hard and keep your eyes on the peaks, without ever lowering the head

100€ Per person
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Cross Country – The landscapes of Valle Umbra

A tour through countryside and vineyards, with gentle plains and rugged climbs

from 100€ Per person
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Cross Country – The Sagrantino Grand Tour

A tour through the landscapes and vineyards of Sagrantino, where fatigue gives way to wonder and astonishment

from 100€ Per person
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Cross Country – the Sassovivo woods by MTB

In these magnificent woods you’ll need maximum peddle power

from 90€ Per person
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Cross Country – Wild and rugged Trevi by MTB

A route through the unexpectedly rugged countryside around Trevi, up into the olive groves and unspoilt nature

from 90€ Per person
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Discover Spello

Discover Spello with us 

As if gazing out at the entire Valle Umbra, Spello is gently laid down on a spur of Mount Subasio and slopes and spans out from the summit to the plain; the other side of the hill towers over the valley of Chiona, a tributary of the river Topino, whose path is laced with ancient oaks.

Spello is a feast for your eyes with the colours of its flowers brightening the narrow streets of the town, and the shades of its splendid sunsets, making Spello’s buildings, composed of white and pink stone from Subasio, glisten and glow.

The historic centre has developed over the centuries on an original Roman layout and on top of this the medieval, Renaissance, pontifical and modern city were built, all distinguishable in the current urban fabric; the alleys of Spello branch out from the ancient cardo, which descends to the west, and the decuman, which goes from south to north.

Spello was, in fact, a Roman colony but the most ancient traces in the territory date back to the 7th century BC, as evidenced by numerous findings of settlements that refer to Umbri populations. After the devastation caused by Ottaviano, the Roman Colony Iulia Hispellum was founded, which gradually acquired more and more importance, above all due to the proximity of Via Flaminia. The city walls and the remains of the Amphitheatre, the Theatre, a Temple and the Thermal Baths date back to Roman times; reclamation of the marshes in the plain, which was originally occupied by Lacus Umber, also dates back to this period. Another factor in the development of Spello was Christianity: the Emperor Constantine, in fact, between 326 and 333 AD, promulgated a Rescript in which he proclaimed the city a Christian Sanctuary.

After the fall of the Western Empire, a profound crisis began that worsened with the invasion of Attila and then of Totila, the penultimate king of the Ostrogoths, up to the destruction perpetrated by the Longobards. Spello began to rise again in the era of the Communes and the city became densely inhabited, so much so that it was divided into the three districts or ‘terzieri’: the Terzieri of Pusterola, Mezota and Porta Chiusa (or Borgo), the three ellipse-shaped areas that descend from the Arce gateway, the highest point, to the town; developing further still, the town spread out as far as Porta Venere.

In the course of its history, Spello suffered pressure from neighbouring cities, such as Perugia, Assisi and Spoleto and became the latter’s steward. It was damaged several times in the 13th century and razed to the ground by Federico II, who also destroyed the church of San Lorenzo with its archive and sacristy.

Towards the end of the 15th century it entered into the sphere of influence of the most important lineage in Umbria at the time: the Baglioni Family, which enormously enriched Spello with important architectural and artistic commissions, such as the Baglioni chapel, frescoed by Pinturicchio, in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. In 1583 the city returned under the aegis of the Church and began a long period of decadence, which progressively worsened, until the coup de grace: a terrible earthquake that destroyed the entire city in 1832. Only in the 1960s, thanks to industrialization, was Spello able to blossom again to become, today, the pride of Umbria.

Spello is listed as one of the ‘Borghi più belli d’Italia’ (most beautiful towns/villages in Italy), but it is above all famous for its Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which you will notice it as soon as you cross its threshold. In fact, Porta Consolare, the main entrance to the town, is flanked by a medieval tower, on top of which stands a centuries-old olive tree. The olive tree has been a reference point for the Spello community for thousands of years and today it still influences the social, economic, landscape and cultural dynamics of the city; here the ‘moraiolo’ olive is cultivated, from which a fruity extra virgin olive oil is obtained with a bitter, spicy aroma.

Spello lives in happy symbiosis with nature also from a wine and gastronomic point of view, so local recipes are simple and traditional and based on genuine products grown in the vegetable gardens or in the nearby woods: asparagus, black truffle and, of course, bruschetta, which is wood-toasted bread served with garlic and oil.

The programme of events in Spello is dense and the lively community organizes initiatives scattered throughout the year. Certainly the most important day of the year for the community of Spello is Corpus Christi, when the city becomes a marvellous flowery meadow. In fact, ‘carpets’ and ‘pictures’ of flowers are made that develop for 2 km along the streets of the town and remain on display until sunset; this event, called the ‘Infiorata’ in preparation for Corpus Domini begins six months earlier and is studied in the minutest detail: the decorators, led by the master florist, number a thousand and each year the flowering displays are visited by 50-80,000 people. Spello has been the leading city of the National Association of ‘Città delle Infiorate’ (Towns in Bloom) for some years and many master florists from Spello organize similar events around Italy and abroad.

Two other key events in the city are Hispellum, which during the third week of August re-enacts the ‘Rescript of Constantine’ of 336 AD through rites, processions, banquets and battles between gladiators, and the ‘Oro di Spello’ event which is held in the third week of November and illustrates the rural tradition of Spello and its Olive Oil, its most precious product; Oro di Spello is also included in the regional ‘open-house’ exhibition of oil-producing companies/mills called ‘Frantoi Aperti’.

Spello offers many other leisure opportunities too. In addition to the bill promoted by the Teatro Comunale Subasio and the numerous exhibitions and conferences organized in the Town Hall, you will find that Spello has other strings to its bow (or petals to its flowers!): the Festival del Cinema between February and March, ‘Finestre, balconi e vicoli fioriti’ (Windows, balconies and flowering alleys) in May, the event promoting Grechetto, a local grape variety, in July and, throughout the summer, ‘Incontri per nelle strade’, an event that combines music, dance, theatre and art with performances in the various piazzas in the historic centre.

Discover what to see in Spello 

Spello has kept its identity and that of the whole of Umbria intact for centuries; citing the words of the art historian Cesare Brandi, “stopping in Spello is like having an aperitif in Umbria.”

Exploring Umbria offers you a tour of the city that starts from Porta Consolare and goes up to the Belvedere. Passing through the aforementioned gateway, you’ll find yourself in the Terziere Porta Chiusa district, with its characteristic flowering alleys and tower-houses. Walking along the Via Consolare, you will be able to admire the Oratorio di San Bernardino, home of the oldest hospital in Spello, founded in 1374. Going up further, you will see the Cappella Tega, frescoed by Niccolò di Liberatore and by the Foligno workshop that belonged to Mazzaforte in 1461, and then finally arriving in the churchyard of Santa Maria Maggiore, the main one in the city. Inside is the Cappella Baglioni, along with other frescoes by Pinturicchio and precious artistic artefacts. Right next to the church is the Pinacoteca Civica, which has works dating from the 12th to the 20th century.

Going up further still, you’ll reach the Romanesque church of Sant’Andrea, with frescoes dating to the 14thand 15th century created by the Umbrian school. After Via Cavour, you’ll arrive at the centre of the town, Piazza della Repubblica, overlooked by the 13th-century Palazzo Comunale, the Rocca Baglioni and the church of San Filippo. Walking along Via Garibaldi, you will arrive in Largo Mazzini, where the church of San Lorenzo Vescovo e Martire, the second collegiate church in the town.

We advise you to take Via Giulia and continue to head upwards; at the end you will find the church of Santa Maria di Vallegloria. Then, going through Porta dell’Arce, you will arrive in the highest part of Spello: the Belvedere.

Go to Porta Venere with its majestic Torri di Properzio and reach the remains of the Amphitheatre and the church of San Claudio. We advise you to take Via Centrale Umbra to visit the church of San Ventura, near the public gardens and end your walk in Piazza Kennedy (or Piazza del Mercato). We now suggest you move on from the town to visit other important nearby sites, such as the hamlet of Sant’Anna, where an imposing Roman villa has been found with over 400 square metres of mosaic floors, or Villa Fidelia, on Via Centrale Umbra, the church of Sant’Anna and other suburban churches.

The Madonna di Vico is a place of primary interest more for its history, which is a history of failures, than for its historical-artistic value. It stands on Via Flaminia, a road dotted with churches and sanctuaries, and a milestone for pilgrims heading towards Assisi.

The ‘Tonda’ or ‘Round church’ was erected in 1517 following a bloody affair, which involved Bartoloccio di Giacomo Bartolocci as lord of Spello, and his advisor Vico di Chiatti. They committed the most atrocious cruelties but were killed during a hunting outing by some natives of Assisi in 1373; Vico’s house was demolished and in its place a shrine with a Majesty was built which, over the years, was invaded by brambles and thorns. Despite this, the pilgrims continued to be very devoted to it, until it began to perform miracles and so the decision was made to build a sanctuary there but following a precise and well-planned project.

The round church is designed on a Greek cross with a quadrangular nave, from which three semi-circular apses branch off. Below the dome in the centre of the church is the high altar, which incorporated the ancient shrine with the Madonna del Latte, a 15th-century work attributed to Bartolomeo da Miranda. Overall, the ‘Chiesa Tonda’ is harmonious, bright and decorated with very few frescoes.

Credit for the project goes without doubt to the Baglioni family, then lords of Spello, attentive and highly cultured patrons who, however, went into decline when the Church took possession of the city again in 1583. Thus, as with the Baglioni and Spello, a long period of decadence began, and the end also came for the Madonna di Vico. Since 1539 everything has remained suspended in time and unchanged, probably due to the increasing importance acquired by the sanctuaries in the surroundings. The church fell into a state of neglect and was prey to thieves who stripped it of everything.

The church of San Biagio is a modest but interesting example of Spello’s historical and artistic heritage. It stands on Via Giulia and belongs to the parish of San Lorenzo. Probably built in the mid-13th century, it housed a hospital run by lay people who were descendants of the founder. There’s not much information about this institution: the earliest documents date back to 1430, while after 1460 they become increasingly scarce.

The most recent restoration work dates back to 1979 and focused on consolidating the structure and maintaining its original appearance. The church was built with white-pink limestone from Mount Subasio, has a simple gabled roof and is rectangular in shape with a large truss in the centre of the ceiling.

The interior decoration is certainly not attributable to famous artists but, given its limited dimensions, the pictorial decor is by no means poor. The building has two frescoes attributed to Bartolomeo da Miranda, a painter of the school of Spoleto, who worked in Spello in the second quarter of the 15th century; on the high altar you will see a 17th-century altarpiece and traces of frescoes on the walls by local craftsmen.

The church stands outside the city walls, near the Amphitheatre, and is a wonderful example of an Umbrian Romanesque church, as it has preserved almost unchanged the characteristics of Franciscan artistic forms of the period between the 12th and 13th centuries. In short, as the local historian Dazio Pasquini asserted “one of the few churches in Spello that did not have the money to become baroque …”.

According to a document dated 1178, the church belonged to the abbey of San Silvestro di Collepino, of the Camaldolese order. Before 1393 it passed into the ownership of the community of Spello, although they continued to pay an annual fee to the monks of San Silvestro.

From the end of the 14th century onwards, after the pope released the plenary indulgence to the church of Spello, it became a popular religious centre. Fairs were held there, which required the construction of two porticoes on the sides of the building.

The terrible earthquake of 1832 damaged the structure, which was subsequently renovated, as it was again in the 20th century. Following the 1997 earthquake, additional work was carried out, including the restoration of the frescoes, completed in 2009.

The facade of the church of San Claudio, in white limestone, is interesting, as it’s slightly asymmetrical; on the upper part there is a magnificent rose window, flanked by two mullioned windows. Finally, at the top stands a bell gable on two levels, where the bells once were; there are two statues of eagles, one at each end, now headless.

The interior of the church has three aisles, divided on the right by columns and on the left by pillars on which there are full-length frescoes of San Claudio holds his working tools: a set square, a chisel and a hammer. In the apse we find the altar, composed of the lid of a sarcophagus.

The interior walls of the building were almost entirely painted, but today only a few traces remain, including the cycle of frescoes by Cola di Petruccioli, the ‘Mistero della Redenzione’ in the presbytery and traces of a Crucifixion in the dome of the apse.

The Church of San Fedele belongs to Villa Fidelia and is accessed from Via Centrale Umbra, a few metres before the entrance to the Villa, or through the secondary entrance located next to the visitors centre. It was built on the site of an older sacred structure that could be identified with the temple of the Gens Flavia (of Constantine’s Flavian dynasty), the dedication of which was permitted by the celebrated Rescript of Constantine (ca. 335 AD).

According to Taddeo Donnola this was the site of the martyrdom of San Fedele, the saint who lends his name to the church and the Villa, while tradition has it that the body of San Felice, the patron saint of Spello and Giano of Umbria was laid to rest here.

When the area of ​​Villa Fidelia was purchased by the engineer Decio Costanzi, the church also underwent modification under the architect Cesare Bazzani: it was made shorter and a pretty façade was added. It was reopened for worship on 11th May 1935.

The interior of San Fedele has changed compared with its original appearance and today it is bare and in a state of neglect. On the left wall there are signs of the detachment of a fresco, while on the opposite wall there is a fresco of San Felice from the 16th century.

In 1911 the church, which then belonged to the Foligno-born Sante Ubaldi, was first restored and later reopened for worship; we know from chronicles of the time that the event was celebrated with a large procession that, accompanied by the sound of the bells, arrived in San Fedele from the church of San Lorenzo.

It was also the custom of the mothers to go to the patron saint to pray for a cure for their sick children: there were in fact numerous votive offerings, attesting to favours received.

The church of San Gregorio Magno, which contains the precious Oratorio della Morte, is located just after the entrance to Via Giulia, on the left. Known as the ‘Chiesa della Morte’ (Church of Death), it was built in 1573, while the ‘Confraternity of Death’ was founded in 1550: this order was responsible for burying the dead and had originally been located in the Oratory of Sant’Antonio.

The ‘new’ oratory was built in the early 17th century on the initiative of Don Giovanni Jacobieri and is accessed via a 17th-century door along the right wall of the church: this bears the coat of arms of the Diamanti family. The community bore the cost for the construction of the oratory and therefore the interior decoration, including busts of saints, sibyls and prophets, were commissioned by the wealthiest families of Spello; the work is dated 1604 and is attributed to an anonymous Baroque painter.

The exterior of the church was originally plastered, while today it is in Subasio stone, widely used in all buildings in Spello. There is no record of the Renaissance project and only a decoration with the tympanum of a classical temple in the attic remains. The interior has a rectangular plan, with three late 16th-century altars displaying several works, including an Annunciation from 1591, a Transito di Sant’Andrea dated 1789, an 18th-century choir and a 19th-century statue of Christ Resurrected. The entire complex was restored and reopened for worship after the earthquake of 1997.

The church of San Lorenzo Vescovo e Martire is Spello’s second Collegiate church after Santa Maria Maggiore, and stands on Largo Mazzini, on the remains of the ancient church of Sant’Ercolano, probably attributable to the 6th century. This church was built in the 12th century for reasons that are still unclear: according to some, it was the will of the people of Spello who wanted to put themselves under the protection of the martyr Lorenzo, while according to others it was after the emperor Henry IV had removed the siege from the city. It was consecrated by Pope Gregory IX in 1228 and was later destroyed by the army of Frederick II. Later rebuilt and enlarged, it was visited by numerous popes.

Looking at the facade, one realizes that it is the result of two different construction phases: the first is Romanesque in character, while the second dates back to 1540 when the building was modified to create a more imposing image: the central nave was therefore enlarged and the side aisles built thanks to work led by the architect ‘Maestro Donato’, as evidenced by the parish chronicles.

The church has three naves divided by pillars and ending in an apse; the central one is the largest and is covered by barrel vaults, while the one on the right ends with an altar and houses three chapels: that of the Vergine Incoronata, which houses an image donated by Saint Bernardino of Siena in 1438, the 18th-century cappella del Sacramento by Piermarini or Filippo Neri from Foligno, in which the beautiful Tabernacle by Flaminio Vacca is preserved, and finally that of the Trinità. There is a glorious stained glass window depicting the martyrdom of San Lorenzo and an elegant canopy on the high altar that is very similar to the one made by Bernini in St Peter’s church in the Vatican.

The most important works preserved in the church include the Sposalizio mistico di Santa Caterina by Bartolomeo da Miranda and a Nativity di Andrea Camassei. The Sacristy also houses other works, including a 16th-century wardrobe inlaid with the coat of arms of the Baglioni family.

The church of San Martino is a small harmonious and well-balanced building, set gracefully inside a delightful medieval district of Spello, in the historic centre. It was probably founded between the 11th and the 12th century by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Pusterula in honour of the bishop of Tours, even though the earliest mention of the church is much later, around 1333-34. The building, one of the ‘poor’ churches of Spello, is believed to have been built in two distinct phases: the first between the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century, to which we owe the architectural layout of the church, based on a Romanesque model, with a gabled and pitched roof.

During the second stage, the belfry was moved, while it was originally a bell gable on the facade, while today it stands in the apse area. The roof was also rebuilt and three internal transversal arches were erected, remodelled in the 20th century.

Today the church is closed, except for some ceremonies or exhibitions by local artists. It presents a simple facade in local white stone and an entrance door crowned by two arched lintels, one white and one red; in the upper part there is a mullioned window with a lily-shaped capital. The floor plan is rectangular and inside the walls, which slant outwardly towards the bottom, create an impression of added depth. At the bottom is the apse, with an altar recomposed in 1971 using archaeological finds and original parts, and behind it is the small door to the sacristy.

The pictorial decoration has been severely damaged: in a niche on the left there is a fresco depicting San Martino giving his cloak to the poor and above a detached fresco depicting San Sebastiano, both from the 15th century. Below is the tombstone by Gaetano Franceschini, who chose San Martino as his burial place.

San Ventura, a native of Spello who was possibly part of the Spellucci family, was born at the end of the 12th century and joined the ‘Crociferi’ hospital order. Tradition has it that in the second half of the 12th century, perhaps in 1195, he founded a church in Spello dedicated to the Santa Croce (Holy Cross), with a convent and hospital annex, where he spent his whole life devoted to caring for the poor and sick. He was buried there and by 1265 the church had already changed its name and taken that of San Ventura; even today people with bone-related illnesses come to venerate their patron saint, who because of his closeness to the crippled, is portrayed with a crutch in his hand.

The church of San Ventura is located opposite Porta Urbica and is currently an oratory belonging to the church of Sant’Andrea We know from the historian from Spello, Taddeo Donnola, that the church suffered extensive damage, while the convent and hospital were entirely destroyed by the passage of military troops in the mid-16th century. In 1625, however, restoration work was commissioned by the nobleman Cambi, who changed the appearance of the church with the elimination of the tympanum.

In 1656 the order of the Italian Crociferi was suppressed and the church passed into the hands of the Frati Minori di Sant’Andrea. It was used as warehouse for storing grain during the Second World War and was finally restored in 1960. This most recent work consolidated the entire structure and added the pilasters and the entablature, as well as facilitating the restoration of many works of art; in 2001 the fresco of the Predica di San Feliciano a Spello was restored.

The church is double sloping with a bell tower; the facade has four fake columns with a tympanum above, a simple portal and two small low-set windows through which one could see the tomb of San Ventura even when the church was closed. The right wall of the building is higher than the left as the ground is sloped. Inside there is a single hall with a slightly raised presbytery; the back wall is straight and has two entrances to the sacristy.

In addition to a beautiful wooden choir painted on the counter-facade, the church contains numerous works of art: on the right wall there is a fresco depicting San Feliciano and oil paintings attributed to Cesare Sermei (17th century), a fresco of the Umbrian school depicting San Ventura with a crutch and holding a book (late 14th century). On the wall of the altar there is a lovely wooden tabernacle with paintings of a Deposition from the Cross with two Angels and a nursing Madonna; the Sarcophagus of San Ventura, perhaps dating back to the 12th century, is preserved in the high altar. The left wall hosts a painting of the Apparition of the Cross with an interesting view of Spello in the early 17th century, and other frescoes from the 16th-century Umbrian school and paintings by Sermei. There are also two paintings in the church, a Madonna of Lourdes and a San Ventura, dated 1887 by G. Barbi.

The church of Sant’Anna is a small and permanently closed building that stands in the suburban area of ​​Spello, a short distance from Villa di Mosaici. It was probably an oratory of the order called the Fraternità dei Disciplinati di Sant’Anna, which ran the hospital inside the walls starting in 1362. There are no documents concerning the foundation, but frescoes have recently been discovered that place the date of construction at the beginning of the 13th century. Like many buildings in Spello, it has undergone modifications that have changed the original appearance, including one recently undertaken after the earthquake of 1997.

The church has a gable roof with a central oculus without a rose window and also has a portico covered by a grating, which is interposed between the exterior and the interior of the church. It has a quadrangular plan, with three altars and straight-bottomed walls. The walls are decorated with frescoes commissioned by locals between the 15th and 16th centuries. Among these we note a Madonna con Bambino and San Giobbe con Sant’Anna from the Umbrian school, a fresco from the Foligno school inside a niche, a 14th-century processional banner and other 16th-century frescoes from the Umbrian school. Furthermore, next to the altar there is a Madonna of Lourdes made of plaster and in a niche, a statue of Sant’Anna with the Infant Madonna.

The church of Santa Maria del Mausoleo is located along the road that leads from Spello to Cannara, about 1km from the city; currently closed, it is only opened for occasional celebrations. The structure of the church incorporates the remains of a Roman sepulchral monument, discovered in 1300 as documented by Fausto Gentile Donnola, who wrote that it must originally have been shaped like a tower; the mausoleum was erected as the tomb of a consul of what was the Splendidissima Colonia Julia of Spello and traces of it remain in the rear part of the church.

The church itself dates back to the 15th century and a variety of legends circulate around its foundation. Given the position of the mausoleum on a crossroads, the Christians nearby had a Madonna and Child painted in the main niche. At the time, the mausoleum was used as a retreat for refreshment and shelter from the weather for the men who were guarding the vineyards, and they often played games there; it is said that one of them, angry at losing, threw an object at the image of the Madonna, deeming her guilty of his misfortune: the face of the Virgin bled and the guardians all died in poverty.

The place soon became a pilgrimage site and a miracle took place there in 1592 when a poor boy asked the image of the Madonna for bread and obtained some. Thus in 1595 the church was built thanks to the alms collected, amounting to some 3,000 scudi, an incredible figure for those times.

The importance of the church grew and a house for chaplains was also built; in the 20th century, however, following the construction of the church in the hamlet of Limiti, Santa Maria di Mausoleo was forgotten and the adjacent small house was demolished.

The church is built of brick and stone, divided by pilasters on the facade; it has a gabled roof and a bell gable. The interior, with a rectangular plan, has a nave with six chapels on the long sides: the first on the right is dedicated to San Giorgio and remains of stucco decorations can still be seen. Behind the high altar, remains of a Roman floor emerge and, in a niche, the image of the Madonna to which the church is dedicated. A canvas depicting the Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints, dating from the 16th century and originally from the church, is now kept in the parish church of Santa Croce in Limiti.

The hermitage of Santa Maria del Paradiso is an abandoned building that’s clearly visible along the road that goes up from Spello to Collepino, in the area of Paradiso. The complex is known for having been the site of a female Franciscan order (known as bizzocche) until the middle of the 14th century: here four nuns from Spello, belonging to the order of penitents, chose to retire to a life of poverty and asceticism in protest against the luxurious lifestyle of the high-ranking clergy.

The order was established on 30th June 1296 by Simone di Leonardo, who gave them one of his homes and requested that a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary be placed alongside it; the bizzoche were in fact devoted to the cult of the Virgin. Whilst they initially followed the Augustinian rule, in 1325 they passed to the order of Santa Chiara, not wanting however to give up their lifestyle as bizzocche and their private property: they therefore continued to administer their assets and to sell hemp and linen products at fairs or to private individuals, withholding part of the proceeds. At the hermitage, commercial plants and various grains such as barley, millet and wheat were cultivated, as well as vineyards and olive groves; some land, acquired over the years, was subsequently leased.

According to the local historian Donnola, the nuns of Santa Maria del Paradiso joined the nuns of the monasteries of Santa Margherita and San Giacomo in the same period in which nuns of ‘old’ Vallegloria abandoned their convent. They moved near Spello, to the Prato area, in the mid-14th century and in 1462 their religious foundation was suppressed. Santa Maria del Paradiso became the property of the prior of San Lorenzo, Benedetto Urbani and was later sold, while the nuns settled in the complex of Santa Chiara, within the city walls.

In the end, the former hermitage in the Paradiso area became a farmhouse and shelter for livestock.

The first records date back to 1178 and concern a church dedicated to San Rufino that was considered rather important in the Middle Ages, as the titular saint was one of the patrons of Spello. The church was under the aegis of the abbey of San Silvestro di Collepino, which belonged to the Camaldolese order; at the beginning of the 16th century it became the seat of the Disciplinati di San Girolamo order, which came from the church of Sant’Ercolano, while in 1564 it became the property of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Work was undertaken to reorganize the square at the end of the 16th century and another church was built upon it, initially dedicated to San Rocco and then named after San Filippo when the friars of that order arrived in 1640. Over the years the church underwent some modification, until it was transformed into a Post Office in the 1980s. We can now see only the perimeter walls of the ancient church of San Rufino, in particular the right wall and back wall, which have been incorporated into the Middle School building and the left wall which has become part of the public Swimming Pool; inside you can still see the two naves covered by a cross vault resting on pillars. Signs of the building work that led to the construction of the church of San Filippo remain on the facade of the current Post Office.

The former oratory, located on Via Consolare, was the site of a hospital in the commune of Spello and starting in the 15th century it hosted the Confraternita del Buon Gesù, which managed the institution. According to the Chronicles of the Olorini, the congregation was founded in 1444 by San Bernardino da Siena during a sermon in San Lorenzo. The institution was suppressed in 1571, at the behest of the apostolic visitor, due to the squandering of commodities and money. Today the building is privately owned and is used for secular purposes.

The building was badly affected by a terrible earthquake that struck in 1882 and, due to the damage, the facade was set back: this has a pointed portal surmounted by a single-lancet window. The original doors of the ancient portal, which dates back to the 15th century, are kept in the atrium of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. On the tympanum there is a fresco depicting San Bernardino which was detached from the original facade and painted over the older fresco in 1942 by Benito Balducci.

Inside the former oratory there are frescoes from the Umbrian school of the 16th century: one of these, depicting a Madonna with Child between Saints Girolamo and Bernardino, has been tentatively attributed to Andrea d’Assisi. This fresco, together with the fake pilaster of the frame around it, were removed after 1903 by the art restorer Giuseppe Colarieti Tosti and transferred first to the Cappella del Crocifisso in Santa Maria Maggiore, and subsequently, to the town’s art gallery (Pinacoteca Civica), where they are currently located.

The former oratory was the seat of the ‘Confraternita disciplinata della Misericordia’ founded in 1348 and which for about ten years gathered in other places, until they built new headquarters in the houses of Tomasuccia di Puccio di Bartolo from Spello. The friars began to carry out hospital activities in 1386 and established their hospital in 1570. It was the only centre offering medical assistance in Spello, due to the suppression of similar services in San Michele Arcangelo and San Bernardino. In the second half of the 19th century the building became private property and was used as a woodshed, then a carpenter’s workshop, and subsequently became totally unusable after the 1997 earthquake. It is currently owned by a family from Spello but is in very poor condition, at risk of collapse and access is prohibited to the public.

Despite the most varied uses that have been made of it, traces of frescoes remain both on the exterior of the facade and inside, which is based on a rectangular floor plan with apses.

Amongst the natural springs on Mount Subasio (1028 m), Fonte Bregno is located at the highest altitude and is split between two communes, Assisi and Spello, which had both laid claim to it since the Middle Ages. It can be reached via a hiking trail that starts from the church of the Madonna della Spella and is also accessible to people with motor disabilities. The spring is also equipped with a small shelter with fireplace and a small area suitable for picnics and camping.

The name of the spring derives from its function as a drinking trough for animals (‘bregno’ or ‘truogolo’ in dialect) and has Lombard origins; in 18th and 19th-century documents it is called ‘Bregnole’ or ‘Bregnola’. Precisely because it was a strategic ‘watering hole’ point for the herds that grazed on the top of the mountain, Fontebregno was fiercely contested by Spello and Assisi, until the resolution of 1772 by order of Monsignor Tiberio Soderini, who set out the boundaries of the municipal areas to the advantage of Assisi. The decree was made as an act of goodwill by Pope Clement XIV, at the request of the commune of Assisi.

The spring had three outlets and consisted of a high parapet and short lateral wings; there was also a plaque on the facade, which commemorated the sentence of Cardinal Soderini, who ordered that the communes of Spello and Assisi should jointly take care of possible future restoration of the spring. This is because the two filtering tunnels that converge at the outlet are located individually in each commune. Restored in 2012, the spring now has two outlets and on the left one, there is a sculpture by Fiorenzo Bacci, depicting the Nymph of the healing waters of Mount Subasio: this sculpture represents a tribute to water and is one of a series of works dedicated to the four elements (earth, wind, water, fire) that are found within the Parco del Subasio.

Spello’s boundary wall is one of the most important legacies of the Roman period, allowing us to reconstruct the entire route that embraced the ancient historic centre. It extends for about 1.8 km from north to south and is elongated in shape. Unfortunately in the north-eastern part the wall is no longer identifiable, but between the south-eastern and western sides over half of it is still visible. The wall is built of small blocks of pink limestone from Mount Subasio that are rectangular in shape and arranged according to the opus vittatum technique; the inner core is instead made of opus coementicium and the gateways are built of large blocks of greyish limestone.

The boundary wall dates back to 30/20 BC. and was a benevolent intervention undertaken by the emperor Augustus, later restored in the late antique period. However, due to the monumentality and aesthetic quality of the work, it is very likely that the walls were built more to embellish the city and emphasize the age of Augustus than to defend it.

Along the stretch of wall there are still three ‘posterns’ or pedestrian crossings between the inside and the outside of the city, and five Roman gates: Porta Venere, Porta Urbica and Porta Consolare in the southern part, and Porta di Augusto and Porta dell’Arce near the Rocca (fortress). It is certainly one of the best-preserved fortified structures in Italy.

Palazzo Baglioni is in Piazza della Repubblica, next to the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) and originally extended up to Via Seminario Vecchio and Via della Liberazione. It incorporates the pre-existing Rocca Albornoziana, or ‘Rocca Cassero’, which was built in 1358 by the rector of the Duchy of Spoleto, Filippo D’Antella, in the area previously occupied by the Oratorio dei Raccomandati di Santa Maria della Misericordia. The fortress was part of the project to fortify the lands owned by the Church: it was keenly desired by the Pope and entrusted to Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, who started the construction of numerous strongholds in the most important cities, right in the centre of Italy, to centralize and consolidate the power of the Papal State.

With the beginning of the rule of the Baglioni in Spello, the family moved to the city, and thus between 1561 and 1564 Adriano Baglioni had the building modified and turned into a noble residence: based on a project by Battaglia di Pietro and Filippo di Giacomo, changes were made to the appearance of the building and, in particular, the height of the keep was lowered.

Other works followed throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, as the fortress and the palazzo were used as the home of the apostolic governor, then as a prison and finally as the seat of the seminary of San Felice; further interventions followed in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake of 1832. Unfortunately, because of the numerous modifications and conversions, today very little is left of the original complex and the remains are visible both in Via Seminario Vecchio and in Via della Liberazione, while the 16th-century wall that connected the two parts of the structure has been completely lost.

The interior has also undergone modification, but fortunately some frescoes and decorations remain. The most interesting room is certainly that of the Governor, on the ground floor: the ceiling is exquisite, with tiles decorated with geometric-floral motifs and with the griffin, symbol of Perugia, and the walls are frescoed with female figures holding up cross-beams and some views of Valle Umbra. The dating and authorship of the frescoes are not known, but similarities have been found with the cycle in the Sala degli Zuccari in Palazzo Comunale.

The Palazzo Comunale di Spello (Town Hall) was erected in Piazza della Repubblica in 1270 to a design by Mastro Prode, under the rule of the podestà (chief magistrate) Giacomo del Mastro, on the site of a probable pre-existing palazzo. The appearance of the building, with the fall of the Baglioni lordship, underwent several changes at the end of the 16th century and then again in the 17th century, when the structure was extended on the eastern side and another storey was added. It owes its present appearance to works carried out in 1939 plus additional restoration after the earthquake in 1997. Although it is the seat of some municipal offices, it is also used as a municipal venue with conference rooms and spaces for exhibitions.

On the ground floor we can admire two ogival arches that lead to the palazzo’s ancient loggia which houses a plaque in memory of Spello’s 86 fallen and 14 missing during the First World War: it is the work of the artist Benvenuto Crispoldi and depicts the homeland. Above the loggia one can observe the three Romanesque blank, double lancet windows, two on Via Garibaldi and one on the square, surmounted by elegant capitals. On the side of the arcade there was a flight of stairs which was demolished in the 16th century and replaced by a fountain by Pope Julius III Del Monte: a basin accompanied by two Ionic columns, an entablature with festoon decorations and four coats of arms, including that of Pope Julius III. Above the fountain we can see a damaged 20th century Annunciation, while at the top of the building we see the tower with the town clock.

Palazzo Comunale now has three accessible floors, with a total of 26 internal rooms. Entering the atrium of the building, you can see the walled collection of Roman archaeological finds, while the Sala delle Volte hosted the ‘Monte di Pietà’ (pawnbroker’s) in the 15th century and is now used for temporary exhibitions. The Sala dell’Editto contains the Rescript of Constantine and is decorated with wonderful views of Spello by the 19th-century painter Gaetano Pompei of Amandola. You’ll go through the Sala Petrucci, the Sala degli Stemmi, with the genealogical tree of the most important Spello families starting from the 16th century, and then the ‘Fondo Antico’, an archive that has about 4,000 volumes, including a precious incunabulum printed in Venice in 1474. Certainly the most important room is the Sala degli Zuccari, with its magnificent cycle of frescoes from the 16th century, previously thought to be by Federico and Taddeo Zuccari but now attributed to Ascensidonio Spacca, aka Fantino.

Of great importance is the ‘Emilio Greco’ Permanent Collection, set up on the second floor of the building, focusing on the many facets of the female world.

Palazzo Urbani-Acuti, also called Palazzo Cruciani, is in Via Garibaldi and was one Spello’s main private buildings. It was built around 1602 by the noble family from Spello, the Urbani-Acuti, who expanding the buildings that stood behind, and it was the residence of patrician families for centuries: in 1620 it passed into the hands of the Monaldis, in 1718 to the Grillo-Pamphili and finally to the Cruciani in 1769. In 1940 it was sold to the nearby Collegio Vitale Rosi and then became the property of the Municipality.

Palazzo Cruciani underwent several modifications linked to the architectural tastes of the noble families who lived there; it now has four floors and is clearly Baroque in style. The complex structure revolves around the courtyard, made more airy by the large windows in the eastern wing and has a period well decorated with masks as well as the heraldic emblem placed on it by the Urbani-Acuti. The covered wooden balcony, extending to the left of the courtyard, is very elegant and affords magnificent views.

Inside, the ground floor is decorated with 17th-century allegories frescoed on the barrel vault ceiling, by an unknown author and dated 1602, as well as decorations on the stairs and the piano nobile. The main room is the Sala delle Quattro Stagioni, on the first floor, where meetings of the municipal council are held. The Four Seasons are depicted on the ceiling, while on the walls, the initials of the client Giovanni Cruciani, the date of execution of the paintings (1890) and the signature of the artist Gaetano Pompei of Amendola are interspersed by motifs depicting candelabras.

Spello’s Art Gallery officially opened on 6th August 1994, but the first collection of works was put together by the prior Luigi Pomponi when he began, in 1916, to collect the most important works from the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and other churches. Works from the Municipality of Spello and of the Congregazione della Carità were later added to this collection. Pomponi took care of the Pinacoteca personally until the 1960s, while in the 1980s a seat was found for the museum, which is still in Palazzo dei Canonici, the building adjacent to Santa Maria Maggiore, built in 1542.

Another figure who was fundamental to the development of the museum is Benvenuto Crispoldi, a painter from Spello who was active between 1886 and 1923 and was the first socialist mayor of the city. He bequeathed all his works to the local council.

The Pinacoteca di Spello contains precious Gothic and Baroque jewellery, sacred vestments, polychrome wooden sculptures, paintings on panels, paintings on canvas and detached frescoes, dating from the end of the 13th century to the 18th century. They illustrate the quality of local artistry and the relationships between Spello and the other artistic towns in Umbrian such as Spoleto, Perugia and Foligno.

The museum is divided into seven rooms, whose main attractions are a wooden Madonna carved in the early 14th century, the Croce Astile (Astile Cross) in gilded silver by Paolo Vanni dated 1398 and the Gonfalone (banner) by the Foligno-based workshop of the Mazzaforte, together with the Madonna col Rosario (Madonna with rosary)  by Ascensidonio Spacca. In room 5 you’ll also see some exquisite panels from the choir of Santa Maria Maggiore, painted at the end of the 16th century by Zaccaria di Filippo Mazzola; also from the same church is the triptych of the Maestro dell’Assunta di Amelia, a tempera painting from the end of the 15th century placed in the same room as the Madonna con Bambino, attributed first to Pintoricchio and then to Andrea d’Assisi. The work was stolen in 1970 and did not return to Spello until 34 years later, in 2004; it is also tempera painting and was the central panel of the triptych of the Maestro dell’Assunta.

Porta Venere dates back to the Roman period and is more precisely of Augustan origin. It stands at the end of Via delle Mura Vecchie and of Spello’s five gates it is certainly the most beautiful and majestic. Also because of its name, historians place it in relation with the remains of a temple dedicated to Venus, found at Villa Fidelia, connected to the city through this entrance; it’s not a coincidence that the door faces in the direction of the sacellum. With three arches, and composed of white travertine with Doric order pilasters, it testifies to the glorious past of the Splendidissima Colonia Julia. It has a cavaedium, which is a fortified building with a double door; the whole area on which the city gate and the towers stand was once occupied by buildings, the remains of which can be seen in the cellars of the houses of the inhabitants of Via Torri di Properzio.

The grandeur of the gate is accentuated by the two dodecagonal towers that flank it, dedicated to Properzio (Propertius), probably built in the Middle Ages. The towers are made of local pink stone; the one in the east stands on the hilly ground, while the one in the west is on a square support measuring 10 metres in height.

The gate and tower complex was restored in the 1910-1920s when many medieval buildings were demolished, and then in 1940 and 1941. The latest restoration work, in 2014, opened both towers to the public.

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.

The chapel was named ‘Tega’ after the tailor Pietro Tega, who discovered the frescoes in 1921, until then hidden under a layer of plaster. Its original name, however, was the cappella di Sant’Anna, because it was the seat of the ‘Fraternità Disciplinata di Sant’Anna’. They administered one of the many hospitals that existed by tradition in Spello, dating back to 1362, although the order was suppressed in 1571. In 1895 the space was used as a workshop, but even then the frescoes, which were restored in 1970, were partially visible.

The chapel is composed of a single space with a rectangular plan, covered by a cross vault; on the left wall there is a large arch, currently partly underground due to the raising of the road surface on the adjacent square. Despite the chapel’s small size, your eyes will feast on the multitude of frescoes covering the walls and vaults.

These works, which are part of Italy’s rich artistic heritage, date back to 1461 and are attributable to Niccolò di Liberatore, known as the l’Alunno (the Pupil), and one perhaps to Pietro di Mazzaforte, son of Giovanni di Corraduccio from Foligno. The decorations were probably part of an important larger overall iconographic project; today we can admire the apostles and saints, Hell, Purgatory, and the Evangelists, portrayed in the four vaults.

The fascinating Romanesque church of Sant’Andrea was built in 1025, probably by San Romualdo and was later sold, together with the annexed convent, to the minor friars by the bishop of Spoleto. The dedication to the Blessed Andrea Caccioli, a native of Spello and follower of St Francis, is of a later date. The building was modified via numerous interventions, until the last in the 17th century.

It is a Latin cross church with a unique, incredibly atmospheric nave and a treasure trove of works of art. It was restored by the Spello-born Benvenuto Crispoldi in 1913. Inside we find the Cappella del Battistero, the first Baglioni chapel, commissioned by Grifonetto Baglioni, who is portrayed there, in the 15th century. In the right-hand transept there is a beautiful panel by Pintoricchio, which he began in 1506, but which was completed in 1510 by Eusebio da San Giorgio and others. The letter by Bernardino di Betto at the base of the work is interesting because he justifies his abandonment of work due to impending commitments to Siena.

The altar is a precious sculptural artefact dated between the 13th and 14th centuries and houses, inside a gilded wooden urn, a relic of the Blessed Andrea Caccioli.

The convent stands next to the church and is entered via a portal to the right of the facade; a corridor connects the church to the cloister and the refectory and the other conventual areas overlook it.

Porta Consolare was the main gateway to the city from the southern slope. It is built with ashlars of white Subasio stone that have been perfectly polished and joined together without the use of mortar; with its three arches, it is an example of an ad cavaedium door, that is, with a sort of courtyard between the inner and the outer arch. The central archway was used for carts while the two smaller side arches were for pedestrians. To the south stands a well-preserved medieval tower that flanks the gateway.

The door was raised in the external front portion during the Renaissance, given the elevation of the walkway floor; three marble statues were also installed, although they were originally funerary monuments from the end of the first century BC, coming from the amphitheatre area. Numerous restorations and alterations were carried out over the centuries on both the gateway and in the street below, illustrating the constant use made of Porta Consolare.

Indeed, under the central arch, three road layers belonging to the pre-Roman, Roman and medieval periods can be seen in section: this means that the first road is even older than the gate, which was erected in the triumviral age.

In 2005, an amazing discovery was made a few metres from Porta Consolare, near the church of Sant’Anna: during excavation works for the construction of a car parking, in the area previously occupied by a football field, remains of a Roman villa were unearthed.

Years of excavation and restoration work brought to light a splendid imperial-age villa composed of twenty rooms with stunning mosaic floors. The colours and the elegance of the design demonstrate the superior skills of the craftsmen involved, probably from Rome and commissioned by a wealthy client; unfortunately the identity of the owner of the Villa is not known, although the wine pouring scene in the main room has led experts to think he may have been a winemaker.

The Villa covers an area of ​​500 square metres and two construction phases have been identified: the first in the Augustan age (27 BC-14 AD) and the second in the imperial age (2nd-3rd century AD). Ten of the twenty rooms are decorated with multicoloured mosaics and retain traces of variously- coloured plaster on the walls. The mosaic floors portray figures of wild and fantastical animals, male characters representing the Seasons, satyrs, geometric elements and the aforementioned scene of pouring wine in the main room, the triclinium. Other remarkably beautiful rooms include the room of the birds, of the amphorae, of the radiant sun, of the geometric mosaic – perhaps the bedroom – the room of the shields, which was heated and the most ancient part of the Villa, and the peristyle, that is, the portico that framed the inner courtyard of the house. All the decorations are connected to the owner’s (apparent) profession: wine production.

Since 2018, Villa dei Mosaici has become an avant-garde museum, with a modern architectural structure that is perfectly in harmony with the landscape that surrounds it and is equipped with numerous facilities for visitors.

The gateway called Porta dell’Arce is located at the highest and most northerly point of the boundary walls, and it was even assumed that it could have been part of previous republican walls, of which no traces remain. Due to its proximity to the Capuchin monastery, it is also called Porta dei Cappuccini and through it, access was provided to the mountain.

It is composed of a single arch with a width of 3 metres and only the double arch of ashlars is preserved. The slit which housed the closing shutter is still visible, as are the abutments, although mostly buried. The outer side of the arch has a frame carved into the ashlars, which was probably also on the opposite side, but no traces remain. The arch is made of quadrangular blocks of dry white local stone.

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