Spoleto is a medieval hill town in central Italy famous for its summer music festival, Festival dei Due Mondi. Inhabited since prehistoric times, the lower parts of its wall are from the 6th century BC. The first Roman settlement, Spoletium, began in 241 BC and there are Roman remnants throughout Spoleto's historic center. Spoleto is a walled town built on a hillside with most of the sites in the compact upper town. Above Spoleto is a medieval Rocca and spanning the deep gorge to one side of the Rocca is Spoleto's most famous sight, Ponte delle Torri or Bridge of Towers.
Spoleto is one of the largest towns in southern Umbria. It's about an hour southeast of Perugia, Umbria's principal city. From Orvieto and the A1 Autostrada, Spoleto is about 90 minutes east. Spoleto is on the main road (SS 75) that runs down the Valle Umbra from Assisi to Spoleto. (see Umbria Map from Europe for Visitors)
Spoleto is on the Rome - Ancona train line and the train station is about 1 km from the lower town. You can walk or take a bus that connects the station to the upper part of town. There are several parking lots outside the walls and some pay lots within the walls. Spoleto is also connected by bus to other towns in Umbria. The closest airport is Perugia, with flights to other parts of Europe and the UK. Rome's airports are the closest large airports.
Spoleto Tourist Office:
Spoleto's main tourist office is in Piazza della Liberta, a large square in the upper town. Here you can buy a discount combination ticket to see the Casa Romana, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Pinacoteca Comunale. Next to the tourist office is an office that makes hotel reservations.
The Festival dei Due Mondi, Festival of Two Worlds, is held late June through mid-July. The festival, attended by some of the world's top artists, features theater, opera, music, painting and sculpture. The festival was first started in 1958 by composer Gian Carlo Menotti with the intention of bringing together the old and new worlds of Europe and America. Spoleto will be very crowded during the festival so if you're planning to stay in town be sure to reserve a hotel ahead. Reserve tickets for performances ahead to. The schedule and ticket information is on the Festival dei Due Mondi website.
Venere.com (book direct) has user-rated hotels in Spoleto, ranging from 2 to 4 stars. Spoleto also has excellent restaurants so it makes a good base for exploring southern Umbria towns such as Assisi, Orvieto, and Todi. There are agriturismo accommodations in the countryside near Spoleto.
- Ponte delle Torri, Bridge of the Towers, is a 14th century bridge built over the foundation of a Roman aqueduct. The bridge is about 750 feet long and at the highest point it's 262 feet above the gorge. Across the bridge is a small fortification tower. You can usually walk on the bridge for breath-taking views of the valley and gorge below. (The entrance to the bridge was closed for repairs in June, 2007).
- Rocca Albornoziana, near the bridge, sits on the hilltop above Spoleto. Currently, you can visit only with a guided tour. Tours are given about once an hour and some English tours are scheduled daily, check at the ticket office. A shuttle bus takes you to the entrance where you'll also have a nice view over the valley. Rocca Albornoziana was built on the foundation of the Roman acropolis in the 14th century and served as the seat for local pontifical governors. It has six towers, two large courtyards, and some beautiful frescoes. Inside there's a museum and during summer there are often performances.
- Piazza del Duomo< and the Duomo are at the foot of a scenic stairway. Erected on the site of a primitive Christian temple, the original Duomo was built in the 12th century. It's Romanesque facade was remodeled during the Renaissance and now has beautiful pink stone, 8 rose windows, and gold mosaics. Above the entrance is a Bernini bust of Pope Urban VIII and there are some good 15th century frescoes in the apse. The Teatro Caio Melisso, one of Italy's first theaters, is on one side of the square.
- Piazza del Mercato, one of Spoleto's central squares, was once the site of the Roman Forum. There's an interesting fountain built 1746-1748. Around the square you'll find bars, gelato, and some restaurants. The Roman Arch of Drusus, built in 23AD was the entrance to the Roman Forum. Nearby is an ancient temple under what is now the Church of S. Ansano.
- Casa Romana, the Roman house, is just above Piazza del Mercato. The Casa Romana is believed to have been the house of Vespasia Polla, mother of Emperor Vespasian who was responsible for building the Roman Colosseum. The house is built around an atrium and has mosaic floors and traces of frescoes.
- The Roman Theater was built in the first century. Combined with the theater is the Archeology Museum with Bronze age, Iron age, and Roman exhibits. The theater is now used as a venue during the Festa dei Due Mondi.
- San Salvatore Church, outside the city walls, dates from the 4th century and is part of the World Heritage site, Longobards in Italy. See San Salvatore photos and visitor information.