Spoleto, in Umbria, is a pretty hill-town filled with beautiful architecture. It is famous for the Spoleto Festival, which takes place every summer.
Spoleto Tourist Information
Spoleto is an attractive destination all-year-round, a peaceful hill-town with a fine cathedral, interesting sights and pleasant walks. But it is during June and July that Spoleto comes to life. The Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) takes over the historic town centre, with high-quality performing arts events taking place throughout Spoleto. Churches, piazzas and theatres are turned into festival venues, the streets are thronged and accommodation is fully-booked.
Spoleto Tourist Attractions
A good place to begin your tour of Spoleto is at the tourist information office in Piazza della Libertà (either walk uphill, or take a bus from the station). Here you can pick up a town plan.
The Duomo is one of Spoleto’s finest sights. Begun in the twelfth century, the delicate-looking cathedral is set against a backdrop of hills and valleys. The Duomo is an amalgam of styles, and boasts an apse frescoed by Fra Filippo Lippi, whose tomb lies in the church.
The town’s Pinacoteca, or art museum, occupies part of the city hall, and contains works by Umbrian masters including Perugino.
Spoleto’s Roman ruins include a Roman theatre, just off Piazza della Liberta. An archeological museum next door houses statues and artefacts found locally. There are also two Roman arches visible, the Arco Romano and the Arco di Druso, and a Casa Romana or Roman house – an atmospheric spot with attractive mosaics.
High above the town is the Rocca, a Papal fortress which was used as a prison until the 1980s. Guided tours (Italian and English) escort visitors around the fortress. The views are incredible, and the interiors are also interesting. There are some good surviving frescoes (sadly most were whitewashed out of existence during the prison era), including one that portrays Arthurian-type chivalric myth. As well as original and restored features, you can also see where the former cells were, if you fancy a twinge of horror (although, given the setting, the views and the local cuisine, this surely can’t have been the worst prison in which to be incarcerated).
By taking a left before you reach the Rocca, you find yourself on a panoramic walk which encircles the summit. The pastoral views are complemented by modern sculptures to make the stroll more varied. After a few minutes you reach a steep wooded gorge. A massive bridge spans the chasm, the Ponte delle Torri. Built in the fourteenth century, and defended by towers (hence the name), this functioned as both a bridge and aquaduct; apparently a route led directly up to the Rocca to allow for quick escapes over the gorge in times of siege. Continuing along the path, some benches and a bar allow for a refreshment break, before you arrive back where you started. Alternatively, some a couple of longer walks (signposted) start from the other side of the bridge.
Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi
Spoleto Festival lasts for a fortnight and takes place at the end of June and beginning of July. During this time the town is very busy and accommodation will be hard to find, so it’s worth booking well in advance.
The programme is very good quality, and the Festival attracts big names from the arts world. The Festival includes opera, classical and modern music, ballet and modern dance, visual arts and cinema. Venues include the scenic piazza in front of the Duomo, where the opening and closing concerts take place, the Roman Theatre and an assortment of churches, theatres and palazzi.
Ticket prices are very high for the best seats at the major performances, which can cost as much as 200. However, much cheaper tickets are available for most events, including standing places for some of the big concerts. Tickets are available online in advance (check for special early-bird offers) and from a box office in the town.
Spoleto Travel Information
Get to Spoleto
Spoleto is easily reached by train from Rome (the journey takes about an hour and a half), Ancona, Assisi and Perugia.
Get around Spoleto
The train station is in the modern part of town, below the historic centre on its hill. The distance is walkable, but since it’s a fairly long walk uphill a good idea is to take the bus which runs from outside the station – buy tickets from a bar or newsstand first. The bus stops in Piazza della Liberta, close to the tourist information office.
More accommodation options (Booking)