"The Worlwide Known Festival of Art "
The great historical past of Spoleto is nowadays sided by the world-famous "Festival dei Due Mondi" that established in 1958 is an international stage for avantguarde theater, music, ballet and the arts.
The most ancient settlement was founded by the Umbrians 1000 years BC, was then a celebrated Roman town with the name of Spoletium and resisted a siege by Hannibal soon before the final Trasimeno battle. The Roman town rose along the Via Flaminia at the foot of the Colle Sant'Elia, and the typical "reticulatum" plan is still visible in the present architectural structure. After the fall of the Roman empire, Spoletium was conquered by the Lombards who made it the capital of their Dukedom. Destroyed by Frederick the Redbeard in 1155, was rebuilt and became a free Commune under the protection of the State of the Church. In 1296 walls were built around the city and in the years when the Popes were in Avignon majestic Rocca Albornotz, with its high walls and the six imposing towers, was built to be used as the seat of the Pope's governor in Italy.
A visit can start from the Roman Arco di Druso (23 AD), which was along the main Roman road and the amphitheater, with only some arcades left since its stones were used to build the Rocca Albornoziana, then the early Christian church of San Salvatore (5th century AD) and the Church of San Gregorio Maggiore, founded in 1146 on a previous Christian church and cemetery, then repeatedly modified in the centuries up to the final restoration that brought it back to the original Romanesque style: inside a wonderful apse and presbyterium, and the Cappella degli Innocenti, decorated with frescoes by Angeluccio da Mevale. The beautiful belltower was built reusing ancient tombstones of the early Christian period.
Proceeding to the Piazza San Pietro, it is possible to enjoy a panoramic view of the whole town, including the imposing Ponte delle Torri on ten arches, almost 300 ft high and 800 ft long connecting the Rocca Albornotziana to the feet of Monteluco, the sacred place of hermits since the 7th century AD, where rises also the church of San Pietro, one of the greatest religious monuments in Umbria. The church was founded by bishop Achileus on the spot of a necropolis of the Bronze Age in 419 AD, to host the relics of the chain of St. Peter, and was probably the first cathedral of Spoleto since it contains the tombs of many early bishops. The splendid facade is rich in lowreliefs and decorations probably in the style of the Lombard masters of the early 13th century. There was a large rosewindow in the center, lost in the centuries, but still extant are the statues of the four Gospel writers that surrounded it.
Then Dome to Santa Maria Assunta, with its facade richly decorated in the Byzantine style, rebuilt in the 12th-century over a previous church to San Primiano, whose crypt is still present under the Cappella delle Reliquie. The facade shows the most magnificent rosewindow in Umbria and is sided by a splendid belltower. The inside is rich in paintings and frescoes by the great masters of the Italian Renaissance: Giovanni da Spoleto, Jacopo Siciliano and above all Filippo Lippi, who worked on the splendid cycle in the central apse.
Civitella del Tronto