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Spoleto
—  Comune  —
Comune di Spoleto

Coat of arms
Spoleto is located in Italy
Spoleto
Location of Spoleto in Italy
Coordinates: 42°44′N 12°44′E / 42.733°N 12.733°E / 42.733; 12.733Coordinates: 42°44′N 12°44′E / 42.733°N 12.733°E / 42.733; 12.733
Country Italy
Region Umbria
Province Perugia (PG)
Frazioni see list
Government
 - Mayor Daniele Benedetti (Democratic Party)
Area
 - Total 349 km2 (134.7 sq mi)
Elevation 396 m (1,299 ft)
Population (2008)
 - Total 39,128
 Density 112.1/km2 (290.4/sq mi)
 - Demonym Spoletini
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 06049
Dialing code 0743
Patron saint San Ponziano
Saint day January 14
Website Official website

Spoleto (Latin Spoletium) is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is 20 km (12 mi) S. of Trevi, 29 km (18 mi) N. of Terni, 63 km (39 miles) SE of Perugia; 212 km (131 miles) SE of Florence; and 126 km (78 miles) N of Rome.

Contents

History

Spoleto was situated on the eastern branch of the Via Flaminia, which forked into two roads at Narni and rejoined at Forum Flaminii, near Foligno. An ancient road also ran hence to Nursia. The Ponte Sanguinario of the first century BCE still exists. The Forum lies under today's marketplace.

Located at the head of a large, broad valley, surrounded by mountains, Spoleto has long occupied a strategic geographical position. It appears to have been an important town to the original Umbri tribes, who built walls around their settlement in the 5th century BC, some of which are visible today.

The first historical mention of Spoletium is the notice of the foundation of a colony there in 241 BC;[1] and it was still, according to Cicero[2] colonia latina in primis firma et illustris: a Latin colony in 95 BC. After the Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BC) Spoletium was attacked by Hannibal, who was repulsed by the inhabitants[3] During the Second Punic War the city was a useful ally to Rome. It suffered greatly during the civil wars of Gaius Marius and Sulla. The latter, after his victory over Crassus, confiscated the territory of Spoletium (82 BC). From this time forth it was a municipium.

Under the empire it seems to have flourished once again, but is not often mentioned in history. Martial speaks of its wine. Aemilianus, who had been proclaimed emperor by his soldiers in Moesia, was slain by them here on his way from Rome (253), after a reign of three or four months. Rescripts of Constantine (326) and Julian (362) are dated from Spoleto. The foundation of the episcopal see dates from the 4th century: early martyrs of Spoleto are legends, but a letter to the bishop Caecilianus, from Pope Liberius in 354 constitutes its first historical mention. Owing to its elevated position Spoleto was an important stronghold during the Vandal and Gothic wars; its walls were dismantled by Totila.[4]

Under the Lombards, Spoleto became the capital of an independent duchy, the Duchy of Spoleto (from 570), and its dukes ruled a considerable part of central Italy. In 774 it became part of Holy Roman Empire. Together with other fiefs, it was bequeathed to Pope Gregory VII by the powerful countess Matilda of Tuscany, but for some time struggled to maintain its independence. In 1155 it was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. In 1213 it was definitively occupied by Pope Gregory IX. During the absence of the papal court in Avignon, it was prey to the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, until in 1354 Cardinal Albornoz brought it once more under the authority of the Papal States.

View of Spoleto.

After Napoleon's conquest of Italy, in 1809 Spoleto became capital of the short-lived French department of Trasimène, returning to the Papal States after Napoleon's defeat, within five years. In 1860, after a gallant defence, Spoleto was taken by the troops fighting for the unification of Italy. Giovanni Pontano, founder of the Accademia Pontaniana of Naples, was born here. Another child of Spoleto was Francis Possenti who was educated in the Jesuit school and whose father was the Papal assesor, Francis later entered the Passionists and became Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Main sights

Roman theatre in Spoleto.
The Albornozian Castle in Spoleto.
San Pietro church, façade.
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Ancient and lay buildings

  • The Roman theater, largely rebuilt. The scene is occupied by the former church of St. Agatha, currently housing the National Archaeological Museum.
  • Ponte Sanguinario ("bloody bridge"), a Roman bridge 1st century BC. The name is traditionally attributed to the persecutions of Christians in the nearby amphiteatre.
  • Roman amphitheater (2nd century AD). It was turned into a fortress by Totila in 545 and in Middle Ages times was used for stores and shops, while in the cavea the church of San Gregorio Minore was built. The stones were later used to build the Rocca.
  • The Palazzo Comunale (13th century).
  • Ponte delle Torri, a striking 13th-century aqueduct, possibly on Roman foundations: whether it was first built by the Romans is a point on which scholarly opinion is divided.
  • The majestic Rocca Albornoziana, built in 1359–1370 by the architect Matteo Gattapone of Gubbio for Cardinal Albornoz. It has six sturdy towers which formed two distinct inner spaces: the Cortile delle Armi, for the troops, and the Cortile d'onore for the use of the city's governor. The latter courtyard is surrounded by a two-floor porch. The rooms include the Camera Pinta ("Painted Room") with noteworthy 15th‑century frescoes. After having resisted many sieges, the Rocca was turned into a jail in 1800 and used as such until the late 20th century. It is currently under repair.
  • The Palazzo Racani-Arroni (16th century) has a worn graffito decoration attributed to Giulio Romano. The inner courtyard has a notable fountain.
  • Palazzo della Signoria (14th century), housing the city's museum.
  • The majestic Palazzo Vigili (15th-16th centuries) includes the Torre dell'Olio (13th century), the sole mediaeval city tower remaining in Spoleto.

Churches

  • The Duomo (Cathedral) of S. Maria Assunta, begun around 1175 and completed in 1227. The Romanesque edifice contains the tomb of Filippo Lippi, who died in Spoleto in 1469, designed by his son Filippino Lippi. The church also houses a manuscript letter by Saint Francis of Assisi.
  • San Pietro extra Moenia was founded in 419 to house Peter's relics over an ancient necropolis. It was rebuilt starting in the 12th century (though the work dragged on until the 15th century), when a remarkable Romanesque façade was added: this has three doors with rose-windows, with a splendid relief decoration by local artists; with S. Rufino in Assisi, it is the finest extant specimen of Umbrian Romanesque.
  • The basilica of San Salvatore (4th-5th century) incorporates the cella of a Roman temple and is one of the most important examples of Early Christian architecture.
  • San Ponziano is a notable complex lying outside the city's walls, dedicated to the patron saint of Spoleto. The church was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style, but was later modified by Giuseppe Valadier. The crypt, however, has remained untouched, with its five small naves and small apses with cross-vault, ancient Roman spolia columns and frescoes of the 14th-15th centuries.
  • Santa Maria della Manna d'Oro, is an edifice on an octagonal plan sited near the Cathedral. It was built in the 16th-17th century to thank the Madonna for her protection of Spoletine traders.
  • San Domenico (13th century) is a Gothic construction in white and pink stone. The interior has notable frescoes and a painting by Giovanni Lanfranco. The crpyt is a former church dedicated to St. Peter, with frescoed walls.
  • San Gregorio Maggiore (11th-12th century), is a Romanesque church which has been restored to original lines only in recent times. The façade has two slopes and a porch of the 16th century that includes the Chapel of the Innocents (14th century) with a noteworthy font. The main external feature is the high belfry, finished only in the 15th century. The interior has three naves with spolia columns and pillars.
  • The former church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo is a Romanesque edifice featuring, on the exterior, a 13th century fresco portraying Madonna with Saints. The interior frescoes, from the 13th-15th centuries, include some of the most ancient representations of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket, by Alberto Sotio, and of St. Francis.
  • Santa Eufemia (12th century), a striking example of Romanesque architecture with influences from Lombardy and Veneto. The interior has three naves with spolia columns.
  • San Paolo inter vineas (10th century) is a typical Spoletine Romanesque church. Its main feature is the rose-window of the façade.
  • The former church and Augustinian convent of San Nicolò (1304) is a rare example of Gothic style in Spoleto. The small church has a single nave with a splendid polygonal apse with mullioned windows. Under the apse is the church of Santa Maria della Misericordia. There are two cloisters, the more recent one pertaining to the 15th century.
  • San Filippo Neri is a Baroque construction of mid-17th century, designed by the Spoletine Loreto Scelli and inspired by churches in Rome of the same period.
  • Sant'Ansano was created in the 18th century over a series of former buildings including a Roman temple (1st century AD) and the Mediaeval St. Isaac's crypt. It has a cloister from the 16th century.

Culture

The Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) was founded in 1958. Because Spoleto was a small town, where real estate and other goods and services were at the time relatively inexpensive, and also because there are two indoor theatres, a Roman theatre and many other spaces, it was chosen by Gian-Carlo Menotti as the venue for an arts festival. It is also fairly close to Rome, with good rail connections. It is an important cultural event, held annually in late June-early July.

The festival has developed into one of the most important cultural manifestations in Italy, with a three-week schedule of music, theater and dance performances. For some time it became a reference point for modern sculpture exhibits, and works of art left to the city by Alexander Calder and others are a testimony to this.

In the United States, a parallel festival — Spoleto Festival USA — held in Charleston, South Carolina was founded in 1977 with Menotti's involvement. The twinning only lasted some 15 years and, after growing disputes between the Menotti family and the Spoleto Festival USA board, in the early '90s a separation was consummated. However, following Menotti's death in February 2007, the city administrations of Spoleto and Charleston started talks to re-unite the two festivals, that would climax in Spoleto mayor Massimo Brunini's attending the opening ceremony of Spoleto Festival USA in May 2008. The mayor of Charleston, Joseph P. Riley, is expected to attend the opening ceremony of the festival in Italy, 27 June 2008.

For a short period of time, a third parallel festival was also held in Melbourne, Australia.

In 1992, the Spoleto Arts Symposium was initiated with the purpose of bringing talented people from all around the world to study in Spoleto. Now in its 15th season, programs exist for studying opera, cooking, jazz, writing, and a kids camp.

Sport

Spoleto gained its main results in sport with the local Volleyball team, Olio Venturi Spoleto, who classified in the quarter-finals of the Italian championship in sport.

Sister cities

Frazioni

Acquaiola, Acquacastagna, Ancaiano, Azzano, Baiano, Bazzano Inferiore, Bazzano Superiore, Beroide, Camporoppolo, Campo Salese, Cerqueto, Cese, Collerisana, Collicelli, Cortaccione, Crocemaroggia, Eggi, Fogliano, Forca di Cerro, Madonna di Baiano, Maiano, Messenano, Milano, Montebiblico, Monteluco, Monte Martano, Morgnano, Morro, Ocenelli, Palazzaccio, Perchia, Petrognano, Pompagnano, Pontebari, Poreta, Protte, Rubbiano, San Brizio, San Giacomo, San Giovanni di Baiano, San Martino in Trignano, San Nicolò, San Silvestro, Santa Croce, Sant'Anastasio, Sant'Angelo in Mercole, San Venanzo, Silvignano, Somma, Strettura, Terraia, Terzo la Pieve, Terzo San Severo, Testaccio, Uncinano, Valdarena, Valle San Martino, Vallocchia.

References

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Spoleto [1] is a city in the Umbria region of Italy.

Get in

There is a train station in the city which offers direct connections to Rome. Bus service to various locations is also available. For those driving into town, Umbria has a very good and well-maintained road system.

Get around

Spoleto is a small town in area, so you are best off walking, though it is possible to drive or take taxis.

  • The Duomo
  • The Roman ruins and Archeological Museum
  • The first century Roman Villa
  • Ponte delle Torre - old aqueduct and footpath behind the fort at the top of the city.

Do

Spoleto is well known for its music festivals, especially the Festival dei Due Mondi in the summertime.

Otherwise, it is a very peaceful and pleasant place to walk around, and you can use Spoleto as a base to drive through beautiful Umbrian countryside and mountains and to visit other Umbrian cities.

  • Take a guided walking tour of Spoleto, [2]. Take an escorted walking tour of Spoleto with a fluent English-speaking Umbrian-native guide. mail: info@love-umbria.com  edit

Eat

Umbria is known for its mushrooms and black truffles, and also for its wild game, so if you see primi piatti of pasta dishes with some kind of fungus and secondi piatti of game such as cinghiale (wild boar), order them.

Drink

Umbria is a land of rolling hills and has its own wine industry. There are also some very good mineral waters drawn from its mountain springs.

  • Magic Umbria [3] Phone: +39 0743 420130 mail: info@magic-umbria.com A selection of houses, villas and apartments for holiday rentals.
  • Madonna di Costantinopoli – S. Maria di Costantinopoli - Cap: 06040, Cerreto di Spoleto (PG), Italy. [4]. Telephone +39 074 391204 • Fax +39 0743923154. Former convent turned into an elegant four star hotel immerged in the countryside around Spoleto. Swimming pool, tennis court, restaurant, bar and park. Plus a large selection of bedrooms and suites, with large seating area and bathroom. The price for a double room is 120 euros.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SPOLETO (anc. Spoletium), a town and archiepiscopal see of the province of Perugia, Italy, 18 m. N.N.E. of Terni, and 88 m. N. by E. of Rome by rail. Pop. (1901), 9631 (town); 24,648 (commune). It is situated on a hill, so that the lowest part is about 1000, the highest 1485, ft. above sea-level, at the south end of the open valley of the Topino, a tributary of the Tiber, which it joins near Assisi. The principal industries are the collection and preparation of truffles and preserved foods, also tanning and the manufacture of earthenware. Spoleto is also the centre of an agricultural district, and contains a government experimental olive oil factory. There are few towns of Italy which possess so many Roman remains in good preservation under the medieval buildings, and few medieval towns with so picturesque an appearance. There are considerable remains of perhaps pre-Roman polygonal walls - in one place a piece of this walling has masonry of rectangular blocks superposed, with an inscription of two of the Roman municipal magistrates (quattuorviri). There are also a few traces of an inner enceinte of the Roman period. There are remains of a Roman theatre, over 370 ft. in diameter, and an amphitheatre 390 by 295 ft. A Roman bridge of three arches, 80 ft. long and 26 ft. high, exists at the lower (north) entrance to the town, under the modern road to Foligno, in the former bed of a torrent which has now changed its course. A Mithraeum was found outside this gate in 1878. The rock above the town was included within the polygonal walls: but Totila fortified, not this rock, but the amphitheatre, which remained the citadel until 1364, when Cardinal Albornoz destroyed it and erected the present Rocca, which was enlarged by Pope Nicholas V.; it is now a prison. The Porta della Fuga (the name alludes to the repulse of Hannibal) occupies the site of a Roman gate, but is itself medieval: while the medieval enceinte encloses a somewhat wider area than the ancient. The Piazza del Mercato represents the Roman forum; close by is a triumphal arch of Drusus and Germanicus, and a temple (?) into which is built the church of S. Ansano. A Roman house in the upper part of the town, with mosaic pavements, probably belonged to Vespasia Polla, the mother of the emperor Vespasian. The Palazzo Municipale, close by, contains the archives and picture gallery. The cathedral of S. Maria Assunta, much modernized in 1644, occupies the site of a church of the Lombard dukes erected about 602. The present church was consecrated in 1198; the façade belongs to the middle of the 12th century. Over the main entrance is a large mosaic of Christ enthroned, with the Virgin and St John, by the artist Solsernus (1207). The Early Renaissance vestibule (after 1491) is fine. In the choir and on the half dome of the apse, are the finest frescoes of Fra Filippo Lippi (scenes from the life of the Virgin) completed after his death by Fra Diamante: his tomb, erected by Lorenzo de' Medici, with the epitaph by Politian, is on the left of the choir. The fine stalls and panelling in the winter choir date from 1548-1554. In and near the Piazza del Duomo are the unfinished Palazzo della Signoria, of the early 14th century, which contains the archaeological museum, the small Renaissance church of the Manna d'Oro (1527), the façade of the Romanesque basilica of S. Eufemia (in the archbishop's palace) and the fine Early Renaissance Palazzo Arroni with its graffito frieze.

The church of S. Pietro, outside the town on the road to Rome (wrongly supposed to have been the cathedral before 1067), was founded in A.D. 419 by Bishop Achilles. Its façade is remarkable for its richly sculptured decorations of grotesque figures and beasts, which are of two different dates, about 1000 and about 1200. S. Domenico is a fine example of later Italian Gothic with bands of different coloured stones. Both the church and its crypt contain 14th-century frescoes. The tripleapsed crypt of S. Gregorio probably dates from the 9th century: the upper church was consecrated in 1196 and the Romanesque work covered with stucco in the restoration of 1597. S. Nicolo is a beautiful example of Pointed Gothic. The basilica of S. Salvatore (il Crocefisso) at the cemetery belongs to the 4th century A.D. The fine sculptures of the façade, with its beautiful windows, as also the octagonal dome, all belong to this period; Meliorantius, the sculptor of the portal of the cathedral (after 1155), took his inspiration hence. S. Ponziano, not far off, belongs to the 13th century, but its interior has been restored: the crypt contains frescoes of the 15th century. The city is still supplied with water by an aqueduct, to which belongs the huge bridge called the Ponte delle Torri, crossing the ravine which divides the town from the Monte Luco (2723 ft.). The bridge is 253 ft. high and 755 ft. long and has ten arches: the ground plan is Roman; the stone piers are in the main later (the work is often attributed to Theodelapius, the third Lombard duke, in 604), while the pointed brick arches belong to a restoration of the 14th (?) century. The Monte Luco, which commands a splendid view, has several hermitages upon it.

The first mention of Spoletium in history is the notice of the foundation of a colony there in 241 B.C. (Liv. Epit. xx.; Vell. Pat. i. 14), and it was still according to Cicero (Pro Balb. 21) - " colonia latina in primis firma et illustris" - a Latin colony in 95 B.C. After the battle of Trasimenus (217 B.C.) Spoletium was attacked by Hannibal, who was repulsed by the inhabitants (Liv. xxii. 9). During the Second Punic War the city was a useful ally to Rome. It suffered greatly during the civil wars of Marius and Sulla. The latter, after his victory over Crassus, confiscated the territory of Spoletium (82 B.C.). From this time forth it was a municipium. Under the empire it again became a flourishing town, but is not often mentioned in history. It was situated on a branch of the Via Flaminia, which left the main road at Narnia and rejoined it at Forum Flaminii. An ancient road also ran hence to Nursia. Martial speaks of its wine. Aemilianus, who had been proclaimed emperor by his soldiers in Moesia, was slain by them here on his way to Rome (A.D. 2S3), after a reign of three or four months. Rescripts of Constantine (326)(326) and Julian (362) are dated from Spoleto. The foundation of the episcopal see dates from the 4th century. Owing to its elevated position it was an important stronghold during the Vandal and Gothic wars; its walls were dismantled by Totila (Procop. Bell. got. iii. 12). Under the Lombards Spoleto became the capital of an independent duchy (from 570), and its dukes ruled a considerable part of central Italy. Together with other fiefs, it was bequeathed to Pope Gregory VII. by the empress Matilda, but for some time struggled to maintain its independence. In 1155 it was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. In 1213 it was definitely occupied by Gregory IX. During the absence of the papal court in Avignon it was a prey to the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, until in 1354 Cardinal Albornoz brought it once more under the authority of the Church. In 1809 it became capital of the French department of Trasimene. In 1860 it was taken by the Italian troops after a gallant defence. Giovanni Pontano, founder of the Accademia Pontaniana of Naples, was born here.

See A. Sansi, Degli Edifizi e dei frammenti storici dell' antichitd di Spoleto (Foligno, 1869), and other works; G. Angelini Rota, Spoleto e Dintorn2 (Spoleto, 1905); and various articles by G. Sordini, in Notizie degli Scavi. (T. As.)


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