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Spello

The town of Spello sits in the center of the Spoleto Valley near Foligno.  It is one of the most picturesque towns, filled with quaint alleys and piazzas.  Populated in ancient times by the Umbri, it became a Roman colony in the 1st century BC. Under the reign of Constantine the Great it was called Flavia Constans, as attested by a document preserved in the local Communal Palace. “Hispellum” as it was called when it was a Roman settlement, laid on the Via Flaminia consular road. The most impressive remnant of this stage of the town’s history, apart from the walls themselves, is the Porta Venere, an Augustan-era gate flanked by two towers, standing in magnificent isolation on the west side of town. The rich Roman history is evident in these many gates and foundations of Spello. A roman house is excavated in the lower part of the city with beautiful mosaics, and the ruins of a roman amphitheater stand outside the city.

The medieval city we see today is built mainly from the lovely Subasio marble which takes on a peach-pink hue around sunrise and sunset.

Most of the other sights are strung out along Via Cavour, the main street, beginning with Santa Maria Maggiore. This church has a finely sculpted medieval portal, but the real treat is inside: the Cappella Baglioni side-chapel is decorated by one of Pinturicchio’s most joyous and colorful fresco cycles, painted in 1501 for the powerful Baglioni family and centered on the birth and childhood of Jesus.

An excursion to Spello can be part of a tour through other cities in the valley, or by itself.  There are many wonderful artisanal shops and wonderful restaurants with stunning views of the valley.