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storia di spoleto - Casale San Sabino

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To see & To view

Beyond being Don Matteo’s city, Spoleto is a very old city and therefore there are many things to see and to visit.

Duomo Di Spoleto
The Cathedral, rebuilt at the end of the XIIth cen.,took the place of the ancient building of Santa Maria del Vescovato (8th-9th century), which in its turn had already replaced a primitive Christian temple dedicated to martyr Primiano. Under the façade, embellished by Solsterno’s mosaic , there is a 1491 portico by Ambrogio Barocci, a famous maestro who had worked in the splendid ducal residence in Urbino with Francesco di Giorgio Martini. The use of chromatically contrasting materials (grey and pink stones from the mounts around Spoleto) fully exalts the chiaroscuro effect and the decorative skills of Lombard decorators who, as testified to by archives documents, were experts in this kind of art, as testified to in archives’ papers.
The IXth cen. crypt of S. Primiano is an exceptional Early Middle Ages monument, the only surviving element of the ancient cathedral’s layout. It is accessible through the parsonage. There, you see coeval frescoes that possibly show Tales of San Benedetto and of Santa Scolastica; the crypt is barrel-vaulted. A number of absolutely remarkable works are on display inside the Duomo. At the end of the right aisle, you can see Alberto Sotio’s Painted Cross (1187) in the iconography of the living (triumphans) Christ, developed in the XIIth century in central Italy. Other XIIth-XIVth century Crosses coming from the town’s collection are on display at the Museum of the Duchy, on both Sotio’s model, and on the model of the suffering (patiens) Christ, with his head reclined on his shoulder, that would become widespread past the XIIIth century.
The apse presents a remarkable painted cycle with Stories of the Virgin, frescoed by Filippo Lippi between 1467 and 1469.
The XIVth-cen. chapel of Sant’Anna is also particularly interesting; it was conceived as an extension of the transept’s left wing, that includes traces of XIVth/XVIth-cen. frescoes.
The chapels Eroli and dell’Assunta, on the right aisle also deserve particular attention (frescoes by Pinturicchio and Jacopo Siculo), as well as the chapel of the Holy Icon on the right transept, that holds the precious tablet given in 1185 by emperor Frederick I Barbarossa to the town as a sign of peace. The chapel delle Reliquie (end of the left aisle), keeps a handwritten letter by Saint Francis to Frate Leone. Besides his mortal remains, Saint Francis’ most precious relics are his handwritten letters: only two exist, one of which is this one in Spoleto, a small, rectangular goatskin parchment, measuring 13×6 cm, containing 19 lines and perfectly maintained. The other one is the so-called “chartula”, written after Saint Francis received stigmata on Mount Verna in 1224, and is kept at the Assisi basilica.

Teatro Romano
The Roman Theatre was built in the 2nd half of the Ist century BC close to the city’s boundary walls, and was used till the IVth century, passing through restoration and transformation. Still in the Roman period, a deep crack appeared in the steps, possibly following an earthquake. During the Early Middle Ages, the church of Sant’Agata and the Corvis’ palace were built on its stage area. In 1320, 400 Guelphs were jailed in the theatre’s aisles, used as prison, to be killed two years later. In 1395, Palazzo Corvi was occupied by Benedictine nuns, who turned the by-then interred theatre into the monastery’s cloyster.
The remains were first explored in 1891 by Spoletan archaeologist Giuseppe Sordini and were brought back to light after thorough excavations between 1954 and 1960.
The theatre lies upon an artificial terracing and has a diameter of 70 meters ca, defined by a half-round ambulatory covered by barrel-vault; three accesses connect the ambulatory to the cavea, on whose steps the audience used to sit. Twenty-seven steps in the eastern section were reconstructed during the cavea’s restoration, following the model of the remains, while on the western side they have been rebuilt in reinforced concrete.
In Roman theatres, the orchestra used to be the central, half-round space destined for special guests among the audience, and not for the choir like in Greece. This area still maintains some of the original, many-coloured IVth-century marble slabs that were imported from various regions of the Empire. White, dark and yellow slabs are placed around three green discs at the centre. In the Middle Ages, the set was dramatically altered by the construction of the church of Sant’Agata.
Nowadays the theatre and the State Archaeological Museum are melt together in a single complex and the theatre itself is still used for summertime shows, especially during the Festival Of Two Worlds; access to the site is in via Sant’Agata, but you can catch an overall glimpse through the big window in piazza della Libertà.
Address: Via delle Terme/Piazza della Libertà
Access of State Archaeological Museum in Via Sant’Agata 18a

The arch stands a few steps away from Piazza del Mercato, the old Roman forum’s area, of which the arch was its triumphal access. The inscription, still visible on the front, informs that it was erected in 23 AD by initiative of the Spoletan senate, in honour of princes Drusus and Germanicus, son and adoptive son of emperor Tiberius, respectively. The single archway is composed of big, square stone blocks and the decorations are very fragmentary nowadays. Starting from the Middle Ages, the surrounding buildings progressively enclosed it, to the point that the western pillar is still not visible today, while the eastern one was totally brought back to light; on the eastern side of the arch, the original Roman paving of the cardo maximus was also brought back to light.
Address: via dell’Arco di Druso

The Rocca Albornozianais an imposing fortress that stands on Colle Sant’Elia, strategically towering over the whole Spoleto valley. Its construction started in 1359 and it belongs to a series of fortresses whose construction was ordered by Pope Innocent VIto re-affirm the papal authority in central Italy.
To realize his project, the Pope delegated the influential Spanish cardinal Egidio Albornoz, hence the fortress’ name, who commissioned the direction of the works, which lasted until 1370 ca, to Matteo di Giovannello da Gubbio a.k.a. “il Gattapone”. The Spoletan fortress thus became the cornerstone of the defensive system that controlled the Via Flaminia, from which the military campaigns to recover lost areas of Umbria, Marche and Romagna used to start.
As time went by, the fortress also became the residence of the duchy’s rectors, of the city governors and of the papal legates. It was decorated with frescoes, many of which were lost after 1816, when the Rocca was turned into a jailhouse. Such use would then last until 1982. The huge recovery and restoration works could bring back the Rocca to its original layout, though with unavoidable losses, especially on the pictorial decorations.The castle has a rectangular shape and it’s defended by six imposing towers; inside, it features two wide courtyards, the Cortile delle Armi, originally the headquarters of the troops, and the Cortile d’Onore, reserved to the administrators and the governors, adorned by a beautiful hexagonal well and surrounded by a double portico, where a number of papal coats-of-arms remain.The two courtyards are connected to each other by a barrel vault, decorated at the end of the XVIth century with frescoes representing six cities of the States of the Church. Remarkable spaces surround the Courtyard of Honour, such as Salone d’Onore, the Rocca’s widest space, destined for banquets and ceremonies, and the Camera Pinta, a.k.a “picta”, that keeps two extraordinary cycles of frescoes, of secular genre, that date to the XIVth – XVth centuries, among the most remarkable ones in central Italy. The remembering of the legendary presence of Lucrezia Borgia is still alive; daughter of pope Alexander VI, at the age of 19 her father appointed her rector of the Duchy of Spoleto. In 1499 she stayed three months in Spoleto; the city’s archives keep a file with a few words in Latin written by herself. In 1502, on her way to Ferrara, she would stop once more in this princely dwelling. The central tower on the side of the fortress facing the city is called Tower of the possessed lady, possibly a hint of the cruelty and vengefulness of the castle lady.
Today it is possible to visit various spaces inside the fortress: the Courtyard of Honour, the Courtyard of Arms, the Hall of Honour and the Painted Room (Camera Pinta). Inside the Rocca Albornoziana there is the National Museum of the Duchy, opened in August 2007 after the restoration of the fortress’ inner spaces. It occupies 15 historical halls on two levels, at the ground floor and at the first floor of the Courtyard of Honour. The works are on display following a chronological order and testify to the artistic vitality and the cultural unity of the wide area that has been known for centuries as the Duchy of Spoleto, between the IV and XV centuries AD. Finds dating to the IV-V centuries AD, coming from funerary areas and from cult locations, testify to the growth of the earliest local christian communities and in particular, of monasticism, that was widely spread all over the Spoleto mountain.

Construction on the church designed by the Spoletino architect Loreto Scelli began in 1640, but it wasn’t consecrated until 1724. The façade has stylistic characteristics typical of Roman churches of the early 1600s. The interior has three naves with chapels that house XVII and XVIII century altars. The transept is topped by a dome. The altars are graced with fine XVIII century paintings made by Gaetano Lapis, Sebastiano Conca and Pietro Labruzzi and other canvases painted by the XVII century Spoletino artist Francesco Refini.

The fountain is one of the most characteristic ones in the city, and the local people simply call it “il mascherone” (big mask), because of the impressive laurel-crowned human face from whose mouth the water springs out. An inscription informs about a 1736 restoration of the aedicula and the mask, which date both to the XVII century instead. On the right, another small fountain bears the inscription “BIBE VIATOR” (drink, ye traveller), an invitation to quench one’s thirst from the fountain’s very fresh water.
Address: Piazza Campello

The Ponte delle Torri stands out among the greatest works in stone of the Antiquity. 80 m tall and 230 m long, it worked as aqueduct, bringing water to town through a canal placed on top of it. It still works as a bridge between the centre of the city and Monteluco, thanks to the walkway on the northern side.
Realized in local limestone and supported by nine pillars connected to each other by ogival arches, its dating is still hardly determinable, yet its present aspect is usually agreed upon around the XIII – XIV centuries.


Notice: the Basilica of San Salvatore is currently not accessible. It is not possible to enter but it is still possible to admire the interior from the main door.
According to the great Spoletino historian Sordini, the Basilica of San Salvatore is the finest example of architecture in Spoleto that dates to antiquity.
Its origins are most likely funerary and it was initially dedicated to the martyrs Concordio and Senzia, not just because they were buried near one another, but because both were attributed with working wonders. Miraculous healings, which were initially attributed to Senzia, were later linked to the highly salubrious waters that sprung abundantly from Colle Ciciano.
In a Benedictine document dating to the year 815, the basilica was dedicated to San Salvatore, a change that can most likely be attributed to the Longobard dukes. It was later cited as the Monasterium Sancti Concordii. In the XVI century, the inner walls of the apse were decorated with frescoes that depicted the cult of the Crucifix, hence its new name, Church of the Crocefisso, or Crucifix.

The monumental complex, consisting of the basilica and the Benedictine monastery – originally for men and later for women – stands on Ciciano Hill, where, according to tradition, the young Spoleto martyr Pontianus, who later became the patron saint of the city, was buried in 175 AD.
The church was built between the 11th and 13th centuries on an early Christian cemetery site, but has undergone numerous internal alterations over the centuries, the most important being in 1788, when it was designed by the Roman architect Giuseppe Valadier.
The façade retained its Romanesque appearance, with the portal decorated with mosaic inserts and symbols of the evangelists around the rose window; the interior, designed according to the new neoclassical taste, was halved in length to make room for the choir.
The crypt is decorated with frescoes dating to the XIV and XV centuries and its original aspect has remained intact. The monastery houses the skull of St. Ponziano, which still today is carried in a yearly procession on January 14. The relic is displayed until the following Sunday to celebrate the feast day of the martyr patron saint. Numerous works of art and sacred objects belonging to the monastery were pillaged after the Napoleonic suppression of 1810 and the appropriations of 1860.
Address: via della Basilica di San Salvatore

The fountain was built between 1746 and 1748 on a project by Roman architect Costantino Fiaschetti. Its scenic façade features simple lesenes below, and a richly carved pediment above that includes a representation of the Barberini family’s memorial, realised in 1626 on a project by Carlo Maderno. During the communal period, a public fountain already existed, that was rebuilt in 1433: it was placed in front of the present fountain and was pulled down in 1746. The place of the present fountain was occupied instead by the Romanesque church of San Donato, largely ruined in the second half of the XVI century. It was replaced by a public clock and later on, in 1626, by a monument dedicated to the Barberinis.

Address: Piazza del Mercato


Included in the bulk of the 16th-century Palazzo Vigili, the highest tower in town got its name from the old habit of pouring boiling oil from the top of the tower to repel the invaders. The present tower dates possibly to the XIII century, yet a similar defensive structure already existed on the spot since 217 BC, when Hannibal’s Carthaginian troops were defeated while on their way to Rome. The memory of such event gave then the name to the gate that stands right below the tower, Porta Fuga.
Indirizzo: via Porta Fuga/piazza Torre dell’Olio

The building, whose original nucleus dates back to the thirteenth century, is now visible in its eighteenth-century appearance, resulting from numerous building phases that became necessary over the centuries due to frequent earthquakes and the unification of surrounding buildings. The only thirteenth-century element still visible is the high tower that overlooks the rest of the structure, while the main body has two elevations: the one on the north side, built between 1784 and 1786 by the architect Pietro Ferrari, and the one on the south side, facing the Piazza del Comune, designed by the local architect Francesco Angelo Amadio known as “Lo Scheggino”. This side ends with the neo-Gothic facade of Palazzo Brancaleoni, the last of the amalgamations made in order to enlarge the town hall, decorated in 1913 by the Spoleto artists Giuseppe Moscatelli and Benigno Peruzzi. The latter are also credited with the pictorial and stucco decoration of most of the interior rooms, recently restored (2007), which also house valuable works of art from the former Municipal Art Gallery, including, a large canvas by Guercino and two detached frescoes by the Renaissance painter Giovanni di Pietro known as “Lo Spagna”. Noteworthy are the Sala dei Duchi, decorated on the ceiling with idealized portraits of the most important Lombard dukes of Spoleto, the Sala Caput Umbriae, whose decorative program is based on the exaltation of the most illustrious Spoleto people of the various eras, and the chapel inside the building, dedicated to San Ponziano.
Source for the description of monuments, squares, churches and old palaces (Municipality of Spoleto Tourism and Culture)


Among the most important shopping street there are :
Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi;
Via Giuseppe Mazzini;
Viale Trento E Trieste.
Casale San Sabino S.A.S. Di Conti C. & C. Loc. Colle San Tommaso 22 Spoleto PG P.I. 03761240542
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