Spello is a magical village: an incredible jewel whose history is known only to a few. In this guide, I will tell you what to see in this amazing town, follow me in reading!
Spello has recently been named one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and not by chance! Located in the province of Perugia, in Umbria, the history of this small town will make you fall in love with its attractions and incredible traditions.
Visiting the village during the Corpus Domini procession is a must in order to appreciate its beautiful alleys filled with expanses of petals that form true artistic masterpieces. The Spello Flower Festival is an ancient and famous tradition, which involves many inhabitants, engaged from the collection of flowers to the realisation of these works.
And since it is located at the foot of Mount Subasio, you have a great opportunity to go on a fantastic excursion, but also to pick hundreds of flowers of the brightest and most varied colours.
I’ll tell you more: this town has an ancient history dating back to Roman times and is embellished by the presence of a city wall built by order of Augustus. This wall was probably built for aesthetic reasons, which explains its incredible beauty. And it has to be said that it is in a perfect state of preservation!
The things to see in Spello, or Hispellum as it was called by the ancient Romans, are spectacular! So you have no excuse to postpone your day trip or your romantic weekend near Perugia! I’m going to tell you what to see in the historic centre in just a few hours, hold on tight!
What to do in Spello in one day? Here is the guide!
Don’t worry about the time you take to visit the town! I assure you that within 3-4 hours you can visit its historic centre entirely. And then, if you also want to visit its special surroundings, you can take a whole weekend, finally finding a moment of relaxation.
This is where I come in: with the itineraries I propose, it will be much easier to visit the historic centre without the fear of missing anything. If you continue reading, I will guide you into the heart of this picturesque village and tell you what to see. Are you ready? Let’s go!
The best things to see in town:
1. The Gates
The walls surrounding Spello are truly magnificent! Characterised by a stunning beauty and exemplary preservation, the walls have a very ancient history, dating back to the time of Augustus.
There are several gates along the walls, made of blocks of limestone, which allow access to the town: those with a single arch such as Porta Urbica, Porta San Sisto and Porta dell’Arce, but also those with an internal courtyard such as Porta Consolare and Porta Venere. The latter in particular symbolises the beauty of this city, thanks to the presence of the two Propertius Towers. It is a breathtaking attraction that you absolutely must see.
I can assure you that the atmosphere of this place is unique and from the very first moment you feel catapulted into the past.
2. Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
Not to be missed is the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, also known as the Collegiata. It was originally a temple in honour of Juno. The church has a single nave entirely in Baroque style and is adorned with several chapels.
However, most of the chapels have been walled up: what a pity! Two chapels remain today: the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and the Baglioni Chapel, created by Pinturicchio, stage name of Bernardino di Betto, and filled with his magnificent frescoes.
3. Church of Sant’Andrea
Among the top things to see in Spello, you cannot miss the magnificent Church of Sant’Andrea! Its origins are said to coincide with 1120, the date of the end of the siege by Emperor Henry IV.
Later destroyed by Frederick of Swabia’s army, it was rebuilt and enlarged from 1281. As a result of the renovations, the outer façade consists of a Romanesque and a Renaissance part, a combination that makes it very special.
4. Church of San Lorenzo
The Church of San Lorenzo is located in Via Cavour, in the heart of the village. It has got very ancient origins, linked to the Camaldolese monks and later to the Franciscan monks.
Amidst the many Neo-Gothic decorations in the 20th century, this church has been renovated so often that it has lost its original appearance. In the only nave you can admire Pinturicchio’s painting of the Madonna and Child, which I highly recommend you see!
5. Municipal Art Gallery
If you want to learn about its history, visit the Pinacoteca Civica Diocesana. You won’t regret it, it’s guaranteed! On display are paintings, sculptures and works of art from different periods, from local churches and private individuals.
Right in the heart of the historic centre, in Piazza Matteotti, you can appreciate the immense culture of this picturesque town. Among authentic art, medieval rooms and beautiful fireplaces you will fall in love with this place.
6. Flowery alleyways
The tradition of flowers is not just about the Corpus Christi procession! Between May and August you’ll see palace balconies and alleyways completely covered with a variety of flowers and full of colours – a unique sight.
This is because citizens strive to ensure that their balconies are the most beautiful in order to win the annual “Flowering Windows, Balconies and Alleys” competition promoted by the municipality.
If, then, you have doubts about what time of year to come, I advise you not to miss the opportunity to admire this wonderful village in the period between May and August, when it comes to life.
7. Town Hall
This magnificent palace was originally built in 1270 by Maestro Prode in white limestone. It was later enlarged and renovated in the 16th century.
This place will let you get in touch with the soul of this city, making you feel strong emotions at the sight of its frescoed rooms. Another of the many reasons to visit Spello!
8. Urbani Acuti Palace
This ancient palace had been the residence of several important noble families for centuries. In fact, these rich families were able to afford the luxury of living in a baroque style building, right in the heart of the historic centre, in Via Garibaldi.
Here’s what to visit in town, if you want to enjoy a magnificent view over the surrounding landscape!
9. Roman Arch
Now let me take you to the Roman Arch. It connects the town with Mount Subasio and is one of the many traces left by the ancient Romans in this beautiful village.
If you need to stretch your legs, reach the Roman Arch through a fascinating uphill walk. At the end of this path, you can contemplate the breathtaking landscape offered by Mount Subasio.
10. The Tega Chapel
This magnificent chapel was initially used as a base by the Confraternity of the Disciplinati di Sant’Anna. For this reason it is also called the Chapel of Sant’Anna.
Only in more recent times has the incredible value of this place been discovered, thanks to the careful eye of Pietro Tega. The latter, while transforming the chapel into a workshop, realised the presence of magnificent frescoes hidden by the plaster. These frescoes, depicting religious scenes such as the Crucifixion, Purgatory and Hell, are excellent suggestions among the many things to see in Spello.
11. Villa of Mosaics
In Spello art and mosaic lovers will also be satisfied, thanks to the ancient Villa of Mosaics, dating back to Roman times but only brought to light in 2005.
The most impressive thing about this villa is the 500 square metres of floor mosaics depicting the most varied images: from mythological figures to food, always with wine as the central theme, perhaps because the owner was a wine producer.
12. Villa Fidelia
If you are wondering what to do in Spello, you absolutely must visit Villa Fidelia! This villa, also called Villa Costanzi, was built by the Urbani family in the 1500s. It is a beautifully shaped structure with 5 floors, each one more beautiful than the last. Once you have arrived here, I suggest you admire its garden full of secular plants.
Here is what to visit in the surroundings!
Below is a short list of the best places to visit around the Umbrian town in one go!
Just a stone’s throw from Spello there is the enchanting village of Bevagna. A must-see is the Civic Museum, which exhibits very ancient artefacts, as well as the churches of San Silvestro and San Michele Arcangelo.
For a different kind of day out, I recommend coming at the end of June for the “Mercato delle Gaite”, an event where you can immerse yourself in a medieval atmosphere, between an archery competition and a meal in a typical inn set up for the occasion.
This small village is the kingdom of Montefalco Sagrantino D.O.C.G., a red wine that is a sight to behold! Visiting its central square, you are immediately catapulted into a wonderful atmosphere. Here you can see the ancient Palazzo Comunale, dating back to the 13th century, and the museum of San Francesco. You should also know that this village has its roots in a long tradition of cotton and wool weaving.
3. The Clitunno Springs
In this beautiful natural park, the waters of the River Clitunno flow into a small lake that takes on many different shades of colour, thanks to the dense vegetation underwater.
Between a picnic and some time spent in completely unspoilt nature, you can visit the Temple of Clitunno, enriched inside by several frescoes depicting scenes related to Christianity. Due to its incredible beauty, this small temple is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The economy of this small village is centred on the use of the abundant local water for food processing, sheep farming and weaving.
It is no coincidence that Rasiglia is defined as “the little Venice of Umbria”, precisely because of the presence of the small canals that run through the town.
What to do in and around Spello
Now I can tell you that there are not only beautiful things to see, but there is also a lot of choice about what to do.
First of all, you have to come to Spello during the Flower Festival (in Italian, Infiorata) held in June. It is a warm time of the year, when you can enjoy many excursions to Mount Subasio and breathe some clean air. You can also pick mushrooms or go truffle hunting. Did you know that a unique piece of white truffle weighing 830 grams was found in the countryside? That’s incredible!
On the other hand, I recommend you take part in the event “Spello di vicolo in vicolo” (Spello from alley to alley). A guide will take you through the town’s alleys and past its monuments, in a walk of a thousand emotions.
Bike tours are also available to visit the town and its surroundings. One example is the excursion to the Roman Aqueduct, which is located in the surroundings of the village and has recently been restored.
Discover the local food & wine!
Since we have given so much importance to what to see, it is also necessary to talk about food and wine. I bet your mouth is already watering!
Among the many dishes to be tasted, I recommend in particular: pasta alla Norcina, with cream and sausage, and the Ciaramicola, a typical Easter cake that has recently been so successful that it is produced throughout the year. Finally, Impastoiata, a dish that has a long history linked to the life of Umbrian farmers and is made of polenta and legumes.
Wine is also very important in these lands. The magnificent wineries of the Canticle Wine Route, this is what to see in Spello! In this incredible territory famous for its prestigious wine production, you have the opportunity to make unique wine tastings, savouring Montefalco Sagrantino D.O.C.G., the undisputed master of these wonderful places.
Visiting Spello also means coming into contact with the symbolic product of this territory: its extra virgin olive oil. Rich in red soil, and therefore rich in antioxidants, this Umbrian town is the home of high quality olive oil, obtained through the manual harvesting of the olives and the use of traditional olive mills.
What are you waiting for? You can no longer say you don’t know what to see in Spello! In fact, now that I have told you what to see in this beautiful village, you have no choice but to come here and savour its history and traditions. Discover Umbria with Italia Delight’s Food Experts!