Church of San Pietro Extra Moenia

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Spoleto is part of the province of Perugia; it is one of the oldest cities in Umbria. The city is located between Rome and Assisi on a low hill at the base of the Apennines.

Spoleto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thanks to its strategic geographical location Spoleto have been very important since the Umbri tribes’ time. They fortified the town in the 5th century BCE; it is still possible to see part of the walls.

During the Roman period it was a flourishing city, its wine was already very popular.

Under the Lombards domination Spoleto became the capital of the Duchy of Spoleto; in 774 it was annexed to the Holy Roman Empire. Almost four centuries later the city was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. In 1213 the town became part of the Papal States.

At the beginning of the 19th century when Napoleon’s troops conquered part of the Italian territory Spoleto became the capital of the Trasimene Department. Not even five years later the city went back under the Papal command. In 1860 it became part of the Italian Reign.

Spoleto is dominated by the Albornoz fortress; the fort is considered the symbol of the city. The building was constructed at the end of the 14th century by the architect Matteo Gattapone of Gubbio for Cardinal Albornoz. The Fortress is formed by six towers that divided the structure in two separated spaces: the Cortile delle Armi and the Cortile d’onore. The first one was used by the army while the second one by the Spoleto’s governor.

Very famous is the Camera Pinta (Painted Room) with its stunning frescoes.

The fortress protected the city from many attacks for centuries. At the beginning of the 19th century however it was converted in a jail. Only in 2007 was opened to the public as a museum.

Walking around Spoleto its history will unfold in front of your eyes. In particular the roman presence is still strong; many roman buildings survived the centuries: the Ponte Sanguinario (Bloody Bridge) dated 1st century BCE; a gorgeous house with stunning mosaics floors (probably the house of the Emperor Vespasian’s mother); a theatre and an amphitheater. The last two were heavily rebuilt many times. On the theatre’s stage it was built the former Church of St. Agatha that today houses the National Archeological Museum, however part of the ancient theatre is still used to host various performances. The amphitheatre was converted many times: it became a fortress, later it was used for storage and divided in many shops, and finally when the Albornoz fortress was erected many of its stones were used as building material.

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Notable are also the numerous churches of Spoleto. The Duomo of S. Maria Assunta (Assumption of Mary) is a beautiful example of Romanesque style. The construction started at the end of the 12th century and it was completed in 1227. The Cathedral houses the tomb of the famous artist Filippo Lippi and an original letter wrote by Saint Francis of Assisi.

The Church of San Pietro extra Moenia is considered together with the Church of San Rufino in Assisi the best representation of Umbrian Romanesque architecture. The first church was built on top of a necropolis in 419 to store the chains of Saint Peter; however there are many doubts about their authenticity. Many renovations have interested the building; the most important it was the one that added the Romanesque façade with stunning relief decoration. During the baroque period the interior was restyled.

The Basilica of San Salvatore is considered a very important example of Early Christian Architecture. Originally built during the 4th century it was renovated during the Lombards dominations. In 2011 the UNESCO nominated it a World Heritage Site.