Day 8 (Mon, Sep 24): Spoleto


ProvincePerugia (PG)
Elevation 396 m
Area 349 km²
Population ('04) 38,563
Time zone CET, UTC+1
Coordinates 42°44' 12°44'
Dialing code 0743
Postal code 06049
Fratzionisee list
Patron San Ponziano, 14 Jan

We spent a comfortable night in our new room. We're not sorry to be away from night-time revelry in the Corso in Assisi, however appropriate it might have been for celebrating the early life of Francis (see chap. 3, "The Pleasures of Youth", Francis of Assisi: A Revolutionary Life, Adrian House; also, p. 51 wherein his friends elected Francis Lord of the Revels). We actually were getting used to it, but a night's sleep is good.

Breakfast begins at 7:15 here, and our bus was scheduled to depart at 8:30, so we got moving fairly promptly. There's a lovely breakfast buffet here. We pretty much stuck with what we'd been eating in Assisi: for me that would be cereal, yogurt, a sweet roll, a hard-boiled egg, juice, cappuccino, sometimes a hard roll with butter or cheese; Karen didn't go for the cereal but did go for the fresh fruit.

Fonti del Clitunno

This is a prompt group of people, and we left on time. On the way to Spoleto, we stopped at the Fonti del Clitunno, which are famous crystalline springs which form a large pool, with little islands. We took a forty-five minute break to stretch our legs, enjoy the water, the poplars and weeping (Italians say "whipping") willows, the ducks and the swans. There are very many photographs of this photogenic place on the web. Here's a 4-minute video. The picture of the lone swan is one I took during our visit.

Roman Ruins     We enjoyed our visit to Spoleto. Our first stop was the Teatro Romano, a first century AD Roman theatre which has been extensively restored and is used for present-day performances. We made our way uphill to the site of the Roman forum and the 23 A.D. Arch of Drusus and Germanicus, sons of Tiberius, as can be gleaned from the inscription on the side looking towards what was the Forum and now Piazza del Mercato. The arch was the triumphal entrance to the forum. It consists of only one barrel-vault in squared stone and little decoration. The left wall is now an integral part of the medieval houses along the street. From the right side, instead, thanks to the restoration of the church of Sant'Ansano carried out in the 1950s, the ruins of a first-century A.D. temple can now be clearly seen.


Piazza del Mercato

We had a break at the Piazza del Mercato on the site of the old Forum, which is, indeed, a market, with fruit and vegetables set out in the backs of pickups. There was a porchetta sandwich truck. The focal point of the piazza is a fountain at the end which looks like a house. Karen and I had a cappuccino at the "Antico Caffé" ... very relaxing.

The Cathedral

We spent most of our time here at Spoleto's cathedral, Santa Maria Assunta, which we all enjoyed. There's a good online collection of interior and exterior photos. I won't try to compete with them, especially since cameras were not allowed inside. Here are some samples, including the Fra Filippo Lippi's apse fresco cycle (Annunciation, Nativity, death of Mary -- Lippi is pictured with a black hat, Enthronement), Pinturicchio's madonna and child, and letter written by St. Francis:

We made our way downhill for lunch (if that's the word for a gustatory delight) at the Trattoria Pecchiarda (1903), which serves Umbrian farm-style food. We ate outdoors. It was marvelous. Far too much, but we gobbled it all up. It was so good that I neglected to take any pictures; from a search of the web (no pictures) it would appear to be universal).

It was a silent return to Perugia because most of us were sleeping. Karen and I took a long nap back in our room. Had an enjoyable dinner with Babette, Bill and Martha Beverly, and Dale and Bongchun Koch.

Incidentally, in keeping with traditions in the rest of Umbria, Spoleto celebrates "Corteo delle Vaite" and is, of course, divided into vaiti, each vaite having its own banner.