Umbria

We spent three night in the heart of Umbria, just outside of the town of Spello.

Our place was called Residenza Isabella, and was an immaculate modernized farmhouse, with incredible rose bushes throughout the yard.
We were the only ones staying there, so had the run of the place, including the outdoor terrace shown here, jut outside our part of the house.
There was also a large swimming pool, although the couple who runs the place were just getting it ready for the summer season.
We would highly recommend the place to anyone visiting the area, and here is their link: http://www.residenzaisabella.com

Among the appealing features of the place was its view to the hill town of Assisi, seen here.

One of our first stops in Umbria was Spoleto

Spoleto was a sizeable Roman town, and there are Roman ruins throughout the city.
The amphitheater (above left) also contains a medieval church built over the stage.
A triumphal arch (above middle), now partly hidden by modern buildings, is noticeably lower than the modern street level.
Parts of the Roman walls (above right), maintained in the Middle Ages, also survive.

Spoleto was undergoing considerable public works repairs, but some of its streets and buildings were very nice.

Spoleto spreads out from its hilltop onto the surrounding valleys, which offered it protection throughout its history.

One of the glories of Spoleto is its viaduct, built in the Middle Ages, and dominated (like so many central Italian towns and cities) by a Renaissance castle.

Just outside Spoleto at a place called Clitunno is a small chapel
built sometime in the fourth or fifth century AD.

Not far from where we stayed was the tiny and picturesque town of Bevagna

There isn't much to do there but wander along its streets to the main square and enjoy the sights!

Perhaps the most spectacular Umbrian town is Assisi

It is the home of Saint Francis of Assisi, who is honored by a huge basilica church covered inside with incredible frescoes
on the walls and vaulted ceilings painted by renowned medieval artists both in the upper church and in the lower church (where Francis is buried).

The streets of Assisi twist and wind up and down its hills.

Its cathedral, older than the basilica church of Saint Francis, is also impressive.

The climb to the castle at the top of the hill is worth the effort and rewarding in its view of the town below and the valley of Umbria beyond.
Inside the castle is a passageway for troops that takes you inside the walls from one end of the fortress to the other.

At the center of Assisi is a Roman temple turned into a Christian church with a medieval tower added.
Carved into the side of this tower was an interesting set of official measures for the city,
displayed in public so that medieval artisans could produce items all of equal size and weight.

Another attractive nearby village is Montefalco

Montefalco's most curious sight is found within one of its churches. It is a series of three human corpses.
The first (shown closer in the photos left and center below) was a medieval nun whose reputation for holiness
meant that she was revered locally as a saint (although never formally declared such). Still, a century later a
nun from the same convent in town felt such devotion toward her that when she died she was buried alongside
the first (and her body is a bit difficult to see, but easier to see in the middle photo). Then, only a century ago,
a pilgrim saying prayers before the two nuns' tomb died suddenly and was also buried in a nearby glass coffin.

There are no end to the quaint Umbrian towns, and another we visited was Trevi

And another (more of a city than a town) was Foligno

But our favorite by far was also the closest to where we stayed: Spello

Spello is still surrounded by its Roman walls and there is little room for cars within these walls, so it is a quiet place.

The day we visited Spello its weekly market was happening, and butchers and others sold their foods.
There was a long line of people waiting to buy the porchetta (pork in its skin slowly
roasted with oranges and herbs; you can see it behind the display window).

Umbria is known for its sausages, and one shop in Spello proudly displayed the nicknames for the different kinds:
"Coglioni di mulo" (Mule's balls), "Le palle de nonno" (Grandpa's balls)--well, you get the idea.

Click on any of the following links to compare these to the photos of Matt's trip to Umbria in 2005:
Spoleto, Clitunno, Trevi, Foligno, Bevagna and Montefalco, Spello, or Assisi.


Or close this page to return to the map of central Italy and
select another image to view the photos of another place we visited in 2011.