6 reasons why you should visit Spello (now!) + Things to do when you are there
Have you heard of Spello?
The popularity of this Umbrian town keeps growing. The recent discovery of an ancient Villa with marvellous mosaics played a role in increasing its popularity, but it’s not just for that.
I believe it’s because at Spello people can have a complete and genuine Italian experience: from a visit to one of Italy’s greatest Renaissance masterpieces to a tour in the mill to see how olive oil is produced, you’ll be surprised (as I was!) by how many things you can do in Spello.
But to enjoy the genuine soul of Spello you should go now, before it turns into a tourist spot.
Here’s a list that will persuade you to pack!
Wandering around the ancient town of Spello
You can spend ages getting lost in the old town.
Each corner looks like taken out of a fairy-tale book: the balconies and the alleyways full of flowers, the ancient walls, the marble – used to build the town – which gives a rosy hue at sunset.
Here are the spots you shouldn’t miss:
– The Roman arches which frame the beautiful Umbrian landscape around Spello
– The impressive Roman gates (Porta Consolare and Porta Venere) at the entrance to the town
– The picturesque alleyways and balconies full of flowers. If you visit Spello between May and August, they are even more gorgeous than usual. Each year in those months, the inhabitants of Spello compete to win the award for “the most beautiful alleyway and balcony of the town”. Believe me, they take that competition really seriously
The Roman Villa
I know it may sound incredible, but the Villa was discovered only in 2005 by coincidence during the construction of a parking lot!
From outside the Villa might seem not so special, but as soon as you get in you’ll be impressed by the roman mosaics on the floor. Some are very big, others are smaller, but they are all wonderful and well-preserved.
Too beautiful to be used as a parking lot, no?!
Want to know when and how you can visit the Villa? click here
The gold of Spello
Don’t worry, to get this gold you won’t need to touch your savings!
The gold of Spello (l’oro di Spello in Italian) is the olive oil produced in Spello.
If you want, you can take a tour of the old mill to see how olive oil is produced. Just outside the ancient town of Spello lies the mill, surrounded by a lawn that in spring turns into a beautiful poppy field.
I took the tour and I recommend it.
The landscape around the mill looks like a postcard and the visit is a good chance to know local people and tradition. It was a pleasure for me to meet Yuri and the staff; I felt how much they love what they do.
Last but not least, at the mill you can buy one of the best olive oils produced in Italy at a very reasonable price.
Click here for more information about the oil mill in Spello.
Though the painter Pinturicchio didn’t become as famous as Michelangelo, he left great masterpieces too. Among other things, Pinturicchio also painted the side walls of the Sistine Chapel. You didn’t know that, right?
The good thing is that one of his greatest artworks is in Spello and you don’t have to spend hours in line to admire it (if you have visited the Sistine Chapel, you know what I mean!).
When you are in Spello, go inside Santa Maria Maggiore church to enjoy as long as you wish the amazing Baglioni Chapel painted by Pinturicchio.
The Renaissance frescoes inside the Baglioni Chapel are definitely worth the trip!
Italian Sagre in Spello
Spello is second to none in the organization of sagre (Italian traditional festivals).
Each festival has normally a specific theme (though people go to traditional festivals primarily for the food rather than for the specific theme ).
When you are in Italy, go and eat at a local festival and you won’t regret it!
Many traditional festivals are held in Spello, but my favorites are:
– Hispellum: it’s a historical reenactment of Roman times (it’s held in August)
– Infiorate di Spello: during this festival, the streets of Spello are covered with pictures and carpets made of flowers (it’s held during Corpus Domini feast)
– L’oro di Spello: it’s a festival dedicated to the olive oil and to the rural traditions of Spello (it’s held in November)
The village of Colle Pino
I discovered the tiny village of Colle Pino by coincidence.
One day I was looking for a lookout point to admire Spello (and, by the way, I found it! This is the view of Spello from the Roman Aqueduct):
So, while I was looking for such a lookout point, I found a trail along the Roman Aqueduct and I decided to make the unknown known! Indiana Jones, who?!
I walked amongst olive groves and, after having enjoyed great views of the umbrian valley, I reached Colle Pino, an isolated and lovely village with less than 50 inhabitants. One of the most quiet places I have ever been.
So, are you ready to pack for Umbria and Spello? Leave your comment!
Still have 5 minutes? Take a look at my favorite small towns in Italy. Click here