Spello will amaze you with its extraordinary wealth of artwork, cultural heritage, monuments, and architecture. The stones in the quiet and romantic alleys exude centuries of history.
Spello's perimeter walls
The Roman walls, which extended for almost 2 kilometres, were a spectacular sight to see. Today, they represent some of Italy's best preserved walls from the Augustan age. They are dotted with gates and posterns, and still retain a number of towers, which protrude from the walls themselves.
Thanks to its splendid perimeter walls, Spello is considered one of Italy's most beautiful fortified villages.
Porta Venere and the Propertius Towers
The Propertius Towers stand as extraordinary ornaments next to the ancient town gate of Porta Venere. The gate linked the upper part of the town directly to the monumental extra-urban complex, comprised of the theatre, the amphitheatre, and the sanctuary. It dates back to the Augustan age, as do the walls, to which it is directly connected.
The gate is flanked by two tall dodecagonal towers made from blocks of local pink and white limestone, which are believed to have been built during the middle ages. One ancient tradition has linked the name of these towers to the poet Propertius (Spello is one of the towns that claims to be the poet's birthplace), and another legend has it that the upstream tower was the prison of the paladin Orlando.
Climbing the spiral staircases inside, visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape from the terrace.
The Municipal and Diocesan Art Gallery
The artwork housed inside Palazzo dei Canonici has close ties to the territory of Spello. In addition to works owned by the parish of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Municipality of Spello, the art gallery also contains numerous pieces acquired through private agreements.
Some of the most significant works include: a diptych by Cola Petruccioli, a Madonna with Child attributed to Andrea d'Assisi, and a triptych by the Maestro dell’Assunta di Amelia. The exhibits also include wonderful examples of Gothic and Baroque goldworking, and an interesting series of wooden medieval and renaissance sculptures.
The Baglioni Chapel
The chapel is also known as the Cappella Bella (the “Beautiful Chapel”) due to its enchanting images, with their incredible colours, their naturalistic details, and the elegance of the scenes depicted. The chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is a little gem that was frescoed in 1501 by Bernardino di Betto, otherwise known as Pinturicchio. It has been judged one of his most harmonious and meaningful creations.
Entering the Baglioni Chapel is like immersing yourself in absolute beauty. The walls are adorned with depictions of the Annunciation, the Nativity with the Adoration of the Shepherds, and the Dispute of Jesus among the Doctors. The self-portrait of the painter to the right of the Annunciation, and the tiled Deruta flooring with a light blue background (dating back to 1566) are of particular interest. The Sibyls are depicted within the four ribs of the vault.
Allow yourself to be enchanted by the charm of the Beautiful Chapel, which still remains unchanged to this day.
The town hall
The Rescript of Constantine, the Ancient Library Foundation, and the Emilio Greco Collection
The ancient Town Hall of Spello is one of major attractions on the tour of the village. The lobby welcomes you with a collection of Roman and medieval inscriptions along the walls. On the first floor, the frescoed views on the ceiling of the Hall of the Edict reveal glimpses of Spello from the past.
In the Hall of the Zuccari, visitors can admire the famous Rescript of Constantine, a lengthy stone inscription likely dating back to 333-337 A.D. documenting a concession that the Roman emperor made to the people of Umbria, in which the town of Spello is referred to as "Fedele ai Flavi". The emperor considered to be a town that distinguished itself for its beauty and appearance.
The Ancient Library Foundation on the same floor is also quite impressive. In addition to the décor, which features painted Venetian style wood panelling dating back to the 17th century, the library contains approximately 4000 volumes. Its most prized possession is an incunabulum printed in Venice in 1474.
The building also houses the Emilio Greco Collection. The writer, Illustrator and sculptor Emilio Greco was defined by Picasso as the greatest draughtsman in all of Europe. The collection held in Spello contains 38 works of graphic art, lithographs, etchings, and drawings, as well as a selection of bronze, plaster and resin sculptures.