We leave our creepy hotel in Assisi on the early side after a horrible breakfast. We seem to be almost the only people in the entire hotel and the food keeps getting recycled. We are off to Spoleto where we are to spend two days. It’s less than an hour away.
Even though it is before 11 AM the hotel gives us our rooms and then we are off to start exploring. We have a Spoleto card which allows entry into 7 museums and unlimited use of public transportation.
Spoleto is a very interesting small city. There are traces of the original Umbrians whom Pliny the Elder said were the oldest people of Italy. Legend has it that they came to this area of Italy after the Great Flood. (Think, Noah) There is also a lot of Roman remains and then the Longobards followed by the Duchy of Spoleto. There are museums, churches, and ruins that put this all in perspective. It is also not crowded with tourists.
Just outside our hotel is the Roman theater. After its beginnings as a fortified town by Umbrian tribes, Spoletium was a Roman city founded around 240 B.C. (John has just pointed out to me, as I am typing this, that after Hannibal was victorious at Lake Trasimeno he went on to attack Spoleto. I will try to work this into my next casual conversation with my friends at home.)
Just around the corner from the Roman theater is San Ansano’s church consecrated in 1143. It’s made of bits and pieces of an old Roman temple and a Paleo-Christian church. In it lie the remains of St. Isaac perhaps a Syrian hermit who came to the hills around Spoleto and died here in 552. He is buried in the crypt under the church which is decorated with early frescoes (maybe 12th century?)
Coming out of the church we pass under the Arch of Drusus. Drusus and his brother Germanicus were adopted sons and the heirs apparent of Emperor Tiberius. They both died in their early 20’s and so an arch was erected here in their honor.
Lunchtime! We stop at an outdoor cafe for sandwiches and salad. Of course things turn out a little differently than we anticipate. We have a giant sandwich and a giant salad. They are only 5 Euros. Who knew?!
Spoleto is very hilly. So hilly that the city has a system of underground walkways, escalators, and elevators. It helps some but you really need to be fit to climb and descend all the hills.
Our next tourist spot is the Ponte Delle Torri. It is an aqueduct built in the 13th century on top of an earlier Roman aqueduct. It’s quite something and Sarah and John take a brief walk on it. It’s 80 meters high so no way I am venturing out.
At this, the highest point of Spoleto, is also a fortress called the Rocca Albornoziana which was built in 1359-1370. It is now a museum.
From this vantage point we can see the whole city and the walls around it.
At this point we are pretty zonked out. I suggest a siesta and then meet later for dinner. Everyone agrees.
We stop first at a restaurant which is rated #1 on Tripadviser but they are completely booked. We are able to get a reservation for Saturday night but only if we will eat early, 7:30 PM. Of course! If there is one thing Americans like to do it is to eat early by European standards.
We stop at an Enoteca that also serves food, the Enoteca il mio Vinaio.
Utterly exhausted we decide to have an early night so that we can awake with renewed vigor to explore the rest of Spoleto tomorrow.