Key to Umbria: Spello

The walk begins Piazza Kennedy, outside the Roman Porta Consolare.

Take a short detour by walking  through the gate and turning sharply left into Via del Tempio di Diana.  (This street is named for a presumed temple to Diana that was indicated by the discovery of an inscription (CIL XI 5262) near Porta Venere that was subsequently lost.)  Palazzo Bianconi, which is at number 9 on the left, houses part of the Civic Archeological Collection.

Retrace your steps through Porta Consolare and turn right along Via Roma, following the Roman walls, to a square tower with a postierla (pedestrian gate). 

Take a short detour by walking through the gate and up the steps, and then turning right and immediately left along Via Povera Vita.  This street is named for the ex-Monastero della Povera Vita at number 14 on the left (just before the overhead passage), which is now the the Casa della Povera Gente.

Return to Via Roma and continue along the left wall of San Ventura on the left, to Porta Urbica.  This is the most authentic of the Roman gates of Spello, since it is largely in tact and has not been heavily restored. 

Continue along the main road, which becomes Via Centrale Umbra to Via Tornetta.  Take a short detour by continuing to the aedicule above the wall on the right.  It stands on the site of the church of San Venanzio, which was documented in the 12th century but demolished in the 19th century. 

Return to and walk along Via Tornetta, up to the Roman Porta Venere to the right.  This gate articulated the road that led from the Roman city to the sanctuary below its walls, as described in Walk III.

Walk through the gate and turn sharply left along Via Mura Vecchie, which now follows the inside of the Roman walls.  Turn right at the end, along Via San Martino, which leads to the lovely church of San Martino.

Turn left along Via Torre di Belvedere, which ends at a viewing platform that offers a magnificent view of San Claudio, the remains of the Roman amphitheatre and Villa Fidelia (all visited in Walk II), and of the countryside beyond.  This is the highest part of the town, and was probably the site of the arx (citadel) of the Roman colony.  A fine stretch of the Roman walls support the viewing platform and the Roman Porta dell’ Arce to the right was probably named for the arx. 

The site was later used for a succession of fortresses.  Only a single tower of the last of these,  Rocca dell’ Albornoz survives, beside the ancient church of San Severino.  This walls of the garden of the convent here stand on the foundations of the Roman walls. Retrace your steps to San Martino and turn left along Via Arco di Augusto, which runs along its right wall.  This leads to the vestiges of Arco di Augusto.

Turn right along Via Giulia, which was named in honour of the visit of Pope Julius II to Spello in 1507: 

  1. The Oratorio di Sant Antonio is at number 8 on the left.

  2. The Oratorio della Morte and the adjacent San Gregorio Magno are just beyond on the left.

  3. Sant’ Ercolano is also on the left, on the junction with Via Sant’ Ercolano.

Continue to the junction with Via Garibaldi.  A Roman funerary inscription and a fragment from a Roman frieze have been inserted into the wall near the arch to the right.   The inscription, which commemorates Publius Caprilius Ianuarius, is described in detail in Bill Thayer’s website.

Turn left into Largo Mazzini; San Lorenzo is immediately on the left, where the street opens into Largo Mazzini.   Unfortunately, this important church closed for restoration in 2010 and has yet to reopen.

The north end of Largo Mazzini (opposite and to the right as you leave San Lorenzo) was the site of the oratory and hospice of San Giacomo.  This complex housed the ex-Collegio Vitale Rosi from 1832, and was later adapted as a school.  Part of it passed into private ownership in 1990 and now houses:

  1. Bar Tullia (6 Largo Mazzini);

  1. Ristorante il Pinturcicchio (8 Largo Mazzini); and

  1. the Residence San Jacopo (holiday apartments in 1 Via Borgo di Via Giulia).

The Biblioteca Comunale Giacomo Prampolini (entered through the atrium of the school)has occupied part of the complex, including the ex-oratory, since 2007. 


The buildings to the south of Largo Mazzini belonged to the Monastero di San Giovanni Battista until 1816.  The Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista (in the centre of the photograph to the right), which was the nuns’ chapel , is still used for services (in substitution for San Lorenzo, above).

Continue along Via Garibaldi to Palazzo Urbani at number 19 on the right.  This street then runs along the side of Palazzo Comunale Vecchio

  1. Turn into the entrance on the left at number 6 Via Garibaldi and along the passage that houses the Lapidarium

  2. The steps to the left lead up to the rooms on the first floor of the palace that are open to the public.

  3. The visit also includes the Emilio Grecco Collection on the second floor.

  4. Return to the ground floor and continue through the Lapidarium into Piazza della Repubblica.

Turn right on leaving Palazzo Comunale Vecchia, cross what is now Via Cavour and continue along Via Ospedale into Piazza Carlo Carretto.  The piazza is named for Brother Carlo Carretto, who moved to Spello in 1965 to establish a new community of the the Piccoli Fratelli di Jesus Caritas at San Girolamo, and who died there in 1988.  The ex-Chiesa dell’ Ospedale (and the ex- Oratorio di Santa Croce that formed its sacristy) are at the far right hand corner of the piazza.  [Roman mosaic?

Continue along Via Ospedale, which swings to the left on the far side of the piazza.  The ex- Oratorio di Santa Maria della Misericordia is on the right, opposite the junction with Via della Misericordia. 

Continue to the T-junction and turn left along Via Borgo della Maestà.  Casa Bartolocci (16th century) is on the right, at number 1.  This is one of the few surviving Renaissance buildings in Spello.  The arms of the Bartolocci family adorn the two portals of the upper storey.

Continue under the arch into Via Cavour.  Take a detour by turn right along Via Cavour and left under the arch to the left of Sant’ Andrea (see below).  The office of Pro Loco Spello is on the left, just after the arch.  [Remains of the Roman aqueduct under glass in the floor of the office.] 

Continue into the gravel piazza, which was laid out when part of the convent of Sant’ Andrea (see below) was demolished in the 1970s.  A long stretch of the wall that sustained the Roman forum survives to your left ....

together with the remains of a Roman domus (1st century BC).

Follow the pink path along the terrace wall, which passes under an arch.

Walk up the steps into Via Seminario Vecchio, which runs along the side of the Rocca Baglioni (to the right in this photograph).  The street is so-named because the Seminario San Felice occupied part of Rocca Baglioni in the period 1620-1821.  The terrace continues ahead under this building and those next to it along the east side of Piazza della Repubblica.  The forum included  the entire area of this piazza, as far as Palazzo Comunale Vecchia.


                        North side of Piazza della Repubblica          East side of Piazza della Repubblica

Walk along the east side of Piazza della Repubblica, past the front of Rocca Baglioni, the Scuola Media “Galileo Ferraris” and the Post Office.  The history of the development of the east side of the piazza is complex: 

  1. When Palazzo Comunale Vecchia, on the north side of the piazza, was extended to the east in 1567-75, the piazza itself was also extended: such was the slope here that the new street level was above the old ground floor rooms of the buildings to the east.   Thus, for example, the old church of San Rufino at the north east corner was interred, and the church of San Filippo was built above it. 

  2. The piazza took on its present appearance in 1960, when San Filippo was adapted to house the Post Office, and the Scuola Media “Galileo Ferraris” was built to the right (using part of the fabric of Rocca Baglioni). 

The trees that now make it such a lovely shady place were planted at the time of the 1960 development.

Walk across the facade of Palazzo Comunale Vecchia and turn left along Via Cavour, which runs along the west side of Piazza della Repubblica.  This takes you past the following palaces on the right:

  1. Palazzo Urbani di Piazza (17th century ?), which now houses Caffé Cavour;

  1. Casa Bianchi (1502), which now houses the Osteria de Dada.  The inscription over the portal, above the arms of the Bianchi family, reads “SCIENTIA INFLAT KARITAS AEDIFICAT MDII”

Continue along Via Cavour to return to the church of Sant’ Andrea on the left.

Turn left along Via Cavour on leaving Sant’ Andrea, past Palazzo Bocci (which is now an excellent hotel) on the right.

The street then widens into Piazza Matteotti. 
Palazzo dei Canonici (1552), which houses the Pinacoteca Comunale, is on the left ... 

... next to Santa Maria Maggiore.  

Palazzo Priorale (1795), which now houses the offices of the parish, closes the piazza. 

Walk through the arch of Palazzo Priorale into the inner courtyard:

  1. there are two Roman travertine capitals (1st century AD) to the sides of the steps leading to the entrance to the palace; and

  1. the remains of a loggia (1510) can be seen in the right wall of Santa Maria Maggiore: as described in the page on the church, the arches of this loggia were later closed to form the present atrium.

Return to Via Cavour.  The church and nunnery of Santa Maria Maddalena are opposite Santa Maria Maggiore.

Continue to the junction with three streets: Via Porta Chiusa; Porta Consolare; and Via Sant’ Angelo.  The last of these is named for the ex-church of San Michele Arcangelo, which is on the right, at number 16c.  Cappella Tega is opposite.  

Continue along Via Consolare: 

  1. The first shop on the left (at 78-84 Via Consolare) belongs to the important artist, Elvio Marchionni.

  1. Casa Bovi (17th century), at number 41 on the right, has a tiny inner courtyard.  There is a Roman bust (1st century AD) embedded in the above a pilaster in the wall opposite the entrance to it.

  1. The ex-Oratorio di San Bernardino is at number 60 on the left, as the street swings to the right. 

  2. The huge ex-Palazzo Venanzi (15th century), at number 25-7 on the right, has two portals that bear the Venanzi arms.  The palace passed to the Confraternita del SS Sacramento di Santa Maria Maggiore, possibly in 1602, when the family built what is now Palazzo Venanzi Preziosi in Via Torre Belvedere.

Take a short detour along  Via Borgo San Sisto 1 on the left to see remains of the facade of the church of San Sisto (next to number 10).  Return to Via Consolare continue to Porta Consolare, where the walk ends.

Return to the home page on Spello.

Walk I:  Inside the Roman Walls

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