Key to Umbria: Spello

This church stands on land that belonged to the Ghibelline Vico di Chiatti in the 14th century.  He survived the papal reconquest of Spello in 1358, but was murdered and his lands were confiscated in 1373.  The Commune built a tabernacle here to house an image of the Madonna del Latte, which is known as the Madonna del Vico.  In 1514, this image was reported to have performed miracles: Gian Paolo Baglioni commissioned the masons Giovanni and Bartolomeo da Domodossola to build the present church in order to house it.  

The Commune installed a community of Servites here in 1515, and they built an adjacent convent.  The Commune also seems to have assumed financial responsibility for the complex after Gian Paolo Baglioni was executed in 1520.  The Servites took possession of the completed church in 1539, but Pope Innocent X suppressed their community in 1652.

The complex has recently been restored and the ex-convent is used for gastronomic functions.  The church is sadly closed.


The church is in the form of a Greek cross, with  three semi-circular apses and a fourth in the form of a square.  The crossing is covered by an octagonal cupola, the eight windows of which are now closed.  This plan gives the church its usual name, which is a corruption of “Santa Maria della Rotonda”.

The portal (1539), which has been attributed to Simone Mosca, is decorated with reliefs of the Commune of Spello and of the Servites.  It is currently in restoration.


The church is closed so I do not know whether the following survive. It seems from this photograph by Bill Thayer that it is unlikely.

The design of the choir screen and high altar has been attributed to Simone Mosca.

Madonna del Latte (1373, repainted in the 15th century)

The venerated image for which the church was built is on the high altar.  The 15th century repainting is attributed, somewhat uncertainly, to Bartolomeo da Miranda.

Madonna and Child with saints (1533)

This fresco, which is signed by Bernardino Mezzastris and dated by inscription, is in the niche on the left in the square apse.  It depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Anna, Joseph and Michael.

Inscription (1st century BC)

Fausto Gentile Donnola (at p. 97 in the edition referenced above) also recorded that:

  1. “In the convent of the Madonna del Vico, there is a small square stone that was found in 1615, not far from [Chiesa Tonda]” (my translation).

It is clear from Donnola’s transcription that he referred to CIL XI 5263:         

[Ser]venius |(mulieris) l(ibertus) Chilo

aedem Minerv(ae) opere

[tec]t(orio) camera(m) limi[na] 

[l]api(de) rub(ro) asseres

...m cludend(am)

f(acienda) cur(avit)

The inscription, which is now in is now in the Museo Archeologico, Palazzo Trinci, Foligno,  records a temple of Minerva restored in local ‘pietra rossa’ (pink stone) by Servenius Chilo, the freedman of a lady.  It is generally related to the Roman sanctuary (some 700 meters south along Via Centrale Umbra) and is discussed in more detail in the page on that site.

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Chiesa Tonda (1514-39)

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