Key to Umbria: Spello

The Roman aqueduct brought water to Spello from the hills below Collepino until 1944, when it was cut near Porta Montanara by Allied forces: 

  1. [Remains of the aqueduct can be seen under glass in the floor of the office of Pro Loco Spello - see Walk I.]

  2. A fountain that had been fed by the aqueduct was discovered in ca. 1830 during the laying out of the Baroque garden of Villa Fidelia and adapted to form the basis of its monumental fountain. 

The easy and well-marked walk along the aqueduct, from the road south of Collepino to Porta Montanara, takes less than an hour.  The easiest way of doing it is to take a taxi to the Abbazia di San Silvestro, and then to ask the driver to drop you at the start of the walk.

An inscription (probably 1st century AD) in front of the Roman sarcophagus that forms the altar of the church of San Silvestro, which probably came from the aqueduct, reads:

.... [AQV]AM ADDV[XIT] ....

.... brought water ....

(The inscription along the upper surface of the step in front of the altar is barely visible in this photograph, but there are better pictures of it in Bill Thayer’s website).

The aqueduct itself is in tact for the whole length of this walk, forming part of the terracing of the fields and olive groves.  It has a tall rectangular section, with an upper cornice supporting the large flat stones that form its ceiling, and has regular inspection ports, many of which are still exposed.  (There is a nice photograph of the interior by the intrepid Bill Thayer on his website). 

24 numbered points of interest are signed along the path.  These include:

  1. the Abbeveratoio dell’ Asino (animal drinking trough) - number 14;

  1. a bridge of three arches (one of four bridges along the route) - number 8; and

  1. the remains of a drinking fountain - number 3.

There are a number of interesting inscriptions embedded into the wall as you approach Spello, which are intended to provide you with food for thought.  My favourite is from “Remembrance of Things Past” by Marcel Proust: Lasciamo le belle donne agli uomini senza fantasia (Leave the beautiful women to men without imagination).

The walk ends at this point on the outskirts of Spello. 

Continue to the lane, with an exposed section of the channel of the aqueduct on the opposite side.  Turn left down the lane, right at the end of it, and right again at the T-junction to return to Porta Montanara.

An inscription from the church of Santa Barbara (just inside Porta Montanara), which is now embedded in what remains of the Arco di Augusto, probably related to the construction of  the aqueduct.  It commemorated the Emperor Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD) as:

[Imp. Caesa]R DIVI F(ilius) [Augusto ?]

Return to Monuments of Spello. 

Return to Walk II.

Roman Aqueduct (early imperial period)

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