Charlie’s “Bucket List”, among some  varied things like sky diving and an African Safari, included a week in Italy in a town we had not yet visited.  There we would rent an apartment and try to experience life like a resident, assimilate and enjoy the flavor.  So many places to choose and so little time.  Since we knew we were going to be in the Tuscany/Umbria area before heading to Puglia for a Rotary Symposium, we read up on a few places and chose Spoleto. That decision behind us the rest fell into place fairly easy.  Friends of ours who have an apartment in Spoleto introduced us via email to Norma and Laurie the owners of Rent Italy and/or

They were delightful to work with and very quickly they found exactly what was on our wish list; kitchen facility, patio or balcony, washer and in a busy Plaza so we could zip down in the morning to have coffee at a café or sit outside at night sipping wine, people watching. When you are in a Piazza you are in the heart of the place where everything happens. It’s the Times Square of the town.

The Plaza

The Piazza

We never did have morning coffee at a café because Charlie almost immediately was caught up in the aroma of a local bakery, so every morning he jogged down to the bakery  and we enjoyed Italian morning delicacies; hot rolls, croissants, Sfogliatelle, slices of heaven as we sat on our balcony listening to the city come alive! No better way to start the day. (OK a little difficult to butter).

Spoleto, founded in prehistoric times, and then occupied by the ancient Umbrians is a beautiful Umbrian town enamored for its artistic and cultural events. It is spread out in a cluster over gently sloping hills and is dominated by its imposing and historical mighty fortress, La Rocca.

Construction of the fortress dates back to the 14th century.  In following centuries it was enlarged and embellished. During the Renaissance, Lucrezia Borgia and her brother Cesare, the illegitimate children of Pope Alexander VI lived there!  Close by is the Bridge of Towers (Ponte Delle Torri)

Bridge of Towers (Ponte Delle Torri)

Bridge of Towers (Ponte Delle Torri)

a fascinating structure, an aquaduct bridge believed to be of Roman origin, built before construction of the fortress and it joins the hill of Sant’Elia, on which the fortress stands, and nearby Monteluco as it stretches over a deep ravine.

Just  a little side note of importance here: Spoleto is also known as the Festival of Two Worlds or Festival dei Due Mondi.  This Festival was founded by Giancarlo Menotti in 1958 and is held in Spoleto every year in the last few days of June and continuing into the first few days of July.  It is ranked among the most important and prestigious of cultural events to take place on the international scene every year. For a few years it was duplicated with Menotti’s help in Charleston SC.  It fell by the wayside for a few years but held again with a grand ceremony in June 2018.


Before I continue, I have to mention one little detail here. Spoleto spans out, at first venture, like a maze,  from the very bottom of the city to the tip top wherein is the fortress, the magnificent LaRocca. You get to the fortress by climbing endlessly from one plateau to the other via small streets, alley ways, under arches and more than likely climbing cobblestone steps in every direction and elevation. So on day one we set out to explore. And there we made our first mistake.

Whoa! I have to add that fortunately, one very bright idea set in. We made our first stop the Tourist Information Center at Piazza della Liberta where we were greeted by Nicola who had a very good command of the English language and unbeknownst  to him we would become good friends during our stay! Nicola was a wealth of information and was fortunately located convenient to our apartment so we had many stop ins. We left the Tourist Information Center with lots of information and a nicely detailed map. If Nicola thought that was going to fortify us for the remainder of the week, he soon learned he was wrong.  But he always greeted us with a smile.

On our merry way with a Spoleto Card for museum visits and a detailed map in hand we ambled to the top to visit LaRocca.

And here was our  mistake.  Spoleto has an extremely efficient and enjoyable and attractive “scala mobile” or moving staircase

“scala mobile”

which takes you to the highest point with various stops along the way at what I consider “plateaus”.  Instead of huffing and puffing our way up we should have taken advantage of this convenience but we didn’t!!  There are also great little tv monitors at each level which let you know what is happening each day or for the week or month.

But we are quick learners. So after this day we organized our sightseeing by riding to the highest point and walking down to view our itinerary of the day,  But, even so, in Spoleto if it goes down you will still have to go up or at times visa versa.

Also nothing is flat and nothing is straight.  But everything is engaging like this quaint little group of houses tucked away as we were walking down trying to find our way to somewhere.

But let’s get back to LaRocca, or Rocca Albornoziana and Museo Nazionale del Ducato. Once there the view is spectacular. You are actually standing at the loftiest point of the city. The construction dates back to the 14th century. The castle has 6 large towers and a beautiful courtyard inside the fortress.

It is also referred to as Duomo of Spoleto.  Famous is the presence within its walls is a letter written by St. Francis of Assisi, the Saint protector of Italy.

Duomo of Spoleto

There is a very comfortable walkway around the fortress  with a few places to stop for coffee or a snack.

We didn’t investigate any but they did look quite comfortable and offered a sensational view.  Along the walk we saw the imposing construction, the Bridge of Towers (Ponte delle Torri) which sweeps across a deep ravine below and also  which joins the hill of Sant’Elia,

which the fortress stands, and Monteluco.  Very impressive even mind boggling when you think that this was built with manual labor and before computers.   The Bridge walkway is closed now while they repair damage from the earthquake. We did take advantage of the walkway  around La Rocca to enjoy the views before touring  the interior of the Fortress.

which afforded many beautiful photo ops along the way (where with the use of binoculars we were able to spot ancient houses and some that looked to be built into the rocks and was well worth the hike.

On the way down we stopped for a light snack  “Merende” and I think mine was gelato, as it was now mid-afternoon, and we saved our appetites for “Cena” dinner. A word about gelato is necessary here.  There is none finer than here in Italy.  Everyday we tried another little Gelataria.  Never disappointed. All fabulous! My favorite, Amarena, but I sampled many. Not to worry as my fitbit usually read over 20,000 foot prints on many a night and we climbed up and down the City.

Charlie always makes coffee for me in the morning and had it all ready for me on day 2 before he set out for the bakery.   During breakfast , which we enjoyed outside in the morning sun, we planned our day starting, smartly, with the highest point of interest and taking advantage of the “scala mobile” and working our way down.

Our Balcony

With our trusty map, we planned our day. Difficult to pick favorites but some of the places we enjoyed and are worth noting:

Cattedrale di S. Maria Assunta – a masterpiece of architecture and a combination of various styles (although the main structure is medieval) due to its many years and stages of construction.  The interior, of course, contains many splendid works of art, statues and magnificent frescoes.

Cattedrale di S. Maria Assunta (outside)

Cattedrale di S. Maria Assunta (interior ceiling)

Our Lady of the Golden Manna intrigued me because of the name and although sparsely outfitted it did have a few pieces of art and sculpture but not much explanation as to the name.  It was built sometime in the 15th century and is octagonal in shape.

Our Lady of the Golden Manna

Roman House – underneath the Town Hall (Palazzo Comunale) are the remains of a Roman house dating back to 1st century A.D. We could easily visualize kitchen, eating areas, bedrooms  and beds and main hallway.  The floor mosaics were extremely interesting.

Roman House

Roman House

Monterone Arch – one of the gateways to the ancient town was built in 3rd century B.C. Again,  hard to fathom walking under something that old.

Monterone Arch

Arch of Drusus

Arch of Drusus – built in honor of Drusus, son of Tiberius and built in 1st century A.D.  It was the entrance to the Forum. How unbelievable to be walking under something built in the 1st century. I was always struck with the same strange feeling when ever we walked under that Arch.

Church of St, Euphemia (Sant’ Eufemia)– located in the courtyard of the Archbishop’s palace and is a wonderful example of Romanesque architecture.  It was restored recently in the early 1900’s.  The interior is stark but captivating and has a many fine paintings.

Church of St, Euphemia (Sant’ Eufemia)

There are so many churches and a large number of exciting museums; Museo Civico which contains the sarcophagus of St Isaac 912th century) and two tablets dating from the 3rd century B.C inscribed with the order that trees should not be cut down in the Spoleto Valley and were to be considered sacred.  Pinacoteca Comunale, The Municipal Picture Gallery which houses numerous objects of artistic value along with furniture from the 13th – 18th centuries and numerous century old frescoes, that could allow me to ramble on.  And I have to mention the Roman amphitheater, Roman Theater, built in the

Imperial period,  even today various performances are held here in the summer as well as several concerts during the Festival of the Two Worlds. and Teatro Nuovo.  And then there is Via Fontana Secca which is lined with medieval and Renaissance houses and considered to be one of Spoleto’s finest streets.  Spoleto is definitely a walking city. Whether you are  traipsing along on a Via, Vicolo, Corso,  a cobble stone alley or a rubble path, there is beauty  and little surprises to be found everywhere.

Rugged Paths

Centuries old Frescoe on Former 13th Century Church of SS Giovanna and Paolo

Spoleto, once you become aware of these little signs posted on major corners, is easy to get around, as they tell you where you are and in what direction you want to go. “Come facile”

Spoleto Signage

Piazza del Mercato (Market Square)

Piazza del Mercato (Market Square)  was one of our favorite piazzas.  Always full of life and  a beautiful fountain and a few of our favorite restaurants.  We stopped into Pardi’s a little cotton goods store just off the square where I found a few things I had hoped to bring home.

In a conversation we asked about restaurants and she mentioned La Lanterna,  just a 5 minute walk away. We always like to ask locals  where they go to eat.

We were greeted by Allesandra and enjoyed it so much we ate there more than once.  Also notable was 9Cento which  was on a tiny side, street, via Porta Fuga, close to our apartment but was getting ready to locate to a larger newer place on the main Piazza. Owned by a delightful young man, Andrea Luzzi. who had an interesting story to tell. Also very enjoyable were, Bar Canasta in Piazza Liberte where you can look out at the 1st Century A.D. “Teatro Romano” if you request seating in the lower level. (It is still used today during the “Feste dei Due Monde”. Also Osteria e Enoteca owned by  delightful couple and also hostess and cook, Angela and Giacomo.


The week ended much too soon. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Spoleto and will go back again.  I would suggest that to really experience Italy you do what we did. Rent a place and stay put for a week or two.

Charlie, Allesandra, Anita

From Spoleto it is very easy to get to other areas via their trains, which we found comfortable. So Spoleto with the nearby train affords the perfect base for exploring nearby towns such as Todi, Assisi, Perugia, Spello, Orvieto, Montefalco and even a connection to get you down to Puglia and the seaside. And who knows, you might even be adventurous and make your way to my favorite place in all of Italy, Montefollonico! So Spoleto would be a good place to start and may we suggest that you check out owned by Judy and Jim,  good friends of ours and in one of the best locations in Spoleto. It was not available when we were there or we would have.  But we will in the future.

We accomplished what we set out to do. Laurie, Norma’s husband drove us to the train station, hugged us both and we were off to Puglia!

PS:  We were away for 5 weeks, which for me is a very long time.  That being said, one thing made being away a little easier in that I didn’t have to worry about our lemon trees, fig trees and flowers at home because we had excellent helpers.

Gianna and Olivia