We arrived in Spoleto late in the afternoon, leaving enough time to settle in at Hotel Clitunno, and then go with Ben for an orientation walk of the town.  A fabulous dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Ristorante San Lorenzo, followed—one of the best (if not the best) dinner we had in Italy.  Just look at these beautiful first courses that Bruce and I enjoyed:

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

Now, about Spoleto!  Located on a steep hill in the Umbria region, the walled town is surrounded by the Apennine Mountains.  Inhabited since prehistoric times, history runs deep in this serene town of 40,000 residents.  In the 5th century BC, the original Umbri tribes built a wall around their settlement, and some of the original wall still stands today.

The stones at the bottom are from the origininal wall.

Spoleto was settled on such a steep hill that Rocca Albornoziana Fortress was built at the top in the 14th century, providing a birds-eye view of potential invaders below.  It was then used as a prison for 600 years until 1982.  Just below, there is a wide tree-lined walking/ biking path that encircles it.  The views to the town and hills below are spectacular!  To enter the fortress up above, there is an escalator to take sightseers up to the top.  The views just kept getting better!  From both the walking path and top of the fortress, we had a great view of 13th-century Ponte delle Torri aqueduct/ bridge, which unfortunately is now closed to pedestrians.

Before walking the path around the fortress, we stopped to enjoy this fountain from 1642.
We were able to access this escalator from the walking path. After a long ride up, we took an elevator the remainder of the way to the fortress.
The view from the walking path that surrounds the fortress.
This view was from the walking path below the backside of the fortress.
The view from the top of the fortress.
Ruins near the far side of the aquaduct
Another view out from the walking path
Looking down on a tiled rooftop from the walking path

The 11th-century Duomo di Spoleto, the Santa Maria Cathedral, is also a highlight of Spoleto.  Made from salvaged Roman stones, the interior is beautiful, and the history fascinating.  The gorgeous ceiling frescos were painted between 1467 – 1469.

A view of the top of the cathedral from the walking path
A procession into the cathedral for a service
The piazza of the cathedral. Below are close-ups of the wall of the first building.
These beautiful etchings were done 500 years ago.
Marble carvings depicting God
Stone floor of the cathedral

Bruce and I enjoyed exploring the town in depth, between our orientation walk, a guided walking tour the following day, and another walk with Ben to the top of the fortress during the late afternoon of our final day in Spoleto.  We also had free time during our second evening to explore Spoleto on our own.

Here, then, is my collection of photos taken during our time in Spoleto:

Which windows are fake (painted on the exterior) and which are real? Look closely.
Roman amphitheater
Notice the label on what is decidedly NOT a premium bottle of champagne. This artwork was commissioned by the hotel’s owner during COVID, when they were required to spray every surface down with sanitizer on a continuous basis. Remember how bad COVID was in Italy! After all that, he has quite a wicked sense of humor!



(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

While traveling south through the Lunigiana valley and the Apennine Mountains on our way to Tuscany, it was beautiful to see the changing topography from what had been flat farmland.  Along the way, we stopped to visit the picturesque medieval town of Pontremoli.  A local guide led us on an interesting walking tour through the narrow cobblestone streets of this quaint town believed to have been first settled around 1000 BC.

Pontremoli hosts a book festival each year, and these book-styled benches honor regional authors.
I take notice of cute or unusual dogs when I travel, and this one was most definitely unusual! It’s a Spanish hunting dog, and a sweet one at that!

Following the tour, we had some free time to enjoy the local market in the town square.  One of the local specialties for sale was Testaroli, a regional pasta made from egg-free dough that looks more like a tortilla than pasta.

We loved the pecorino cheese, a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk.

At our next stop, Il Testarolo, we watched how testaroli was made.  Gratziatia has been in business for 38 years, rising at 4:30 am, seven days per week to make 3-400 testaroli each day.  She and her husband sell to local restaurants, and each one sells for about $1.90.

After the demonstration, Gratziatia closed up shop for the day to serve us lunch on the patio of their home/ business kitchen.  Everything was made from scratch, including the wine, olive oil made from homegrown olives, and delicious Italian dishes made from her testaroli.  Even the fresh strawberries were homegrown.  Pastries are something not high on my favorite foods list, but I thought I should at least be polite and try some of Gratziatia’s special dessert.  It was love at first bite!

We bid Gratziatia a heartfelt Grazie and Arrivederci, and then continued south to Lucca, where we would be spending the next three nights.  (On this tour, we were at each hotel for three nights, which was a perfect amount of time to settle in, do handwash, and enjoy each place before moving on.  Thankfully, Overseas Adventure Travel land tours are not in the style of the whirlwind tour in the 1969 comedy, “If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium.”

Next up:  Lovely Lucca