Fresh air in a Medieval town – A day off in Spoleto

Italian summer is…Italian summer! Means ice creams, “granita al limone”, sea and…40 degrees at shadow! When high temperature don’t wanna give us a rest..it’s time to shelter from sun!
I’m talking about getting deeper into central Italy, inside green Umbria region to find fresh breeze on rocky uplands.

teatro Spoleto theatre

A refreshing experience for brain and soul!  Spoleto is a Medieval jewel – as lots of other villages in this area – set among Valnerina’s emerald green woods.
This people-oriented town is a crisp cocktail of history and charm. Perfect to visit in just one day walking with a self-made-guidebook and enough curiosity!

Pills of history we love most ❤ :

towerFirst human settlements go back to Prehistory, when this landscape looked a lot different: the valley, today overlooked by Rocca Albornoziana was initially a lake that definitively dried out during Medieval age.

spoleto village umbria

towerMiddle Age has been Spoleto’s Golden Age, when, in 1359, Pope Innocenzio VI built the majestic fortress symbol of the city : “Rocca Albornoziana”. But this castle also tells about Lucrezia Borgia, elected by her father, Pope Alessandro VI, head of “Spoleto Dukedom”. The lady gave name to the fortress’ “maschio”, the central tower facing the city, defence fulcrum of the castle. This is known as “Torre della Spiritata” – Tower of the Possessed – to remind the cruelties and revenges of the castellan.

Must Do and See:

ormaA walk on “Towers’ Bridge” – Ponte delle Torri – from Rocca Albornoziana. This structure is a majestic Roman bridge also used as a water system. It is 280 mt long! And the view on surrounding green valley is pure poetry!

 acquedotto spoleto water system

ormaEnter Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral with its Renaissance portico and the 8 rose window on the facade as lace marquetry. But find time to visit at least some other places among the dozens of churches and abbeys once old Roman temples or Paleochristian churches facing the dried lake’s crystal clear waters.

spoelto santa maria assunta cathedral

cathedral spoleto

ormaTime to eat! We lovingly recommend  Spaghetti with Black Truffle and Crescionda cake: typical dishes of this area. More difficult to find is a Slow Food product, the rare “sedano di Trevi”, a kind of celery to eat raw with olive oil.

There is enough to fill one day out…and our curiosity too!

Misfortunes of a country during Napoleonic age

Thefts, art, miracles, battles… it seems that the Napoleaonic age in this slice of Italy has left quite an interesting legacy, in good and bad ways! From 1796 to 1813, when Tolentino Battle ended French power in Le Marche, Napoleon and his family set their residence in this region bringing French policy: personalities with civil merits or political roles acquired noble entitlements and started build neoclassical villas.

napoleon in macerata and ancona province

Our Napoleonic itinerary starts in Macerata province, at that time known as Musone Department, moving from Tolentino battlefield to the white neoclassical interioris of Villa Valcampana (Treia).

valcampana napoleon villa treia macerata

The same columns are protagonist on the facade of Villa Tuscolano in Appignano.

napoleonic villa le marche appignanno

Its jewel is the “esedra garden” (or “ninfeo”), ruined by now but keeping its poetry untouched.

villa tuscolano appignano le marche italy

You can almost hear guests’ laughs or the phantom of the owner Leopoldo Armaroli who whished to be buried in this peaceful place (even though he couldn’t because of Napoleonic Saint Cloud edict). Other stories and legends sourrounds this bucolic villa.

villa tuscolano appignano macerata

On the coast we find Villa Eugenia, Luigi Bonaparte’s property, while Napoleon  slept in Palazzo Torri (Macerata), famous for his semi cycle overlooking the facade, used as carriages’ depot.

The dark side of the story, behind the construction of these architectural masterpieces, is that, withTolentino Agreement, the French troops started the (usual) Church’s artworks spoliation stealing Black Virgin Mary in Loreto cathedral: the holy statue was returned from Louvre after an agreement with Pope Pio VII.

Even more curious is the story of another religious artwork, given back for superstition: the painting of Virgin Mary “queen of all Saints” you can appreciate on the left side of S. Ciriaco Cathedral (Ancona).

all saint virgin mary san ciriaco ancona

It is known that the painted Virgin has opened her eyes in front of some witnesses and the Bishop himself. Curious Napoleon, before burning it, wanted to see the painting but at the sight of the Virgin he turned pale and ordered to his soldiers to cover it with a drape and return it to the Cathedral with all its gold and jewels.

Aren’t you starving after the long walk?!

That’s why we left at the end of our itinerary Portonovo Napoleonic Fort.

Inside Conero natural park, set on a natural bay surrounded by green woods and crystal clear water, the French Captain decided to build this white fort using stones taken from a nearby Benedictine Monastery to prevent the landing of English fleet ships looking for protection in the bay. What it has to do with food? Nowaday the Napoleonic Fort is a renowned fish restaurant! We don’t know if Napoleon liked eating fish…but with such a view from the embrasure we are sure you will! °v°

museum palazzo bezzi tolentino napoleon