Spello

Spello (in Antiquity: Hispellum) is an ancient town and comune (township) of Italy, in the province of Perugia in east central Umbria, on the lower southern flank of Mt. Subasio. It is 6 km (4 mi) NNW of Foligno and 10 km (6 mi) SSE of Assisi. The old walled town lies on a regularly NW-SE sloping ridge that eventually meets the plain. From the top of the ridge, Spello commands a good view of the Umbrian plain towards Perugia; at the bottom of the ridge, the town spills out of its walls into a small modern section (or Borgo) served by the rail line from Rome to Florence via Perugia. The densely-inhabited town, built of stone, is of decidedly medieval aspect, and is enclosed in a circuit of medieval walls on Roman foundations, including three Roman Late Antique gates (Porta Consolare, Porta di Venere and the “Arch of Augustus”) and traces of three more, remains of an amphitheater, as well several medieval gates. Spello boasts about two dozen small churches, most of them medieval: the most important are: Santa Maria Maggiore (known from 1159), probably built over an ancient temple dedicated to Juno and Vesta. The façade has a Romanesque portal and a 13th century bell tower, while the pilasters next to the apse have frescoes by Perugino (1512). The most striking feature is however a very fine chapel (Cappella Bella) frescoed by Pinturicchio. The Umbrian artist was called to paint it in 1500 by Troilo Baglioni, after he had just finished the Borgia Apartment‘s decoration. The cycle include the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Dispute with the Doctors, plus four Sibyls in the vault. The Palazzo dei Canonici, annexed to the church, houses the Town’s Art Gallery.

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