One of the most charming regions in Umbria is small medieval Roman town called Spello, where every year on the 22nd of June there is a religious festival called Corpus Domini, and the Spello Infioarte. Perugia is served by a small airport but be warned, there is nothing in the way of public transport at the airport, so a car is vital!
Spello and Corpus Domini
The procession of Corpus Domini takes place on the 22nd of June, the ninth Sunday after Easter, and is intended to honour the passing of the Body of Christ carried in procession by the bishop on the Sunday Morning.
People work all night to get these large floral carpets ready for the event, these petal carpets are also entered into the Infioarte competition and a winner is picked at the end for the best display. On the day of a Corpus Domini, the small streets of Spello are filled with huge waves of people from all over Italy and beyond.
The organisers do supply ladders to enable the crowds to get a better shot, but be warned you could be waiting a long time as the queues are very long, and there are quite a few floral carpets to see. After Mass the priest and procession walk up and down the town crushing the floral carpets , accompanied by drums and brass instruments and a choir, and the walking on the floral carpets is part of the procession.
Spello is a lovely town which has the urban Roman and Medieval structure. The walls surrounding Spello are very well preserved and date back to Roman times. The church of Santa Maria Maggiore (XII-XIII century) contains the Baglioni Chapel and displays the wonderful frescoes of the Renaissance painter Bernardino di Betto nick named Pinturicchio because of his small stature.
Assisi is another very interesting town, named after Saint Francis of Assisi, it has also been named the city of peace or “Citta de Pace” The basilica of San Francesco is very grand, and the interior is quite beautiful with ceilings painted by Pietro Lorenzetti Cimabue, Martini and Giotto. The cathedral was badly destroyed by an earthquake in 1997, and the interior paintings were literally put back together piece by piece like a jigsaw puzzle, you have to see this to believe it, and even now there are gaps where they were not able to find some of the pieces.
Many pilgrims from all religions visit the tomb of Saint Francis which lies in the Basilica. There is also a wonderful forest area called Bosco alto Fusto, referred to as the high forest woodland area where every single trunk comes from the development of a seed. ( source of quote Bosco alto Fusto), and within this wooded area you will also find the peace bell of Assisi named ” Regina Pacis”which unites the 4 religions, Christians, Jews, Islam, and Buddhists.
Spoleto is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia, and has some striking landscape such as The Ponte delle Torri, Which is a 13th-century aqueduct, very possibly on Roman foundations even though, there are 2 schools of thought regarding this, some who believe not?
The Roman Theatre is another point of interest and it dates back to 1C AD, it has been repaired a fair amount over the years, starting in Roman times, when the ground collapsed, and it then it became buried under medieval construction. Eventually it virtually disappeared into the Monastery of St Agatha to the right.
The Spoleto Festival referred to as the Festival of the 2 worlds takes place on the last Friday in June and it runs for 17 days. The Spoleto festival was created in 1958 on the impetus of composer Gian Carlo Menotti, and his vision of uniting the two cultures and two art worlds, ( the name festival of two worlds is born of this) 2 very different cultures the American and European but it is dedicated to Art in all its expression.
The Rocca Albornoziana
The grand Rocca Albornoziana fortress was built in 1359-1370, by the architect Matteo Gattapone, which he built for Cardinal Albornoz. This fortress has six towers which form two inner spaces. The Cortile delle Armi which was for the troops, and the Cortile d’onore which was used by the City’s governor. The latter courtyard is surrounded by a porch with two floors.
The rooms include the Camera Pinta which translates as “Painted Room” and has some very interesting 15th century frescoes. After escaping many sieges the Rocca fortress was turned into a jail in 1800, until the late 20th century. It had extensive renovation and in 2007 opened as a museum.
The Duomo (Cathedral) of Santa Maria Assunta
The construction of the Duomo begun around 1175 and was completed in 1227. This is a beautiful and serene duomo, and the Romanesque edifice also contains the tomb of Filippo Lippi, who died in Spoleto in 1469.The church also houses a manuscript letter by Saint Francis of Assisi San Pietro. This church , houses the supposed chains that once had bound St Peter.
The cathedral was built over an ancient necropolis, and it was reconstructed fromthe 12th century to the 15th century, when this wonderful and quite remarkable Romanesque façade was added. This facade has has three doors with rose-windows, which portray stories of the life of St Peter . Both this cathedral and the S. Rufino in Assisi, are the finest existing specimens of Umbrian Romanesque. Inside theChurch there is a wonderful fresco by by Filippo Lippi and his pupils Fra’ Diamante and Piermatteo Lauro de’ Manfredi da Amelia. They depict scenes from the life of the virgin, and the colours are quite wonderful.
If you are travelling to Umbria my advice would be to ensure you have a car, and that you give yourself more time in Spoleto. The weather is very hot between June to September, possibly cooling down by September. The Umbrian cuisine is very good, and they bake some lovely unsalted bread, truffles are also a speciality of this region.
By Neda Dorudi