Join a Walking Tour of Spoleto, one of Umbria’s most beautiful and elegant towns, ancient Umbrian settlement and Love Umbria’s base.
More Information on our Spoleto Guided Tour
The origins of Spoleto, located along the slopes of the hill Saint Elias, date back to the late Bronze Age.
In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, the Umbrians occupied the territory, and the city became a “castrum” (Fortress), with the construction of the so-called “Cyclopean walls”, made of huge blocks of polygonal limestone and still visible today. In 241 BC Spoleto became a colony, and it was raised by the Romans, due to its loyalty, to the rank of “Municipium”. In fact, Spoleto showed loyalty to Rome especially during the Second Punic War, opposing the army of Hannibal (247-182 BC), who was advancing to Rome after defeating the Romans at the Battle of Lake Trasimeno. Cicero (106-43 BC) called Spoleto “strong and illustrious”.
There are many ruins that testify to the Roman presence in the city, like the Arch of Drusus (38-9 BC) and Germanicus (16 BC-19 AD), a Roman Theatre (1st century AD) and a house attributed to Vespasia Polla (born in 15 c. BC-first century AD), mother of Emperor Vespasian (9-79 AD). After the fall of Roman Empire, the Lombards conquered Spoleto, which became the capital of the largest and most powerful of the duchies of Median Italy. Then after the Lombard rule, the duchy passed to the Franks, under whose rule it began a gradual decline and in 1155, according to tradition, Spoleto was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa (1122-1190).
In the Municipality Age, the city was fought over between the Empire and the Church State, to which it was later subject under the papacy of Innocent III (1160 ca.-1216) in 1198 and, finally, in 1247. During this period of domination by the Church State a second wider circle of walls was built, in which the medieval urban structure was developed, which gave it the appearance of a fortress.
Transformed into a Municipality, Spoleto was torn apart inside by the fratricidal conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, until, with the action of Cardinal Albornoz (1310-1367), the disputes were sedated and, thanks to the powerful prelate, it had also a significant increase in fortifications, because Cardinal Albornoz commissioned Matteo Gattaponi (1300-1383), a famous military engineer, to build the “Albornoz Fortress”, which became the seat of the city governors.
At the end of the 15th century Sploeto was ruled by a famous exponent of the powerful Borgia Family, or Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519), daughter of Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) and sister of Cesare Borgia (1475-1507).
During the Napoleonic period, Spoleto was taken from the direct dominion of the Pope and governed as a republic closely linked to the French, assuming a role of some importance as chief town of the Trasimeno Department. After the Restoration it was restored to the Church State until the “Risorgimento” period, which saw the city very engaged in the struggle for the unification of Italy.
It entered into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.
Narrow streets, airy piazzas, a theatre, amphitheatre and even an aristocratic mansion all dating back to Roman times, a romanesque Cathedral, papal fortress and medieval aqueduct are just a few of the many treasures you will visit during a Walking Tour in Spoleto.