Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Staying in Spello, Umbria

This map of Italy shows you in red where Umbria is. To the upper left of it is Tuscany. After leaving Florence in a rental car, we drove to Spello. Tiny stone houses that dot the Umbrian countryside form this mesmerizing and charming town. 

Only occasionally do tourists stop in Spello; it’s not part of the "usual" travel itinerary. It’s one of those places that if you happen to drive past, you feel compelled to detour and discover.

Mostly, Spello exists for the locals. There are only 6,000 inhabitants; tiny in a country of over 56 million people. But it’s that small town charm that is the essence of Spello and what the accidental tourist finds endearing.

Spello is a pleasure for those who love walking. Three well-preserved Roman stone arches form the entry points to the town, Porta Venere, with its towers, Porta Urbica and Porta Consolare. Once inside, the cobblestone streets meander in and out of mysterious alleyways that lead to simple, yet elegant stone houses.

The locals will welcome you with a smile as they sit outside their houses, knitting, sewing or simply chatting to one another. If you offer an Italian greeting such as "Buon Giorno," you will almost certainly receive a delighted response.

For the art lover, Spello is well known for its wonderful frescoes by Pinturicchio- depicting scenes from the New Testament - which can be found in the 12th century church of S. Maria Maggiore.

We stayed in a 13th century villa that once belonged to a mercenary. Restorations in the 18th and 19th centuries gave Hotel Palazzo Bocci its charm and loveliness today. Well located for day trips throughout Tuscany and Umbria, we stayed here and traveled throughout the area. The roof top scenes above are from the windows of our room at the hotel. Morning and evening walks were very pleasurable, the hotel was lovely and the people divine, not to mention the food! Especially the olive oil!!

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