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Hello, Spello!

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I'm excited about visiting Spello during my fall trip to Umbria. I've seen such beautiful photos of this small Italian hill town, posted by fellow travelers such as Girasoli, that I'm curious to see Spello for myself. This photo of the town was borrowed from Bill Thayer's wonderful Umbria website (since I only recently bought a digital camera and have very few photos of my own -- as yet!)

When I'm in Spello, I'll be especially interested in the art there, specifically, some works by Pinturicchio. I'll be too late for the special exhibition "Pinturicchio in Umbria" which began in February and follows an itinerary that takes art fans to various churches and museums in Perugia, Spello, Trevi, Spoleto, Orvieto and Città di Castello as part of the exhibition of Pinturicchio's works. So, I'll just have to follow my own art itinerary in September!

An Early Renaissance painter, Pinturicchio -- whose real name was Bernardino di Betto (ca. 1452-1513) -- was born in Perugia and trained there. I'll have a week in Perugia, and hope to see a good deal of his work there, as well as the paintings in Spello. Art historians have noted that today, Pinturicchio is often overshadowed by his famous contemporaries Perugino and Raphael, but in his own time Pinturicchio was immensely successful for his numerous frescoes and occasional easel paintings.

I look forward to seeing these in Spello!
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This is Pinturicchio's Annunciation, a fresco painted in 1501 in the Cappella Baglioni, Collegiata di Santa Maria Maggiore, in Spello.I believe the artist included a small self-portrait in the lower right corner.

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This is another fresco from the same Spello church, Pinturicchio's Adoration of the Child, also painted in 1501.

I won't be staying overnight in Spello, however. I've been convinced by Girasoli and others on Slow Travel that although it will be a lovely town to visit for a single day, it's a bit too small for a stay much longer than that.

I plan to drive there from Bevagna, another small Umbrian town that will be a brief base during the short period when I'll have a rental car in Umbria (my first Italian car rental!) My master plan is to spend a few days in Assisi ; then pick up a rental car and spend three days based in Bevagna, but using my 3-day rental car to visit Spello and Montefalco. I believe that these latter two Umbrian hill towns are a bit difficult to visit by public transport.

After that, I'll drop off the car in Foligno, take the quick train ride into Perugia and spend a week there. Yay! I spent a full week in Perugia this time last year and didn't even begin to see everything on my list of important sites. However, this year I hope to take a couple of day trips from Perugia, one to Todi (by the private rail system) and another to Arezzo. I know that Arezzo is part of Tuscany, and as a Slow Traveler I don't want to hop across too many regions. But it seems to be little more than a one-hour direct train ride from Perugia, and I really want to see the Piero della Francesca's fresco cycle, The Legend of the True Cross.

I'll end this trip with a few days in Florence (happy sigh!) before flying out again. Hopefully, I will have gorged myself on enough Renaissance art to sustain me through the long, dark winter.

Comments (11)

You really have planned a wonderful trip. How fun to dream and plan.

Your plans are coming together nicely. Now it shall be my turn to travel vicariously through your blog! *smile*

Anne:

Those frescoes are gorgeous. I loved Pinturicchio's work in the Piccolomini Library of the Duomo in Siena. They were incredibly intense. (Ooo, that gives me an idea for a blog entry!)

Your trip sounds more and more fabulous with every detail. Maybe after I have one solo trip under my belt, I'll be more adventurous and considering renting a car. But for now, I'll stick to Florence. 'Tis a hardship, I know, but I'll manage somehow! :) Actually, I am planning a few daytrips, including one to Arezzo to see Francesca's frescoes. (But I'll do all my travelling by train.)

sandrac:

Girasoli, planning really is half the fun!

Thanks Jerry, but I'm still faithfully watching your blog for more photos and details about your trip! I'm seriously considering Torino for next year (Bologna will have to wait!)

Anne, it's so exciting that you're going to Florence in the fall and as you know, there is more than enough there to keep you busy for as long as you want.

I think I really prefer public transport, the trains and buses, in Europe. Especially for one person, seems a bit of a waste of gasoline compared with a couple or a group using a car. But for a few days, it will give me more freedom to see small towns!

Have you begun researching Arezzo? I've wanted to visit there for years, so I'm excited about seeing it! I'll have to find out if you still need to book advance tickets to see the Legend of the True Cross.

I love those paintings! I always try to do some art research before a trip; it makes seeing the works in person more special, I think. And it's always nice to see old favorites again.

My December trip was my first with a digital camera and it was a lot of fun, more than I thought it would be. I hope it'll be the same for you!

Oh my gosh! Spello! I ony got to have a brief look, but I do remember how beautiful I thought the town was. :)

I visited the Basilica of San Francesco and saw the Legend of the True Cross. You buy a ticket next door (it was easy to find) and then wait in the church until they call the next group. I think I waited about 20 minutes and it was pretty crowded. As a group, you are "herded" into the main chapel. I think we had about 20 minutes to spend there. It may be a little different if the crowds are not as big. No advance reservation was necessary (unless that has changed since last June).

sandrac:

Thanks Girasoli, for the tip! I had read that they tightly restrict numbers and the amount of time a person can spend in the chapel. I suspect mid-September will be as crowded as it was last June!

Jean:

We spent a week in Spello 3 weeks ago and it is a really lovely little town. If you need a nice reasonable restaurant with a gorgeous terrace view, eat at Il Trombone which is near the top of the town. There's actually quite a few restaurants there and it was a really nice place to come home to every night. I'd like to suggest you go to Gubbio if you have time, unless you have been there already. It was our favorite town during the week we were there. I think you can take a bus from Perugia. Due to time constraints, I had to choose between Todi and Orvieto and chose Todi - but there really wasn't a lot to see there. In retrospect, I wish we'd have gone to Orvieto even though it was a little further. Assisi is a very pretty town and had a concert going on in the evening, which was nice. It wasn't as touristy as I was expecting. In fact, there weren't a lot of tourists anywhere we went, maybe due to the exchange rate. In Montefalco we ate at L'Alchimista on the main square, really great food and reasonable prices. In Assisi we ate at La Piazzetta dell Erba, which was also really good and fairly priced for Assisi. We saw the Pinturicchio exhibit at the Museum in Perugia and it was amazing. The fresco in the Spello church though is absolutely gorgeous. Bevagna is pretty low key. It's flat though! Spello is about 10 minutes from Assisi and 20 minutes from Bevagna. Montefalco is probably another 20 minutes past Bevagna. We didn't go to Spoleto because the Jazz festival was going on, but it looked really pretty and it seems there is some nice things to see there. Have a great time and if you have any questions feel free to email me.

sandrac:

Thanks for all of these ideas, Jean. I've just sent you an email for more advice!

sandrac:

Hi Jean, I've re-sent my email, using your husband's address. Let me know if it doesn't get through!

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