Spoleto is a town in Umbria, north and east of Rome. We had been there in 2004 and spent only one night. We came with our bicycles on the train and spent several days just biking from town to town. We decided to come back with our bikes but spend a few days both seeing Spoleto and also biking around the countryside in directions we had not biked in 2004.
Although a small town, in the lower section which was flat there were some dedicated bike paths. This one went from the train station to the hotel we were staying at.
The view from our room was of a dried up river bed. It turns out that we were staying in the same hotel (Hotel Clarici) we stayed in in 2004. The rooms were very nice size and the location was perfect.
To get to the top of the town where most of the sites were was quite steep if you were walking. They have just opened up a series of escalators and moving sidewalks. The entrances to two of them were very close to us and this is the Queen in one of the tunnels.
Castle Albornoziana was at the very top and there were very nice views of the Umbrian countryside.
The inside of the castle had very little in the way of furnishing, paintings or frescos so it was not very interesting except for its size.
From the castle you could see an old aqueduct bridge.
On the way down we stopped at the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
The frescos were done by Lippi in the 15th century.
Signs of the Romans were an old Roman house with lots of intact mosaics…
… a Roman theater
…. an arch that was an entrance to the city on Via Flaminia which starts in Rome at Piazza Popolo and goes over 200 miles to the Adriatic. It was built in the third century BCE.
..another Roman arch...
We of course searched for any remnants of the once thriving Jewish community. There was a Jewish community there in the 13th century. Pope Pius V kicked out all the Jews in 1569. There is church called St. Gegorio della Sinagoga and one can assume that at some time this may have been a synagogue or the location of one.
We wandered around the city's streets….
and alleys… where the Queen always seems to find a dog...
The Romans had built a series of terraced walls to hold the streets and buildings in place. This is one of them which has obviously been repaired over the years. This wall dates from the third century BCE.
We decided to take a bike trip north of Spoleto to Clitunno where there was a UNESCO world heritage site. Going we were mainly on the Vechia Flaminia but coming back we discovered that there is a bicycle path that goes the 50 km (30 miles) from Spoleto to Assisi.
The bike path was a rails to trails conversion.
On the road there we saw a woman who we had seen resting at one of the squares in Spoleto. She was about 10 miles from Spoleto. We stopped and talked to her. She was carrying a two wheeled contraption strapped to her waist that weighed 100 pounds. She had left Belgium 14 months before and had walked almost 3000 miles. When we asked her how long she was going to be walking and where she was going she pulled out a huge cross around her neck with a big Jesus on it and said he will tell me where to go next.
The Tempio of Clitunno was not much to see. It was partially under renovation but was just one small building. It was a nice bike ride though. This is along the Clitunno River and was the site of a pagan temple. This site was probably built in the 6th century.
There were a couple of faded 8th century frescos inside.
Eating in Spoleto was very very very good. We decided to go to the Number 1 and 2 restaurants listed in Trip Advisor. Normally these are the restaurants you cannot get into but we seemed to be in Spoleto on an off weekend. The first day we were there (April 25th) was a national holiday in placecountry-regionItaly. April 25, 1945 marks the end of the Nazi occupation of placecountry-regionItaly. The city was crowded with tourists but they all left before dinner so the city was quiet at night and we had not trouble getting into the top two.
Ristorante Apollinare (Via placeS Agata, 14)(07 4322 3256): We pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves.
After we ordered the waiter brought us some appetizers on the house. There were some tartufu things and a long cigar like pastry crust stuffed with cheese. For dinner we had eggplant parmesan and vegetarian lasagna. Neither of them looked anything like the normal dishes.
A close of the lasagna???
After dinner they brought us an after dinner drink and a small plate of cookies.
Il Tempio del Gusto (Via Arco de Drusso,11)(07 434 7121): This was another wonderful surprise dinner. Again, we were given an appetizer on the house. It consisted of some cheeses, salmon on a slice of cooked potato and some liver pate. We ordered one caprese salad for us to share and they gave us two and they did not look like a typical caprese salad. The tomato in the center was peeled and then stuffed with mozzarella cheese. Around it was endive, artichoke and onion in a tasty sauce.
They gave us both a delicious lentil soup - again we had not ordered it. The Queen had a tuna encrusted in sesame seeds and I had strangozzi spoletina. This was the Spoletin equivalent of penne arriabiata which I like in Rome because it is spicy. Strangozzi is pasta that is made in the placeStateUmbria region and it looks like a thick spaghetti noodle. The translation is `strangled priest'.
..and the complimentary dessert.
It was not hot so we asked for some hot peppers. They brought us these small red peppers with a hard crust. I started to cut them up but the Queen said you have to rub it between your fingers and it would crumble. She did one and then I did several more and I managed to make the dish too hot to eat. Back at the hotel the Queen decided to call her daughter and her eye began to itch while she was on the telephone. She rubbed her eye and then began screaming as the pepper residue was still on her finger. She managed to calm her eye down by spashing water into it. About ten minutes later and after witnessing this and realizing what had happened my eye began to itch and I instinctively began to rub my eye with the same result. I can attest to the pain this causes as it took a while for my eye to calm down after splashing my eye with water.
ATTENTION BIBLICAL SCHOLARS #2
I want to thank those of you who answered the first Biblical Scholars question. Well I have another one and this is New Testament stuff. We took a couple of days to get on a train with our bikes and do some biking in Umbria from our base in Spoleto. We toured the usual castles, museums, etc while we were there. In one castle we came upon this painting of the Last Supper. Obviously, there are probably hundreds of Last Supper paintings but this one was a little different. It had the usual depiction of Jesus' wife next to him but not leaning on him as usual. Yes, he had a wife - check it out and also check out the story of Pope Joan. The painting was done by an unknown artist in 1568. It depicts Gabriella Vigili who commissioned the painting on the right with her son kneeling. The question concerns the character on the left, not in the usual Last Supper paintings, who is described as “Saint Agata who carries her removed breasts on a platter, a symbol of her martyrdom in 250 CE”. So, who is this St. Agata and why was she martyred? Why was she bringing her breasts to the Last Supper?