When in Umbria: Spello

Marcantonio Grecchi, Madonna con Bambino, San Felice Vescovo e il Beato Andrea Caccioli (17 C, detail)

More frescoes, specifically “Pinturicchio’s superlative frescoes in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore,” awaited us at the hill town of Spello . . . or so we thought. [cite] Vasari didn’t think much of Pinturicchio’s work: Continue reading

When in Umbria: From Spoleto to Norcia

Vallo di Nera

For our next outing, though we knew the 2016 earthquake damage would truncate our journey, we headed east. The prospect of mountainous countryside, dotted with hill towns, was the key enticement. Frescoes, at least theoretically, were also on offer, but, as we suspected, issues of access foiled our attempts to see them. Continue reading

When in Umbria: Assisi

Norberto Proietti, Il Ritorno di Francesco

Our initial decision was to give Assisi a miss, for forewarned is forearmed, as they say:

Be warned: this is the third most visited pilgrimage site in Italy (after St. Peter’s in Rome and Padre Pio’s shine in Puglia), meaning often impenetrable crowds in the main visitor hotspots. [Rough Guide to Tuscany & Umbria]

But, after viewing frescoes by Da Volterra in Rome, Fra Filippo Lippi in Spoleto, and Benozzo Gozzoli’s St. Francis cycle in Montefalco,  it seemed preposterous to miss out on Giotto’s* St. Francis cycle in St. Francis’s home town. We’re pleased to report that, while the streets were gently “peopled,” we didn’t encounter crowds. Continue reading

When in Umbria: Montefalco

Gozzoli, Preaching to the Birds & Blessing of Montefalco

The hill town of Montefalco is tiny (pop. 5,581), but that doesn’t prevent it from having a surfeit of spectacular art. As reported by the Rough Guide to Tuscany & Umbria: Continue reading

When in Umbria: Spoleto, Part 1

Spoleto Duomo bell tower

Chiesa San Gregorio Maggiore bell tower

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, we decided on Spoleto as the base for a week in Umbria. We found what looked to be (and was indeed) a comfortable, reasonably-priced apartment with lots of light and even a terrace with a view. The owners, British expats Norma and Laurie, were bursting with excellent information and, where needed, gratefully appreciated assistance in getting around. But it was more than that: they truly made us feel we’d arrived at a home away from home. Continue reading