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Spoleto, Spoleto

Tourist info: 7 Piazza della Libertà
Italy 06049
Tel: 39 074 323 8920; 39 074 323 8921
view web site ›'s insider take:

Before the late, great Gian Carlo Menotti established the Festival dei Due Mondi here in 1958, Spoleto was just another perfect Umbrian historic town. Now it's a whole other story. The world-famous festival of music, theater, dance, and the visual arts runs every year between the end of June to mid-July (2007's festival—the 50th anniversary—starts June 29 and ends July 15). Tickets for events need to be booked well in advance; the easiest way to do this is via the festival Web site:

Of course, the festival isn't the only reason to visit Spoleto—although the town can seem comparatively subdued the rest of the year. Once an important Roman colony, the town began to take on its present shape during the Middle Ages. Spoleto's lovely Duomo dates from this period, as do some of the town's formidable walls and fortifications. The most impressive of these is the impenetrable Rocca, the town's castle, which served as a prison until 1982 (Piazza Campello; 39-340-551-0813). Below the Rocca, the bridge-aqueduct of Ponte delle Torri is both a classic photo op and a remarkable example of medieval engineering, spanning a deep wooded gorge on ten soaring pilasters (Via del Ponte). Outside the town walls are two ancient churches worth the detour: San Salvatore is one of the oldest in Italy, dating to the fourth century (Via della Basilica di San Salvatore; 39-074-349-606), while the facade of San Pietro is covered in fine Romanesque bas-reliefs of religious allegories (Strada per Monteluco; 39-074-349-796).

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