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Beautiful Spello...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017-- My last day in Assisi...

After breakfast, I decided to travel to the nearby town of Spello, a small medieval hill town a short (8 minute) train ride, from Assisi.

As the train approached Spello, I got ready to get off and was met by a group of four women, all of who were lugging a roller suitcase. One of the women asked me if I spoke English, when I said yes, she asked me if I’d open the train door when the train came to a stop. I said I’d try; on some old Regionale trains, one needs to pull and turn a metal handle, which gets stuck at times. Once the train came to a complete stop, I was successful in opening the door and the women thanked me. Once off the train, the women introduced me to a young woman, Monica, who came to pick them up. I was told that Monica lives in Spello and she rents a couple of beautiful apartments there.

I was intrigued, so I asked Monica if it was possible for me to see her apartments, and she said yes. So I ended up getting a ride up to the town along with the 4 women (it’s a good thing Monica drives a van!). I learned that a couple of the women in the group had stayed in one of Monica’s apartments in the past, however since there were 4 of them, they were staying at a hotel nearby and were meeting Monica for lunch later on. Monica showed me her apartments, which are beautifully decorated in a shabby chic style.
Monica was very friendly and helpful; she even walked with me to the nearby TI office where she introduced me to Elena, the young woman working there. Elena gave me a map of the town and pointed the route to the main sites.

On the way to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, I stopped at a tiny shop where the owner makes beautiful macramé bracelets, lampshades, and other unique items. There was a bracelet I liked but wanted it in blue, so she told me that she could make it for me. I asked how long it would take and she said, "tre minuti". She ended up making 2 nice bracelets for me. When I arrived at the church, it was closed (I arrived just after 12:30), so I decided to return at 3:30PM when it would reopen, according to the sign outside its door.

I enjoyed walking around the beautiful narrow quiet stone streets, lined with colorful flowers hanging from ceramic pots on window balconies or from hooks on the walls, toward the church of San Lorenzo, which unfortunately was also closed. I then walked around, on Via Giulia, past a small church and a monastery, toward the Roman Arch. There's an amazing view of the valley right in front of the small church of San Severino, just past the arch, where I could see Assisi in the distance.

I decided to have lunch at, 'Ristorante Il Pinturicchio', which had been recommended by 3 locals I'd asked along my walk.
I sat on their front patio and ordered the eggplant & ricotta cheese ravioli topped with a fresh tomato sauce, fresh thyme and small shavings of cheese. I also ordered some grilled vegetables consisting of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes.
I then ordered the panna cotta with caramel sauce and it was velvety smooth and delicious with just the right amount of sweetness. My lunch was superb!

After lunch, I visited the beautiful Church of San Lorenzo, then I walked down to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which was supposed to reopen at 3:30pm but it was still closed.
A woman walking by the church told me and the other tourists standing by the front door of the church, that the church was closed due to damage from last year's earthquake. One of the other tourists looked puzzled and said that she had just visited the church that morning and it had been open. Very odd and unfortunate since I didn’t get to see the interior of this beautiful church…

Continued below...

Posted by
4690 posts

I took my time getting down to the train station since I'd already missed the 16:19 train so now I'd have to wait for the 17:13 train. While walking down on Via Consolare, just after it makes a left turn, there’s a lovely alleyway (the sign on the wall reads Via Borgo S. Sisto 4), lined with beautiful colorful flowering plants. A perfect photo opportunity!

When I arrived at the station, I found out that it was closed, so it's a good thing I had a return ticket (€1,75 each way!). Spello’s train station looks like it’s permanently closed but I did see an automated ticket machine next to the station on the platform. The station was very empty except for a suspicious looking fellow, and a taxi driver who was smoking outside his parked car behind the station. I was glad when a father and son arrived and they sat on the bench near me.
They were there to meet the boy’s mother (the man’s wife) who was traveling on the train from Florence. We conversed for a few minutes then their loved one arrived and we bid each other farewell.

While I waited for my train, I validated my ticket and realized that I’d used the wrong ticket that morning; I’d used the one that read Spello to Assisi instead of the other way around. So once I boarded the train I walked to the front car to find the conductor and to explain my situation. He looked at my tickets and said; “no problem”. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be stuck with a hefty fine!

When I arrived to Assisi, I purchased my train tickets for the following day at the small shop within the station (the ticket counter was already closed) then waited for the bus.

Once in my hotel room, I checked train & bus schedules, checked my emails then packed my luggage and went to bed.

My next destination... Montefalco!

Thanks for reading my long narrative trip reports!

Priscilla ;-)

Posted by
11613 posts

Cannot wait to hear about Montefalco!

Did you see the Roman floor mosaics in Spello? They were uncovered in a parking lot.

Lovely report, as always.

Posted by
5006 posts

Thanks again, Priscilla. We were in Montefalco this year; I'm eager to hear what you have to say about it. We liked it very much.

Posted by
10053 posts

The station was very empty except for a suspicious looking fellow, and a taxi driver who was smoking outside his parked car behind the station.

I am familiar with that driver! I think his name is Cosimo and he is the only taxi in town. Nice guy, actually.

That train station is always deserted and one time, many years ago, we arrived to buy tickets for a day trip to find the machine was not working. So we got on the train and found the capotreno right away.

FWIW, it is easier to take the bus between Assisi and Spello, but then you would have missed that pretty little alleyway.

Posted by
7696 posts

I am so happy you were able to travel to beautiful Spello. We spent two weeks there in small house in the upper part of town. There are many excellent restaurants in town and short rides to other towns. We loved it there.

Posted by
1765 posts

Yes - for the benefit of others who may be interested in these towns, the main reason to take the bus between Assisi and Spello is so you don't have to get to and from the train station in Assisi (almost two miles from town).

Posted by
4690 posts

Zoe, I didn't know about the Roman floor mosaics, where are they located?

Laurel and Janet,

I agree, the bus would have been a good option except...

I'd actually considered taking the bus from Assisi to Spello [Line E-415] but when I'd asked about it the day before, the woman working at the TI office was not sure the buses would be running due to, the Feast of St. Francis, because she thought it was a school free day.

Even if the buses had been running, I didn't really want to take the bus at 6:55 or 8:15AM (the only morning options) ;-)

Posted by
652 posts

I'm having so much fun reading your trip report, Priscilla! How did you find out about Spello? Would you recommend staying Monica's apartment?

Posted by
4690 posts

Laurel,

I am familiar with that driver! I think his name is Cosimo and he is the only taxi in town. Nice guy, actually.

I need to clarify my statement here:

The station was very empty except for a suspicious looking fellow, and
a taxi driver who was smoking outside his parked car behind the
station.

I should have written this:
"The station was very empty except for 2 men. One of the men was standing around and he looked suspicious to me (he kept staring at me in an strange way), and the other man was a taxi driver who was smoking outside his parked car behind the station."

Posted by
2329 posts

Wonderful step-by-step reports Priscilla, with great church, site and restaurant tips for future travelers. How I’d love to get back to Assisi, and include a Spello this time.i remember a fine dinner in the Trattoria La Pallotta, where I got into a humorous conversation with a waiter, to assure he was an assisiano and not an assassino. At least I thought it was humorous.

Posted by
4690 posts

Christine,

How did you find out about Spello? Would you recommend staying Monica's apartment?

I read about Spello (online) when doing my research about where to go in Umbria, and I think it was also recommended by Zoe, if I remember correctly.

Monica's apartment is beautiful and in a great location so I'd think it's expensive (for my budget) but I've not checked.
Having said this, it's difficult for me to recommend a place I've not stayed in.

Posted by
4690 posts

Larry,

Thanks for your kind remarks!

i remember a fine dinner in the Trattoria La Palotta, where I got into a humorous conversation with a waiter, to assure he was an assisiano and not an assassino. At least I thought it was humorous.

It's crazy how one letter can change the meaning of a word, right?

Posted by
2329 posts

PS: Priscilla, given that most of us travel visiting various towns, do you think that a day trip (or even 2) from Assisi is enough time to experience Spello, or is Spello so special a place to definitely spend 1 or 2 or more nights?

Posted by
4690 posts

Larry,

do you think that a day trip (or even 2) from Assisi is enough time to experience Spello, or is Spello so special a place to definitely spend 1 or 2 or more nights?

This is not an easy question to answer mainly because it’s a very personal decision depending on your interests.

I only spent a few hours in Spello and would have been happy spending at least an overnight there. Having said this, one can easily get a good overview of this beautiful town by visiting it as a day trip.

Ciao!

Posted by
837 posts

Fun to read, Priscilla. I've rented a house for 10 days in April in Spello, and I'll save your recommendations!

Posted by
4690 posts

Celfan,

I didn’t see the apartment shown on the link you posted but I do know that Monica rents three apartments. The two I saw were in the same location. Judging from the photos I saw on the links she provided and from what she explained to me; one has a choice of renting the whole apartment or only a bedroom/ bath combo without the kitchen.

Enjoy your stay in Montecchiello!

Ruth,
Have a wonderful time in Spello!

Posted by
7696 posts

For those of you traveling to Spello, I recommend reading “Il Bel Centro, a Year in the Beautiful Center” by Michelle Damiani who lives in Virginia. She and her family spent a year living in Spello and this is her wonderful memoir. I was given a copy by a shopkeeper in town.