Italy is heaven on earth for foodies, and the medieval, walled town of Spello in Umbria, boasts not only divine food but also fabulous, inexpensive local wine (Sagrantino di Montefalco) and exquisite views of the surrounding hillsides and villages. Situated on the southern slope of Mt. Subasio, Spello lies about 6 miles southeast of Assisi and roughly two hours northeast of Rome by car. It truly is a sight to behold as you round the corner on the roadway to take in the view of the town built right into the hillside. If you’re lucky and happen to go in the springtime, you’ll marvel at the patches of red-orange poppies adorning every hillside.
Tucked away inside the village you’ll spy amazing vistas from narrow arches in the thick stone walls as you meander through the charming, winding cobblestone streets.
From the outer gates, there is a fantastic launching point for a hike or a run along Mt. Subasio. The Spello-Collepino Roman Aqueduct hiking/running trail that runs right along the ancient Roman aqueduct from Spello to the next village of Collepino, is an uphill battle by the time you get within a half-mile of the village. But, the views and vistas from the trail, not to mention the charismatic red Tuscan poppies, are incredibly beautiful! The round trip is a just tad over 6 miles. There a couple of places to eat in Collepino, so you can enjoy a little sustenance or libation at the halfway point before heading back. You’ll find the Spello entrance to this trail near the Fonte della Bulgarella on the opposite side of the village as the driving entrance. There will be a sign with several destinations on two different trail numbers and you want to look for Collepino on trail #352.
We stayed at a charming inn, La Bastiglia, (very close to Fonte della Bulgarella and the trailhead) in a room with a fireplace and a hot tub inside! The views from the windows and the patio were spectacular! It gave the feeling of being nestled into an old-world castle, with windows deeply set into stone walls, but with all of the modern conveniences you’d expect to find in a fine hotel. The inn has a restaurant, which was good, but our favorite restaurant in the village was La Cantina di Spello. When you walk into La Cantina di Spello, you can’t help but feel you’ve stepped into another world, one that existed many centuries ago. It’s as if you’ve walked into an ancient wine cellar with stone walls that juxtaposed with fabulous modern light fixtures. The night we dined there, the owner was on hand to both greet us and take our order. He explained the entire menu in English, which was super helpful.
The local Sagrantino di Montefalco wine is easy drinking and delicious, no matter whether in a carafe or bottle, and we had both! But, every single drop of this local wine was perfectly drinkable and delicious.
For other local excursions or treks, you can hike all the way to Assisi from Spello along Mt. Subasio and, and there are plenty of fun things to see and do in both downtown Assisi and the ancient walled city of Assisi, too. Assisi was the birthplace of St. Francis, one of Italy’s most important patron saints, and the founder of the Franciscan catholic order. The Basilica of St. Francis (consecrated in 1253) is huge and hugely impressive. It takes up a city block and is well worth a visit. The St. Francis Hermitage built at the base of Mt. Subasio, just near the old walled city, is wooded and serene – a quiet and very beautiful spot to take a few moments to relax or reflect. There are statues and interesting pieces of art depicting the life of the brothers who lived there.
If these adventures don’t fill your time in Spello, you can always take an excursion to the many local wineries in the Montefalco wineries. We did not find time to do this, but it would be a great way to sample the region’s fantastic red wines made of 100% Sagrantino grapes.