Monday, September 18, 2017

Spello: Ancient Hispellum & Ristorante Porta Venere

Tucked away near the gentle slopes of Mount Subasio, this charming 12th century village has been nicknamed "The Jewel of Umbria" because of its rich history, uniquely preserved Roman and medieval architecture and its breathtaking views. Spello's narrow alleyways and winding cobblestone streets brim with colorful plants, lure visitors to explore its hidden courtyards, alleyways, stone architecture, and small shops that have been run by the same families for generations. Populated in ancient times by the Umbri, Spello became a Roman colony in the 1st century BC. 'Hispellum' was originally a Roman settlement, laying on the Via Flaminia close to the strategic junction for Perugia. The most impressive remnant of this stage of the town's history, apart from the walls themselves, is the Porta Venere, an Augustan-era gate flanked by two 12-sided towers standing in magnificent isolation on the west side of town. Most of the other sights are scattered along Via Cavour, beginning with Santa Maria Maggiore. This church has a finely sculpted medieval portal, but the real treat is inside: the Cappella Baglioni side-chapel is decorated by one of Pinturicchio's most joyous and colourful fresco cycles, painted in 1501 for the powerful Baglioni family and centred on the birth and childhood of Jesus. This native of Spello was nicknamed "the rich painter" because of the generous detail in his paintings. 

Located in a beautiful 16th-century building set on Roman ruins and named after one of Spello's famous Roman arches, La Porta Venere, guests dining in Ristorante Porta Venere are treated to delicious Umbrian cuisine with typical dishes and flavours of the region, such as highly prized Umbrian truffles, fresh asparagus, wild game, and locally grown vegetables with a fine wine list featuring great selection of regional wines. Known for its excellent regional Umbrian cuisine, the brick barrel vaulted interior with Roman-era walls create a warm and inviting atmosphere for dining in the cooler months, while the lovely outdoor terrace is a beautiful spot to enjoy a lovely lunch on a warm afternoon. The dishes are based on traditional Umbrian cuisine, including homemade pasta such as Strangozzi con Tartufo Nero Estivo, Tagliatelle con ragù di cinghiale and enviable selection of charcoal grilled meats and homemade desserts.

Narrow cobblestone street with Roman arch with 2 or 3 private residences, 
for Spello is a living village with lovely homes and little shops

This charming 12th century village has been nicknamed "The Jewel of Umbria" because of its rich history, uniquely preserved Roman and medieval architecture and its breathtaking views 

Narrow cobblestone walkways, pretty pink hued stone architecture, a gentle pace of life and few tourists have given Spello a favoured reputation

Flowering gardens are found throughout Spello, especially during the village's flower festival, or L'infiorata di Corpus Christi, which traces its origins to the 13th century

Owned by a lovely elderly couple, Baiocco is our favourite antique shop in Spello

Basking in the sun on a warm brick wall

The Roman-era Augustan Porta dell'Arce is at the highest crest of Spello

The impressive sculpted 12th-century Medieval portal of Santa Maria Maggiore

The adapted 17th-century interior by Belardino da Como

For two euros visitors can gain entry into the famous Cappella Baglioni
decorated with one of Pinturicchio's most joyous and colourful fresco cycles painted in 1501 

The Cappella Baglioni, with Pinturicchio’s beautiful frescoes of the life of Christ 

Glass covered 16th-century mosaic floor

Interior of Chiesa di San Lorenzo Martire

 Fresco attributed to the Umbrian painter Bartolomeo da Miranda

Panormaic views from Spello over the Umbrian Chiona Valley

The Roman brick arched entrance to Ristorante Porta Venere

The picturesque outdoor terrace of Ristorante Porta Venere in the heart of historic Spello

The menu features regional Umbrian cuisine with typical dishes and flavours of the region

Our server opening our bottle of 2016 Trebbiano

The Trebbiano Spoletino grape is a native of Umbria, but its name seems to derive from the town of Trevi, located in the neighborhood of Spoleto

Dry, crisp and refreshing, Trebbiano is a lovely light wine

Flan di Zucca Giallo e porro su crema di pecorino e prosciutto croccante

Strangozzi alla Spellana Piccante con Pomodorini Pachino e Pancetta

Strangozzi con Tartufo Nero Estivo

Tagliatelle con ragù di cinghiale

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