A Short Visit to Spoleto

Sunday afternoon in Spoleto’s Piazza del Duomo

Last week we drove to nearby Spoleto for the night.  We didn’t see much, however, because we were holed up in the hotel for half the time helping the boys with homework.  Tom had hours of math while Ray was studying ancient Greek history.

But the little that we saw was fantastic:

The Aqueduct:  I’ve been trying to wrap my head around aqueducts since I first saw one 25 years ago.  This week, I finally grasped the fundamentals and cleared up two decades of misconceptions.  While I knew that aqueducts somehow transported water to thirsty towns,  I never could visualize the process.  Why the arches?  Where is the water?  I thought that maybe the aqueduct worked like some sort of  bridge under which water flowed.  Then later, someone told me that water streamed up and down the arches in a maze of pipes (and I believed her).  Finally, this week, after an afternoon of Google searches,  I learned that the arches are just part of the aqueduct (albeit the only readily visible part) whose purpose it is to support the the pipes that transports water. I learned that aqueducts can be many miles long often tunneling underground. I also learned that water doesn’t run perpendicularly under a mulit-arched bridge (duh), but rather along the top of the structure on a precisely constructed, steadily flowing, slightly tilted, downward slope.  It’s simply a feat of gravity (and the ingenuity of the ancient Romans) that ensured the success of aqueducts.

(Wearing 3-D glasses will really help this picture come to life.)

This is Ponte delle Torri, the famous aqueduct of Spoleto and the highlight of our weekend.  The structure is 230 meters across with a footpath on top.  Unfortunately, at least once a year, someone jumps.

Standing nearly 80 meters high near the top of the aqueduct.

Once we crossed, we went for a little walk in the woods. Ray was super excited to find what he thought was a underground piece of the aqueduct.  It actually had water flowing through it.  Could it be?

The Town Cathedral:  Next, we went to church, or in this case, the piazza in front of the church.  There are two things the boys really miss in the crowded, stone hill towns of Umbria:  grass and wide open space.  So when we descended into the spacious, sunken Piazza della Duomo, the boys took off running.  Rather than spend our time lingering over Fra’ Filippo’s famous fresco, we played freeze tag.

Finally, the last place we had to visit before heading back to Perugia was Il Tempio del Gusto, a trattoria that came highly recommended by a friend in Perugia. In addition to spaghetti carbonara, saffron risotto and roasted duck, we ordered a traditional Umbrian plate of cured meats, pecorino cheese, toasted breads and a sampling of olive oils.  Spoleto is known for having the best oil in Umbria so before leaving, we stocked up.

Il Tempio del Gusto

Since Sunday, we’ve had bread with olive oil every day for lunch. And then we think about aqueducts. In fact, today Matt and I visited a really old one right here in Perugia.

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10 thoughts on “A Short Visit to Spoleto

  1. I cant believe how gullible we are…What else wasnt true?? Did she do the colosseum graffiti? 🙂 thanks for doing the research! miss you all. xxxo

  2. Again GREAT!!! What does it say on the front of Ray’s sweat shirt? So, it looks like Ray found the aqueduct. The other discovery he made was that the Roman Empire was the first to use plastic pipe to transport water. Who knew? Olive oil looks great and the pic of the family may be the one for a Christmas card. Love, Grandpa John

  3. So love & appreciate the aqueduct education, I had no clue! (the drawing is priceless & very helpful) Jealous of your olive oil stock pile but how wonderful to sample the best of the area. We miss you and so sorry for not replying to your earlier posts. think of you all so often and love reading your posts. Big hugs to all of you.

  4. So THAT”S how they work! I always thought they were bridges over dried up rivers. That cute little illustration reminds me of the one you drew for the bubble bottles at your wedding reception.

  5. I think i climbed that tower. I remember visiting this town. What is freeze tag? I think i get it but how does a frozen player get unfrozen ? Who is IT ? Need to know the rules ! Happy turkey day if u are celebrating it .

    Sent from my iPad

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