Monday, September 27, 2010

Spello and Gubbio

The next day, we visited two other hill towns in Umbria: Spello and Gubbio. First up: Spello, just a few miles away from Assisi, but much quieter and less crowded. I would guess it's probably one of the prettiest towns in the area. There's not that much to do other than wander its picturesque streets and visit two churches, but that's pleasant enough. In addition, the area is famous for its olive oil, which we had a chance to taste (and buy). There's also some nice art by Pinturicchio in the two churches: a finely frescoed chapel in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and a Madonna with Saints in the church of Sant'Andrea.
Afterwards, we drove to Gubbio, stopping on the way to have a picnic in the hills with a view of Perugia. It's larger than Spello, and with more sights, but without the sunny hill town vibe of Spello. That doesn't mean it's not hilly, though: to get to the main square, we took a public elevator. Further uphill, we visited the cathedral and the Palazzo Ducale, where we were lucky enough to get free admission (it was the day of culture, or something like that), and saw a nice exhibition of Umbrian maiolica. Finally, it was off to the cable car up to the Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo. Described by the Lonely Planet as looking "frighteningly like an open-topped human birdcage," that seems like an apt description. The church at the top was decent enough (more remains of a saint!), but the ride up was definitely the highlight. Afterward, it was back to Florence.

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