The Rocca Albornoz is a mighty fortress that stands on Colle Sant’Elia, the highest point in Spoleto. Built starting from 1359, it is one in a series of fortresses commissioned by Pope Innocent VI, then in Avignon, to reaffirm the pontiff’s authority over that part of central Italy that was under papal rule.
For his project, the pope sent powerful Spanish cardinal Egidio Albornoz to Italy, hence the fortress’ name; the cardinal entrusted Matteo di Giovannello from Gubbio a.k.a. “Il Gattapone” with the direction of the works, that would last till 1370 about.
With the passing of time, the fortress also became the city governor’s residence and was embellished with decorations and frescoes, many of which were lost as the facility was turned into a jailhouse, a function it would keep until 1982.
The recent restoration allows to visit the castle, by the rectangular shape and provided with six imposing towers, and two inner courts, one of which served as headquarters for the troops (Court of Arms), the other was restricted to administrators and governors (Court of Honours). A barrel vault decorated at the end of the 16th century with frescoes of cities in the States of the Church acts as passageway between the two courts.
Remarkable rooms tower over the Court of Honour, including the Hall of Honour, destined for banquets and ceremonies, and the Camera Pinta (Painted Room), that features two very beautiful cycles of frescoes by the mundane theme, that date to the 14th-15th centuries. Other fifteen rooms of the castle are dedicated to the Museum of the Duchy of Spoleto, that was opened in August 2007, following the complete restoration of the fortress.
Works and materials are on display following a chronological criterion and testify to the artistic vitality and cultural unity of the Duchy’s vast territory, in a period between the 4th and the 15th centuries. Finds dating to the 4th-5th century coming from funerary areas or cult buildings, show the development of the first local Christian communities, in particular of local monasticism, that was particularly well-established all over the Spoleto mountains.
The precious, early-Medieval works highlight the political and cultural relevance reached by Spoleto, the capital city of one of the most important Longobard duchies in the Italian peninsula. In particular, the section dedicated to funerary outfits is of absolute artistic value and it lets us understand the Longobards’ social organization. The museum’s second section includes numerous remarkable sculptures and paintings, created between the Romanesque period till the Renaissance, further evidences of the city’s artistic evolution. The visit itinerary is enhanced by displays that illustrate the historical periods highlighted in the exhibiting spaces.
AA.VV., L’Umbria, Manuali per il Territorio, Spoleto, Roma 1978; AA.VV., Spoleto, Argomenti di storia urbana, Cinisello Balsamo 1985; AA.VV., Arte in Valnerina e nello spoletino. Emergenza e tutela permanente, Catalogo della mostra, Roma 1983; AA.VV., Quando Spoleto era romanica, catalogo della mostra, Roma 1984
Address: Piazza Campello
Phone: +39 0743 224952; +39 0743 223055
Managing body: Polo Museale dell'Umbria Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo
Rocca Albornoz and National Museum of the Duchy
from Thursday to Sunday
from 9.30 to 18.30
last admission at 5.45 pm
Closed from Monday to Wednesday
Accessibility: the entrance is through the main tower, at the exit of the city’s mechanized path – alternative mobility
Parking: Paid parking SpoletoSfera, Posterna and Ponzianina.
Access for disabled people: Yes
Adhibition: Exhibition center, venue for temporary exhibitions
Management museum services: Hospitality, ticket information, bookshop, educational services, guided tours
Event management services: Exhibitions, conferences, performances
Full € 7,50
Reduction € 2,00 (people aged 18 - 25)
Free until the age of 17
Reductions and free admissions respect the regulations included in Ministry Decree 27 June 2014 (see)
SUNDAY FREE ENTRANCE WILL BE SUSPENDED.