Frescoes by Pinturicchio and Perugino are some of the treasures in a secret church in Umbria

A Church in Umbria
Secret Illustrious Treasures

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One of the nicest things about tiny Spello happens before you even get there: you have to park outside the medieval walls. The absence of cars makes this one of the most enjoyable towns in Umbria, a region whose residents seemed to know how to build only on impossibly steep inclines. In Spello, you can concentrate on climbing without being distracted by maniacal Fiat 500s.

Just a few yards from the main town gate stands an unimpressive looking church called Santa Maria Maggiore. You might walk right past it if you didn't know about its Baglioni Chapel, which is covered with unforgettable frescoes by Pinturicchio. This native of Spello was nicknamed "the rich painter" because of the generous detail in his paintings.

Here, protected behind a glass screen, you'll see a Christ Among the Scribes, an Adoration of the Shepherds and the Arrival of the Magi, and an Annunciation (the artist is depicted inside a golden frame). Beneath your feet is a 16th-century "persian carpet" made of majolica tiles. Also in this church are two small Virgins by Pinturicchio and a poignant pietà by the aging Perugino.

Spello is also a charming town to use as a base for your Umbrian day trips. Click here to view lodging options in the area.

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