Rocca Albornoziana is an imposing fortress standing on Colle Sant’Elia, the highest point in Spoleto, strategically towering over the valley.
The construction of Rocca Albornoziana started in 1359, of the order of Pope Innocent VI. The project was entrusted to the Spanish Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, who commissioned the works to Matteo di Giovannello da Gubbio, also known as Il Gattapone. The fortress was finished around 1370.
Rocca Albornoziana became the main point of the defensive system of this valley, and later the residence of dukes, city governors and papal legates. In 1816, Rocca Albornoziana was turned into a prison, and was used like this until 1982.
Rocca Albornoziana has a rectangular shape with six imposing towers. Inside, it has two courtyards, the Cortile delle Armi (Courtyard of Arms), the headquarters of the troops, and the Cortile d’Onore (Courtyard of Honour), reserved to the administrators and the governors. The two courtyards are connected by a vault, decorated at the end of the 16th century with frescoes representing the six cities of the States of the Church.
Salone d’Onore (Hall of Honour), the widest space of the fortress, was destined for ceremonies. Camera Pinta (Painted Room) hosts two extraordinary cycles of frescoes dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, being among the most remarkable ones in central Italy.
Today, Rocca Albornoziana can be visited, the points of interest being the Courtyard of Honour, the Courtyard of Arms, the Hall of Honour and the Painted Room (Camera Pinta).
Inside, Rocca also houses the National Museum of the Duchy, opened in August 2007, after the restoration of the fortress. The museum occupies 15 halls on two levels, displaying in chronological order works from the 4th century until the 15th century.
HOW TO GET THERE
For easy access to the fortress, you can use the escalators from Piazza Campello and Via Gattaponi. The escalators are part of the mechanized system that connects the lower part of the city with the higher area in a short time. The closest bus station is in Piazza Campello, on the line MSP0D, about 130 meters away.