Spello, Italy

July 31-August 2:

After Assisi, we took a train just 20 minutes south to Spello.

Waiting at train stations – our view for most of the trip!

Spello is a village of roughly 8,000 people, and is too small to be known as either a “town” or “city”. It sits atop a mountain with amazing views of one of the best wine and olive growing regions in the world.

Spello is famous for an annual festival that has happened every year for nearly 1,000 years known as “Infiorate di Spello”. It’s a village-wide flower festival! Every family decks out the patios and entryways of their homes with flowers of every color. The winners get plaques that they can display with pride on the walls of their home facing the street for all passers-by to see.

A house that has won awards for their flowers every year. Notice all of the plaques they’re proudly displaying on the side of the staircase?
A 2021 winner!
Flower delivery truck in Spello
The quiet streets of Spello
The quiet streets of Spello
The streets of Spello overlooking the vineyards and olive groves

Our Spello AirBnB Gatti

We were able to stay in a quiet AirBnB owned by a family where the grandma still lives full-time on the other side of the shared courtyard. To Graham’s delight, there was a little family of cats that also lived in this courtyard.

Lizzie eventually came around and fell in love as well. Unfortunately, being that we only had backpacks, we weren’t able to take them home with us.

After attempting to eat our dinner in the courtyard and having all four cats essentially beg for our food during the entire meal, we finally broke and decided to make the cats some food as well. What a couple of pushovers! All we had from a recent grocery visit were a dozen eggs, and what do you know? Kittens love scrambled eggs! We served their gourmet meal on a premium cutting board. Only the finest.

Slowing down, enjoying Spello

One of the things that we learned from the French culture before even entering Italy was to simply slow down and not always be in a rush. We learned that it’s a part of their culture to sit and enjoy a meal for hours and take pleasure in each bite; watch the sun slowly set with friends or family; to simply sit in a park and enjoy the simple taste of a glass of wine. We saw that same exact dynamic in the Italian culture, specifically in these smaller Italian towns. It was here in Spello that, like clockwork, every evening folks (especially those who were older) would don their best outfits and simply walk aimlessly through the city, enjoying the weather as it cooled off and giving their regards to everyone they saw. We loved participating in this trend, aimlessly wandering and exploring the city, often exchanging a friendly “Ciao” to other wanderers we passed along the way.

On our evening stroll through Spello (this was the entryway to our AirBnB!)
The view from Spello on top of the mountain during an early-evening stroll

Sentient dell’Aquedotto Romano

It was on one of these evening strolls that we discovered an old Roman Empire aqueduct! There was a beautiful trail that went alongside the aqueduct, threading through beautiful olive tree groves. One of my fondest memories from our time in Spello was in walking this dusty trail with Lizzie as the reddened sun set through the olive trees.

An ancient Roman aqueduct!
Inside the aqueduct
Covered aqueduct on the left, Graham’s right
Lizzie enjoying some water from the ancient aqueduct! People brought jugs of what looked like their week’s supply of drinking water here and waited in line to fill up.
The trail wove through groves of olive trees!
Olives! Don’t tell the farmer, but we snuck a few. We quickly found out that they weren’t ripe…
Enjoying the trail, enjoying the sunset, and most of all enjoying each other.

Ristorante La Cantina Di Spello

One of our favorite meals from Spello was at a restaurant that called their style of food “home cooking” from this region of Italy. That’s all it took for us to decide to go there for dinner, and boy it did not disappoint! We unfortunately didn’t grab a picture of the interior, so we snagged this shot from their Google Maps listing:

Photo of the inside taken from their website.

We shared a homemade pasta with tomato sauce – even the spaghetti noodles were homemade. We also shared some lamb chops which were cooked over a charcoal grill! One of the things we noticed about this restaurant was how the owner was a servant-leader. The entire staff clearly showed him respect as he walked through the restaurant and they tried to achieve perfection in everything they did (something he may have instilled in them), but he was also in the trenches with them – bussing tables, sweeping the kitchen floor, helping carry dishes. It was clear that it was a well-run restaurant in part because of this leadership, and it was so cool to have a mini lesson in leadership on display as we ate.

Homemade pasta, lamb chops, and a salad
Tiramisu for desert

So long, Spello!

As our time in Spello wound down, we knew it would be our last small-city visit in our Europe trip. Or, excuse me if anyone from Italy is reading… Small village. Ahead of us, we had the metropolises of Naples, Rome, and Venice. We wanted to soak in the quiet simple life of Spello as much as we could. And thankfully, we didn’t have to look far to achieve this. The polite grandma that shared a courtyard with us gifted Lizzie a hand-knit doily, and graciously invited us into her home. We couldn’t speak Italian, and she couldn’t speak English. We used Google Translate’s “conversation” feature to communicate with her in real-time. She asked us if we wanted to see the best view in Spello, and of course we said yes. She led us up the stairs in her home, and out onto a secluded balcony overlooking the entirety of the city and the valley below. It was breathtaking. She had lived here the majority of her life, and said she never tired of the view after so many years. We loved the view, but above all, we loved that she offered to share in this special spot of her life for a few minutes together. It’s something we will never forget.

We wanted to take a picture with the three of us, but she said absolutely not since she hadn’t put on makeup yet that day. After much insisting that it didn’t matter, she compromised by snapping this picture of just the two of us.
The view from our “Italian grandmother’s” beautiful hidden balcony

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