The castle towering above Spoleto is called Rocca Albernoz and is one of the main tourist attractions of the city. It was constructed in the 14th century and is the present seat of the Museo Nazionale del Ducato di Spoleto.
Rocca Albernoz Spoleto
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Rocca Albernoziana – Piazza Campello, Spoleto (tel. +39 0743224952 of 3405510813). Opening hours: Tuesday till sunday from 09.30 till 18.30. Closed: Mondays. Admission (castle + museum): 7,50 Euros. 65+ and ages 15 to 25: 6,50 Euros. Children ages 7 to 14: 3,50 Euros. Free for children younger than 6.
The 14th century Rocca Albernoz is located on the Colle Sant’Elia, just outside of the center of the city. Construction started in 1359 and finished in 1370. Pope Innocent VI, awaiting his return from Avignon, in those days had severla castles built in the area.
The fortress is named for the Spanish cardinal Egidio Albernoz, who was in charge of the actual construction. The architect was Matteo di Giovannello da Gubbio (aka il Gattapone). The same architect was also commissioned by Albernoz to built the castles of Narni and Urbino.
The site for the castle was chosen because of its strategic location close to the Via Flaminia.
From 1817 to 1982, the Rocca Albernoz was used as a prison. Unfortunately a great deal of the frescoes and other decorations were damaged or destroyed during this period.
After restoration works 15 of the castle’s rooms are occupied by the Museo Nazionale del Ducato di Spoleto.
The Rocca Albernoziana is square and has two courtyards, the Cortile delle Armi and the Cortile d’Onore.
The Cortile d’Onore is lined by a double loggia, the arches of which are decorated with the coats of arms of the most important regents during the middle ages. The center of the courtyard is taken up by an octagonal well.
Several of the regents actually lived in the rooms around the courtyard. The most famous one was Lucrezia Borgia, who was supposed to have had a corridor built from the fortress to the Ponte Sanguinario. That way her lovers could visit her in secret.
The two courtyards are separated by a pointed arch. The frescoes decorating this arch depict the six cities forming the Papal State.
The Salone d’Onore is the biggest room in the castle. It was here that banquets were held.
The most important one of the six enormous towers is the one on the city side of the fortress. This tower is sometimes called Torre della Spiritata. The Camera Pinta in this tower is decorated with 14th and 15th century frescoes depicting the lives of the knights.
Parco and Giro della Rocca
The Parco della Rocca is free to visit. There is a pedestrian entrance near the Piazza Campello, but it is also possible to take an escalator at the end of the short gallery along the Giro della Rocca.
The Giro della Rocca is the walking path all the way around the fortress. The short (1 kilometer) path offers beautiful views over Spoleto and the famous Ponte delle Torri.