Spoleto Tourist Guidebooks

The column LONG AGO IN SPOLETO today offers the story of the city through the tourist guides published in the first half of the 20th century.

The guides presented today were produced by the City itself, by Pro Spoleto and by the Regional Tourist Agency. The guides, besides testifying to the attention that Spoleto has always paid to tourism, are also a valuable tool for getting to know some aspects of daily life: for example, did you know that in 1910 there were three liqueur factories between Corso Garibaldi and Corso Mazzini, and that among the most famous liqueurs there were “Clitunno” and “Monteluco”?

Manifesto per Guida di Spoleto e dintorni

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It was September 1910 when a poster appeared in the city announcing the publication of a new guide to Spoleto. We were about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy and the firm Panetto & Petrelli – then located in the city centre, in Via Giustolo – wanted to make its contribution to the celebration by publishing a Guide to Spoleto and its surroundings by various authors, including Giuseppe Angelini Rota and Francesco Sulpizi.

Created under the auspices of the Italian Association for the Foreigners’ Movement – Spoleto Committee, the guide offers a wide variety of information on the city and its surrounding areas, both historical and artistic as well as economic and practical. It does not contain many pictures, but almost all the shots are by the famous Alinari photographic studio and the edition is very elegant.

Angelini Rota | Spoleto e Dintorni (copertina) | 1905

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Already at the beginning of the century, however, the City had wanted to respond to the growing demand for tourism by promoting, in 1905, the publication of Spoleto e dintorni by Giuseppe Angelini Rota, printed by Panetto & Petrelli. The guide was organised into city itineraries followed by descriptions of neighbouring places; it had no illustrations but featured two maps drawn by A. Bezzi.

The same author, again on behalf of the Municipality, printed Spoleto e il suo territorio in 1920, a much more substantial guidebook than the previous one (more than doubling its pages) and with a new set of illustrations. A second edition was published in 1929, in which much space was devoted to the industrial development of the city and its territory.

Pro Spoleto | L'Umbria francescana (copertina) | Spoleto, 1926

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Pro Spoleto also made its contribution to welcoming foreigners: in 1926 it published a small guide dedicated to the Franciscan presence in the city, L’Umbria francescana. Spoleto by Luigi Fausti, librarian at the Carducci City Library. Three versions of this booklet were published: one in Italian, one in English and one in French. Among the various images, there is also a fresco of St Francis, recently recovered from the Church of Saints John and Paul, and a letter signed by the saint preserved in the Cathedral.

Azienda autonoma di Cura Soggiorno e Turismo | Guida breve di Spoleto (copertina) | 1950

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In 1950 life was already more frenetic, people moved more easily and at greater speed, and so the Azienda Autonoma di Cura, Soggiorno e Turismo (autonomous tourist board) created an agile tool for the growing flow of tourists: the Guida breve di Spoleto (Short Guide to Spoleto), which was conceived with the needs of the “hurried modern tourist” in mind. It presents a brief description of the main monuments of the city, in a single itinerary to be completed in a few hours, without omitting information for visits to the surrounding area.

For those who wanted to learn more about the city, the publication explicitly referred to Angelini Rota’s unparalleled guidebook.


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