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Spoleto (spōlĕˈtō) [key], city (1991 pop. 37,763), Umbria, central Italy. It is a light industrial and tourist center. An Umbrian and later an Etruscan town, the city flourished after being taken (242 B.C.) by the Romans. It later became (c.A.D. 571) the seat of an important Lombard duchy that extended over much of Umbria, Marche, and the Abruzzi. The city was destroyed by Emperor Frederick I in 1155 but was rebuilt. Although Spoleto was included in Charlemagne's donation to the church (8th cent.), the dukes were named by the emperors until 1201, when Otto IV renounced the imperial rights. Soon afterward (1213), the duchy came under direct papal rule (to 1860). A local school of painting flourished in Spoleto in the 14th and 15th cent. In the city are Roman ruins: a bridge, the arch of Drusus (A.D. 21), a theater, and an amphitheater. The 4th-century basilica of San Salvatore (renovated several times) is a remarkable example of early Christian architecture. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (begun by Frederick I) has frescoes by Filippo Lippi (who is buried in the cathedral) and Pinturicchio. "La Rocca," originally a castle (14th cent.), is now a penitentiary. The Spoleto Festival, a major annual festival of the arts, is held here.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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