The 11th-century Romanesque church of San Gregorio Maggiore in Spoleto has ancient origins, an atmospheric interior and some interesting medieval frescoes.
History of San Gregorio Maggiore
The present Church of San Gregorio was mostly built in the 11th century on the site of an ancient oratory dedicated to St. Gregory, a local saint killed in a spectacle at Spoleto's Roman amphitheater in 304 AD. According to tradition, 10,000 other martyrs died along with him; they are honored here, too.
Careful restorations in the 1950s removed most of the Baroque additions to reveal the original Romanesque architecture.
What to See at San Gregorio Maggiore
Overlooking the bustling Piazza Garibaldi in the Lower Town, San Gregorio incorporates elements from a variety of eras, including remains of an earlier 8th-century church.
The base of the campanile (with large visible blocks) dates from the Early Christian period, while the top was last refined in the 16th century. The Romanesque facade dates from the 12th century and is modeled on the Duomo.
The large Renaissance porch was added in the 16th century and contains the Cappella degli Innocenti (Chapel of the Innocents), now protected by a gate and used as a baptistery. It is decorated with frescoes depicting the life of St. Abundatius, who is buried in the crypt.
The interior is in the solid Romanesque style of the 11th century, decorated on some walls with fragments of 14th-century frescoes by local Umbrian artists. The presbytery is full of architectural spoils from various eras, including some 6th-century Byzantine capitals and a medieval Cosmatesque pavement. It is raised several meters above the nave on tiny, mismatched pillars.
Below the presbytery is an atmospheric little crypt with a groin vault and a forest of pillars.
Quick Facts on San Gregorio Maggiore
|Names:||Church of St. Gregory · San Gregorio Maggiore|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||42.740417° N, 12.736309° E|
|Hours:||Daily 8-12 and 4-6pm|
|Lodging:||View hotels near San Gregorio Maggiore|
- Personal visit (April 20, 2008).
- Frommer's Florence, Tuscany & Umbria, 4th Edition
- The Rough Guide to Italy 7 (May 2005), 651-52.
- David Bershad and Carolina Mangone, The Christian Traveler's Guide to Italy, 193.
- Photos of San Gregorio Maggiore - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of San Gregorio Maggiore, Spoleto
Below is a location map and aerial view of San Gregorio Maggiore. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.