Hispellum is mentioned in Pliny (III.xiv.113), Strabo (V.2.10), and Ptolemy's Geography (III.1), but apparently by no earlier author: the town seems to have been established by Augustus, who at any rate founded a colony there (Colonia Julia Hispellum) as a reward for soldiers who fought on his side in the Perusine War. Augustus extended its territory to the springs of the Clitunno, which had originally belonged to the territory of Mevania.
Hispellum received the name of Flavia Constans by a rescript of the emperor Constantine, a copy of which on a marble tablet is still preserved at the Communal Palace of Spello. The gate by which the town is entered (Porta Consolare) is ancient and has three portrait statues above it, although they are not original to the gate, having been found in the area of the amphitheater, whose remains lies just outside the city. Five other gates may still be seen as well as part of the city wall, built of rectangular blocks of Subasio limestone: the wall is among the finest specimens of Roman wall in central Italy. The upper town also has vestiges of what is possibly a triumphal arch: the inscription at any rate is dedicated to Augustus. Roman remains have been found under the present Piazza della Repubblica, and Roman mosaics have been found in the basement of the hospital. A careful survey of the upper town in the late 20th century showed that about 80% of the buildings lie on Roman foundations, making Spello the most Roman of any town in modern Umbria.
Very scanty remains of a theatre have also survived, somewhat north of it, and slightly further north still, Roman remains have been unearthed on the grounds of the Villa Fidelia: some believe them to have been a temple of Venus. In the 1990s baths were being excavated near the train station. A rather large collection of local Roman inscriptions is housed in the Palazzo Comunale.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Hispellum.|
- Hispellum (at LacusCurtius)
Some of the text of this article was taken from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.