Hosting Italy’s leading international arts festival, the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds), has been a double-edged blessing for Spoleto – crowds and commercialism being the price it has had to pay for culture. Having already rejected thirty other Italian locations, the influential arts guru Giancarlo Menotti plumped for the town in 1958, attracted by its scenery, small venues and general good vibes. The ensuing jamboree is a great attraction if you’re into music, dance or theatre, though the place forgoes a good part of its charm for the duration. While the festival is in progress – for two weeks between June and July – you can expect packed hotels and restaurants, and the chance of higher prices all round. At the same time there’s an Edinburgh-influenced fringe and plenty of films, jazz, buskers and so on. Organizers, moreover, are increasingly looking to more avant-garde shows to recover the artistic edge of the festival’s early days, while Spoleto has spawned an annual sister festival at Charleston in the USA. Check out information from the tourist office or the festival’s main box office at Piazza della Libertà 10 (w festivaldispoleto.com). For big events, it’s worth buying tickets in advance online.

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