People have lived here since the Bronze Age. After the town was destroyed in the 12th century, its history became closely tied to that of the Duchy of Spoleto, which retained control over it, fortified the village and gave it its name. Archaeological finds made in the early 19th century in Colle del Capitano, some 3 km north-east of Monteleone, brought to light a vast necropolis that dates back to the Bronze Age, to the 5th century BCE. The most important find was a princely tumulus with a rich array of funerary items, including a chariot with hammered bronze plates.
ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT
The historical centre has retained the layout typical of a hilltop castle, with walls, fortifying elements and gates, while the streets are those characteristic of a medieval town.
The great treasure of Monteleone is, without a doubt, its chariot, a parade carriage, the extraordinary product of Etruscan workshops in around 540 BCE. The frame is made of walnut and it is covered with hammered bronze plates decorated with depictions of episodes from the life of the Greek hero Achilles. It was part of the funerary items found in the tumulus of a wealthy local prince and is now the most important piece of the Etruscan collection at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, where it is known as the Golden Chariot. There is a life-size copy of it in Monteleone di Spoleto, in the basement of the monumental complex of San Francesco. The complex dates to the late 1200s and underwent many changes as the centuries went by. Inside are two naves, of different widths and with different ceilings, while the door to the cloister leads visitors to the archaeological finds uncovered at the Colle del Capitano site.
The complex of Santa Caterina is also very interesting. It has an ovoid shape created by the four intersecting equilateral triangles. The Church of San Nicola is graced with altar pieces attributed to Ghezzi and Masucci, while the Clock Tower is the entrance gate to the old medieval castle that dominates the town, and Palazzo Bernabò is a 15th century building with two floors and a central terrace.
Monteleone di Spoleto is surrounded by beautiful nature. It is within the confines of the Coscerno-Aspra Nature Park, one of the most pleasant and interesting places in the entire central Apennines from an environmental standpoint. The high mountains here are separated by deep, narrow valleys. Most of the area is covered in woods interspersed with wide open fields and small plots of cultivated land, the result of the thousands of years of man's presence here in this natural environment.