Travel - Umbria - Itineraries
from assisi to spoleto
Umbria is magic. Once you get into this region, you get the feeling you’ve entered another dimension, somewhere in an indefinite time in the past. It’s a window into a different world where daily rhythms are different and more pleasant.
“A good way to explore the region is through a part of the St Francis Way, developed along the path walked by the Saint hundreds of years ago.”
The path from La Verna in Tuscany crosses Umbria and finishes in Rome, leading through olive groves and stunning romantic valleys.
In the Umbrian part of the St Francis Way, the itinerary links together several “places” that witnessed the life and preaching of the Saint of Assisi. This pilgrimage route was intended to relive the lands that the Poor Man walked through on his travels.
On the way, you’ll experience both natural and religious places, as the “Franciscan path” passes through towns and villages of great history and rich culture.
Starting from Assisi with its wonderful St Francis basilica, you walk through St Francis wood to Spello, Foligno, Trevi, Montefalco, Bevagna, and Spoleto.
Assisi is one of Italy’s most visited tourist sites for many good reasons. This itinerary will not only take you to the classic sites of interest but will make you discover places off the beaten path where big coach buses do not go.
From Assisi, you will walk on the western flank of Mt Subasio through the Sacred Hermitage of the Carceri, then continue to the beautiful upper meadows to enjoy the fantastic view of the valleys and then downhill through the olive groves and the Roman foundation town of Spello.
Spello is built on the slopes of Mount Subasio. This little town has Roman origins, as several features including the porta Venere and porta Consolare town gates and the remains of a Roman theatre outside the town walls remind us. Do not forget to admire the colorful frescoes by Pinturicchio in the church S.Maria Maggiore.
On the next day, we will cross the Valle Umbra getting to Cannara, and then to the hills on the other side of the valley to Collemancio. The walks will continue on this line of hills down to the valley to Bevagna –to us, the quintessential Umbria village- with good food, lots of ancient crafts, and a medieval soul.
Unlike most Umbrian towns, Bevagna isn’t built on a hilltop but rather at the confluence of the rivers Timia and Topino. During Roman times, Bevagna was a prosperous town, as it was situated along the busy trade road, the Via Flaminia, which connected Rome with the Adriatic coast. Particularly characteristic are the 2km of 13th to 14th-century town walls surrounding most of Bevagna. The heart of this town is the square, ‘Piazza Silvestri’, with its beautiful fountain and two Romanesque churches. Do not forget to visit the mosaic of a former Roman bath. Your hotel is in the historic center of the village.
By now, the walk will be into wine country, the land of Sagrantino wine, the most prestigious red wine of the region. We will get then to the hilltop town of Montefalco, also known as the “Balcony of Umbria,” and then the quiet village of Castel Ritaldi surrounded by olive groves.
Here you will again be walking through a slightly hilly landscape, but the olive groves soon make way for vineyards. Montefalco’s hills are famous for producing excellent wines: Sagrantino and Rosso di Montefalco. To reach the town, you have to climb because Montefalco is –predictable- built on a hilltop. The town is also known as the balcony (‘ringhiera’) of Umbria because of its beautiful panorama. The St. Francis church is now a fine museum which housing, among other things, frescoes by the Florentine painter Benozzo Gozzoli. Do not forget to taste some of the delicious wine in one of the many wine bars.
On the other side of the valley, Trevi( which you can reach before or after Spoleto) is also called the capital of olive oil. Indeed, you will notice that the slopes of the surrounding mountains are covered with evergreen olive groves.
Trevi has a dozen medieval churches: the most important is the Romanesque Duomo (S. Emiliano), the shrine of the Madonna delle Lacrime notable for a fresco by Perugino and the former church of S. Francesco, now a museum. You will stay in the historic center of the town.
From the hills of the Monti Martani, you will then walk to Spoleto. This charming medieval town hosts the “Festival of the 2 Worlds” and deserves exploration.
The Swiss writer Herman Hesse said, “Spoleto is the most beautiful discovery I made in Italy. There is such a wealth of beauty almost unknown, mountains, valleys, oak woods, monasteries, and waterfalls!”.
Spoleto is a pretty hill-town filled with beautiful architecture. It is famous for the Spoleto Festival, which takes place every summer (end of June beginning of July). Spoleto is worth visiting the cathedral, the castle, a Roman house, Roman theatre, and many museums. But Spoleto is not only art and culture, but also food & wine! The town has some lovely shops with fantastic local products, cozy bars with terraces and excellent restaurants.
The meaning of St Francis’ Way
In its adherence to the story of St Francis, the way is plausible and charming: the landscapes that the pilgrim will see are the same that brought joy to the simple heart of St Francis.
Despite everything, Umbria has remained Francesco’s land, nourished by a spirituality that speaks of love for the small things, respect and gratitude for creation, of generous hospitality to the next man, whoever he may be.
In reality, the figure of St Francis, towering over Assisi, accompanies you throughout the journey, speaking to the heart and mind of the traveler about the possibility of leading your everyday life in total harmony with the world, with man, and with God.
It is a precious art of living and the most authentic result of the journey to Assisi: a gift that the Umbria of St Francis can give the pilgrim or any person approaching it with an open heart.
Walking along the St Francis’ Way is, therefore, an authentic spiritual journey that satisfies man’s desire to seek the meaning of his own existence deep within himself.
Location:Umbria - Assisi - Spello
Category:Oil Selection October'21
September 10, 2021