The Spoleto Mountain bears an age-old religious history. Protected since Pagan times by the Lex Spoletina, starting from the Vth century, Monteluco’s wood became the place of one of the widest hermitical movements of ancient times, whose inception is related to Sant’Isacco from Syria. His example would be followed by numerous monks and the mountain would soon become a sort of boundless monastery in which secluded lives were spent inside isolated caves digged in the rock.
The Abbey of San Giuliano would then be erected, first lighthouse of the vast hermits community, later turned into a congregation, yet bound for inexorable secularization.
According to the Order’s tradition, in 1218 Saint Francis founded a primitive circle on Monteluco, second to the one of Sant’Apollinare in the town. The very Franciscans were the protagonists of the last bids of mysticism when, by the end of the XVIIIth century, Blessed Leopoldo da Gaiche tried to fight off the French troops who had climed the mountain to plant the tree of freedom.
The area is mostly colonized by deciduous plants and evergreen sclerophylls: Hop Hornbeams, Manna Ashes, Downy Oaks, Chestnut Trees, some Beeches at higher heights, Aleppo Pines and Holm Oaks, a remarkable age-old colony of which tops the mountain.
The woods’ composition is quite diverse; besides dominating woodland species, there are maples, Turkey Oaks, European Hornbeams, Hazels, wild Apple- and Cherry Trees, Sorbuses, Golden Chains, Strawberry Trees and a number of shrubs like Viburnum, Phillyrea, Italian Buckthorns, Dogwoods, Common Hawthorns, Common Spindles, Junipers, Spanish Brooms and Elmleaf Blackberries. Rare Yews and Hollies also appear here and there.
Dominating herbs include True Grasses like Bromuses, or legumes like Mountain Clovers. Outstanding species include daffodils, some orchids, violets, and the red lily.
Fauna on the Spoleto Mountain is rich and diverse, with at least 134 species of vertebrates: 10 amphibians, 10 reptiles, 89 wintering and/or nesting birds (the latter being 79) and 25 mammals. 37% of these animals are considered of great scientific and environmental value, because rare and/or endangered at national and European level. The most interesting species include the spectacled salamander and the yellow bellied toad (small frog living close to the springs) among the amphibians; the short-toed eagle, the lanner and the peregrine falcon among the diurnal predators; crag martin, wheatear, rock thrush, blue rock thrush, wood warbler and rock bunting among the passerines; porcupine, wolf and wildcat among the mammals. The importance of the environmental characteristics of Monteluco and the Spoleto Mountain is sanctioned by the identification, under the EU guidelines and BioItaly Project, of the “Site of EU Interest” (SIC) Monteluco di Spoleto and of the “Special Protection Area” (ZPS) Lower Valnerina: Mount Fionchi – Marmore Falls.
The Spoleto Mountain is covered by a network of footpaths, mostly retracing the ancient pathways.
The footpaths are numbered (Monteluco Map) by the Spoleto section of del Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) and shows the directions on the spot.