From Spoleto To Monteluco

Monteluco (m. 804) can be reached via:

* the 8-km-long carriageable road that was built in three years of hard work by hundreds of Croatian and Hungarian prisoners during WWI.

*  the footpath through the wood, a.k.a. “corta di Monteluco”, a 2-km-long footpath that climbs the mountain from the Ponte delle Torri – 1 hour

– the Ponte delle Torri is not currently accessible. To reach the starting point of the “corta di Monteluco”, it is recommended to path #3 “Giro dei Condotti” from via del Tiro a Segno.

The mule track (path #1) that climbs the Monteluco, starting from the Fortilizio dei Mulini is traditionally known as “the shortcut”, originally it was the actual communal road. It climbs the steep north-western side of the mount, mantled by a vast holm-oak wood, largely composed of long-stemmed plants by the exceptional scientific, historical and landscape value. The millennial importance of the forest is witnessed by the very name (lucus = sacred wood) and by the ancient, strict protection laws like the Lex Spoletina. The value of the environment has been lately confirmed by its identification as Site of EC Interest, following the European Community’s stances. The wood is home for the big beetles, the green woodpecker, the great spotted woodpecker, the short-toed treecreeper and the nuthatch.

500 metres after the beginning of the pathway, a diversion leads to the complex of Sant’Antonio Abate, probable place of an ancient hermitage. Once back you keep on climbing the “corta”, reaching in a short time the hermitages that were used by the hermits since the Vth century, nowadays they are mostly inside private properties. On this map, you find the most traceable ones. At #11 you have that of San Paolo Protoeremita; in the XIXth century it was property of the Marignoli family, to whom we owe the construction of the church of San Francesco d’Assisi. The “Eremo delle Grazie” (presently a historical residence) gained much importance in the XVIth century when, after the departure of the Benedictines from San Giuliano, it became a gathering place for the hermits and the dwelling of the prior of the congregation.

The hermitage of San Michele Arcangelo (#8) still has three deep caves, one of which was adapted as oratory in ancient times. The hermitage of San Bonifacio (#10), Santa Maria Maddalena (#11), San Girolamo (#15) and Santa Croce (#17) instead, don’t have any longer the signs of the ancient hermitages. The villa on the highest position, unproperly called “Eremo di Sant’Isacco”, is the place where the hermits of Santa Maria de Gripta and of San Giovanni de Griptis used to rise. The last name is an evident allusion to a diversity of caves, today still verifiable.

Past the hermitages, you cross the provincial road and climb till you reach the top of the mountain, skirting in the last trait the boundary wall of the Convent of Saint Francis; according to the tradition, it was founded by the Saint himself in 1218. Enlarged and renewed over and over, it hosted some among the most important members of the Order. Among these, we have Leopoldo da Gaiche, who in 1788 reorganized the cenacle and tried to revive the ancient austerity of the mountain. Nearby the convent there is the Sacred Wood, bounded by a stone ring-wall. Here, a copy of the Lex Spoletina is positioned, whose original is inside the National Archaeological Museum in Spoleto. As you penetrate into the forest, you reach the Belvedere and some other hermitages, whose names remind of the saints that probably stood there in prayer.
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