Among gorges and old medieval towns
A great itinerary leading to very interesting areas, both from the point of view of nature and regarding history. The itinerary allows the discovery of the most hidden places of the Lower and Middle Nera Valley, among narrow valleys, streams, fortresses and old mills.
It starts in Matterella (Ferentillo), leads to the comfortable paved road that goes up on the right and gets narrower in Ancaiano. It finally arrives in the pass of Mount Solenne.
From this point on the trail, partly unpaved but comfortable and partly paved, goes down towards Le Cese.
Here the views are astonishing: the surrounding mountains, the narrow valleys, the old medieval towns and villages like Pontuglia, where there is an old mill still in use.
In Ceselli, cross the Valnerina state road and the bridge on the River Nera and turn right to take one of the most beautiful unpaved ways along the Nera River.
Continue along the valley floor, arrive in Terria and then in Colleponte. Cross the bridge leading towards the state road Valnerina, take the opposite direction for about 300 mt and then turn left to a road which slowly becomes unpaved as the trail continues. This is the road crossing the village of Macenano and leading to San Pietro in Valle Abbey.
This way offers unforgettable views on the old village Umbriano, including the narrow valley floor where the river flows. From the abbey to Ferentillo you can take either the Valnerina state road, or the unpaved road along the left bank of the River Nera.
It is a small medieval village lying on the western side of Mount Fionchi, over the stream Fosso delle Cese. The traditional houses of the village were built against the old fortress and have cowsheds downstairs. On the road flanking the village there is both a fountain and a little church.
This rural settlement has a triangular shape and was built in the 14th century near some sources, whose waters were used for the functioning of a mill from the 15th century.
On the square of the village there is a big basin powering the four turbines used to activate the mill stones.
The mill still has mill stones and other tools used for the production process. Some of them date back to the 17th century.
The village lies at the entrance of the valley of the stream Fosso delle Cese.
The hillside village was built between the 12th and the 14th century near a previous settlement. The strategic position of the town allowed the inhabitants to guard the major roads of the valley, together with the roads leading to Spoleto (passing by the stream Le Cese) and to Monteleone di Spoleto (passing by the villages of Civitella and Monte San Vito).
In the highest part of the village there is San Michele Arcangelo's Church from the 16th century, which was refurbished in the 19th century. Inside: San Vito incoronato dagli angeli (“St. Vito crowned by Angels”), a canvas from 1644; Madonna con Bambino (“Our lady with Child”), from 1625 and Crocifissione e santi (“Crucifixion and Saints”), from 1603.
The partly abandoned hillside fortification lies at the entrance to the valley of the same name, leading both to the Hill La Bernara and to Mount Aspra after over 1000 meters of difference in altitude.
The settlement is composed by two parts: Terria Castello (Castello meaning 'Fortress') with its tower dating back to the 14th c. and “Terria de Contra” (De Contra meaning 'on the other side'), a rural settlement located on the other side of the deep valley. The village boasts the Madonna del Rosario's Church and the Romanesque San Lorenzo's Church.
The two parts of the village formed the settlement of “Capo la terra” (literally “on the top of the land”) in the past. In Macenano there is the 13th century Sant'Antonio Abate's Church and the old Sant'Anna's Church (standing along the road winding up to San Pietro in Valle Abbey ), which was renovated in the 18th c. and currently in a severe state of decay. In front of Sant'Anna's Church stands another building named “La Zecca” belonging to the Cybo Family used for hosting officials of the Dukedom.
Colleponte lies next to the River Nera . There is a 16th century church dedicated to St. John's the Evangelist, which is currently abandoned, and also Madonna delle Grazie's Church.
Nearby stands the village Sambucheto, an ancient fortification built in the frame of the defensive road system of Ferentillo, together with Santa Caterina's Church featured by its bell gable.
This abbey is considered one of the major centres for Christian spirituality in Umbria.
With its history and its art masterpieces, San Pietro in Valle Abbey is an essential stop for those tourists who want to discover the culture, past events and history of monasticism in the River Nera Valley.
The abbey was built on the remains of an old pagan temple and stands in an isolated area at the foot of Mount Solenne, also called “Suppegna Valley”.
Later in the 6th century the two Syrian hermits Lazarus and John settled here in prayer.
In the 8th century, after having an apparition, the Longobard Duke of Spoleto Faroaldo II built the Benedictine monastery. He settled there to live a monastic life and remained there for the rest of his life. The church later became the mausoleum of the Dukes of Spoleto.
From the 9th to the 14th c. the Abbey gained remarkable power thanks to the numerous estates and properties going from the region Marche to Rome that gave control of the major roads.
Art historians consider San Pietro in Valle Abbey as a 'unicum' for its extraordinary historical artistic heritage of Roman sarcophagi (the biggest in Umbria), for the Longobard althar “Ursus Magister” as well as for the oldest Romanesque frescoes in Umbria which inspired Giotto and his paintings in Assisi. The monastery is currently a private tourist accommodation, while the church is open to the visitors at specific times.
For further information visit www.mummiediferentillo.it