The Abbey and its 'stone' guardians
This ring-shaped itinerary develops along one of the oldest trails leading from Ferentillo to the magnific San Pietro in Valle Abbey, passing by some of the medieval fortresses built to protect the Abbey.
The trail starts from the southern side of Mount Solenne, where tourists can enjoy wonderful views over the villages of the Ancaiano Valley.
Once past the panoramic village of Loreno, the trail goes down through a holm oak forest up to the Suppegna Valley. The Valley is a natural terracing dominated by steep sides and rocks. Here the two hermits Lazarus and John settled between the 4th and 6th century and with them the centuries-old story of the Abbey started.
The return trail goes along the River Nera near Macenano and diverts to the village of Umbriano, the “ghost village”, which was the first fortress built to protect the Abbey.
This settlement was built to integrate the defensive system of Ferentillo along the southern side of Mount Solenne. It still preserves its original structure.
Here San Vincenzo Martire's Church can be visited. It was renovated in the 16th century and its portal dates back to 1512. Not far from the centre of this old village some rock climbing routes can be reached.
Nicciano is a rural village lying on a natural terracing along the Western side of Mount Solenne. Here stands the recently renovated 16th century San Michele Arcangelo's Church.
Lorino is a small rural settlement lying near a fortified village (now disappeared) along an old way between Ferentillo and San Pietro in Valle Abbey.
The village hosts the nice San Giovanni Evangelista's little church overhanging the Nera Valley.
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
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.
Umbriano stands on a spur of Mount Sant'Angelo in front of San Pietro in Valle Abbey and on the opposite bank of the River Nera.
Umbriano is a hillfort dominated by a quadrilateral tower built in the frame of the defensive system created to defend the important monastery.
It was the first fortress erected to protect San Pietro in Valle Abbey and is considered as the oldest fortress in the Nera Valley. The village is currently deserted and badly preserved; it can only be reached by walk on an old mule track.