The Benedictine abbey of Assisi is just six kilometres from town, immersed in the lush vegetation at the feet of Mount Subasio. It was the very Order of St Benedict that donated the Porziuncola in Santa Maria degli Angeli to St Francis and his brothers, who adopted it as their orderís first house.
The beautiful Valcastoriana valley not far from Assisi runs from Preci to Norcia (Spoleto is at about an hourís drive) and is considered the cradle of the Umbrian monastic orders as well as being rich in archaeological remains. The Abbey of St Eutitius here flourished right up until the 15th century and it is easy to spot the various construction phases of the complex, designed by Maestro Pietro and completed from the 11th to the 14th century. Only the powerful bell tower is later, from the 17th century.
The Abbey of San Pietro in Valle, not far from Ferentillo, was founded by Faroald Duke of Spoleto in the 8th century over the dwelling of two Syriac hermits, Lazarus and John. Although badly ruined, the important frescoes in the chapel date from the 11th century and are one of the few surviving examples of High Middle Ages paintings.
Other monasteries well worth visiting are the Abbey of St Fidentius and Terentius just five kilometres from Massa Martana, probably from the 11th century, and that of St Cassiano near Narni, built against the rocky slopes of the Santa Croce mountain.
"Umbria...Cuore verde díItalia. Umbria Percorsi d'arte", Agenzia di Promozione turistica dell'Umbria, Perugia, pg. 60, by kind permission.
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