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The Way of St. Benedict.  Exploring Umbria and Latium’s ancient towns and splendid landscapes

Monday, 22 November 2021 10:34

A 300-kilometre trail winding through the heart of Italy from Umbria, crossing Latium and coming close to the border with Campania. An itinerary of 16 stages in the footsteps of St. Benedict of Norcia linking the three main Benedictine sites: Norcia which is the saint’s birthplace, Subiaco where he lived for more than thirty years and founded numerous monasteries, and Montecassino where he spent the last part of his life and wrote The Rule. 

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In the footsteps of St Benedict and St Rita

The trail starts in Norcia, an enchanting town at the foot of the Sibillini mountains much loved by trekking enthusiasts and naturalists. We pass through small villages in beautiful natural settings from Cascia, where Saint Rita the patroness of impossible causes lived to Roccaporena where she was born. Then on to Monteleone di Spoleto, a fascinating medieval village standing on the edge of the Leonessan plain and Leonessa, at the foot of the Reatini mountains, which is a fusion of medieval and renaissance elements.
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A region with strong links to St Francis  

Plunging into the vast mountainous beech woods around Poggio Bustone, a town with many Franciscan links, we look out over the Valle Santa, the plain of the Velino river. From the papal city of Rieti we continue on our way to Rocca Sinibalda and Castel di Tora before encountering Pozzaglia, Orvinio and Mandela, delightful small towns in the Lucretili mountains. Then following secondary roads down to the Aniene valley we come to pretty Gerano and to Subiaco which is our first main stop.

Subiaco, a centre of spirituality, art and history

This town with its Benedictine links combines spirituality, history, art and nature. Some of the greatest artists of the fourteenth century worked in Subiaco and St. Francis of Assisi was a pilgrim there. The area was important for ancient Rome, as it was here that the capital had its main reserves of water, so today there are numerous Roman remains from the Claudius Aqueduct in Vicovaro, and the Anio Novus in Trevi, to Nero’s villa in Subiaco and the Roman arch in Trevi.
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Montecassino, mother house of the Benedictine Order

Beyond Trevi we come to the Ernici mountains and to the picturesque medieval villages of Guarcino, Vico and Collepardo. We then head towards the Liri valley after a visit to the Casamari Abbey, a magnificent example of Cistercian Gothic architecture. From Roccasecca, home of St. Thomas Aquinas, retracing the steps of monks, pilgrims and soldiers, we finally reach the Abbey of Montecassino, the mother house of an order that extended from one side of Europe to the other and was fundamental to the birth of Europe’s Christian culture. A fitting conclusion to a trail that has led us across a large part of central Italy delving into the life and works of St. Benedict and exploring the area’s great art, culture and history.

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