The Itinerary of St. Benedict is 300 km long in the heart of Italy, between Umbria and Lazio to the border with Campania. It is an itinerary of sixteen stages to retrace the life of the Patron Saint of Europe, through paths, cart roads and roads with little traffic, among valleys and mountains of the Central Italy.
The itinerary visits the three main Benedictine places: Norcia, birthplace of the Saint; Subiaco, where he lived for more than 30 years and founded several monasteries; and Montecassino, where he spent the last part of his life and wrote the Rule.
Benedict was born in Norcia at around 480, just after the Fall of the West Roman Empire.
He began his studies in Rome, but he soon retired into the solitude of the Aniene Valley, into a cave near Subiaco, around which he organized a colony of monks, made up of twelve small monasteries with twelve monks each.
He then left Subiaco and, with his most faithful followers, he went to Cassino, on whose mountain he founded, around 529, the famous abbey of Montecassino.
Here he wrote the Rule, made up of a prologue and 73 chapters. After a first moment of coexistence with other monastic legislations, the Rule of St.Benedict ended up with prevailing and was adopted in all monasteries.
He died in Montecassino, according to tradition, on 21st March 547.
The itinerary starts in Norcia, on the slopes of Sybilline Mountains, and then continues to Cascia, where St. Rita, the so called “Saint of impossible cases” lived. From here the itinerary goes towards Monteleone di Spoleto, charming medieval village, to reach Leonessa (Lazio), at the foot of Reatini Mountains. From Leonessa the itinerary reaches Poggio Bustone, later Rieti and the Holy Valley.
The itinerary then crosses the Sinibalda Fortress and the Tora Castle, Pozzaglia, Orvinio and Mandela to Subiaco, the first major destination of the Way.
From Subiaco, the Way goes on towards Trevi and after Trevi, a sequence of inspiring medieval villages follow: Guarcino, Vico and Collepardo.
The next steps are Certosa di Trisulti, Casamari, Arpino, San Giovanni Mountain, the gorges of Melfa and Roccasecca, and finally the Montecassino Abbey.
The Umbrian Stages
In Umbria, the Itinerary crosses Norcia, Cascia and Monteleone di Spoleto.
Norcia is an enchanting town at the foot of Sybilline Mountains, loved by trekking enthusiasts,combining deep Benedictine Spirituality, the charm of nature, the wonders of art and the authenticity of gastronomy.
It is part of the “Italian Most Beautiful Villages” Club, thanks to its significant environmental, cultural and artistic heritage.
The main monuments are located around the central square: the Basilica of St. Benedict, dating back to the 12th century; the Renaissance Portico of the Measures; the Castellina; the cathedral of St. Maria Argentea and the Town Hall.
Located in south-eastern Umbria, Cascia rises in the highest area of the region, near the National Park of Sybilline Mountains. Perched up on the St. Augustine hill, it is surrounded by superb mountains descending to the Corno river, tributary of the Nera river. Birthplace of St. Rita, it is one of Umbria's main spiritual centres.
Don’t miss a visit to the Monastery of St. Rita and the adjoining Sanctuary of St. Rita, built in the modern era to host the remains of the saint, and today place of worship drawing pilgrims from all over the world, and the valuable churches of St. Francis, St. Anthony and the Collegiate of St. Mary.
Don’t miss Roccaporena, St. Rita's native village, at the bottom of a small gorge cut by the Corno river, which winds around a slender cliff, the so called “Sacred Rock”.
It is possible to reach the rock’s top by walking the Way of the Cross with 300 steps: beside the highly spiritual aspect of the place, the view will also leave you breathless, as it ranges from Sybilline Mountains on the north to the Reatini Mountains on the South.
- Monteleone di Spoleto
Monteleone di Spoleto is a small mountain village resting on a hill at the end of the Corno Valley, starting north-east of the slopes of mount Terminillo, surrounded by mountain peaks offering a unique view.
It used to be called the “Lion of the Apennines” because of its fortress, crouched on the slope.
It has a significant historiy, since it is located along ancient communication routes, at the boundary between the Papal State and the Kingdom of Naples. This boundary is still recalled in the memorial stones placed on the staircases leading to the Clocktower gate.
The gem of Monteleone is definitely the biga, a parade chariot and an extraordinary product of Etruscan workshops dated around 540 BC.
Also interesting are the complex of St. Catherine, which has the shape of an ovoid derived by four equilateral triangles intersecting each other, the Church of St. Nicola, with altarpieces attributed to Ghezzi and Masucci, and the beautiful 15th century Bernabò palace.
The Pilgrim's Credential
Those walking the Way should request the Credential, which certifies the status of pilgrim and is required to access most of the "pilgrim hospitality": religious hospitality or other facilities for which only an offering is requested.
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