The Menotre Waterfalls
The whole of the Menotre river flows in the mountainous area around Foligno. The area of the waterfalls largely coincides with the area once occupied by the rich garden of the noble Elisei family, that took residence in the centre of Pale with its own palazzo in 1268.
The route to visit the waterfalls passes along the cliff near Belfiore, a nature trail among poplars, oaks, fig and olive trees of the old pianette. Here nature has reclaimed the landscape created by man over the centuries. Along the trail, one can admire the falls of the river Menotre into sponga stone pools.
Known as Via Plestina, in the Early Middle Ages it became part of the via francisca, a Franciscan Route commonly used by people and to transport goods. The deviation of the via francisca went from Caccamo, through the Umbrian Valley and from there to Chiusi, Lucca and lastly Pavia, where all the Franciscan routes converged. This stretch of road through the Menotre Valley was later called Lauretana
A castle was erected here in 1350 by Ugolino VIII Trinci. Restored in 1442, it was taken over by the Elisei family, whose unchallenged rule lasted until the 18th century. Around the mid-17th century, the Elisei family built its palazzo inside the castle, with parks, gardens and pools, as well as a farm with exotic animals of varied species and origins.
Distinguished figures came to visit it, such as Queen Christine of Sweden in 1562, Queen Casimire of Poland, the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III in 1695. Part of the building was split up into dwellings, while the park became a private vegetable garden.
The Abbadessa Caves
The water of the river and drainage have developed an interesting hypogean karst phenomenon: the Caves of Pale.
They are also known as the “Abbess Caves”.
There are various caves, the first one of which is considered a true architectural gem. Called the “Camera del laghetto” (“Lake chamber”), it has a round shape and is 8.9 metres high. There are stalactites hanging from the dome-shaped vault and stalagmites at the centre forming 4-5 perfectly shaped pillars.
This is where the water of the river Menotre would collect during swells. A narrow tunnel leads to the “Camera delle Colonne a Terra” (“Chamber of Ground Columns”), where there is a lion-shaped stalagmite, numerous stalactites that look like drapes and imposing central pillars.