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Spello – Assisi

The “Seraphic” Trail

Spello – Assisi is the fifth and last section of the Assisi -Spoleto Olive Belt Trails. It is called the “Seraphic trail” because the route connects Spello to the town of St. Francis, with long stretches following the same roads he travelled. The first section makes for a pleasant walk with long flat stretches skirting Mount Subasio. However, the intermediate section starts going uphill, leading travellers into the woods and on trails, up to the Eremo delle Carceri in Assisi. From there, after a short stretch uphill, the trail plunges down again towards Assisi’s town centre and St. Francis’ Wood, where the Olive Belt Trails end.

Spello – Assisi is a trail where it is easy to find natural water sources, used over the centuries for irrigation purposes and to sustain people and animals. Scoglio del Diavolo (literally, the “Devil’s Rock”), the Maltempo spring, the Farnese spring: customs and traditions have blended together in the names of springs, creating legends that highlight the strong local nature of farming communities, who constantly fought against each other to preserve their property against intruders.

MAP

Start – The starting point of the fifth route is Porta Montanara in Spello. Of the town’s various entrances, this is the highest one, right under the final section of Spello’s aqueduct, a waterworks extending over almost six kilometres and now partially dismantled. After a short flat stretch, the road descends for a few dozen metres and then turns right on Via degli Ulivi. This is where the road to Assisi starts, with its springs scattered along the way. A few hundred metres below is the wonderful Villa Fidelia with its gardens, and the whole valley from Spello to Cannara that ends right under the village of Bettona.

Intermediate point – The religious retreat known as Eremo delle Carceri is set within a walled holm oak grove.  This old hermitage sits at 800 metres above sea level, on the sides of Mount Subasio. It is immersed in the heart of a verdant wood, about five kilometres from Assisi, and is an annual place of pilgrimage.

End – The end of the route of the Olive Belt Trails is The Third Paradise by Michelangelo Pistoletto. This is a piece of ‘land art’, a one-of-a-kind olive grove in the world across an area measuring 90 x 35 metres. A layout of three circles hints to the infinity symbol and consists of two rows of olive trees, with a steel rod at the centre symbolising the union between the Heavens and the water below the ground. It is located at the entrance of St. Francis’ Wood, right under the Upper Basilica. In the artist’s vision, it merges paradise, where life on Earth is entirely governed by nature, and a second paradise, created by man and based on artificial needs, products, pleasures and comforts.

TECHNICAL DATA

Length

17.080 metres

Elevation Gain

567 metres

Difficulty

Medium-High

Type Of Route

25% tarmac, 75% unpaved

Duration

9h 00m

Route Pattern

Linear

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DID YOU KNOW THAT...?

Arvoltolo

This is one of the oldest confectionery products in the farming tradition that even less well-to-do families could afford. It is a tasty flatbread made with flour, brewer’s yeast and water fried in olive oil or even in boiling larder. They are then sprinkled with salt or sugar or even honey.

Viewpoint

The first flat stretch of the road connecting Spello to Assisi leads to the viewpoint with the plaque bearing the words of St. Francis, “I have seen nothing more beautiful than my Spoleto valley”. This is a place of meditation and prayer in front of the rural holy shrine known as Mascicone shrine.

The Gabbiano quarries

Many of the stones used to build the monuments and houses in the town of Assisi have been quarried from this side of Mount Subasio. The area owes its name to the stone, known as Gabbiano because of its colour, similar to that of seagulls. It was once called the “French” quarry, because around 1870 a German, then French company used to quarry stone for lithographs here.

Boccia shoot

Half-way along the route, before the second leg leading to the spring called Fonte dell’Abbate and near two dwellings is the Boccia shoot. This is a cultivar with a large trunk, small leaves and an equally small drupe, which continues to ripen well into autumn. A unique biodiversity. Next to it, an example of the moraiolo cultivar.

The dried-up spring 

This is the spring of St. Benedict in front of the old Benedictine Abbey of San Benedetto al Subasio, which is not included in the route. For millennia, it quenched the thirst of the monks, wayfarers, shepherds and all the flocks and herds that came here to drink.
The flow has considerably decreased over time and with the earthquake in 1997 the aquifer moved and the spring dried up.

The standard municipal measures 

In Assisi, at the entrance of the Torre del Popolo, once the portal and door of the College of Notaries, housing the town archive and the Guild of Notaries, a slab sets out the standard municipal measures in 1349 (A.D.M.CCCXLVIIII FUIT HOC OPUS CPR ANGELI / LEGRI. DE. PUSIO.CAP. ASISI). A slab in Assisi pomato stone for the standard measure of roof tiles and bricks, on the side, on a block of travertine, the standard measures of length with iron rods.

WHAT TO SEE

From the mountain, the trail heads back down to the cities of Foligno and Spello. Villas, churches, forts, with plenty of nature and water as the main feature.

basilicas
Papal Basilica of Saint Francis And Sacred Convent
Papal Basilica of Saint Francis And Sacred Convent The first stone of the Basilica was laid on the 17th of July 1228 under Pope GregoryRead more
churches
New Church of Assisi
New Church of Assisi Erected in 1615 on the remains of a building thought to be the paternal house of St. Francis by order ofRead more
Church of The Holy Cross
Church of The Holy Cross Built in Gothic-Romanesque style around the 13th century on the site of a monastery. It has a single nave withRead more
The Oratory of the Pilgrims
The Oratory of the Pilgrims The Oratory of the Pilgrims was built in 1457 next a hospital. It was another place where pilgrims could stopRead more
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore sopra Minerva
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore sopra Minerva In the Middle Ages, Benedictine monks turned the Temple of Minerva into a Christian church and dedicated itRead more
Cathedral of Saint Rufinus
Cathedral of Saint Rufinus The cathedral of Saint Rufinus is the main Catholic place of worship in the town of Assisi. In the 8th century,Read more
Church of Sant'Angelo in Panzo
Church of Sant'Angelo in Panzo It was built around the 10th century on the ruins of a Roman settlement. During its long existence, which isRead more
Church of San Lorenzo
Church of San Lorenzo According to some sources, the works to build it started in 1127, when the people of Spello sought the protection ofRead more
Church of Sant'Andrea
Church of Sant'Andrea The church of Saint Andrew was built in the first half of the 11th century and was under the control of theRead more
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore According to tradition, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore was built on the pagan temple dedicated to Juno and Vesta.Read more
Church of San Martino
Church of San Martino The church was founded between the 11th and 12 century in honour of the bishop of Tours (330-397), although the firstRead more
Church of San Severino
Church of San Severino Perched on Spello’s highest spot, on the viewpoint, with a magnificent view over the valley towards Assisi. It was the firstRead more
Church and Monastery of Vallegloria
Church and Monastery of Vallegloria The 13th-century church of Santa Maria di Vallegloria, with its plain facade divided into two orders made of stone fromRead more
springs
The Oliviera Spring
The Oliviera Spring The Oliviera Spring is attributed by some to Galeazzo Alessi. It was built by order of Olivero Lodovici in 1570. “Penalty ofRead more
Fountain in the Square
Fountain in the Square A fountain with three lions alluding to the three districts of the town, which shows the regular symmetry in the shapeRead more
Bad Weather Spring
Bad Weather Spring According to tradition, the name “Fonte Maltempo” originated from the meteorological interpretation of the local farmers based on the conditions, limpidity andRead more
Devil’s Cliff Spring
Devil’s Cliff Spring This story has been passed own over the centuries highlighting the strong bond that the peasant communities had with their local areas,Read more
Farnese Spring
Farnese Spring This is one of the main springs of the people from Spello, a small trough of water with coats of arms: at theRead more
bridges
Il ponte dei Galli
Il Ponte dei Galli The bridge was documented in 1160 and 1193 in a deed of sale to the monastery of San Benedetto for aRead more
museums
The Third Paradise by Pistoletto
The Third Paradise By Pistoletto An olive grove unique in the world with a surface area of ​​90 x 35 metres. A design with threeRead more
Civic Museum Of Spello
Civic Museum Of Spello The Civic Art Gallery of Spello is inside the Palazzo dei Canonici built in 1542 by order of the Chapter ofRead more
temples
Temple of Minerva
Temple of Minerva Erected by order of brothers Gneo Cesio Tirone and Tito Cesio Prisco in the years immediately after the war with Perugia (40Read more
arches
palazzos
Town Hall Of Spello
Town Hall Of Spello The building was built in 1270 by Master Prode, under the podestà government of Giacomo del Mastro. It subsequently underwent a Read more
Palazzo Giacobetti-Vallemani
Palazzo Giacobetti-Vallemani The first project for the building was commissioned by the Vigilanti family in the first half of the 17th century to the painter Read more
Pilgrim’s Hall
Pilgrim’s Hall The "Sala del Pellegrino" is a long building with a modest facade built in 1774 for use as a hospice and in 1918 Read more
Loggia dei Maestri Comacini
Loggia dei Maestri Comacini This was believed to be the home of the master masons-stonecutter who, for about five centuries after the year 1000, settled Read more
Monte Frumentario
Monte Frumentario This is the old hospital of Assisi and perhaps the oldest in Italy. The Palazzo del Monte Frumentario was built in 1267 outside Read more
Town Hall of Assisi
Town Hall of Assisi The building was taller than it is now, as during the renovation works in 1926 it was lowered by one floor Read more
Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo
Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo The corner building on the side at the top of the square is the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo. In Read more
monastic retreats
Eremo delle Carceri
Eremo delle Carceri In 1215, the Benedictines donated this place to St. Francis so that he would ‘imprison himself’ (from the Latin word “carceres”) in Read more
streets
Il Bosco di San Francesco (ST. Francis' Wood)
Il Bosco di San Francesco (ST. Francis' Wood) These are about 60 hectares where Italian environmental fund FAI undertook a large-scale landscape restoration project that Read more
votive shrines
Maestà di Mascicone
Maestà del Mascicone This is an ancient shrine dear to the people of Spello, now in the hands of private individuals and given on loan Read more
fortresses
Rocca Minore or Ricchicciola
Rocca Minore or Ricchicciola It stands on the hill to the right of the Rocca Maggiore and the two were once connected by walkable walls. Read more
towers
Torre del Popolo
Torre del Popolo The extremely tall building (47 m) of the Torre del Popolo stands next to the Temple of Minerva. It was built for Read more
Torri di Properzio
Torri di Properzio According to an old tradition, the two towers flanking Porta Venere are linked to the name of the Latin poet. According to Read more

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