A few days ago I had the opportunity of visiting again a beautiful area very close to Valle Nuova even if in nearby Umbria: the Monte Cucco Park.
Within the park can be found three religious buildings (Abbazia di Sant’Emiliano in Congiuntoli, Abbazia di Sitria and Eremo di San Girolamo) that, along with Fonte Avellana, just over the border of Le Marche, make an interesting visit in the heart of the Apennines.
The tour starts driving up towards the Southern side of Monte Catria from Cantiano (a little village in Le Marche, just steps from the Umbrian border on the road to Gubbio, famous for its Visciole and its bread). The landscape is rough as you may expect if you consider that you’re right in the deep of the Apennines between the over 1700 metres of the Monte Catria and the 1500 metres of Monte Cucco. You’ll be driving and walking in and out of Le Marche into Umbria many times, too many to keep track of them, but really… who cares? It’s just beautiful!
The road suddently becomes narrow and the landscape even rougher, you’re crossing a deep gorge with a little river gurgling away, invisible, hidden by the vegetation.
Drive through the tiny village of Isola Fossara and follow the directions to the Eremo di San Girolamo.
Unlucily the hermitage can’t be visited but, as you can see, it’s quite impressive to see from the distance and along the steep walk up there’s a shady spot along the river that is perfect for a picnic or a little rest (the water is so clear that you’ll surely have to watch the photo twice to see it!).
Keep driving and you’ll reach Sant’Emiliano in Congiuntoli Abbey, an impressive XI century building in the “conjunction” between the river Sentino and the Rio Freddo (thus the name “in congiuntoli”). The Abbey can be partially visited thank to volunteers that show the part of the Abbey that belongs to the State (the rest is a very badly kept private property).
Drive back to Isola Fossara and up towards Le Marche again and find the Sitria Abbey, a tiny Abbey nestled in the middle of the mountains, completely far away from the “world”.
Our day ends driving up from Sitria and towards Fonte Avellana Abbey, that is still home to a small group of benedictine monks that keep this beautiful place alive (they also organize concerts and conferences). Do not miss to visit the interior including the amazing scriptorium where the ancient manuscripts were copied by the monks.
Here’s a map of the whole itinerary, including the walk up to Eremo di San Girolamo.