Back Monasticism in The Marche: hermitages and caves

Monasticism in The Marche: hermitages and caves

Discreet spirituality 
The Marche is dotted with about a hundred abbeys, often within walking distance of each other. Being its Apennines also full of mountains and hills, valleys and streams, forests, ravines and gorges, this has always been one of the ideal destinations for the Hermit Saints who here found shelter in Hermitages and Caves in the rock, still capable to inspire in visitors a satisfying feeling of peace and serenity.
Discover the list of visitable Hermitages in the section To be seen.

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Level of difficulty: media
Seasonality: Estate

The stages of the itinerary

  • Serra Sant'Abbondio - Monastery of Fonte Avellana
    The stage includes the following destinations: Monastero e Abbazia della Santa Croce di Fonte Avellana

    The Monastery of Fonte Avellana is situated on the wooded slopes of Mount Catria (1701 m.) at 700 meters above sea level in Serra Sant'Abbondio. It dates back to late tenth century, around 980, when several hermits chose to build the first cells of a hermitage, that later became the present monastery. The spirituality of these hermits was influenced by San Romualdo from Ravenna, the father of the Camaldolese Benedictine Congregation. He lived and worked between the tenth and the eleventh century near Fonte Avellana. Today the monastery includes a large square that gives access to the church in Latin cross, covered with barrel vaults with pointed arches; the crypt built in the eleventh century is one of the oldest parts, along with the cloister and the thirteenth century scriptorium. Among the valuable volumes housed in the monastery, notworthy is the NN code dating back to the eleventh century. The prestigious Library "Dante Alighieri" contains over 10,000 volumes, including precious manuscripts and ancient holy books. The hospitality of individuals or groups is provided throughout the year.  In Fonte Avellana there are meetings of Lectio Divina and retreat days.
    The Monastery of Fonte Avellana joins the project the Monasteries of the Marche.

  • Fano - Hermitage of Monte Giove
    .0721.864090 (Foresteria)
    The stage includes the following destinations: Eremo e Monastero di Monte Giove
    The Hermitage of Monte Giove rise up on a top of hill of the same name (223 m.), about two miles from Fano city centre; it was built in the first two decades of the 17th century by Camaldolese Congregation of Monte Corona. The convent was completed in 1627, thanks to many benefactors such as the municipality of Fano. The Hermitage soon gained popularity and was visited by the Queen Cristina Alessandra Maria of Sweden in 1657. In 1741, due to the instability of the land, the church was rebuilt, under the project of architect Gian Francesco Buonamici.
    The present church, dedicated to the Saviour, is a typically eighteenth century church with one nave, decorated with frescoes and different paintings. One of the chapels was decorated by Tarcisio Generali, who was a Camaldolese monk and talented artist. In the crypt there's the "Trasfigurazione", a terracotta work made by the Camaldolese monk Salvatore Frigerio. 
    The Hermitage, currently inhabited by seven monks and a nun, features a library with 1,000 volumes, a sacristy boasting original 18th century furniture, a pharmacy and a guest house, which can accommodate up to 30 people, in single and double rooms, for a maximum stay of one week. During the year there are religious meetings and study days on theology.

    The Hermitage of Monte Giove joins the projects  the Monasteries of the Marche.
  • Fabriano - Hermitage of San Silvestro
    The stage includes the following destinations: Monastero ed Eremo di San Silvestro
    The Hermitage of San Silvestro in Montefano of Fabriano was founded by San Silvestro Guzzolini in 1231 near the fount Vembrici; new monastic order was called Sylvestrine Congregation. After the suppression of the religious orders in 1810 in 1866, the hermitage becomes the spiritual center of the Sylvestrine Congregation. In the church we must mention a painting made by Claudio Ridolfi (1644) and  four gilded wooden statues dating back to the seventeenth century. The relics of San Silvestro are kept in a modern urn. The lower church, built in the thirteenth century, is dedicated to San Benedetto. The 24 lunettes decorating the walls of the cloister of the monastery are frescoed by Antonio Ungarini from  Fabriano (1771) and represent scenes of San Silvestro's life. Monte Fano currently houses a dynamic monastic community ; the hermitage features an efficient laboratory of restoration of old books, an historical library  boasting 70,000 volumes, the historical archives of the Sylvestrine Congregation and a guesthouse. In a wing of the former college there are 30 comfortable rooms with a view. The monastic community welcomes small groups all year round, for retreat day with a monk.
    The Hermitage os San Silvestro joins the projects The monasteries of Marche.
  • Valleremita - Hermitage of S. Maria of Valdisasso
    0732.625067 (I.A.T.)
    The stage includes the following destinations: Monastero ed Eremo di Santa Maria di Valdisasso - Valleremita

    The village of Valleremita takes its name from an ancient Benedictine monastery that housed, according to tradition, San Francesco (1210) in his passage to Fabriano. In 1405 it was handed over to Chiavello Chiavelli, lord of Fabriano, and perhaps at that time the monastery was adorned with the precious polyptych by Gentile, that during the Napoleonic theft, moved to the newly established Pinacoteca in Brera in 1811. Then it passed to the Franciscans and became one of the largest monastery in the region in the seventeenth century; today the Church, rebuilt with original retains materials has its undeniable charm, thanks to the strong bond that San Francesco had with Fabriano, as attested by various scholars. The hermitage is immersed into the greenery and surrounded by woods.

    The restoration and enhancement of the hermitage of Sasso di Valleremita financed by the Marche Region, arise from several needs, all of great social, cultural, historical importance, and it is made possible thanks to the combination of various public authorities with the fundamental contribution of the Community of Minor Friars who have always lived in this structure and have made one of the most important world centres of Franciscan spirituality over the centuries. The works began in February 2012 and in two years they restored and returned to the community 1,500 square meters of the original complex. Thanks to the digs premises, ancient walls and an antique fountain were found. The Marche Region has the aim at creating a centre with many functions: meetings; conventions and initiatives related to the enhancement of culture and tourism of the territory; welcoming groups interested in learning about its historical and artistic-architectural aspects and as an important Franciscan reality in the Marche region . A new way of dialogue between religious and laical people, open and respectful of different identities.
    Fabriano is surrounded by lush landscapes and uncontaminated nature that makes it a good example of successful union between architecture and urban morphology.
  • Genga - Heremitage of Santa Maria infra Saxa Hermitage
    Numero verde: 800166250 Dall'estero: +39 0732 90090
    The stage includes the following destinations: Eremo di Santa Maria Infra Saxa e Santuario Madonna di Frasassi
    A few steps from the entrance of the Frasassi Caves, you will find the Heremitage of Santa Maria infra Saxa Hermitage, a building excavated in the rock known since XI century. In 1928 the Pope Leone XII, born in Genga, asked to the great architect Valadier to build an octagonal marble temple. The walk to the temple is not hard and once you are at destination you can still feel the particular combination between natural stone and religious presence.
  • Montefortino - Hermitage of S.Leonardo al Volubrio
    0736.859101 (Comune)
    The stage includes the following destinations: Eremo di San Leonardo

    The hermitage and sanctuary San Leonardo al Volubrio can be reached  from the Infernaccio Gorge in the Sibillini mountains walking along a trail that goes upwards to the right and passes into a centuries-old beech wood. The hermitage has been rebuilt by the Capuchin friar  Pietro Lavini,  who lived in solitude in the monastery for 25 years in order to bring it back to its  original splendour. The old Priory is one of the oldest and  nicest monasteries in the Marche. In the past it was the seat of an active Benedictine Priory, associated with the Monastery of Santa Croce of Fonte Avellana (PU) from the 12th to the 15th century; at a later date the Priory was assigned to the Camaldolese Hermits of MonteCorona, who kept it until the property passed to the State after the Italian Unification.

  • Ascoli Piceno- The hermitage of St. Mark
    0736 298334 (Ufficio turistico
    The stage includes the following destinations: Eremo di S. Marco
    The hermitage of St. Mark is in southern Ascoli Piceno. The religious buiding clings to the rock surface of San Marco Hill, near the hamlet Piagge, in the Montagna dei Fiori (Flower Mountain).
    This place, characterized by forests, pastures and difficult paths, was chosen by Cistercian monks who, in the search of silence and solitude for their spiritual life, settled here at the beginning of the 13th century.
    Besides, in compliance with the rule of essentiality of the Order, they built a simple hermitage and dedicated it to St. Mark. It was raised using as a basis a wide rock ledge, topped by a huge natural cave that opened in the middle of the boulder and access was possible thanks to a narrow gorge.
    Visible from Piazza del Popolo, it was built using roughly squared blocks of travertine and it’s possible to get to it through a mighty stone staircase, that, like a bridge, spans the deep ravine. Its front is made up of two adjacent buildings, i.e. the bell tower on the left and the facade divided horizontally by a double row of mullioned windows vertically divided by a capital in the central column.
    Between the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, the monastic life declined, going into crisis.