The enchanting abbeys and hermitages of Le Marche
Take a relaxing stroll in a place so serene you can almost hear your own soul.
Our journey starts at Abbey Sant’Elena and continues on to Cupramontana. Here in the craggy, secluded surroundings of the ancient castle you’ll find two important religious settlements known in the area as ‘the Hermitage of the Frati Neri’ and “the Hermitage of the Frati Bianchi’ after the respective colours worn by the monks that lived there.
This beautiful abbey lies in the total serenity of the valley basin, surrounded by the green hills of Le Marche. The impressive structure was founded in 1005 by San Romualdo.
For a long time Sant’Elena was the most important Benedictine abbey in Vallesina on a social, political and civil scale. In the 12th century it had to its name 50 churches and 10 castles and villas, as well as all the land and property belonging to each one.
The abbey is a large Romanesque-Gothic building made of small blocks of stone that give it the look of a fortified church. It’s the sort of place where you should take your time, stopping to soak in your surroundings. The Romanesque-Byzantine décor gives the structure an almost surreal sense of solemnity, with elegant lines stretching from the entrance throughout the inside.
Abbazia Di Sant’Elena Via Sant’Elena, 34 60048 Serra San Quirico (Ancona) Tel 330-912617 0731-814730
Where to stay & where to eat
In the historic centre of the medieval town of Vallesina, in the Parco della Gola della Rossa e di Frasassi, Le Copertelle has revived the12th Century covered defensive walkway of Lombard origin that looms above the castle walls. Here the perfumed air of the countryside and reminders of a bygone age captivate the passer-by.
‘Martelletto’ was originally the nickname given to the family that lived in this house until shortly after the war. The name then came to be used for the residents and the surrounding area, which is slightly nearer to the valley than the centre of Domo. All the ingredients used in the agriturismo’s kitchen are locally sourced.
The Hermitage of the Frati Bianchi
Also known as the Hermitage of the Grotte for its vast caverns dug out of claystone, this monastic retreat was a place of prayer and penitence until the 11th Century.
Perched on an isolated escarpment and partly carved out of sandstone, the Hermitage of the Frati Bianchi was founded, so tradition says, around the turn of the millennium by San Romualdo (like its counterpart Sant’Elena). The first written account describes a dug-out cave in the area existing from 1294, inhabited by the hermit monks Giovanni Maris and Matteo Sabbatini until 1320. The caves played a crucial role between 1420 and 1466, as they acted as a refuge for the Fraticelli dell’Opinione who were then persecuted by the Church as heretics.
From the 15th Century onwards the hermitage was lived in and used by the Camaldolesian order, who added new structures in plasterwork to the original claystone wall. These were separate cells, which came to be known as the “corona di 5 laure” (the crown of five laurels). Each was a small self-contained house with its own enclosed allotment, but all sharing the same church.
The hermitage is famous for having been home to many who have since been beatified or made saints. Among these is the Blessed Paolo Giustiniani, who in 1520 laid down the foundations of the Benedictine Camaldolesian congregation of Monte Corona.
It’s an architectural marvel, in the heart of a protected wildflower area, where nature moves to the rhythm of the stream known as “Fossato del Corvo” (the ditch of the raven).
The Hermitage of the Frati Neri
A short distance from Cupramontana at the edge of the wood stands this Camaldolesian monastic priory, which is also known as Romitella delle Mandriole.
In 1452 the Camaldolesians were succeeded by the Franciscans, and the church of San Giacomo underwent several reconstructions, the last of which was between 1782 and 1786. You can still see the beautiful glazed terracotta altar (1529), locally produced and influenced by the art of the famous Florentine plasterer, Della Robbia.
Where to stay
Agriturismo La Distesa - Cuoramontana
Agriturismo La Distesa is located in Esinante di Cupramontana in a natural oasis protected by the Le Marche region, near the start of the path which runs between the hermitage and the wood of the Frati Bianchi.
Cantinone B&B and Holiday Apartments - Cupramontana
An unusual country house in stone for a Bed & Breakfast with holiday apartments, located on a gently rolling hill with lovely views across the valley of the Esino river. Built in 1905, this historic building used to be the central point for gathering, pressing and storing Verdicchio wine.
All the Benefits of Booking through Paradise Possible
• 10% discount on all accommodations recommended by Paradise Possible
• possibility of visiting historical assets that are not usually available and not opened to the public
• assistance of experienced guides in art history with interpreter
• availability of the municipalities where the property is located
• availability of tourist reception at the farm contracted
• quality of courses tailor-made by experts for every itinerary
• assistance of experienced guides to adventure sports on the nature parks
• flexibility to take advantage of the itinerary with the same services for arrangement in group or in pairs.
Costs and methods of Payment :
• Each itinerary will be priced individually;
• For every booking of the itinerary it will be required a pay contribution for the number of people who will benefit of the Itinerary (*) to Paradise Possible and the 30% deposit for booking of accommodation at the selected facility.
• The methods of payment will be indicated by Paradise Possible, while the facility itself will show its own.
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