Passions & Places

Abbeys & Monasteries

Places of peace and silence

The recent research in the field of medieval arts and history highlight the presence in the Marches’ territory of almost 100 abbeys during the most favourable period for monasticism (9th-14th century). Abbeys are mainly located along the two ancient Roman routes, the Flaminia and the Salaria.

Such widespread presence was important for the reorganization and reviving of the territory after the long period of Longobard domination that led to the disappearance of many towns and the degradation of valleys. 

The most important centres for the spreading of Benedictine features were the Sant’Eutizio abbey in Valle Castoriana and the powerful Farfa abbey in the Sabina territory.

The reforming spirit of monasticism was re-launched in the Marches by the hermitic experience carried out by Saint Romuald (952-1027), whose monastic conception based on the close connection between hermitage and coenoby can be seen in the monastery of Fonte Avellana.

The word abbey defines an autonomous Benedictine monastery, exclusively dependent on the Holy Seat and ruled by an Abbot and equipped with assets (churches, lands, villages, parish churches, castles, mills). Abbeys were therefore different from priorates; monasteries presided over by a convent prior. Priorates usually depended on abbeys, though they could be autonomous ad equipped with less valuable assets.

The depending properties could stretch in such a vast territory that it was necessary to build the so-called prepositorships ruled by a “praepositus”. The abbot entrusted him with the power to monitor the economic and administrative status of faraway possessions. 

Some abbeys are now in ruins, however it is possible to identify their planimetric structure, they are situated in wonderful landscapes where silence reigns, visitors can be projected back to the time of the first Benedictine settlements. 

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