Passions & Places


Empty hermitages 

It was the year 1000 AD and men began to seek after a voluntary isolation from the world. They penetrated in thick woods, and suffering lots of difficulties they erected the first hermitages. They are scattered throughout Le Marche as a religious path to follow The places are well preserved, and even though they are out of easy reach are worth seeing. Years of desolation and uncontrolled changes of Nature have made these isolated places seem no more human doings, but part of Nature itself.

The rock perched hermitage of Grottafucile, near Fabriano has a stunning view over “Gola Rossa” (Red Gorge). It is also beautifully surrounded by Frasassi mountains and by a large Natural Preserve. The hermitage, a convent, is built on the cave where San Silvestro lived in solitude in 1200. Not much of the façade is left. Some traces of the small cells where the monk lived are anyway detectable. Among the ruins it is possible to see the ancient tank that San Silvestro himself wanted so as to provide water to the inhabitants of the convent. Unfortunately, though, weeds and brambles are covering everything by now.

Near Ascoli Piceno, we find the Eremo San Marco. It is reachable through steep paths lined by chestnuts and firs. There Cistercians monks lived in the thirteenth century. The façade boasts two orders of mullioned windows. The ground floor is enriched by a barrel vault smartly frescoed.

Sant Eustachio hermitage in Domora is, as well, nearly overwhelmed by the same element that first attracted people there: Nature. There in fact hermits excavated caves from the rocky mountains. A little church was also obtained from the mountain. It was then renovated following the Gothic fashion in the thirteenth century. It is a wonder to see the white little chapel stand out from the mountain.

Eremo dell’Acquarella -not very far from Albacina- and its little church dedicated to Holy Mary had great importance. Legend had in fact that it was founded by San Romualdo and that the first council of Capuchin monks was held there in 1529. What we know for real is that the place was chosen by monks since the first half of 1300. What is now left of the hermitage is not the original building. What is still standing dates in fact back to 1400. At the end of 1500 monks abandoned the place that became shelter for few hermits, and, according to 1800 evidence, for brigands.

Le Marche boast a large collection of places excavated from the rocks of the mountains by men in search of a closer dialogue with God (Eremo di San Girolamo on Cucco mountain, Santa Maria in Sasso Valley, Eremo di Santa Maria di Valcora, Cave of San Vittorino in Pioraco, Romita on Gemmo Mountain in Matelica, Eremo di san Bartolomero delle Carceri in Sefro and San Pietro in Esanatoglia).

Among the t hick woods and the steep cliffs these places so respectful of Nature are coming back to be part of it due to the negligence of men themselves.

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