Passions & Places

Eremo dei Frati Bianchi

Eremo dei Frati Bianchi
History of the Eremo delle Grotte

The Eremo delle Grotte is located in the “Corvo valley”. It is set in a beautiful century old wood that has been declared Protected Floristic Area. 

The hagiographic tradition wants the hermitage to have been founded by S.Romualdo in 1000AD. 

The first written evidence of a cave derived from the mountain side dates back to 1294. There is also written evidence of its being inhabited by Giovanni Maris first and Matteo Sabbatini until 1320.

The caves were then occupied from 1420 to 1466 by the Opinion Friars that were persecuted by the Church that thought them to be heretics.

The hermitage also sheltered Antonio da Recanati, a Camaldolese monk from 1509 and 1522. He dig the first church in the tuff. 

Paolo Giustiniani, an other Camaldolese monk began the first building works in 1524. He founded an hermitage based on the Coronese model. 

He built three bodies against the tuff mountain face surrounded by boundary wall with entrance. The three buildings are linked to each other and create a open trapezium on the South Side.

A “crown of 5 lauras” (collection of small cells constituted of small independent houses with fenced  kitchen garden and a common church) was built in 1586. 

When two lauras were built, 2 buildings of the original body were restored and it seems that also the bell tower dates back to those years. 

Next to the monastery there was also a pilgrim accommodation that was then included in the whole structure in later years. Some century old trees had to be cut down because they were threatening the stability of the cells in 1660.

The head of the Caves was Don Apollonio Tucchi  in 1783. He was keen and expert in architecture and decided to restore and enlarge the hermitage. He drawn the projects himself. 

Two of the lauras were demolished and the fourth side of the trapezium created by the remaining 3 lauras was closed by a new building. 

It is parallel to the “Corvo Ditch” and it included the pilgrim accommodation. At this stage the yard was partly occupied by the enlargements of S.Romualdo chapel and S.Giuseppe Church.

The Eremo delle Grotte was abandoned in may 1810. The conquering Napoleon had in fact ordered that any catholic institute had to be closed if it hosted less than 24 prelates. 

The edict wasn’t effective any more in 1820. But it wasn’t before two years that monks went back to the Eremo delle Grotte. The inside decorations of the chapter house, library, S. Romualdo chapel and of S.Giuseppe church were made in 1826. 

When Italy was united in 1861 the hermitage changed its name from Eremo delle Grotte di Massaccio to Eremo delle Grotte di Cupramontana. 

In 1866 though and edict wanted all the religious institutes occupied by male to be commandeered by 1st January 1867. 

In May 1874 the hermits went back to the hermitage thanks to the prince Scipione Borghese Salviati that bought the place and donated it to the Congregation before the Government expropriated it. 

The hermitage was definitely abandoned in 1925 and it is now under the care of the priest of S.Lorenzo Parish in Cupramontana.

Eremo dei Frati Bianchi 

The History of the Eremo delle Grotte

White Friars Wood

Hermitage restoration

Gloria Focante
per Paradise Possible

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