“Now everything is silent”: The Little Temple
In 1876 an Italian poet, Giosue Carducci, wrote a famous poem called Alle fonti del Clitunno, “At the Springs of Clitunno” (River). It dealt precisely with this site, that is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some lines from another poem are reported on Carducci’s monument in Perugia, in the city park (Giardini) named after him, where the Rocca Paolina had existed. Located in the territory of Campello, near Spoleto, the Springs of Clitunno River will bewitch your soul with the delights of its uncontaminated, silent Nature. Underground springs flow into a small lake with still, crystal clear waters, where swans, ducks, fish, frogs live. The surrounding vegetation is luxuriant, so that all kinds of trees mirror themselves in the transparent water of the lake, which thus acquires different nuances of green.
The Hollow below the Town
Orvieto lies on top of a huge rock of volcanic origin, made of tuff and pozzolana. Visitors cannot but be charmed by this plateau, called la Rupe (the Cliff), that rises and dominates the valley all around, with its woods and vines. Man did not only colonize this rocky habitat, and add all sorts of buildings, up to the cathedral and towers, but – in all epochs – also dig underground hollows. Tuff has been housing a town below the town for centuries. So, Orvieto can be also visited in the depths of its own ground, and can boast unique underground areas. Some 1,200 artificial underground hollows have been counted; they were dug from the Etruscan Era to the Renaissance, and still later on. Under the town streets, see tunnels and rooms of all kinds: culverts, wells, silos, columbaria (dovecotes), furnaces, Medieval dumps. So, a curious symbiosis can be sensed between the Orvieto people and the rock – human engineering talent, the needs of everyday life, and Nature here mix by making an alliance that still nowadays surprises us.
Hiking on the Orvieto Cliff Ring
Introducing the Tour: The Cliff Ring
The town of Orvieto can answer very many kinds of interests: art, culture, food, ancient history, and even – Nature and sport! All these issues are linked and connected by the very structure of the town as it has been shaped during the centuries, rising on top of its tuff cliff (called la Rupe).
From Grotto to Shrine
The architectural complex called “Hermitage of Carceri” started and developed around a grotto in which Saint Francis of Assisi used to retreat in order to pray. The Hermitage of Carceri is a place of memory, kept alive by the Franciscan friars who still live there; and a place of witness, as well, permeated with spirituality. Here preserved is not only the very place where Francis talked with God, but also the way in which the little poor friar kept in contact with the Lord while closely in touch with Nature. Francis in fact immersed himself in the contemplation of all created things, which according to him were a sign of God’s love – to the extent of calling even the smallest natural beauty his “sister,” as his biographer, Saint Bonaventure, says: “While considering that all things share a common origin, he felt all the more full of compassion, and called all creatures, however small, by the name of brother or sister” (Legenda Maior, VIII.6). In a thick wood at the feet of Mount Subasio, some 2,400 feet on sea level, during Francis’ time there were natural grottoes and just a very small church called Saint Mary of Carceri. The warm color of the stones, the material in which the church and later the whole shrine was built, is in perfect harmony with the green of Nature all about, and makes this site, embedded in Umbrian woods, a really unique place.