In the eastern area of central Italy's Umbria region, a few kilometers past the medieval hill town of Gubbio, is Monte Cucco Regional Park and an area known as the Ring of Monasteries because of the many ancient abbeys and monasteries found there. The Ring of Monasteries also extends into the neighboring Marche region.
Although some of the abbeys, like Sant' Emiliano built in the 11th century at the confluence of two rivers, are partially in ruins they are in picturesque locations. Others, such as the early 11th century Sitria Abbey shown in the photo, have been restored and can be visited.
Two monasteries are still in use today. San Girolamo di Monte Cucco (see photo on page 2) is in an isolated position on the mountain side and does not allow visitors. Fonte Avellano is a Camodelese Monastery that is still in use and can be visited on guided tours (see Page 3 for details).
Sant' Emiliano and Sitria Abbeys are in the area of Sheggia - Pascelupo and we were treated to a guided tour by the Scheggia Minister of Culture. More abbeys and monasteries can be visited in the areas of Fossato di Vico, Costacciaro, and Sigillo. You can pick up the booklet, Parishes, Abbeys and Monasteries between Marche and Umbria in English, at the the Commune (Piazza Luceoli, 7) or Pro Loco of Scheggia or from the tourist office in Fabriano or Gualdo Tadino.
2014 Update: Sant' Emiliano Abbey is now open for guided visits daily from May - September and on weekends the rest of the year, 10:00 - 12:30 and 15:00 - 18:00. To schedule other times or for more information, email Alessandro at firstname.lastname@example.org
The tiny restored village of Pascelupo sits on a hill in Monte Cucco Park and there's a great view of San Girolamo Monastery from the village. Bed and Breakfast La Piazzetta di Pascelupo is a great place to stay for those who like peace and quiet.
Continue to Page 2 to find out more about it.