The Paths of St. Francis

On the trail to the hermitage

Last week we decided to explore the St. Francis Trail that winds through the hills of Umbria. We drove to Assisi to visit the tourist office there to get more information or perhaps, a better map. However, we forgot that May 3 was the first day of their huge three day festival called Calendimaggio. The town was crowded with visitors who all came to see this fun reenactment of the Medieval times in Assisi.
After viewing some of the preparations, listening to the wonderful drums and seeing the colorful costumes, we decided to head for the hills where St. Francis walked and spent most of his time. The hermitage is called Eremo delle Carceri and it’s nestled against the woods of Mount Subasio. When you enter the park, there are all sorts of signs reminding us visitors to be quiet. It’s a peaceful and tranquil walk in the woods where St. Francis and his monks lived and prayed. There are lots of caves where the monks first lived and there is a lovely stone hermitage that has been added to the older structures. The original building was a small chapel where the monks prayed. It’s so amazing to walk along the same paths where these mystics walked. It’s easy to imagine how St. Francis and his followers were so in tune with nature when you spend time in these woods.
Outside of the hermitage park is the St. Francis trail that leads to other towns. During his lifetime, St. Francis and his followers walked these trails and visited other towns to preach about peace and living a simpler life. There was a lot of fighting going on in Italy, so the messages were not always welcome. In fact, St. Francis’ father actually locked him in a small cell to try to keep him from choosing his alternative lifestyle. You can actually see the cell in Assisi. However, St. Francis didn’t listen to his father and gave up a comfortable life for what he believed in. Not long after his death he was recognized as a saint and the famous Basilica was built. But it wasn’t until the year 2000 that the Path of Peace was established in his memory.
We hope to take a longer walk along the official trail that goes toward the town of Spello. We finally got a decent map from a nice couple from France that we met near the hermitage. Apparently, the trail is not as well marked as it could be. But, whether we walk the longer St. Francis Trail or not, we had a perfect day in the woods above Assisi.
Below: A gate to Assisi, before the festival, waiting, more waiting, reviewing road signs, views from the trail






About msraaka

I am an artist, writer and desktop publishing consultant living in the Pacific Northwest. After our first visit to Italy, my husband Bob and I have found ways to spend more and more time there and other countries in Europe. We love to travel, but especially to stay in one area and get a better sense of place. I love learning languages, so I continue to study Italian, French and Spanish so I can communicate a bit more with the locals. Even learning the basic greetings can make a big difference.
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2 Responses to The Paths of St. Francis

  1. Kelly Finnerty says:

    That is a walk I would love to take with you! I have been walking the trails of Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. We are heading to California in a few days to see Jo graduate. I love following your journey! Happy trails!

  2. NaidaGee says:

    This must have been a real highlight for you! I love how you guys blow into town and OH! There’s a festival! Great timing!

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