Our closest town is Umbertide. It’s origins, like many towns and cities in Umbria are ancient and was certainly an important emporium on the banks of the Tiber for trades between the Etruscans and Umbrians. In Roman times it was known as Pitulum in homage of its ruling family. While it existed in Roman times, it really developed as a town during the Middle Ages when it’s original name was Fratte, but changed to Umbertide in 1863, in honour either of Umberto, whose sons had rebuilt the town, or King Umberto I, crown prince of Italy at the time of Unification. Take your pick. It is large enough to have a vibrant life while small enough to wander and enjoy the old world atmosphere. Pretty piazzas have outdoor cafés and some good restaurants where you can sample the region’s bounty.
The Abbey of San Salvatore di Montecorona
Heading away from Umbertide, at the foot of Monte Corona you will reach The Abbey of San Salvatore di Montecorona. It is one the most important Benedictine abbeys in Umbria. Thought to be founded in 1008-1009. Over time, it became an important economic centre and a large estate. It has remained intact and is still one of the biggest farms in the region. The ancient basement crypt is of considerable artistic and cultural value. It is architecturally beautiful and has interesting remains of frescoes.
Prato di Sotto sits on the slopes above the old, walled, Medieval village of Santa Giuliana. Santa Giuliana was originally built in the 13th century as a look out across the Tiber Valley’s main route north. Lookouts would spot hostiles traipsing through the valley and send a messenger to alert the authorities in Perugia. It was a forward post. Italy did not unify until 1870. Until then, there were many separate states, so Perugia was one of many going it alone. Places like Santa Giuliana were common back then, particularly on the top of mountains with strategic views to other valleys.
Monastery of Monte Corona
Continuing up colle di Montecorona past our hamlet, you reach the Monastery of Monte Corona. In 1530, this enormous monastery was built on top of the mountain surrounded by a wall of enclosure, hence the name of Corona. A form of semi-eremitical life is still practiced in the Camaldolese Hermitage. It consists of a wise balance between the solitary (eremitic) life and community (cenobitic) life. On a Sunday, you often catch a glance at the monks taking a walk together around the hills.