Hidden places In Umbria: from Menotre falls to the Sassovivo abbey

29 July 2021

Third article made in partnership with the Aristide Merloni Foundation and BestofTheApps srl, as part of the Appennines Discovery project. As usual, a special thanks goes to Dr. Francesco Fantini who from time to time guides us to discover our wonderful territory.

Today we will talk about the hidden pearls of the Umbrian region.

Our path takes us through astonishing hidden locations in Umbria: rich in spirituality, history and breathtaking natural wonders. We find ourselves in the Menotre Valley, inside Altolina Park, where the flowing river and its fresh waters have given life to a unique natural environment, set apart by water falls hidden within the forest. Water power has been employed by man since ancient times: papermaking activities were developed on this very land, strategically positioned next to the riverbed. Near the Pale Castle we can see numerous monasteries, which are proof of the presence of Benedictine Monks in the area of Foligno. Our journey then leads us to the suggestive Santa Maria Giacobbe Hermitage (embedded within the mountain), the Sassovivo Abbey and the Beato Alano Chapel, from where the renowned Passeggiata dell’Abbate (Abbate walk) starts.

The itinerary entails a ring-like route from Pale to the Santa Maria Giacobbe Hermitage, passing through Menotre Falls.

A detour of this circular route leads us to the Sassovivo Abbey, which can be reached in about 1 hour and a half on foot. The mountain cloister inside the abbey, is an extremely rare example of Romanesque architecture and sculpture from 1229.

The trail starts at Belfiore, from here we take the path on the right indicated on the sign, and walk up amid the olive groves. We then continue along the small, travertine-lined main road, skirted by some scattered houses. Following along the trail, we reach the Menotre River, a tributary of the Topino River, jumping and dancing playfully between the rocks.


The first waterfall that we come across is called “Cascata delle Grotte” (Cave waterfall), because of two ‘mouths’ visible under the cascading water.  The environment surrounding this waterfall is like no other, as it is surrounded by Black Poplars: a very rare variety of woodland tree.  As we continue up the path, we wind through limestone rocks that preserve fossilized organisms. Along the trail, following the riverbed, we find numerous falls and spectacular glimpses of Menotre, as well as an ancient aqueduct, which conveys water towards the valley. At the final waterfall, there are the remains of the seventeenth century Elisei family summer estate; one of the most ancient families in Foligno, dating back to the XII century.

Carrying on down the road we come to the Pale city arch. From here, we can choose either to continue our ring-like path towards the Maria Giacobbe Hermitage, or proceed towards the 2nd stop, which takes us to the Sassovivo Abbey. If we choose to reach the Maria Giacobbe Hermitage (525 m from the arch), we take the “del Pianello” path on the left. Once we have arrived at the hermitage, set within the mountain, we can sit back and take in its breathtaking views. 


Articol by Francesco Fantini

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