Sunday, August 30, 2009

Via Francigena: Reaching the Goal

Our goal for this part of the journey along the Via Francigena was to reach the Abbey of Sant' Antimo. That was 88 km from Bolsena, and it included a couple of mountain top destinations along the way.
The view as we left Lake Bolsena.

Birdwalk: San Lorenzo Nuovo
The town seal.
Shortly after leaving Bolsena I stopped in the town of San Lorenzo Nuovo. It is "new" because it was built for the survivors of a malaria epidemic in the 18th century, replacing their "old" town. The town was built in only four years (1774-1778) and is an example of a 18th century town plan designed by the architect Francesco Navone. The town has an octagonal layout with the neoclassic Church of San Lorenzo on the one side. The piazza in front of the church is crossed by the Via Cassia, going north-south. This main street is crossed by wide street going to the west, from which a network of smaller streets goes outward in parallel and perpendicular lines.
I enjoyed this arm holding a crucifix on the side of the pulpit
inside the Church of San Lorenzo.

Our first "planned" stop of the day was the Basilica of S. Sepolcro in Acquapendente. The town is named after its many little cascades flowing towards a small river which marks the natural boundary between Lazio and Tuscany.
The crypt of the basilica has a replica of the Holy Sepulchre, built as a shrine that contains a blood-stained stone which came from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
A detail of one of the beautiful altarpieces by della Robbia in the basilica.

The next part of the days trip was up the mountain to Radicofani.

Radicofani's mountain top landmark is a castle tower, from the time of Charlemagne, that can be seen for many kilometers as you approach the town.

The Romanesque church of San Pietro has some beautiful works by della Robbia.

Vincenzo as he leaves Radicofani, making his way to our last stop, the Abbey of Sant' Antimo.

We have almost arrived. Vincenzo is pointing to the abbey.

The Abbey of Sant' Antimo emerged as a Benedictine abbey from a small oratory built in 352. Legend has it that Charlemagne was the founder of the abbey and he contributed money for the construction. By the 1800's there was no longer a monastic community at Sant' Antimo and when the Papal States came to an end in 1870, the property was taken over by the Italian government. There have been various government directed restorations since then. In 1992 a community of Cannons Regular (Augustinians) began making their home at the Abbey.

We joined the monks for vespers. After experiencing the prayerful Gregorian chant and incense in the Abbey church, it was time for us to conclude our journey along this part of the Via Francigena.
Vincenzo took the wheels off the bike to put it in the car for the drive back home to Rome.
We are looking forward to other journeys along this road.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful trip. Congratulations to Vincenzo for the cycling! Thank you for sharing, it made me homesick, but in a good way. Paolo

Anonymous said...

WOW! What a fantastic journey! I loved reading all of the stories of the towns. There is so much tradition and beauty in so many hidden corners of Italy! Thank you for sharing this with us! I am longing to come back to Italy for a visit even more after reading your adventures. Wishing you peace and all good things!


Lorna said...

Will and I went to vespers at the Mission house of the Benedictine monks at the Benedictine Missionary Priory in Schuyler, Nebraska last night. We thought of you and wished we were good picture and blog makers! The mission house is built into the hillside, just the top of the chapel is above ground! The architect they selected is Mormon! Thank you for sharing and Happy Birthday Sept. 2nd!