How to reach the park
, Railway station of Assisi - railway line Rome-Foligno-Terentola of the Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato FF.SS.
By car or regular service bus
, the connections to the protected natural area of the Monte Subasio are: mainway through the Tiber valley: the S.S. 75 Centrale Umbra and the railway line Terontola-Foligno; main way through the Topino valley: the S.S. Flaminia and the railway line Orte-Falconara.
, The provincial road S.P. n. 249 di Spello at NNE of the Monte Subasio, reaches Assisi, Armenzano, S. Giovanni, Collepino and Spello on an altitude between 300 and 800 metres above sea level.
The summit of the Monte Subasio can be reached on a panoramic road, which connects the sanctuary of the Eremo delle Carceri with Collepino. At the hermitage Eremo delle Carceri one arrives on the provinical road S.P. n. 251 di S. Benedetto.
The south-west slope of the Monte Subasio is crossed by the main road S.S. 147 delle Viole. The provincial road S.P. n.248 di Petrignano di Assisi leads to the localities Palazzo Petrignano, Torchiagina and joins the main road S.S. 318 Perugia - Ancona via Gualdo Tadino.
Finally the main road S.S. 444 connects Assisi with Pian della Pieve, S. Presto - G.Tadino. Distances from the most important towns: Perugia 20 km, Rome 160 km, Florence 185 km.
The park operators
The association Parco del Monte Subasio has almost daily contacts with:
1. The Comunità Montana del Subasio, which has its office at Valtopina, phone number 0742/75191; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. The Comando Stazione Ex A.S.F.D., which has its seat in the Corso Umberto I - Assisi
3. The Comando Stazione C.F.S., which has its seat at Santa Maria degli Angeli - Assisi 4. The communal administrations of the four communes that are part of the protected natural area, which are: Assisi, Spello, Valtopina, Nocera Umbra.
The Park of Monte Subasio has drawn up an agreement with the Comunità Montana del Subasio and with the C.A.I. section of Foligno concerning the control and the maintenance of the paths of the park area.
The Park of Monte Subasio has drawn up two agreements with the two associations for hang-gliding and paragliding, the Top Run of Spello and the Ali Subasio of Rivotorto di Assisi concerning the regulations for hang-glliding and paragliding activities.
The Comunità Montana
: Foresters · Agro-Zootechnics · Zoogeography · Infrastructure: - secondary rural and forestry road system - rural waterworks - exploitation of existing springs - recovery of the rural real estate - laying out and maintenance of paths · Particular maintenance of streams and ditches · Fire-fighting service in collaboration with the regional operating structure in the period of highest risk (summer) · Emergency service for natural calamity and particularly heavy athmospheric adversity.
INTERVENTIONS ON THE FORESTRY SECTOR
: Improvement of the deciduous and conifere forests · Re-establishment of the forestry road system · Laying down and maintenance of firescreen zones for the fire prevention · Reconstruction of the forest through the planting of autochthonuous plants in the degraded and thin forests · Restoration of areas involved in former mining activities through morphological reclamation and the readaptation of the area through the planting of autochthonuous species · Restoration of areas polluted with litter · Restoration of forest areas damaged by fire · Fire-fighting emergency service.
: Construction of pasture meadows and improvement of and cultivation cures for the pastures · Construction of enclosures of chestnut wood poles and wire net and/or barbed wire to subdivide the pastures in sections · Construction of waterinp places for the animals at grass and construction of rural waterworks and ponds on the hills · Interventions for ordinary and extraordinary maintenance of the agro-zootechnics structures on the administrated territories in the property of the state.
: Control of the wild animals in collaboration with the association Ente Parco Monte Subasio (particularly a selective shooting down of the wild boars) · Control of the wild animals (roe deer) liberated in groups in the state area of the Monte Subasio · Ordinary maintenance of the birds' waterplaces · Possibility to launch autochthonuous species (hares, partridges) in collaboration with the province of Perugia and the association Ente Parco Monte Subasio · Monitoring of wild species in the protected natural area.
: Secondary rural and forestry road system · Rural waterworks · Exploitation of existing springs · Recovery of the rural real estate · Laying out and maintenance of paths.
VARIOUS INTERVENTIONS IN THE TERRITORY OF THE COMUNITA' MONTANA
: Extraordinary maintenance of streams and ditches · Fire-fighting service in collaboration with the regional operative structure in the period of highest risk (summer) · Emergency service for natural calamity and particularly heavy athmospheric adversity.
DIDACTIC ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT BY THE COMUNITA' MONTANA MONTE SUBASIO
: Collaboration with the associations Parco "Monte Subasio" e "Colfiorito" to organize guided visits in the respective protected natural areas by the region Umbria with the regional law L.R. N° 9/95. The subjects treated during these visits are: 1. Vegetational-climatic-geologic-morphoanthropologic and historic aspects 2. Aspects of the activities and administration of the Comunità Montana 3. Faunal aspects 4. Aspects of the use of the skill of laying out and maintenance of paths 5. Aspects of the production of clean alternative electric energy (an aeolian-photovoltaic installation is working) in the state building in the locality "Bandinelle", part of Armezzano in the commune of Assisi, which was carried out by the electricity provider Enel, section of Perugia, with the standard household connection of 3 kW 6. Naturalistic aspects connected with the ecological Francescan message
Saint Francis and "his" mountain
The forests, which surround Assisi, have become famous all over the world thanks to the figure of Saint Francis, also known as the Other Christ for his high spirituality which is indissolubly connected to nature, to ascetic meditation and to places, which still today are wrapped in an atmosphere of legends, religion and poetry, so that one could almost await to be projected back in time for centuries, being surrounded by the winter mist that touches the mountain. In the forests still seem to resound the echoes of antique fairy tales and legends, of sacred mysterious airs that loose themselves in traditions where reality cannot be distinguished from pagan myths and Christian miracles.
Between the ilex and the green oaks that surround the hermitage Eremo delle Carceri at the slopes of the Monte Subasio, four kilometres east of Assisi, Saint Francis retired in prayer and lived his deep identification with nature and its creatures, the good-natured ones like the birds as well as the dangerous and aggressive ones like the wolf of Gubbio. In the cave of the Saint, at the convent of the Eremo delle Carceri, still today is kept the stone bed and the altar with a wooden crucifix, probably from the 14th century, and on its walls a fresco portrays the episode where Saint Francis preached to the birds (Fioretto XVI). The episode with the wolf of Gubbio (Fioretto XXI) and the one with the freed turtledoves (Fioretto XXII) underline one of the main outlines of Saint Francis' life: his love for all creatures, which was full of respect, gentleness and dialogue drenched with spirituality; a universal charity, which embraced the animated creatures and also those inanimate ones so that he even overcame the religious differences with the Muslim brothers in the orient during the time of the crusades (Fioretto XXIV). Saint Francis' humanity was clear, overflowing with gratefulness for nature's richness and the saint discovered the greatness of his vocation in absolute poverty and simplicity. The life of Saint Francis was not just a shelter in contemplation, but also preaching, that allowed everybody to understand the message of Christian spirituality: the birds that heard the Saint's sermon understood the importance of the diffusion of the message in every part of the world, so that they "took flight singing wonderful songs, and according to the cross which their Saint Francis had made they divided in four parts and one flew to the east, the other to the west, and the other part flew to noon and the fourth part to the north wind, and every host went there singing wonderful tunes . so the preaching of the Cross of Christ renewed for Saint Francis was brought in all parts of the world for him and his brothers". Just before this miracle Saint Francis had retired into the forest with brother Masseo, understanding that his mission was to preach to the world "for the health of the others". In an atmosphere of crusaders who wore coats of mail and shining armours, the figure of Saint Francis in the long run seems to have been the winner that diffused a message of solidarity and not of violence. One could even think of Saint Francis as a kind of Christian Druid who was able to understand and to speak the language of nature, a pacific mediator between the ancient pagan legends of the zone of Assisi and the Christian message of love and fratenity between the men and between them and the reality they were living. It is no coincidence that also in the Upper Church of the Basilica of Saint Francis at Assisi the frescoes of the Giottesque cycle do not portray the saint as a solitary ascetic but as a man among men, on the background of beautiful landscapes and refined buildings; for this reason it is considered the merit of Giotto to have contributed in a substantial way to the divulgation of the stories of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. Luigi Salvatorelli, a historian from the 20th century, describing with extraordinary lyricism what has been defined the "city of the soul" wrote in his work "Life of Saint Francis of Assisi": "From all Italy Umbria is nearest to God" and, referring just at Saint Francis' land, goes on stating that "the shining view of Assisi arouses the impression of a distant mysterious and inaccessible paradise. Sometimes it happens that on a calm autumn afternoon, when the sun is already setting, in this absorbed contemplation enters the slow, solemn, somehow swinging sound of the bell of the very near Basilica, but it seems to come from a mysterious distance, directly from the sky. Sound and vision, the one in the other, abduct the spirit: one does not look and not listen any more, time cancels out and a moment seems a century. For this moment Assisi is the hall of eternity". It is as if purity and simplicity join in the beauty of the mountain and the medieval town of Assisi; the measuring of the power of the Francescan spirit is a miracle which reflects in every aspect of everyday life: the town's wish to overcome the material values is expressed in the harmonic couple "peace and good", which becomes the synthesis of the Francescan brotherhood and solidarity. Assisi and its mountain have been defined "an island of faith between sky and earth", but one should not make absolute the Francescan mysticism bearing in mind the importance of man, seen in his wholeness and his complexity, who does not live alienated from reality but inside it, and the message of Saint Francis is to lead man to justice and respect for the whole nature. It is about values, which go beyond mysticism and religion and are recognized as universal values, so that the town of Saint Francis housed the historical meeting of pope John Paul II with the representatives of the religions from all over the world in occasion of the World Day of Prayer for Peace. So Saint Francis has become a landmark concerning peace, environment, culture and human rights.
Dante and the Monte Subasio
"Between Tupino, and the wave, that falls from blest Ubaldo's chosen hill, there hangs rich slope of mountain high, whence heat and cold are wafted through Perugia's eastern gate: And Norcera with Gualdo, in its rear mourn for their heavy yoke. Upon that side, where it doth break its steepness most, arose a sun upon the world, as duly this from Ganges doth". (Dante, Divine Comedy, Paradise XI, 43-51)
The "mountain high" of Dante's immortal verses is the massif that culminates in the Monte Subasio, the fertile and sunny western slope of which falls down to the valley of Spoleto and to Perugia, between the two valleys of the Topino and the Chiascio.
The Chiascio gathers the water of the Topino and flows into the Tiber, which is indicated in turn as "wave, that falls" from the hill of Gubbio near to which, on the Monte Igino, the Blessed Ubaldo Baldassini, bishop of Gubbio from 1129 to 1160, led a hermit's life and was buried. Perugia, which rises opposite to the Monte Subasio, perceives the heat and the cold from its eastern part, because the big calcareous mass of the mountain intensifies the heat in summer and the cold in the winter season. The gate Porta Sole, through which Perugia perceived these climatic variations, opened in the eastern part of the Etruscan city wall just facing the mountain of Assisi: this gate is now destroyed, but a quarter of the town centre has kept its name. On the opposite slope, at north-east of the massif of the Monte Subasio, are the towns Nocera and Gualdo Tadino; for them the Monte Subasio constitutes a "jeavy yoke", because it takes them away some precious hours of sun and warmth. Some commentators of Dante's verses wanted to understand this yoke as a political allusion concerning the oppressive government exercised by Perugia on Nocera and Gualdo Tadino between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century, but it does not seem credible that Dante inserted this political observation in the context of the description of the environmental panorama of Umbria and its mountain. Just at the point where the slope is less steep a new light for the world was born with Saint Francis of Assis, a sun so bright and full of revitalizing virtues, that it can be compared with the material sun, when it rises at the time of the vernal equinox from the river Ganges regarding the meridian of Jerusalem, from the real eastern part of the world.
Etymology of the term "Subasio"
In ancient times the mountain of Assisi was called Asio, a word that may have indicated a stretch of uncultivated land uphill from the town; later on the name was used for the whole mountain complex with reference to its flat grass summit. The word "asium" denoted a field or more generally a piece of uncultivated land next to dwellings or temples; the same term recurs in some medieval parchments to indicate a grass place, normally not used for cultivation, an open space or green with reference to the neighbouring zone. In the medieval documents the Monte Subasio was called with various names and its definite name seemed not to be found yet, considering its versions: Suaxerus, Subbagio, Sub Asisio, Subassisio, Sub axio, Sub asio and also sub Asio.
In the medieval time the "asio" par excellence was indeed the flat grass mountain peak; to indicate zones on the slopes of the Monte Subasio it was said they were "below the Asio". In the form used still today the term Subasio defines the mountain that was below the town Assisi (sub Asisio), but for sure not from the geographic point of view, but in political sense.
The faunistic patrimony of the Monte Subasio is rather rich and significant, also if the strong antropic pressure - as for the flora - has determined the extinction of some species, affecting mainly the aquatic ones; the fish species are just three: the roach (Rutilus rubilio), the varione (Leuciscus souffia) and the brown trout (Salmo truta), partly reintroduced; since some scores of years the phenomenons of reascent, which brought in the Tescio species like the eel (Anguilla anguilla), the barbel (Barbus plebejus) and the chub (Leuciscus cephalus).
- Collaboration with the associations Parco "Monte Subasio" e "Colfiorito" to organize guided visits in the respective protected natural areas by the region Umbria with the regional law L.R. N° 9/95. The subjects treated during these visits are: 1. Vegetational-climatic-geologic-morphoanthropologic and historic aspects 2. Aspects of the activities and administration of the Comunità Montana 3. Faunal aspects 4. Aspects of the use of the skill of laying out and maintenance of paths 5. Aspects of the production of clean alternative electric energy (an aeolian-photovoltaic installation is working) in the state building in the locality "Bandinelle", part of Armezzano in the commune of Assisi, which was carried out by the electricity provider Enel, section of Perugia, with the standard household connection of 3 kW 6. Naturalistic aspects connected with the ecological Francescan message.
Corps of foresters
The statal Corps of Foresters provides interested teachers a didactic and logistic support, which is directed to the naturalistic knowledge of the regional Park of the Monte Subasio and the sensitization for the present environmental problems. The didactic activity, which addresses the pupils of the Park administration and the Communità Montana Monte Subasio. The meetings, held by qualified personnel, are prefaced by a brief presentation of the Corps of Foresters and its activities. The theoretical lessons, which take place mainly at the schools, usually are propaedeutic; the introduced material (video-cassettes, lesson notes, slides, posters) is commented and examined closely basing on the didactic purposes and on the interest of the pupils. During the guided visits, which take place inside the territory of the Park, the pupils have the opportunity to know in a more complete way the natural environment through the observation and the identification of plants, animals and geologic phenomenons. Both for didactic and climatic necessity the theoretical lessons they are usually made in the winter period, while the guided visits take place in the spring-summer period. During the year 2000 the personnel of the Command Station M. Subasio' in Assisi and that of the office of the Administration management ex A.S.F.D. of Perugia has met and accompanied more than 700 pupils of varied scholastic institutes. In the context of an agreement with the national boarding school of Assisi has been carried out a summer stage for scholastic orientation "School - World of Work" of altogether 60 hours. The pupils of the secondary school specializing in sciences who have participated at this school-work experience have been able to increase their scientific knowledge and to learn to know working possibilities in the environmental sector.
For further information: Comando Stazione 'Monte Subasio', Viale Umberto I n° 1, 06081 Assisi (phone and fax 075/812285) or Ufficio Amministrazione Gestione ex A.S.F.D. per l'Umbria, Via XIV Settembre n° 69, 06100 Perugia (phone 075/5724284, fax 075/ 5736167).
Umbrian Mineralogic and Paleontologic Group
- The Umbrian Mineralogic and Paleontologic Group provides in collaboration with the Park administration the schools and all other interested persons free guides for the visit of the permanent exhibition of fossils in the Park. During 2003 has been noted with satisfaction that the initiative has aroused the interest of many schools of the area with reservations for visits of the museum and the Park. Interested persons are asked to turn to the Park association.
The Walk to the 8 Gates
The town Assisi is part of the Park of the Monte Subasio, so a long walk in the Park can be combined with the visit in the ancient walls of the town. The present itinerary was proposed by Giuseppe Bambini and Pino Scattaro in the journal "Assisi Mia". It starts at Polta Cappuccini, follows on the left an uphill road and reaches the height of the Rocchicciola's (or Minor Forttress') keep, where the wanderer turns left and going downhill along the city wall he arrives at the gate Porta Perlici. Here he enters the city and when he keeps going to the right he follows the Via di Porta Perlici up to the arc called of the Archiccioli, in front of which begins a marked path, initially downhill, then, following the curves up the hill of the Fortress, it leads to the feet of the tower at the end of the communication trench of the Fortress, while along the path on its left side can be admired a beautiful view on the valley of the Tescio and the north-east slope of the Monte Subasio. Leaving behind the Tower of the Fortress following the path along the city wall one reaches the gate Porta S. Giacomo.
One can go on and enter the town in direction of the Basilica S. Francesco in order to arrive easily at the gate Porta S. Francesco and Porta S. Pietro, or if one prefers walking in a natural environment he can go down the street that leads from the gate S. Giacomo to the gate Porta S. Croce. At a certain point, where the crash barrier is interrupted, begins a path that leads to an ancient bridge over the Tescio and following the river one can reach Ponte S. Vetturino. From here one takes the road called Piaggia along the walls of the convent of S. Francesco. At the top of the Piaggia one goes through the gate Porta S. Francesco and passing the abbey S. Pietro on the left side one walks out of the town through the gate Porta S. Pietro. Walking on on the left the main road SS 147 is reached, which skirts the city walls as ring road, and after some hundred metres the gate Porta Sementone is reached. After leaving the SS 147 one passes under the arc of the gate Porta Moiano and turning to the left one can admire the ancient wash-houses. Going on on the road called of the Cavallacci, which runs in part on the ancient city wall, one reaches the gate Porta Nuova, the last gate on our trip, from which one can admire the beautiful view on the Umbrian Valley in direction to Spello and Foligno, and the southern slopes of Monte Subasio.
An ancient path used in the past by the inhabitants of Assisi to arrive by foot the pastures on the mountain in occasion of the Spring feast was called the "Sentiero del Trabocco". It begins ath the gate Porta Cappuccini, turning rightaway left it goes uphill in direction of the Rocchicciola and following the marking of the C.A.I. n. 50 one arrives after a trying ascent on the Montarone. From here one leaves the path n. 50 and turns left, crosses a forest with ferns and conifers. After a short distance one can see in the forest some chestnut trees, which have been planted by the Corps of Foresters on an experimentation plot. Passing at the ruins of the Baracca di Cibroccolo one arrives at the Magdalen spring, which used to be a watering place used by shepherds to water the sheep. Today the area around the spring is used as place for a break for wanderers. Leaving behind the spring one goes on uphill on forestry streets and paths (n. 53)up to the crossing with the road of the Monte Subasio in the locality Stazzi.
When one has arrived at the shelter, which was built about 50 years ago, he can make a deviation and climb on the peak of the Colle S. Rufino, from where one can admire a wide view from the mountains of Spoleto to Monte Amiata and the hills around the Lake Trasimeno. Leaving behind the shelter at Stazzi, one goes down on the right taking a well marked path that runs in the valley of the Fosso delle Carceri. After a short time one arrives at the hermitage and from there one can return to Assisi, after having visited one of the most important places from the Francescan point of view, or on the asphalt road or on a path that begins 500 m from the gate of the hermitage, at a small halting place along the panoramic road of the Monte Subasio.
As for the climate of the Monte Subasio, unfortunately we do not have any objective data and therefore we can only give general indications backed by dircect observation and the data of one decade (1951 - 1960) referred to the meteorological station in the garden of the hermitage Eremo delle Carceri, as well as the data from Assisi, Foligno and Nocera. But it has to be stated more precicely that the garden of the Eremo delle Carceri has a special climate; it is exposed to south, in the north it is protected by a enclosure wall and an ilex grove, due to its position it is sheltered from the wind and all that favourites a particular microclimate. So the data gathered by the different stations can give us only important indications, but they cannot be used without distinction because in this special case they are even misleading. Generally speaking we can affirm that the monthly average temperatures in July and August are at their maximum, while they are at their minimum in January. As for the precipitations, so has been registered a main maximum in October and November, a secondary one in April and May and a minimum July and August with a slight aridity. The aridity of the mountain is also intensified by its calcareous character. Indeed, most of the precipitational water is filtered in the meandres of the subsurface and it comes to the surface again in the low plain. The direct observation has also pointed out that the climate of the Monte Subasio, which is an isolated massif, heavily influenced by the winds, the main cause for a plain climatic difference between the different slopes. The west winds, which bring precipitations, do not alter the thermal gradient, but with the cold wind tramontana the temperature falls much under the average temperature, while the warm scirocco it is abnormally high. In the territory of the Monte Subasio the periods when the tramontana blows are almost as long as those when the western winds blow, while the scirocco blows less frequently.
The greatest energy of every wind works on the slope opposite to the one beaten by it, so the north-west slope undergoes for the most part the effects of the tramontana, which sharpenes extraordinaily the climatic conditions, while on the opposite slope they are mainly influenced by the west winds. From the point of view of altitude on the Monte Subasio can roughly be distinguished two big climatic belts: the temperature below 800 m and the mountain temperature above 950 to 1000 m, where the climate sharpenes remarkably when the tramontana scourges. Between the two belts is a transition zone which enters in one or the other condition, depending on the altitude. The fog is a rare phenomenon along the mountain slopes, it is just to be seen when it rises from the plain to dissolve in short time or after a rainfall, which creates with the help of cold air layers voluminous clouds of little duration. In the summit zone it is present much longer during the periods of tramontana, which creates a fix cloud that reshapes continuously, or it is there due to the scirocco, which covers the mountain with its low clouds.