In 1381 the “peacemakers of God” Antonio Lotti and Amata Ferri, despite their late age, had as a special gift from Providence a daughter: Margherita.
An ancient tradition says that while she was sleeping in her cradle, five bees flew from her mouth, symbol of the divine election. Rita aspired to consecrate herself to God but, at the age of twelve, she was betrothed to Paolo Mancini: a “Ghibelline” with an indocile character, son of millers, who opposed the temporal pretensions of the Papacy. Docile to filial obedience and the customs of her time, Rita accepted her parents’ wishes and married Paolo, with whom she had two twin sons: Gian Giacomo and Paolo Maria.
After eighteen years of marriage, one night, while going down from Collegiacone to Roccaporena, Paolo was murdered near his home: perhaps a political vendetta.
Later, he dedicated all his strength to dissuading his sons from avenging their father. At the same time, she prayed to God to forgive those who had made her widow by making her children orphans. In a short time, one after the other, the two young men died, perhaps of the plague.
She asked to be admitted to live the rule of St. Augustine in the Monastery of La Maddalena, in Cascia. Three times the request was rejected. He then immersed himself in prayer and one night, while he was praying, the Baptist appeared to him together with St. Augustine and Nicholas of Tolentino. The three saints transferred Rita to the Scoglio di Roccaporena and from there transported her in “flight” to the oratory.
During the novitiate, she gave proof of absolute obedience as when, by order of the Abbess, she continued to water a dry trunk until the plant grew green.
After listening to a Lenten sermon, a thorn from the Crown of the Crucifix before which she was praying was confessed to her forehead. Only once, in the Holy Year of 1450, the plague healed to allow her to reach Rome as a pilgrim together with her sisters.
During the last winter of her life, she asked one of her relatives to go to the vegetable garden of Roccaporena to pick two figs and a rose. On 22 May 1457 she died.
The body was first placed in a poplar “humble chest”, then it was placed in a painted ark: the “solemn chest”.
When she was proclaimed blessed, in 1628, the body was uncorrupted. In 1710 a Portuguese hermit first called Rita “advocate of the impossible”.
Cascia e Roccaporena
563 a.s.l.m. An ancient castle built on the side of a mountain ridge, it was built in Roman times but it was during the Middle Ages that it experienced its heyday. Here you can visit:
The Basilica of Santa Rita
The Church, consecrated in 1947, was erected as a Basilica by Pius XII on August 1, 1955. On the sides of the portal, there are ten episodes from the life of Saint Rita dal Pellini, while inside, again by the same author, along the walls, we find the beautiful Via Crucis in white marble panels. The large walnut pulpit, is by the sculptor Monti, while in the presbyteral space, there are works by Manzù, including the altar. It is a Church full of light and colour, and with a halo of mysticism. On the left, behind the wrought iron grate, you can see the chapel of Santa Rita, in Neo-Byzantine style. The 1930 urn contains the body of St. Rita.
Built under the pontificate of Paul II on the foundations of a previous fortress. The visible ruins remain from the demolition ordered by Pope Leo X in 1517 and subsequent earthquakes. This is the symbol of the power of the city of Cascia in the early medieval period.
The numerous Churches
The Church of Santa Maria where, according to tradition, Saint Rita was baptized. The Church of Sant’Antonio ex-convent now part of the Urban Musical circuit of Cascia. The Church of San Francesco which dominates the main square. The Church, with the adjoining former convent of the Hermits of St. Augustine, is located on the top of the hill near the Rocca.
The Palace, seat of the Civic Museum, houses in the seventeenth-century rooms a collection of archaeological objects dating from the ‘thirteenth century BC onwards, a valuable collection of sculptures and an art gallery. Coats of arms of popes, podestà and knights, arranged along the entire Muslim route, bear witness to the prestige of Cascia in the late Middle Ages.
Cascia and Roccaporena
707 a.s.l. hosts the Opera di Santa Rita but the undisputed characteristic of Roccaporena is its sacredness, due to the numerous places linked to the life of Saint Rita among which:
The Rock of Prayer
where St. Rita went daily for prayer and on top of which you can still see the footprints of Rita’s knees;
L’Orto del Miracolo
where tradition has it that in January 1447, amidst the snow and frost, a rose blossomed and two figs ripened;
The Golden Grotto
where, according to ancient legends, the nymph Porrina lived.
where, in the time of the Saint, the strangers passing through were hospitalized for three days.
The Church of San Montano
where Paolo Mancini (Saint Rita’s husband), Gian Giacomo and Paolo Maria (Saint Rita’s children) are buried.
The Birthplace and the Marital House
where you can find works by Micheletti and Giordano.
What to visit starting from Cascia
Among the most evocative places and small villages full of magic and history worthy of being visited and easily reachable from Cascia there are definitely:
Norcia (18 km)
is the closest town to Cascia easily accessible by bike. Here you can visit the places of San Benedetto and the nature that surrounds it tasting the products of the local pork butchery and truffles;
Cerreto di Spoleto (25 km)
where stands the beautiful Castle dating back to the medieval period;
Vallo di Nera (35 km)
included in the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy, called the land of tales;
Castel San Felice (36 km)
a small village in the municipality of Sant’Anatolia di Narco. Here the legend tells that in a cave, beyond the medieval bridge, there was a dragon, killed by the two hermit saints, to whom the Abbey of Saints Felice and Mauro was later dedicated: cold, silent and poor with some remnants of frescoes and a small crypt, on the facade there is represented the story of the hermit saints;
Scheggino (40 km)
also known as the Black Diamond thanks to the truffle, a typical product of this area. Walking through the narrow streets of the village will be like finding yourself catapulted into another era. You can enjoy the view of the ancient Torre del Nera and visit the church of San Nicola, you will be thrilled to see the plaques with the names of the inhabitants at the gates and the colorful majolica house numbers;
Forche Canapine (40 km)
with its ski resort;
Castelluccio di Norcia (48 km)
immersed in the thousand colours of its flowering floor;.
Spoleto (48 km), Unesco heritage site
Here it is possible to visit the Rocca Albornoziana, the Ponte delle Torri, the fantastic Piazza del Duomo and, going up high, even glimpse Assisi in the distance;
Rasiglia (48 km)
born along the banks of a river and renamed “little Venice” offers a fairytale view;
Bevagna (70 km) and Montefalco (62 km)
famous for their food and wine activities;
Spello (72 km)
whose saying “Spellu: the more you look at it, the more beautiful it is” already makes you understand everything. Its flowery alleys will enchant you;
Assisi (83 km)
home of St. Francis, will make you spend a day totally immersed in spirituality;
Every moment and every season will be good to come to Umbria and visit the most beautiful places in this part of Italy.
The proximity of the local inhabitants and their affinity with nature has favoured the birth of high quality products of the land and gastronomy such as the roveja of Civita, the Black Truffle of Norcia, the purest Saffron of Cascia, the DOP Spelt of Monteleone, the Lentil of Castelluccio, the IGP Ham, the Sagrantino of Montefalco and many others.
For trekking lovers
There are many proposals and paths for those who want to discover and explore walking through the greenery.
Between Cascia and Roccaporena
Following the road from Cascia to Roccaporena we find a medieval path full of spirituality and tranquility, renamed the path of Santa Rita, connects Cascia to Roccaporena. In some stretches, without a railing, the path narrows considerably, it is recommended to pay attention. Starting from the Church of Santa Maria della Visitazione, which is located at the end of Piazza Garibaldi, turn left uphill Via del Pago. Once past the seat of the illustrious Confraternita della Buona Morte, continue along Via del Pago, which has a serpentine shape. Continue downhill until you reach the tourist sign “Santa Rita”, turn left and go up the comfortable stairs, at the end of which take the right, in the opposite direction to Cascia, you reach Roccaporena. At the height of a trivium, take the middle road that continues on the flat. On the right stands the Tower of Collegiacone, the birthplace of Santa Rita’s husband. When you reach the wooden bridge, cross it and you will reach the asphalt road ss320d. From here you continue to the left on asphalt, and after the tunnel, you reach the foot of the Scoglio Sacro. In Roccaporena, Rita’s birthplace, you can visit the places where the Saint lived before entering the monastery: the house where she was born, the marital home, the lazaret, the Church of San Montano. We also recommend a visit to the Sanctuary and the S. Rita Institute which welcomes young people from all over the world. After the ascent to the Scoglio, you can decide whether to return by public transport, or by walking backwards along the path.
Climbing Mount Frenfaro
Ancient seat of the Frenfanelli Castle, it offers a breathtaking view and landscape over the valley of Cascia.
The initial steep slope requires attention Leave your car at the entrance of the village of Fogliano, at the foot of a large concrete wall, and continue right uphill. At the fork you keep to the right and pass an accommodation facility. After taking the dirt road you reach a votive shrine, from here you go uphill to the left and continue until you reach a new fork and turn right uphill. Continue straight on a steep climb for about 1.5 km. At the end of the climb, turn right onto a wide dirt road. After about 120 m, when you reach the bend, the road continues to the left, but our route turns right until you reach a field, from here you continue to the left and through an uphill serpentine path you reach the summit of Monte Frenfano. Go downhill along the road used to climb, and back to the bifurcation continue to the right. When you reach a crossroads, take the left on a flat road, avoiding the downhill road. After about 500 m you reach Forca Colonnetta. From here, past the spring, turn left downhill. At the crossroads go straight on, and after about 500 m, turn right onto a road along a field, on the left a cross. After approx. 2 km, you go past a country house and continue on the right. After approx. 500 m, turn left at the fork on a path among oaks. After crossing the asphalt road, take the path, which after a short while climbs to the left to Puro. When you reach the village, take the path towards the church and take the road on your left, which takes you back to the asphalted road to Fogliano.
The old path from Logna to San Giorgio
A path to discover the past with beautiful woods, historical and artistic references that leave you amazed.
From Logna you leave the Church of San Giovenale on the right and keep right on the downhill road. At the height of a country cross turn right. Proceed straight on and then, after crossing the asphalt road, take a cart road, indicated by the sign for a farm holiday. Once past the farmhouse, go up slowly, protected by the shade of the oaks At the crossroads, turn right and continue climbing, keeping left along the path to reach an area of sheds for agricultural use. You walk through a small group of houses and continue until you take the road marked by a small stone wall on the left. Proceed and exit on a wider road near the entrance of the village, here at the height of a parabolic mirror you turn left, following the sign for the campsite. Once past the church on the right, two forks meet and you always turn left to reach the watchtower. To resume the path, go back along the road already made and reach the paved road, turn left to enter San Giorgio. At the votive shrine turn right to go up to the Church of San Giorgio. After a stop under the airy portico, leaving the church behind, take the road on the left and turn right at the intersection with the road to Avendita. Continuing along the path you will first meet a country church and then the cemetery, where you turn right on a path fortified by beautiful oaks, follow the hiking signs. Going down after about 1.5 km you can see the rural church of Santa Lucia on the lower right, which is worth a visit. After the main path, descend to the asphalt road and turn right. Continue until the crossroads, where you turn right to return to Logna.
Discovering the Temple of San Silvestro
A journey through archeology and nature, surrounded by one of the most beautiful cultural landscapes of the Valnerina. You start from the square in front of the Church of San Silvestro, below which you can see the remains of the Roman temple of the 3rd BC. Take the asphalted road in the direction of sp 474, at the crossroads turn right, in the direction of Leonessa, and proceed on asphalt. After about 400 m., leaving SP 474, turn right on a path among the oaks and go straight on. After the cemetery, on the right, for about 600 m, continue straight on along the obvious path. Continue without ever deviating until you reach the asphalt road and take the cart track in front of you. At the fork, marked by the presence of a spring, turn right and continue for about 700 m until you reach a crossroads, on the left you can see a shelter for tools, and turn right towards Carnacile. After crossing the ditch, go along a small wall and then uphill. Once out on a bend, continue to the right, first on a flat surface and then downhill for about 1 km. In the last stretch you start to climb in the direction of an elegant Art Nouveau villa, which remains on the left. Once you reach the small square in Buda, go straight on, slightly uphill towards the town centre. At a crossroads, where in front of you you can see a small vegetable garden with a pergola, turn right downhill. Once past the spring on the right, continue on the left on a flat surface. Continue for about 1.3 km, protected by the shade of centuries-old oak trees. At the fork, turn left towards Villa San Silvestro. Near the village you pass a spring on the left and, when you reach a stone wall, turn right. Cross the village of Villa San Silvestro and return to the starting point.
Ocosce e la Chiusa
Walking on the places where the first Italic populations lived, to discover one of the most beautiful and less known views of Roccaporena, the birthplace of Santa Rita. You start from the access door to the village, and from here you take the asphalted road downhill and you reach the votive shrine Orolotiva Replica watches placed at the edge of the asphalted road. After passing the newsstand, after a few metres, turn right onto a path shaded by oaks. After a short stretch where the path narrows and continues on a clear track until you reach the inhabited area called “la Chiusa”, here we can find a limestone memorial stone containing a dedication to Mars from the church of San Pietro. Once on the bend, before the farmhouses, take the road on the left downhill to return to the asphalted road. When you reach the SS 471, turn right and continue for about 1.4 km until you reach a detour on the right, indicated by the presence on the wall of the hiking sign (white and red flag), take the dirt road and continue crossing the plain, rich in archaeological evidence. After less than 1 km you go slightly uphill, and at the junction, indicated by the hiking sign, if you turn left you reach Casale Castellano and you can enjoy an incomparable view of Roccaporena, while at the junction our route goes straight, keeping slightly to the right, to return to Ocosce. After crossing an agricultural landscape of great aesthetic and environmental value, we reach the newsstand and from here we return to the starting point.