Rocchetta Things to Do Tips by Trekki

Rocchetta Things to Do: 2 reviews and 10 photos

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Another cell in the rock - Rocchetta

Another cell in the rock

Fascinating cliff-hanging hermitage, 8th c.

This hermitage is so typical for many things I love in Italy and especially middle Italy: it is one of the treasures in Valnerina the average traveller will hardly hear of or see (and I do not mean only the non-Italian traveller because also many Italians and even many Umbrians have never heard of it). In addition it is typical for the spiritual feeling in middle Italy’s air and why so many hermits, saints and monks have chosen this part of Italy to settle. And finally it is a good example for marvellous frescoes which are just there where the painter once created them (as opposed to museums). One has to find his or her way to discover and see them and not just line up, buy a ticket and walk into a room.

The origins of this hermitage are not exactly known. It might well have been hewn into the rocks in 6th century, although 8th century is more likely. It is said to have been inhabited by a rather big community of Benedictine monks who had approximately twenty cells they lived and prayed in, all connected through little stairs from the outside. Light was provided by little air vents, which could have been like one I took a photo of. Early 14th century Augustine monks came here, renovated the cells and built the little church. They used parts of the older cells and rooms so the result is again “architectural recycling”, which makes it difficult to evaluate the exact date of origin. The hermitage is called Eremo di Santa Maria della Stella, simply because on one of the frescoes inside the church Maria has a coat with crosses in forms of stars (stella = star in Italian). If you look closely, the separating bands between the frescoes are exactly the same inside of the church (right hand side of the bar, or left of the angel who opens his hands for prayer) as the remains of frescoes outside in one of the decaying cells.

The chapel is not open to the public or better one cannot go inside. But it seems that the entrance door is permanently open albeit a thick iron fence prevents from intruders. This makes photography quite difficult, because the gaps in the fence are smaller than most of the camera’s lenses. The remains of the cells are open though and I can only highly recommend walking up the further stairs in the rock to discover these remains of the frescoes and to look into the intact cells. If you like, click on the link I have added to the website section: these show much better photos of the frescoes inside the church. There is also a short video on youtube of the eremo.

This little hermitage raised my interest to find more of these during my next trips to Italy. I already found an amazing website: Eremi in Abruzzo, which features hermitages in Italian region of Abruzzo. So... more to come for the near future.

Update, April 2012:
Much to my delight I saw that the guys who run the a.m. website, Eremi in Abruzzo, have also visited this hermitage in the meantime. They even have organised a key to the inside. So look =>here for their photos of the inside and outside.

Location of Eremo di Santa Maria della Stella on Google Maps.

© Ingrid D., June 2011 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

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Directions: (see transport tip)


Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 12, 2013
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Mucciafora, high on top of a mountain - Rocchetta

Mucciafora, high on top of a mountain

The journey is the reward :-)

The saying that a journey often is the reward was very much true in this case. I wanted to find a hermitage I saw on my map and this included to drive this tiny mountain road leading south from Borgo Cerreto. As soon as I left the main road I was almost alone which is something I observed quite often whenever I left the paths. In a way seeing someone I always had this “oops, another human being” feeling. Of the many small roads I took during my May 2011 trip, this one was most special. Not only it leads high into the mountains but broom (whin) was in full bloom and the aroma in the air was incredibly beautiful. On my way I saw this one village which sat on the top of a mountain. This is one of the typical sights in Umbria and Marche regions, but this one was special. Imagine you drive through mountains and see nothing but mountain tops and forest but then there is this settlement which is perching high on top of one of the mountains. It is Mucciafora, the highest village in Valnerina region (1070 a.s.l.) and has currently 44 inhabitants. The road up there leads along the southern slope of the hill and is not visible from my viewpoint. However there is a footpath up the hill from nearby the hermitage I wanted to visit. Or better a mule path because these villages inside Valnerina are much easier to be reached via these direct routes. Fascinating: when I did research more about the village, I found out that they even have a Facebook fan page, with more members than the village.

Location of Mucciafora on Google Maps.

© Ingrid D., June 2011 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

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Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 12, 2013
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