A thirty minute drive from Bellaugello Gay Guest House brings you to the town of Umbertide lying in the delightful upper Tiber valley. The countryside in this part of northern Umbria is in part heavily forested, hills covered in coniferous trees are ever-green, few houses showing through the canopies, and at night few lights. This does not mean that there are no houses or buildings, indeed there are and many of those are quite spectacular. Among those is the large abbey of San Salvatore di Monte Acuto.
Founded over 1000 years ago the abbey sits on the edge of the hill of Monte Corona just south of Umbertide. The unusual eleven sided bell tower heralds approach to the abbey which is made along an avenue of magnificent umbrella pines. I took time from my journey for a cup of tea with a friend to stop off and explore this ancient abbey, which was well worth the time. The abbey itself is in a major phase of restoration so a visit not possible, however the abbey church is still open. The upper church is in a state of decaying splendour, side altars once fine are now devoid of their canvasses and sculptures, frescoes are scabacious and in part showing the brick construction.
But the joy is the lower church or crypt , low vaulted ceilings and some delightful frescoes
Back to the car and driving up the steeply wooded slopes to meet a good friend for a walk to the hermitage at the summit of Monte Corona, I passed the various buildings of the former estate, all painted in the same ochre colour, some still inhabited, others long since abandoned. We walked amongst large olive groves in golden hazy sunshine, reaching our goal of the hermitage, home to an order of Franciscan monks, many from France and Eastern Europe. Again the hermitage is is phase of restoration, and the delightful 14th century chapel is open and warmly welcoming
We descended through the olive groves and back to the house for a much appreciated cup of tea, a splendid afternoon in Umbria