Castel Ritaldi and Giano dell'Umbria

(2 days)

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he Martani Mountains, about 30 km long, divide the Spoletana Valley to the east from the Tiberina Valley to the west. Anthropisation has not affected the complex ecosystem of these mountains, characterised by extensive wooded areas of holm oaks, beeches and turkey oaks, the presence of numerous botanical and animal species and interesting geological and karst phenomena. The Martani Mountains still preserve the distinguished history of medieval villages, fascinating fiefdoms and abbeys pervaded with spirituality. From this natural pass, Christianity penetrated and spread in Umbria thanks to the people remembered in the hermitages and abbeys that dot this mountain ridge. The places of worship are counterbalanced, especially around Giano dell'Umbria, by castles and fortresses in the centre of tiny villages, from which to admire splendid views and breathe the purest air.

The itinerary begins at Castel Ritaldi, where the position and climatic conditions favour the cultivation of vines. Inside the walls, dating back to the 13th century, the church of Santa Marina (14th-15th century) is worth a visit.

Just outside the village, continuing towards Colle del Marchese, the Romanesque parish church of San Gregorio in Nido (1141) is surrounded by olive groves and has splendid bas-relief decorations on the façade and portal. If you turn through the hamlet of Morcic- chia in the direction of Giano dell'Umbria, you will reach this wonderful village famous, along with Trevi, for its excellent extra virgin olive oil. Here one has the impression of walking through history, amidst circular walls and medieval alleys, with the beautiful Town Hall building and the 14th-century church of San Michele. Before ascending towards the mountain, a small diversions leads to the Abbey of San Felice (around 1130), a treasure hidden among the olive trees that at the time of the Emperor Constantine enshrined the bones of the martyr St Felix. From here to climb towards the mountains, follow the signs for Monte Martano; you can also take the Martani trekking trail, continuing to the Scoppio coast, the central junction of the route with a hiking centre open by reservation. The next stop is Giano dell'Umbria

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