20 December 2012

A forest reserve in Assisi (Italy 2012, part 4)

I've written little in previous posts about the Assisi portion of my trip last month. Many of the places I visited I'd been to before, and much of my time was spent in research that it would be premature to summarize here. But I will post a few images and mention a delightful surprise I encountered.

Down the walkway
and through the gate on the right....
 A new forest reserve has been opened for visitors on the slopes just east and north of the Basilica of Saint Francis. It is under the care of the FAI (Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano), a group that protects areas of cultural or environmental significance all over Italy. The preserve, known as the Bosco di San Francesco, is accessible either through a gate in the wall on the north side of the lawn in front of the Basilica, or from the valley below where the FAI has a small visitor center and gift shop.

...along the trail...
Olive grove and awesome Umbrian sky.

Trails lead through forests that have been cared for by Franciscans and Benedictines for centuries. Along the trail system are old kilns, delightful views of the Basilica and the Rocca Maggiore, streams and olive groves, and on the eastern end of the preserve, a work of landscape art consisting of more than 100 olive trees planted in a design that can be viewed from an old stone tower.

As a birder and a hiker it was a treat for me to find this forested area adjacent to the busy streets of Assisi. I'd often wondered what it was like on the other side of that wall. For anyone interested in the history of the Assisi area, the artifacts of medieval Umbrian life along the way are worth a visit. And for admirers of Saint Francis, the preserve is a superb place to contemplate his closeness to creation and the Creator, and what it models for us.

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