Date: 2nd September 2018
Travelled: 121 kilometres from Scanno to Subiaco, both in Lazio, Italy.
Visited: San Benedetto Monastery, Subiaco .
Stayed: The monastery car-park, free. No services. N41.91734, E13.11510
Budget: 92 days @ €95 per day.
Bit of a lazy morning really. We had a very quiet evening in the free sosta on the lake, near Scanno. A station wagon parked at the other side of the sosta just before dark, so we had some company.
We had a coffee and some fruit and walked over to the lake for a look see. I worked on the blog and Pam Facetimed Indiana and Cooper. The morning was slipping past. From Scanno we continue north-west through the National Park and the Gole di Sagittario.
The drive north-west from Scanno is scenic and occasionally a bit hair-raising especially for Pam sitting in the left hand seat. Pam loves a blind left hand turn into a single lane tunnel. All the same, it’s a scenic drive along the gorge. At the turn for Sulmona, I pull over and let some 15 or so of these old sports cars pass the Hymer. From Sulmona we turn onto the A25-A24 until we take the turn for Subiaco. During our travels in Europe over the years we normally avoid the motorways like the plague. But I would rather pay a few euros and save the Hymer being battered on the rubbish A roads here in Italy.
Finally we make Subiaco. It seems like a lovely town, but we are hoping to make the monastery today and a late lunch and a little kip seem appropriate.
We drive through another portico and into a huge car-park. We have a light but late lunch and have an hours quiet time. An hour later we work out we are at the wrong monastery. San Benedetto is another 3 klms up the hill. The monastery is completely out of sight until you pass through a small arched portal. It can then be seen clinging to the cliff face. It dates from the 9th century. We learn that St. Benedict spent 3 years here, living as a hermit in a grotto. His only interaction with local shepards, who lowered food down on a rope. Inside there are several chapels like this one. Each excavated into the rock. The chapels are accessed via stairs from one down to the next. The ceiling of one of the chapels…
Another chapel… The earliest frescos date to the 9th century in the Shepherd’s Chapel. The later frescos are from the 11th-14th century. Referred to as the Sacred Grotto, this cave is said to be where Benedict spent his 3 years. In the same grotto a likeness of St Francis, who visited the monastery in the 13th century. Last one…it was a fabulous 90 minutes visiting the chapels and taking in the detail of the frescos and the stories they tell. Whilst most of the top car-park has a defined slope, there is a small area outside the gate which is flat. I confer with my Italian neighbour and we decide to spend the night here. They lock the monastery gate just before dark and another day slips by.
Michael and Pam