Among hermitages, castles, monasteries, medieval villages and the greenest woods, the Valtiberina hosts the memories of great men’s inspiration.
Best known to be the land of Italy Patron Saint, Saint Francis of Assisi, the Monte Penna is the place of the Franciscan Sanctuary Of La Verna. The mount covered with a monumental fir and beech trees forest, is characterized by an unmistakable appearance thanks to its summit (1283 sea level) bending in sheer drop over the valley.
Over the sheer cliff and wrapped around by a surrounding wood we can find the hole unit of the Sanctuary, which cherishes several art, culture and history treasures inside its massive and articulated structure.
Saint Francis in La Verna
In the summer of 1224 St. Francis withdrew on the mountain for his ordinary spiritual exercises and silence. During his stay, he asked God to be able to take part, from the very deep of his heart, of the Passion of Christ, mystery of both love and pain. The Lord paid attention to his words and appeared to him in the guise of a crucified seraph who gave him as a gift the seals of the Passion. 'Francesco' turned into a visible and concrete image of Christ, not only in his heart, mind and soul, which already were, but even in his exterior body.
The Stigmata episode together with Francis' lifestyle are the most precious things given to his friars at La Verna. St Francis’ important spiritual heir not only deals with every single friar in the monastery, but it turns into the main vehicle which the community wants to convey to all those who visit la Verna.
The Rock of Adam
Just at the feet of the holy mountain, there’s a quite lost place, not easy to notice unless you go there on purpose: it is called Rock of Adam.
Generally, Michelangelo is not considered a great landscape artist. His backgrounds are bare and there is little interest in the natural side and the views. However, recent researchers have identified the places described by Buonarroti.
The landscapes of Mount Penna are the same that can be found in the “Tondo Doni” (Uffizi Gallery – Florence) and “The Creation of Adam” (Sistine Chapel – Rome).
In the “Creation of Adam”, the profile of the Sanctuary of La Verna and the rocks on which Adam is laying are perfectly recognisable. They have almost a photographic precision with the real ones, so similar that the contour of the body coincides exactly with the rocks still present on site. It is no coincidence that this place is known as the Rock of Adam.
The landscape of the Creation of Adam is located near the Podesteria of Chiusi della Verna. The discovery of the Michelangelo’s scenarios was made in 2004 by Professor Simmaco Percario, a Michelangelo scholar, in collaboration with a local artist, Alessandro De Vivo.
The resemblance between the real landscape and the one reproduced by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel is so strong to suggest that the artist created the fresco considering a drawing or a preparatory sketch taken directly on the spot.
“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth's loveliness.”