In Umbria, villas are beginning to gain stock among international tourists as the preferred choice of accommodation. While people are slowly discovering the quaint, rural charms the region has to offer, what many may not be aware of is this region of Italy is best renowned, internally, for being the birthplace of an uncommon number of saints.
In fact, one of the monikers the region often goes by among Italians is precisely translated as €The Land of Saints’. Tourist officials and providers of Umbria villas are also quick to point out this connection, usually following it up with a list of the many interesting mediaeval sites one can visit in the region. However, while this may be seen by some as just a cheap marketing ploy, the fact is the region does offer a number of interesting spots of both religious and historical interest.
Perhaps the most famous saint to be born in this part of Italy was St Benedict, founder of the Benedictine order of monks and main responsible for Western monasticism. Visitors who have an interest in exploring some religious history when renting Umbria villas should visit the nearby monasteries, including Saint Peter in Perugia, Santa Maria of Valdiponte in Montelabbate (near Perugia), Saint Benedict at Monte Subasio, close to Assisi, Saint Salvatore of Monte Corona and the abbeys of Petroia, near Citt di Castello, and Sassovivo, near Foligno. A trip to St Benedict’s birth village of Norcia is also mandatory, if only to appreciate the recently rebuilt Benedictine monastery – the work of a group of American monks invested in bringing the order back to its birthplace, after Napoleonic laws had banished them over two centuries previously.
Another relevant saint to hail from the region in a time long ago was St Francis of Assisi, founder of the famed Franciscan order. The basilica of Assisi is a compulsory stop for people wanting to find out more about this saint, whilst the church of Saint Fortunate contains the remainders of Jacopone, a devout follower of the saint who was also one of the first poets to compose in ‘common’ ancient Italian dialect.
Other major places of interest for tourists renting Umbria villas and interested in the lives of saints are the basilica and monastery of Santa Rita, in Cascia, and the basilica of Saint Valentine, who was beheaded in Rome and whose name is synonymous with the day dedicated to celebrating love. However, religious history aficionados will find saint-related monuments and locales in almost any nook and cranny in Umbria. Villas will never be far from these magnificent religious works of art.
It is clear to see, then, why the region fully deserves its unofficial title of ‘The Land of Saints’. Those interested in history or religion that are planning a stay in Umbria villas will be in for a treat.
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