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Beyond the city walls

fuori-le-mura

The ancient hamlet of Pietralunga is immersed in the state-owned forest, Bocca Seriola, an interesting naturalistic area in the region of Umbria.
Here is a walking itinerary outside the town to enjoy beautiful artistic, naturalistic and archeological places.
-The Shrine of our Lady of Remedies
1 - Madonna dei RimediThe church ,where Mass is still celebrated, stands on the county road leading to the town of Umbertide, it’s a few minutes’ drive from the historical centre. The traditional Feast of Our Lady of Remedies is celebrated here on the second Sunday of September. The church was founded to be used as the extra-urban church of Pietralunga. In the IX th century it became a centre for intense devotion to Our Lady after a miraculous event. In the XVII century it was enlarged and embellished with the present architectural structure. The religious tradition tells that Saint Francis spent a night here, during his pilgrimages to La Verna from Assisi and Gubbio.

– Pieve de’ Saddi (The church of the Saddi).
2 - Pieve de' SaddiIt is the most ancient church in the diocese rising at about 15 minutes’ drive far from Pietralunga. It is a typical example of Pre- Christian basilica. The structure, firmly tied to the ground, was built on a crypta, in reduced dimensions compared with the upper level, but in complete harmony with the whole structure. The crypta, where the tomb of Saint Crescenziano was once placed, can be reached by going down a narrow flight of stairs. According to the legend St. Crescenziano, fleeing from the persecution of Diocletian (in 244-311 AD), was martyred in the Saddi area for preaching the Christian faith. Inside the church, on the left wall, a bas-relief depicting St. Crescenziano slaying the dragon is placed. The church is dominated by a tower of the IX th century that, despite lacking the original battlements, rises high and mighty over the valley. Inside the donjon, that presents an extremely elegant design, there is a sort of hallway dating to the XV th century, with small vaults supported by shelves. From there a flight of stairs starts and is dominated, at the top, by the Vitelli family chromed majolica coat of arms dating back to 1521.
A distinct touch to the whole structure is given by a Guelph window, from where it is narrated that bishops used to look out to bless the people that gathered at the Saddi during the Patron Saint Festival.

-The church of St Mary of the Graces in Castelfranco.
Chiesa CastelfrancoChronicles tell that at a short distance from the church , there was a small chapel where a fresco of Our Lady was object of intense and continuous veneration.
“ It was close to four roads that wayfarers used to run to reach Cagli from Città di Castello and to reach other places in the province of Romagna from Gubbio. Here the waters of rivers separate, some of them flow into the Mediterranean sea and some others flow into the Adriatic sea. This small chapel was damaged by the passing of time and after it was rebuilt people’s devotion grew so much as to become a favourite place for our Lady’s frequent grace and miracles”
The elegant VIth century building, rising at about 8 kmts from Pietralunga, is worth visiting also for the breathtaking views we can enjoy on the valleys towards the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian sides.
The church , where Mass is still celebrated, can be reached by car taking the county road to Cagli, Along the way to Castelfranco we can also stop to see the Church of Aggiglioni, another important religious spot in the territory of Pietralunga. Other places worth visiting along the way are: Castelguelfo, a fortified hamlet with it ancient castle, Corniole, a hamlet at the foot of Monte Nerone and Collantico, the birthplace of the Fiorucci and Martinelli families.

-Ancient Roman road
Several sections of Roman roads cross the territory of Pietralunga. The most important is the diverticulum that connected The Upper Tiber Valley to the Flaminia consular road ( not far from Cagli); along the road, partly paved with large stones, capuccina tombs and rural dwellings of high architectural interest are lined up. A section of the road, with sandstone paving, measuring 300 mts in length and 4.30 in width, between San Felice and Caselecchi places, still shows perfectly visible marks of ancient carts’ wheels.

-Naturalistic and ornithological Museum in Candeleto.
In the seat of the forestry Guard Station, located in Candeleto, it is possible to visit free the interesting Scientific Museum founded in 1998 and member of the C.A.M.S- Centre of Perugia University. It houses the unique Zoological Collection Silvio Bambini, counting about 300 species of birds and mammals; it represents almost entirely the Umbro-Marchesan Apennine faunistic heritage and is a source of reference for all those who need or want to deepen their knowledge of the faunistic heritage of the territory.

-The protected areas
The Umbria Region has identified, according to the European Project Nature 2000 , some important naturalistic sites inside the Forest of Pietralunga. They have become protected areas in order to preserve specific wildlife habitats. They are:
1. the woods in Pietralunga , 1,500 hectares in surface, preserved since 1987, including the oasis for the protection of the fauna in Varrea, parts of woods with beech trees and turkey oaks and the highly interesting habitats with Apennine wolves.
2. the woods in the Rosso and Sodolungo mountains, 2,600 hectares in surface, with the presence of phytocoenoses typical in the marnoso-arenacea reliefs (well preserved turkey oaks woods) and of the presence of rare faunistic species such as the skunk, the buzzard, the kestrel, the woodpecker.
3. the Oasis for the protection of the fauna in Candeleto, that covers a naturalistic area of 1,000 hectares in surface, inside the areas of the Carpina and Carpinella Valleys. The peak of the place, Monte Croce, is covered with large black pine forests , while the slopes are alternatively covered by oak trees, pastures, grades, that offer safe shelters and abundant food to the varied and rich wild fauna typical of this place: foxes, wild boars, deers etc.
The forest of Pietralunga presents an articulated web of naturalistic tracks. They are all marked and described in printed maps so that it is possible to choose among walks of various length and difficulty across areas, that will leave an unforgettable memory of the Umbro-Marchesan wildlife.