Overview of La Verna
Chiusi della Verna, at 960 m. above the sea level, is a well-known historic small town rising on the Alpe di Catenaia (Tuscan Apennine).
The territorial area of Chiusi della Verna lies between the Valdarno Casentinese and the High Valtiberina.
From Etruscan and Roman origins, its name comes from the Latin word “clusa” (thin) and “Verna” as mountain where the ancient settlements were located.
During the Middle Ages Chiusi della Verna was a feudal site which reached a huge importance as it was nearby Via Romea, the main road from Arezzo to the Romagna region.
Seriously contended along the centuries, in the 10th century the Chiusi della Verna was occupied by the Count Goffredo di Ildebrando Cattani, loyal subject of Ottone I.
In the 14th century it was conquered by Guido Tarlati’s troops, the Arezzo’s Bishop. In the last decade of that century Chiusi’area definitively passed into the Florence’s Republic jurisdiction. Some years later Florence established there a Podestà’s site also covering the neighbouring village of Caprese (the birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarotti).
In the 18th century Chiusi della Verna, under Lorena’s Dukes government, was annexed to other thirteen neighbouring villages and in1861, at the times of Italy’s Unity, the town became an autonomic municipality.
The main historic, religious and artistic treasure of Chiusi della Verna is the Santuario della Verna, at 1,128 over the sea level, situated on the abrupt southern slope of La Verna’s Mountain overlooking the town.
In 1213 the Count Orlando Catanni granted the Mountain to San Francesco di Assisi. In a cave of this majestic mountain S. Francesco and a few religious companions went into the rigid way of live, based on the penitence and on the spiritual contemplation, which they were looking for. According to the tradition in 1224, while Francesco di Assisi was praying to The Lord, Jesus appeared to him under the form of a crucified angel and gave him the stigmata. The Holy event was celebrated by Dante Alighieri in La Divina Commedia, “The Paradise”, Chant XI.
The large architectural religious complex is made by several buildings:
- The Santuario which houses:
- The long Corridoio of the Stigmata (from the 15th Century) with twenty-three columns and frescoes walls representing S. Francesco’s life, painted by Baccio Maria Bacci. In the Corridor every day is taking place “The Stigmata’s Procession”, a tradition coming back from the 15th century.
- The Chapel of S. Sebastiano
- The Chapel of The Cross
- The Chapel of the Stigmata: built up in the second half of the 13th century, in the same place where the Saint received the stigmata. It hosts some splendid terracotta works by Luca and Andrea Della Robbia.
- The Chapel of S. Bonaventura, where the Saint wrote a theological work: “Itinerarum mentis in Deum”.
Close to the Santuario are located:
- The Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (also known as Chiesa Maggiore): in Gothic style it is coming from the 14th -15th century. It was the first church built up at La Verna.
In the indoors there is a single oval nave hosting the sepulchre of Count Orlando Catanni; on the High Altar there are wonderful glazed terracottas by Andrea Della Robbia as well as three panels by Della Robbia’s school. The church is also keeping some sacred relics from S. Francesco di Assisi.
- The Cloister: from the 15th century.
Another building close to the Church is housing:
- The Monks cells (on the second floor)
- The Monks kitchen
- The ancient Pharmacy
- The Refectory (1,518 square meters).
Where to eat:
- In the Refectory visitors and pilgrims can have lunch enjoying the traditional Santuario’s cuisine like, “ribollita”, “tagliatelle”, lamb chops and stockfish.
The Santuario’s shop is selling several products made by the Monks like, liqueurs, chocolate, sweets, and toiletries.
Where to sleep :
Main Towns in Casentino
Anghiari, Bibbiena, Camaldoli,
Chiusi della Verna, Monterchi, Poppi, Pratovecchio, San Sepolcro.
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