The latin precept "Ora et labora" becomes "Ora et.. ride!" or even walk!, thanks to the route dedicated to Saint Benedict, Europe’s patron Saint. This is one of the great jubilee itineraries that plunges into the green heart of Italy, through hills and forests, ancient abbeys and Roman monuments.
The route starts from Norcia (where the Saint was born), it enters Lazio in Leonessa, it passes by Subiaco (preaching place of the monks) and it goes down on the border with Campania to reach the Abbey of Montecassino (founded by Benedict, who wrote the Rules here).
The entire route is 310 km long and it is equipped and well described in a dedicated web portal, it provides 16 stages for walkers and 7 stages for those who travel by bike. The bike route is just a little longer, 340 km, deviating only in some points from that designed for trekkers.
You may also choose to cover only part of the way and decide your stages, because every day promises some surprises. It is a trip suitable for everyone, in the name of "slowness" and contemplation, to enjoy the beauty of our country and understand the revolutionary potential of a monk who, with his humanism, has started the construction of Europe .
"It's an example of balance contained in the simplicity of ‘pray and work’ precept, a model of harmony for each community", explains Simone Frignani, scholar and walker, author of "The Route of St. Benedict", useful guide to retrace the footsteps of the Saint.
The track starts from the foot of the Sibillini Mountains, it touches ancient villages like Cascia and Roccaporena (linked to the figure of Santa Rita), the medieval village of Monteleone di Spoleto and the renaissance Leonessa, in the shadow of the Reatini Mountains, Poggio Bustone (treasure trove of Franciscan memories), the papal city of Rieti, Rocca Sinibalda and Castel di Tora on the Turano lake.
An important stage is the one that gets to Subiaco, the city that took its name from Nerone's villa, built in 60 A.D. on three dams with pavilions scattered among woods and rocks. Here Benedict preached for 30 years and he built 13 monasteries: now there is just St. Scholastica’s left and where there was the Saint’s cave it was built in 1200 the monastery that bears his name.
Continuing on the monks, Saints and pilgrims’ footsteps, we find many villages, the paths of transhumance, olive groves and herds of sheeps, the Melfa’s gorges (where you can admire eagles), Roccasecca (St. Thomas d’Aquino’s birthplace) and, finally, the Abbey of Montecassino, Benedictine’s order head office that has spread all over the old continent, contributing to the creation of an European Christian culture.
Wherever they went, the Benedictines’ monks used to bring knowledge and culture. They were skilled farmers, inventors and custodians of classical Greek and Latin texts, that we can still consult today. For this reason "Saint Benedict has been chosen as the protector of the European community", recalls Gianni Bastianelli, Director of the Regional Tourism Agency of Lazio that with the Jubilee has focused on this Route.
A wonderful opportunity to discover our history and an important part of Italy, the one of hermits and shepherds’ paths, the one of green valleys and villages grabbed on the hills.
Just visit the website to find everything you need to get on the way: descriptions, maps, GPS data, hospitality and places where to ask the pilgrim's credential.