Francis of Assisi, canonized only two years after his death, was the object of an almost instantaneous cult. The caves and the hermitages where Francis and his early followers lived, isolating themselves from the world, quickly became stop-overs for the devout engaged in pilgrimages. But those sites, with the exception of Verna, were soon abandoned. Only at the beginning of the 20th century were they gradually re-discovered by travellers, usually foreigners, who have left us testimony of their voyages. This book is an account of those travels and uncovers 14 Franciscan retreats (including Verna, Porziuncola, and Valle Santa in Rieti) that still survive in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. Thanks to their quotations of Edward Lear, Edith Wharton, Vernon Lee, Dino Campana, Corrado Ricci, Guido Piovene and others, the authors invite their readers to experience little-known but charming pathways through Italy.
Attilio Brilli is one of the world’s foremost experts on travel literature.
Simonetta Neri is an author, translator and travel literature scholar, and has written several literary guides involving Tuscany and Umbria.