Assisi and the Saint Francis Woodland Project: a landscape of spirituality

Basilica di San Francesco CC BY-ND 2.0, Rodrigo Soldon

Assisi in Umbria is a good occasion to visit a place of spirituality where Saint Francis of Assisi is born. The feast  for the patron saint of Italy is celebrated October 4 and has a special meaning in Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis. Who was this revolutionary figure? Born from a well-off family in Assisi, Francis renounced to his possessions for a life of poverty.

Today are hundreds and hundreds the pilgrims who reach Assisi to see the Basilica of Saint Francis that holds his grave. The woods he often visited is now called the Saint Francis Woodlands Park. The woodland covers the slopes of Monte Subasio behind the town of Assisi and the Basilica of Saint Francis. Its restoration was not only a project of environmental conservation, but a reconstruction for visitors of the area’s traditional rural landscape.

The peaceful places in the woods are open for a visit and hopefully for nice thoughts. Only in 2011 the San Francesco Woodland got opened to the visitors, who could appreciate the walking paths in  the beauty of Assisi’s forest.

Il Bosco di San Francesco (the Saint Francis Woodland) is born from the cooperation between the FAI (Italy’s National Heritage Trust), the public administration, sponsors, and private donors. Finally the 50,000 square meter-about 12 acre-woodland restoration project took life and  30 tons of waste were finally removed.

Replanting native species of trees and shrubs were also one of the goals achieved by the project. With its over 3 kilometers of walking paths, and the restoration of the 13th century Santa Croce Benedictine convent and mill now the visitors’ centre, the project was complete.

Three thematic routes are in the woodland: the landscape route, showing the history of the rural landscape in Italy; the historical route, working on the area’s historic architecture; and the spiritual route, focusing on the relationship between nature and mankind.

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