Travel Guide

Hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio

The hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio is a suggestive destination immersed in the Abruzzo nature. Even non-believers find his visit fascinating, due to the landscape in which it is placed and the particularity of the structure. Here in Abruzzo there are in fact many hermitages scattered throughout the mountains and, like this one, they are often dug directly into the mountain ridges in positions that are not very easy to reach.

The hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio has existed since 1250, when it was built to depend on the Badia del Santo Spirito della Maiella, on the basis of a hermitage prior to the 11th century. Inside, from 1274 the hermit Fra Pietro del Morrone took office, returning from Lyons where he had gone to have the Celestine Order recognized the rule. Here he remained for about 2 years. In 1320 this place was still inhabited, but in the same century it was gradually abandoned and has come to the present day without any particular changes.

The entire hermitage has a length of 7.70 meters and a width that varies between 3 and 4 meters.

Where is the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio ^

The hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio is located in the mountains of the municipality of Roccamorice, in the province of Pescara. The building is carved directly into the rock, on the the sunny side of the Vallone di Santo Spirito. Housed within a rocky spur of about 50 metersis placed at an altitude of 610 meters above sea level.

We are in Abruzzo, more or less in the center of the region.

How to get to the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio ^

Unfortunately, to get to the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio there is no public transport that you can take. You will be forced to reach the Roccamorice countryside by car, then continuing for about half an hour on foot in the final stretch.

Where to park ^

Arriving at the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio by car you will have to park it. If like me you decide to get to the hermitage from the upper path, I advise you to leave it in this parking lotor if you want to avoid the paved road, you can leave it a few hundred meters first along the road and more specifically along this curve (10 minutes walk from the other parking lot, closer to the destination).

What to see at the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio ^

When you arrive at the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio you will find yourself in front of it a hermitage carved into the rockwhich still protects it from bad weather today.

At the hermitage you will be able to see a first part representing the balcony, from which you will access the structure. This is dug out of the mountain and it protects you through a stone wall from the sheer drop of the Santo Spirito valley. In the middle of the balcony you will find a staircase, known as the Scala Santawhich descends below the hermitage.
From the balcony you will see the facade of the building, decorated with two 13th century frescoes. The first represents a Madonna and Childwhile the second is a representation of Blessing Christ.

Through the façade you will be able to access the church with a small altar on which a niche houses the nineteenth-century wooden statuette of San Bartolomeo, depicted with a knife in his hand and his own skin on his shoulder. This recalls the iconography depicting the saint used by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, and recalls the fact that St. Bartholomew suffered martyrdom by skinning.
Inside the church there is also a chain which, when pulled, makes ring the outside bell. Under a square stone you will also notice a small source of water. This is known as the water of San Bartolomeofamous among believers for its thaumaturgical properties.
The church receives light through a side window door, which gives directly onto the valley.

In the back of the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio, you find a small cell instead. It is here that Pietro da Morrone, who would later become Pope Celestine V, used to retire during his hermitage. Next to the cell a corridor runs to the exit. This leads to the trail in a few minutes leads all the way to the bottom of the valley.

The procession ^

The hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio is at the center of a procession. Numerous pilgrims gather here every 25 August to attend the morning mass. After the function, celebrated at dawn, we move to the Capo la Vena stream e they all bathe according to an ancient ritual. Then they take the statue of San Bartolomeo and carrying it in their arms they lead it to the church of the village of Roccamoricewhere the statue remains visible until 9 September, when a new procession leads it back to the hermitage.

Path to the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio ^

The hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio is inside the Way of Celestine, a trek divided into 6 stages along the Abruzzo nature. This path is 90 kilometers long and passes through 7 rock hermitages, 2 abbeys, a site of rock tombs and 2 archaeological sites, going from an altitude of 360 meters above sea level to an altitude of 1850 meters.

Obviously, to reach the hermitage it is not necessary to do the whole Celestine Way, but it is enough to do a few tens of minutes of trekking. In this case, the path that I propose has a length of 1.8 kilometers, passable in about half an hour each way and with a difference in height of about 90 meters. The path is the one that comes from above the hermitagefrom the town of Roccamorice.

After leaving the car you can follow the Spirit path, indicated with an S. You will start your journey on a dirt road and turning left you will reach an iron cross. The path becomes narrower and you will pass in the midst of rich vegetation. Then the path to the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio opens onto the valley, offering suggestive views.

Continue on the downward steps obtained by digging the ground directly. These they will take you to the great rock where you will enter the hermitage of San Bartolomeo. If you want, you can cross it and descend below, until you reach the river at the bottom of the valley.

Another path that goes up to here is the one that comes from the Giumentina Valley and that allows you to see the hermitage on the opposite side, camouflaged among the rocks.

Hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio with the dog ^

It is possible to visit the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio with your 4-legged friend. In fact, the path is open and easily accessible even by dogs. There are no particular dangers, if not the final stretch where some parts are slightly uncovered. With a little attention there will be no problem.
You can also safely make the passage inside the hermitage in the company of your dog.

The path can be considered tiring for older peopledue to the steeper passages and, during the summer, very exposed to the sun.

Hours of the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio ^

The hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio it has no opening hours. IS indeed always open, during any hour of the day and in any season of the year. However, consider that it is surrounded by nature and that you will have to walk a few tens of minutes to get there. So avoid being on the trail after darkbecause there is no artificial lighting that will help you once it gets dark.

During the year, take advantage of non-rainy days (mud could build up along the way) to visit the hermitage and avoid any snowfall, which would make the path too dangerous, especially for the stretches discovered directly on the valley.

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