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S. Bartolomeo de' Fossi

An Abandoned 19th‑Century Church near Umbertide

[image ALT: A tall 2‑story building of plastered stone with a gabled roof, and annexes on either side, only slightly lower, of rough mixed masonry. It is the church of S. Bartolomeo de' Fossi near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

The monumentally proportioned church of S. Bartolomeo de' Fossi is only 12 km from Umbertide, and by a good road, too; but it feels very remote, standing in complete isolation, strikingly sited on a sharp green forested ridge with distant views, of more forest, on either side. It was built in the 19c as a conventual church for a religious order, or so I was told: I have no better information. I suspect a previous building, if only a small hermitage: but that's just surmise on my part.

[image ALT: A wide and rather low barrel-vaulted hall of three bays closed at the end by a flat wall pierced with a small circular window. The vaults spring from square pilasters, and in the bays nearest us, left and right, are two facing altars each with a large niche over it. An electric wire and light dangel disconsolately from a steel brace across the hall, the brick floor is damaged in spots, and a single wooden pew juts out from the left side at an angle. It is the interior of the abandoned church of S. Bartolomeo de' Fossi near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

The interior of the church is clearly in rather good condition, and, on the surface at least, looks like it might only take a crew of volunteers a week of work (plus electricity and water) to get it back up and running. On the other hand, it really is in the middle of nowhere, and I can't imagine anyone but a monastic community ever using it. It's a pity, since buildings require maintenance: water infiltration and the occasional earthquake tremor (see for example this closeup of a ceiling) can wreck the sturdiest structure in pretty short order.

[image ALT: A 4‑story tower of rough stone masonry, the top story crenellated and pierced with four large arches. It is the belfry of the church of S. Bartolomeo de' Fossi near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

[image ALT: An altar (with a small tabernacle from which the door has been removed) between two square pilasters, against a wall with a large niche immediately above it. It is a side altar in the church of S. Bartolomeo de' Fossi near Umbertide, Umbria (central Italy).]

For now, S. Bartolomeo is still quite sturdy.

Belfry at the back of the church, oddly invisible from the front; a side altar.

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Page updated: 13 Aug 05