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Madonna dei Monti
A rural chapel in Umbria


[image ALT: A single-room building of mixed stone and brick masonry, set on a small grassy rise and flanked by trees. Its door, taking up a third the width of the little building, is surmounted by a semicircular window; both door and window are edged in brick. It is a view of the chapel of the Madonna dei Monti, NE of S. Venanzo, Umbria (central Italy).]

If you walk as I did from Marsciano to San Venanzo, about 7 km out you will come upon this quiet chapel by the side of the road, on a low rise to your left. Why it is here is a question I can't answer, although some small clue may be provided by its siting: from the doorway we have a rather iconic view, straight in front of us a mile or two away, of the medieval village of Civitella de' Conti; this is about the only place on this road we can see it, and a track heads off to it northward from here.

The age of this chapel is something else I was unable to find out; but I would guess 19c or even 20c, although it might just conceivably date to the 17c at the very earliest, and the building may of course replace an older structure, although again I doubt it: the Madonna dei Monti almost certainly started out as a madonnina, a plain wayside shrine, that first acquired a small roof, then some walls to become a chapel.


[image ALT: zzz. It is zzz of the chapel of the Madonna dei Monti, NE of S. Venanzo, Umbria (central Italy).]

Inside, we have just one small room, accommodating about a dozen faithful for Mass. The flowers are fresh, as almost everywhere in Umbria, even in front of the smallest wayside shrines along the remotest roads. The wooden plaques on either side of the altar are in memory of local people, with their photographs: a man standing by a small lake, a woman at her desk.

And now, having seen this little country chapel — notice the bell on the roof — we continue our walk to S. Venanzo, about 3 km SW.

[image ALT: zzz. It is zzz of the chapel of the Madonna dei Monti, NE of S. Venanzo, Umbria (central Italy).]

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Page updated: 21 Dec 09