When I was visiting Umbria last week, my dear friend Letizia directed me to new walking trails that have been established near her house -- trails that wind their way from the valley floor up towards the great Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi.
The Bosco (or, forest) of San Francesco is a series of maintained trails in an area just below the city walls, an area where Francis and his followers used to walk. It was recently developed by an Italian environment and heritage organization, which emphasizes the spiritual element of these walks.
It puts it so well: "The visit to the Forest of St. Francis of Assisi, a splendid example of Italian rural landscape of 64 hectares and more than 800 years of history, is much more (than merely a hike.) This is a real inner journey to discover the message of harmony between man," and his environment.
"To become the protagonists of this new form of pilgrimage in the Third Millennium in the nature, history and the sacred, you are invited to walk the narrow path, starting from the Basilica of San Francesco...through woodland and fields, clearings and groves."
Along the walking trails, which can get fairly steep, I came across a section of old wall that dates from the early 1300s, and marks the edges of Assisi of that time.
The starting point (or end point, depending on your route) of the trails is the historic Santa Croce mill, near the Santa Croce convent.
(I hope my blogging buddy Annie sees the photos below -- she has taught many of us to keep watch now for shrines!)