Along the ridge of Mt. Subasio we can distinguish some isolated
summits, the most important of which are, from north to south, Mt.
Subasio (1,290m), Mt. Civitelle (1,280m), and La Sermolla (1,191m).
Moreover, you can see Colle San Rufino (1,110m) in the north-western
end and Madonna della Spella (978m) in the south-east of the mountain;
in the south, separated from Fosso Renaro valley, Mt, Pietrolungo
Its characteristic rounded shape and the towns of Assisi and Spello developing on its slopes make it easy to recognize Mt. Subasio in the plain of Umbria.
The Mountain is a natural frame linking and dividing at the same time the historical towns of Assisi, Spello, Valtopina and Nocera Umbra as a unifying element of the landscape.
Its summit, mainly flat and characterized by evident karstic phenomena, clashes with the steep slopes mainly characterizing its eastern section.
The slopes of Subasio are covered today with an arboreal vegetation that can be divided into three strips: the first one is characterized by olive trees, whose cultivation goes from Assisi to Spello on both slopes and from Costa di Trex to Armenzano and San Giovanni; the second strip is characterized by a natural arboreal vegetation of Turkey oaks and downy oaks, hop hornbeams, flowering ashes, maples, beech trees, and holm oaks; high forests of resinous plants, due to reforestation activities, characterize the third strip together with high-mountain grazing meadows.
However, despite its great variety and despite hunting was banished several years ago, the natural environment houses a poor wildlife: wolves are occasionally seen, and the golden eagles lived here until the 60s together with the rock partridge.
The actual mountain management favors the new colonization by the grey partridge, the wild cat, the squirrel, the wood pigeon, the magpie, the jay, as well as the porcupine, the badger, the fox, the weasel, the beech-marten, and the wild boar.
Among birds of prey, in particular in the eastern section of the Park, there are the buzzard, the goshawk, and the scops owl.
Since ancient times, the slopes of Subasio have been inhabited by man.
Assisi and Spello are the two most significant settlements: they have
documented Roman origins, but several traces of more ancient
populations (Umbri). Therefore, in the territory of Mt. Subasio
history, nature, and culture merge. As a matter of fact, Monte Subasio Park is not only characterized by a great naturalistic heritage, but also by
an extraordinary human heritage very rich in ancient traditions,
natural beauties, artistic-architectural, as well as spiritual and
religious values. In it, nature well combines with the millenary human
presence that has left several evidences.
St. Francis gave this area a perennial fame all over the world, which combines with the fame of the matchless artistic treasures enriching the churches of Assisi, the charm of its streets and squares, the panoramas over the plain, the Holy Monastery and Basilica, Eremo delle Carceri set among ilex trees and oaks, and the ancient S. Damiano Monastery.
The so-called "Mortari"
Among the most important and evident phenomena, there are "Mortaro Grande", "Mortaro Piccolo" or "Mortaiolo" and "Mortaro delle Trosce".
The name derives from their resemblance with the homonymous home tool, the mortar.
They are situated on Mt. Civitelle. They have rather steep walls and a rounded bottom. They are approximately 50m deep.
Further Karstic Phenomena
Orrido delle Carceri The swallow hole collects the infiltration waters in a big hypogean cavity.
According to a popular legend, it fills up with water only in case of war or events of particular importance.
Vallonica Karstic Basin After Eremo delle Carceri, once you cross the homonymous ditch, at Rifugio Vallonica you will find Vallonica basin, a karstic basin - originally closed - which derives from the erosive action carried out by the ditch itself. It has an elliptic shape. Nearby there is also a small well.
Subasio Cave Situated at 1,050m a.s.l. at Sasso Piano, it is a 18m well giving access to a cavity which is approximately 30m deep.
Mt. Pietrolungo Lake lies along the mountain summit road, before Collepino. It is a flat-bottom doline with a well and water on the bottom.
On Mt. Subasio there are several dolines
Fosso Marchetto Ravine
Charming ravine dug by the waters of Fosso Marchetto. Everyone here can practice canyonism to enjoy the spectacular features of the canyon, since you do not need particular equipment for the lack of significant drops. However, you will need a diving suit and if you are not expert, it is recommended to be led by a qualified guide.
Eremo delle Carceri Ilex Wood
It is a very interesting example of high-trunk ilex wood and has always been protected by the friars who have been living on the mountain since St. Francis times.
Macchione Beech Tree Wood
The large beech tree woods of the past are now limited to some areas, the largest of which is known as Cacchione situated between Armenzano and Costa di Trex.
They are perennial grasslands covering an area of 1,190 ha.
These meadows are colored in spring by several flowers, among which the narcissus, which is the flower of Mt. Subasio. This flower, today protected like all the other floristic species, was gathered in the past on the Ascension Day to make the traditional "mazze fiorite".
Colli di Selvalonga
Area characterized by large woodlands of Turkey and downy oak.
Subasio is "Monte de Assisio" since Assisi and its mountain live since ancient times in a sort of symbiosis which, over the centuries, has become stronger and deeply rooted. The whole town center of Assisi lies within the Park and characterizes its natural and historical-cultural features, to the extent that the Protected Area could also be called "Parco di Assisi".
The town was built with the pink stone taken from its mountain and Subasio geomorphological balance and wildlife and vegetational features are determined first of all by the fact that it is the mountain from which Assisi has always taken its resources: from the stone material to timber and products deriving from the grazing activity.
Assisi, Umbrian acropolis first and important Roman municipium later, began to take shape exactly on the Roman town with its terracing, the square of the Forum where the main roads ended and where Minerva Temple still faces. In the early Middle Ages, settlements grew within the town walls on the ruins of the Roman buildings.
The most ancient churches date back to the period before the year 1000: it is possible to find evidences of them in the crypts of S.Maria Maggiore and S.Rufino. However, Assisi mainly preserves evidences of centuries of Franciscan spirit, centuries of devotion, and centuries of religious estheticism. Here you are Basilica di San Francesco with the frescoes decorating both the lower (Simone Martini, Cimabue) and upper basilica (Giotto), Basilica di Santa Chiara, San Damiano church.
Assisi has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In the Park there are towns, fortresses, bridges, drinking troughs.
Churches, sanctuaries, monasteries, abbeys, oratories, aediculae
increasing the historical and architectural value of the territory. All
these small but imposing works, set in a frame with strong agricultural
and rural connotations, represent the main tourist attractions of the
Abbeys and Hermitages
On the river Tescio delimiting the northern border of the Park, there are several ancient bridges which favored both the trade with the nearby Marches and the pilgrimages.
They represent secondary ways of communication used to connect the two parts in which the river Tescio divides the homonymous valley and are linked to the presence in the area of several watermills.
- San Vittorino (or Vetturino) Bridge of 1283, reconstructed in 1514.
- First Bridge of the Gauls (1193), under restoration by the Park
- Second Bridge of the Gauls or Ponte Santa Croce (1353-1357)
- Ponte Dolci (first half of the 19th century).
- Hannibals' Bridge or Pontaccio (collapsed in 2001)
- Ponte Grande (1469)
- Marchetto Bridge (medieval epoch)
- Cavaliero Bridge (17th century).
Given the rounded shape of Subasio and its calcareous nature, most of the meteoric waters go under the ground and reach impermeable strata. The water then reappears from the mountain as springs that man, over the centuries, has learnt to manage creating fountains and drinking troughs, and sometimes also channels to use this water in the aqueducts of the nearby towns.
- Fonte Bregno (at the edge of the border between Assisi and Spello)
- Fonte Maddalena (near Costa di Trex)
- Le tre Fontane (near Eremo delle carceri)
- Fonte Sermattei (situated in the abandoned town of Gabbiano Vecchio)
- Fonte del Brecciaro (along the road leading to Armenzano)
- Fonte San Silvestro and Fonte San Benedetto (situated in the homonymous abbeys)
Comunità Montana Monte Subasio has implemented several measures for the maintenance and recovery of these springs mainly caused by the long periods of drought.