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Visit to the Eremo delle Carceri, Assisi

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The Eremo delle Carceri is the convent where St. Francis of Assisi and his followers retired to pray and meditate.

It is located on the slopes of Mount Subasio, 791 meters above sea level, and is 4 kilometers from Assisi. It rises near some natural caves, already frequented by hermits in the early Christian era.

The place was initially made up of many small caves used as cells for individual friars. In 1400 it was enlarged at the behest of San Bernardino of Siena and the Church, the Choir, the Refectory and the Dormitory were built. Even today pilgrims retreat in contemplation.

Panorama from Eremo delle Carceri
Panorama from Eremo delle Carceri
Bed of San Francesco
Bed of San Francesco

Visit to the Eremo delle Carceri, Assisi: what to see

It may be useful to know that Carcere does not mean Prison, in fact it comes from the Latin “carcer” which means secluded place, suitable for a life of prayer. The Benedictines gave the Eremo delle Carceri to San Francesco, so that he could be “imprisoned” in meditation.

Hermitage is surrounded by nature, more precisely in a forest of holm oaks, and it is a truly unique place with a particular atmosphere that is certainly worth a visit if you are in Assisi.

The visit itinerary develops in 10 stages, each of which is accompanied by an illustrative panel with photos and a brief caption.

Recommended visit itinerary
Recommended visit itinerary

You can see the refectory of the friars, the church of Santa Maria delle Carceri, the cells where the friars sleep (these only from a distance of course). And then the cave of San Francesco with its bed and the caves of Frate Leone, Silvestro, Rufino and Masseo.

Leaving the Hermitage, you can take a walk along the flat path to see the statues of the Franciscan friars intent on their work. The whole place has a truly suggestive atmosphere, indescribable in words!

entrance eremo carceri assisi
Entrance at Santuario
Eremo delle Carceri
Eremo delle Carceri
refectory of the friars
Refectory of the friars
Ancient sacristy
Ancient sacristy
Cave of San Francesco
Cave of San Francesco
eremo carceri assisi
Bed of San Francesco

Information for visiting the Eremo delle Carceri with children

Information for visiting the Eremo delle Carceri with children
Information for visiting with children
Narrow passageways and steep stairways
Narrow passageways and steep stairways

Between the entrance to the site – which consists of a masonry vault – and the entrance to the actual Eremo delle Carceri, you have to walk a short gravel path not suitable for pushchairs.

Inside the complex there are several tunnels and steep stairways, not suitable for very young children. Due to the low ceiling in some places and narrow doors, a baby carrier backpack is not recommended; the ideal would be the pouch.

Children are welcome but must respect the silence, being a place of meditation.

eremo carceri assisi

Access and opening hours

The entrance to the Sanctuary is free and free. For the visit, consider about an hour.

Opening hours of the Eremo delle Carceri

Weekdays: 6.30 – 18.00 (summer time: 6.30 – 19.00)

Public holidays: 7.30 – 18.00 (summer time: 7.30 – 19.00)

Just beyond the entrance is the car park. From Assisi there are 4 kilometers of switchbacks which can be covered in about ten minutes.

Curiosity

Among the stories of miracles and curious tales that are associated with the Eremo delle Carceri, two have impressed me which I report below:

  1. Near the Sanctuary, there is a ravine which is thought to be actually the bed of a river dried up by St. Francis, as the flowing waters disturbed meditation.
  2. Near the cave of San Francesco, there is a centuries-old holm oak where, for a long time, it was thought to be the place where he preached to the birds. In reality, historical sources attest that it took place not there but in Piandarca.
eremo carceri assisi
Magnificent view of the sunflower fields of the Umbrian plain

Keep reading:

1. Visit to Assisi with children

2. Among the flowers of the Lavandeto of Assisi

3. The experience at the Chocohotel in Perugia

4. City of Sunday wildlife amusement park

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