Heavenly Hermitage

Lucignana is a village half-way between Bagni di Lucca and Coreglia Antelminelli. We know it quite well as good friends used to live there. It is a small but proud little place with a street plan that recalls an original defensive purpose although, today, few traces of its castle remain.

There is a delightful walk to be made between Lucignana and the romitorio (hermitage) of San Ansano which can be clearly seen on the hill opposite. The walk takes you down through an ilex forest, crosses a stream, where there is a mill, and then climbs up again to reach the hermitage which has existed until at least 1000 AD and is built on the site of an abandoned fortress known as the Rocca Pettorita.

The small church, in Romanesque style, built around the twelfth century,  was transformed into an oratory and a porch was added in the fourteenth century. Its rectory was used as a hermitage, hosting a hermit, guardian of the church and the adjoining land.

I especially love the roof timbers and the old floor tiles of the building.

Today the church is almost always closed, but the place is lovely for the beautiful views from it and for that exquisite walk through shady oak forests.

Incidentally, San Ansano (known as Saint Ansanus in the UK) is patron saint of Siena.  He was an early Christian martyr who survived being fried in boiling oil under Diocletian’s persecutions (should he also be patron saint of chippies, I wonder?) but eventually bought it by having his head chopped off.

None of this violence, however, enters into the slightest at the beautifully peaceful place that is the romitorio of San Ansano.

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