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Rasiglia between springs and nature

Monday 28 december 2020

A small journey "on the road", to discover a region hard hit by the earthquake in recent years, but which is still resisting and trying to return to its former glory.

Rasiglia between springs and nature

Rasiglia is a fraction montana of the commune of Foligno in province of Perugia, ago part of the "Valley of the Menotre".

Rasiglia is known also for its streams and for the courses of water managed by a series of small dams, that cross the center of the fraction. Arriving in this country is like getting lost in time.


Rasiglia is a typical Umbrian medieval suburb and it is connected in indissoluble way to the water. From the thunderous source of Capovena, it springs all the inhabited area that, unfolds to amphitheater and rises as a village, necessary to the fortress that overhangs with the high mole, the many houses, narrow between them.

Despite being a very small village, Rasiglia has become a popular tourist destination, especially in summer and attracts more and more visitors every year. In fact, even though we went in May, we found quite a few people exploring the charming village. Moreover that day there was an inauguration of an architecture and design studio.

Rasiglia e le sue sorgenti

Historical news

The first news about the existence of the village date back to the beginning of the 13th century, in the "carte di Sassovivo", that is the archive of the Abbey of Sassovio, where is mentioned for the first time the "curtis de Rasilia", which had as a building of worship the church of S. Pietro.

Rasiglia was flanked by the ancient via della Spina, which was important for the commercial traffic of the time.

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Castello di Rasiglia

In the XIV century they were constructed some fortifications. Between these the castle of the Trinci, gentlemen of Foligno, that with its strategic position allowed the control of the valley of the Menotre.

In the first halves the seventeenth century, diminished the military importance, Rasiglia is asserted for the handicraft activities (like mills and factories) thanks to the watery force coming from the river Menotre.

During the Second World War, the Nazi-Fascist raids did not spare the community. In June 1944 the attempt on two Germans triggered a reprisal, during which three villagers were deported to Mathausen.

From 1945 to 1980 Rasiglia had its greatest economic development. In the last decades, instead, with the closing of the industrial activities, great part of the inhabitants moved to Foligno.

To continuation of the earthquake of 1997, the population has lived before to the inside of the container, then near the "village of the sources" constituted from buildings in wood and situated externally to the urban nucleus.

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Today the village relies on the important water resource and summer tourism. The great abundance of water of the internal canal was exploited to develop the economy and determined the formation of numerous factories: gloalchiere, grain mills, woolen and dye factories that performed the processing of fine fabrics.

These factories remained active throughout the 800 and the first half of 900, after the Second World War, despite the petition of the inhabitants, the wool factories moved to the city.

Currently, some buildings that once supported the economy of the town, have been renovated for residential use, while others are abandoned. Recently, a small hydroelectric power station has been restored and put back into operation. It was designed and built before the war by Engineer Barnocchi of Verchiano.

Sorgenti nel borgo

Events in Rasiglia

In the night between the ninth and tenth of December here is celebrated the Feast of the Coming, lighting large bonfires.

On the 26th of December and the 6th of January the Living Nativity is performed in the streets of the village. The representation is historically set at the beginning of '900. The participants re-propose the various trades, on which the small village based its economy in the most flourishing period. We could already see the structure for the crib and other decorations, left along the streets of the village.

Presepe a Rasiglia

Penelope in Rasiglia: every year there is an event focused on the traditions of the small village, the historical and cultural traditions related to textile manufacturing and industrial archeology Rasigliana. Stories, poetry, workshops and music.

Penelope a Rasiglia

The "focaraccio": The feast of San Macario, patron saint of Rasiglia, is celebrated on the 2nd of May every year. For the occasion, on the evening of the eve (May 1) and on the evening of the feast, a huge "focaraccio" is lit.

The "focaraccio" is a typical tradition of our areas: it consists of making huge sheaves of bundles, brushwood, branches, leaves, or wood donated by the villagers, to be lit as a sign of devotion and spiritual and material renewal; a way to exorcise the winter that has just passed and to celebrate nature that slowly comes back to life. The whole community gathers around the fireplace until it is extinguished.

Before the fire is put out, "sonnets" are prepared with the rolled up conical bark of the ornello: these, when blown in, emit a cheerful and shrill sound, which makes the atmosphere even more "crackling".

Unfortunately, after the earthquake of '97, the event was suspended for obvious reasons; then, with the reconstruction that has been almost completely completed, the tradition has been resumed again, even if the focaraccio is lit only on the evening of May 1st. We missed it this year, but next year, we will be there to see it with our own eyes.

Places of interest

The castle of Rasiglia

The signoria of the Trinci of Foligno, made to build or to restructure the "Castrum roccha Rasilie" to military use, together with various castles and fortresses in the neighboring countries, approximately eleven.

According to the original plan, the castle would have been more ample regarding the actual extension: in fact, it was not only a place of defense but, also of residence of the castellan, together with armed men.

The castle, placed at 636 meters above sea level, fits the space of the hill above the village. Today are visible only a stretch of wall with two minor defensive towers, renovated in the nineties and the ruins of the keep, which in 2006 was partially restored.

We admired it from below, because even though it was May, it was really hot and walking up to the top would have been unfeasible under the beating sun at lunchtime!

Sanctuary of Madonna delle Grazie

The sanctuary rises near the shore of the ditch Terminara, to around 1 km from the castle of Rasiglia.

The foundation of the sanctuary dates back to August 15, 1450, by Antonio Bolognini (bishop of Foligno) following the discovery of a statue of the Madonna in terracotta, kneeling in adoration of the Child. In spite of the successive displacement of the statue in other dioceses, this returned more times to the place of origin and it was believed this a sign of the divine will; so it was decided to erect here, a church.

The church has a quadrangular plan, has a single nave, the porch is supported by six pillars and three small columns, with stems that symbolize the people of Roviglieto, Scopoli and Volperino. Near the entrance there is the window "of the wayfarer".

The river Menotre and the sources of Rasiglia

The waters of the Menotre flow through canalization works, determining an interlacement of invaded and small waterfalls inside the village. The average flow rate of the river in this stretch has significantly decreased and with it the wealth of fish. The Menotre in the centuries, has been exploited for irrigation use, the mills of the country and the power plants of the whole area.

For those who, like us, has the opportunity to walk through the streets of this small village, can not help but be attracted by the waterways that characterize the town making it unique and fascinating, reflections, colors and mirrors of water in every corner of the city.

Rasiglia's springs are:

  • Capovena,
  • Alzabove,
  • Venarella,
  • Le Vene,
  • La Vena Pidocchiosa,
  • Le Vene di Campolungo

The source that feeds and crosses Rasiglia is that one of Capovena; it is found in the high part of the country, to the feet of the building that the Trinci occupied to the epoch of their government on the territory folignate, and that it crosses the inhabited area forming rivulets and cascades that meet in a great tub denominated 'Peschiera' for then to pour in the river Menotre.

The legend narrates that anciently the source gushed out in locality Acqua Pagana in the high valley of the Chienti; the inhabitants considered these waters a curse because escaping, flooded the fields preventing every type of cultivation. So they decided to obstruct the spring with sacks filled with wool, blocking the flow. The waters began to flow to Rasiglia.

The abundance of water has always favored the development of the village. The inhabitants have been able to exploit the motive power of water to improve the local economy with the creation of numerous factories: gualchiere, grain mills, wool factories and then after the ´900 of two hydroelectric power plants.

The Mills:

The extraordinary presence of water had made Rasiglia a town of mills and millers. Four of them can be remembered:

  • Accorimboni,
  • Angeli,
  • Silvestri,
  • Ottaviani.

Rasiglia was thus able to serve the entire vast surrounding territory.

The popular imagination had coined particular expressions based on the noise of the mills: at the Angeli mill "lu saccu pe' coscienza", at the Silvestri mill "chi sci, chi no", at the Ottaviani mill "tutti uguali, tutti uguali".

The water ran over the blades that allowed to operate the millstone. Generally, the mills were equipped with two millstones, one for wheat and the other for corn and cereals. Once crushed, the grain was refined through the "buratto", a cylinder covered with fine silk that separated the flour from the bran. Each millstone could process in one hour up to three quintals of cereals.

Woolen mills:

"Rasiglia was not a village of shepherds, but each family had its own flock whose products were sufficient for its economy... when it was May, the wool was sheared with wide, black, enormous shears, under the arch of Appollonia, during the meriggia, or behind the haystacks...".

This is how Vanda Tonti expresses herself in her "Vita col padre Umberto Tonti" (Life with Father Umberto Tonti) in which she reports, with the feeling of a life lived, the events, the reality, the traditions of the community of Rasiglia and of the surrounding territory.

Telaio meccanico

The sheared wool was then spun, dyed and woven through laborious and complex steps until the pieces were ready to be sold or beautiful bedspreads were made with more or less complicated designs. There were two wool factories in Rasiglia: Tonti and Accorimboni.

Today the sites are identifiable and it is possible to partially reconstruct the working cycles.

Don't forget to visit Capodacqua where you can admire a charming restaurant with a mill wheel, really picturesque and characteristic, as well as the whole village!

Unfortunately we don't know what to eat in this restaurant, because we couldn't find a place without having booked in advance, but its appearance really intrigued us.

Really a cute and perfectly preserved village, with interesting buildings.

And along the way many interesting villages, castles and points of interest not to be missed if you are in these parts!

Obviously a small touch and escape to Spello, is always worth it and if you are lucky enough to find even the Infiorata, you will never forget this Umbrian village!

We have seen so much green and nature, found peace and relax, sighted a fawn and parts full of poppies. But talking with the locals we have also discovered the other side of Umbria, the one that suffers, that has depopulated after the earthquakes that have diramente hit it and learned of many people who live and resist in the wooden villages built after what happened. There is so much to discover, to preserve and to reconstruct in this region that lives to horse of Italy.

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