by Eleonora Cesaretti
Preci belongs to the Club
I Borghi Più Belli d’Italia
Taking the path 505 from Triponzo to Visso, we go up along the tortuous course of a stream. They call it lu raiu de la scafa, whereas raiu, derived from gravarium, indicates a dejection of crushed stone.
At times it will be necessary to wade the river, trying not to slip on the wet rocks, and trying to distinguish the obstacles from the shadow games of the fronds’ dome over our heads.
Then the rocky walls, straight and smooth as if they had been cut with a blade, will attract us in a narrow gorge, recalling us with the hypnotic sound of the pouring water.
We are in Valnerina, a few kilometers from the village of Preci, where the ditch of San Lazzaro and the ditch Acquastrino are thrown into what is a real wound in the calcareous layers of red sliver that characterize the area. Not by chance, the gorge is called Lu Cugnuntu, the conjunction – from the Latin coniunctio, even if it could be derived from the vulgar coniuntius, a sort of hydraulic pipe. At the foot of the juncture, you are hit by a cloud of aerosol, released from the water that falls for twenty-four meters.
Upstream, the calcarenites – rocks rather resistant to erosion – have in fact created a gradient that gives rise to a majestic spectacle, almost overwhelming for that narrow slit.
Although the guides recommend taking this excursion in spring, when getting wet it is not a problem, it is in winter that the gorge releases its magical atmosphere. It is not just for the greater range, but also for the low temperatures that, by freezing the aerosol, create icy tapestries that decorate the steep walls.
In ancient times it was believed that these waters had therapeutic powers, such as those near Triponzo and Madonna della Peschiera. The conviction was such that, in 1218, was created a leper colony, also favored by the isolated position. In a parchment of 1342, we read as Razzardo di Roccapazza – Roccapazza was a castle that was completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1328 – had donated a land, partly cultivated and partly used as a pasture, to the village of San Lazzaro in Valloncello. For some, Razzardo was influenced by Saint Francis, or at least by the Franciscan ideology that was beginning to take hold; in any case the structure that was built, annexed to the homonymous church, was entrusted first to the monks of the Abbey of Sant’Eutizio, then to the minor friars and to the Franciscans.
The same parchment shows that the sick could live in the leper colony with their families, but they could not leave it in any case. Food was thought to be prodigious, like mountain viper meat. In the same way, we know that the superiors enjoyed the privilege of ordering hospitalization for the sick of the dioceses of Spoleto, Camerino and Ascoli, even if their relatives did not approve.
The leper colony – of which the central aisles of the adjoining church are still visible – was suppressed in 1490 by Pope Innocent VIII, because fortunately the cases of leprosy were disappearing.
Cascata de Lu Cugnuntu:
Latitude 42 ° 51’04”N Longitude: 12 ° 59’19”E
Maximum altitude: 620 m
Travel time: 2h
Length: 1.75 km
Difference in height: +220 m / -220 m
Water points: 3
Scenic value: high
Panoramic site: low
- on foot: easy
- by bike: difficult
- On horseback: average
- By car: not allowed
Recommended seasons: all
Tips for hikers: wear waterproof shoes and helmet
R. Borsellini, Riflessi d’Acqua – Laghi, fiumi e cascate dell’Umbria, Città di Castello, Edimond, 2008.
M.Biancarelli, L’Umbria delle Acque, Ponte San Giovanni, Quattroemme, 2003.
Int.Geo.Mod srl (a cura di), Parco geologico della Valnerina, Spoleto, Nuova Eliografica s.n.c..
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