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Convento di San Francesco dei Cospiti

From Agerola to the Convent of San Francesco of the Cospiti

There are many hidden treasures on the Amalfi coast, one of these immersed in the green of the mountains and overlooking the sea is present in Agerola, in the locality of San Lorenzo .

Isolated on a cliff on the southern slope of Mount Murillo , 630 meters high , the convent of San Francesco dei Cospiti has resisted for centuries . The convent has a high historical, landscape and environmental importance. The ruins, surrounded by greenery, occupy the top floor of a fortress and dominate the Vallone Nocito , which separates the inhabitants of Conca dei Marini and Vettica di Amaldi , and the terraces that descend almost to the sea. Looking out from such a natural terrace, the view sweeps from the Amalfi coast to the Piana del sele, the heights of Cilento and Punta Licosa.

It was built on a sub-level ledge between the sheer walls that descend from M. Murillo to the Nocito gorge; in a decidedly favorable scenario for mysticism. Even the cave which is located in the wall upstream of the ruins (partly reshaped by man) must have been a place of ascetic contemplation. Today, even the most secular hiker remains at least enchanted by the view from here on Amalfi (which appears very close below), Ravello, the Monti del Demanio, Capo d’Orso and the blue of the Gulf of Salerno .

How to get there

It is possible to reach these ancient ruins from the square of San Lazzaro, going down towards the belvedere and following the ramp of the Antica Via Maestra dei Villaggi . From here follow the stairways until you reach a crossroads at Tovere , here follow the mountain on the left going up along the rocky wall up to the Cospita plateau .

Our route – Ring route from Agerola to San Lazzaro

We reach the Convent of the Cospiti along a ring route starting from Agerola, The starting point is the gallery of the state road in Agerola, right at the exit where I present the commemorative plaques of the inauguration of the first gallery in 1880 and of the heroic action demining of the Agerolesi gallery during the American landing in 1943.

From here, take the 367CAI path , also known as the Longobard Staircase . Follow the entire link road until you reach the main path of the Alta Via dei Monti Lattari , path 300 CAI , and then continue until you reach the junction at the Imbarrata at 1039m. At the crossroads you have to continue south towards Croce di Scupolo , be very careful not to take the wrong path.

Follow the path to Pontichino up to Sella di Monte Murillo , the path 369CAI begins at the crossroads . From here the path becomes a little more difficult and slippery so you have to proceed with caution. Step by step you begin to see the ruins of the Cospiti convent from a distance on a rock overlooking the Vallone Nocito . The spectacle is extraordinary and the desire to reach the convent cannot grow more and more.

You pass through the arch of the entrance door and you reach an open space that was once part of the church, now only walls and ruins, It will be a great desire to explore the remains and reach the walls that overlook the view overlooking the coast , but one must proceed with extreme caution for accidental terrain. This is the perfect place for a rest and refreshment break.

We continue towards 369CAI and we immediately meet the ruins of another chapel right under the rock ridge. From here we continue to the right to go up the rocky wall by section on rocks, continue with caution this stretch of difficulty EEA a little exposed and slippery. We continue until we reach the stairway of Santa Lucia and finally leads to the church of Santa Lucia in the locality of San Lorenzo, a hamlet of Agerola .

We continue towards the center of San Lazzaro, but along the road we make a small detour to reach the Lauritano castle and one of the most panoramic terraces of the Amalfi coast. Once in San Lazzaro, continue along the paved road towards Agerola and the cars to close the ring.

The Lauritano castle in the time of time was a watchtower to allow the population to save themselves when the “Turks” arrived, today it is a place of the good heart, indeed excellent, for all tourist and entertainment uses. It takes its name from the noble Lauritano family, originally from Positano, who had their farms in the locality of San Lorenzo.

We thank Trekking Cava for having accompanied us to discover these fantastic places.

A little history of the convent

The construction of the convent dates back to the 11th century, in the same area where previously there was a small church dedicated to the  Holy Savior : the first written document attesting the presence of the structure is dated 1 May 1092. The convent, managed by the friars of the Order A beggar to the Franciscans , it was built in a panoramic area, at a height of 632 meters, on the cusp of a rock spur: the name Cospiti derives from its position  . In 1266 the convent passed under the patronage of the Candido family and a few years later that of the Molegnano family, who, in 1380, carried out important restoration works: in this period, on 2 August, the temple was the destination of numerous pilgrimages to celebrate the feast of the porziuncola. Close to the convent there is also a nearby mount Molegnano which took its name from the family of the same name.

In 1694 it housed three priests, an altar boy and three laymen; from a description made in 1693 it appears that the whole complex was made up of a church, a dormitory, a refectory, a cloister and small other structures that served the monastic life, such as a cave, partly walled up, which was used as a hermitage : this cave, called Sisto’s cave , because the future  Pope Sixtus IV , before rising to the pontificate, to escape persecution, took refuge in the cave, where he lived for two years.

In some reports of 1720 it is certified that the convent was still in use, but a few years later it began a slow abandonment, as testified by a writing by Archbishop  Antonio Puoti of 22 April 1762, which stated that only three friars lived in the convent; the coup de grace was inflicted by the French occupation of the kingdom of Naples, when the closure of all the convents was ordered, including that of Cospiti: however it appears that in 1803 almost all the monks had already abandoned the convent. The requests to the king by the  mayor of Agerola, Tommaso Acampora, were useless, to reopen the structure in the following years and following a desecration, which took place on 14 December 1811, the mayor decided to transfer all the works of art and furnishings of the convent both to his home and to the  church of the Santissima Annunziata : some objects also became part of various Neapolitan museums; stripped of all possessions, all entrances were walled up. In 1820 it was used as a barracks, while in 1821 the area was chosen as a burial place for the dead during epidemics: it was therefore definitively abandoned, being reduced to a ruin; today it is still possible to see remains of the walls of the convent and of the church, especially in the apse area.

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