This is the last stop in our journey along the River Cesano and the Romanesque churches linked by the ancient road which runs alongside the river. We’ve already visited San Gervasio di Bulgaria, San Lorenzo in Campo and San Vito sul Cesano. Have a look at my post on San Vito to see how these churches are, or were, linked.
San Biagio is different from the other sites, because it’s deep in the mountains. You can see how the peace and beauty of the countryside attracted monks to settle here, where they could pray undisturbed by the busy traffic of the lower Cesano valley. The river is hidden in a deep gorge here. A long way down to catch your Friday fish!
Before we got this far, however, we had come a very roundabout way. I assumed that the cemetery of Serra Sant’Abbondio, where the church of San Biagio is located, would be easy to find and so I hadn’t researched it very thoroughly. In fact the church is in the old cemetery, which is not clearly signed – why would it be? We stopped at a caffè outside the walls to buy a drink but really to enquire.
The customers and barmaid could not have been more helpful. It was 15 August, Ferragosto, the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin and a national holiday, but things seemed pretty quiet in Serra. The caffè was not very full or busy and no doubt we were a welcome distraction. First they explained to us that the church was in the old cemetery and how to get there, and then one young man went off to the Pro Loco (local civic association which often provides tourist information) to try and get hold of the key to the church. The Pro Loco had been open all day (bravi! giving up their holiday), but by the time we arrived it had only just closed, and our kind helper came back disappointed. We were frustrated too, as the church is known for its fine Romanesque crypt.
A lesson to me to ring in advance ( 0721 730657) and ask for the key another time. This is what I shall do next time we want to see inside an old church. No doubt I should have contacted the Mondolfo IAT (tourist information centre: 0721 939252) for San Gervasio, and the Pro Loco of San Lorenzo in Campo(0721 776479) for San Lorenzo and San Vito.
Off we went anyway to see the church and cemetery. The scenery was indeed spectacular,
and there was a deep sense of peace and holiness in and around the cemetery and the modest little chapel (as it turned out to be) of San Biagio.