I have spoken about San Gemini many times in the past. This is probably because it was my first ever international destination, and therefore holds a pretty special place in my heart. It was here that I found wanderlust. I found what really matters; experiences are more important than possessions, exposing yourself to different culture will help you grow as person, and to not let your precious time on Earth sneak by without you knowing.
This is the third part of my first international trip from 5 YEARS ago, and it is about the gorgeous little town where I spent most of my time.
San Gemini has been settled from the time of Ancient Rome to the present day, which makes this beautiful town rich in art, architecture and heritage. San Gemini was first settled as an agricultural suburb of Carsulae in the 1st C CE along the ancient Roman road, the Via Flaminia, which goes through the town centre. This first settlement was called Casventum, from which a small city developed during the Middle Ages as Carsulae was abandoned. During this time the name changed from Casventum to San Gemini. It is thought that the name change reflects the arrival of the locally celebrated Saint Gemine, a monk from Syria. His burial urn and original plaque stone are conserved in the sacristy while his remains were reburied under the high altar of the 12 C. duomo, the Church of Saint Gemine.
Note: More than one theory exists as to why the name was changed from Casventum to San Gemini.
Nowadays San Gemini is known for the healing mineral water which is bottled with the brand name SANGEMINI.
I spent four amazing weeks in this gorgeous town. By the end of my time here, it felt like home. I felt so at ease, so comfortable here, that I did not want to leave. I joined in the local festivities, including the Infiorata (Flower Festival), I visited the local doctor, I went to the local markets, I ate pizza for breakfast, and I drank wine in the streets. I became the most energetic and happy I had ever been. All because of this beautiful town and its wonderful people.
I loved my room. I loved the view. I loved the cafes and restaurants. I loved my tutor. I loved sitting on my window sill, looking out and thinking, I cannot believe I am here now. I love San Gemini so much that I wanted to come back for my honeymoon (unfortunately we ended up postponing it). I love San Gemini so much that it feels like home. Like this is where I belong.
Now I am not sure if it is because it was my first international destination, or whether the water of San Gemini truly does have healing powers, but this is why you need to experience San Gemini for yourself. It truly is so magical, so fairytale like. You could even just go to Italy purely to visit San Gemini; it’s worth it.
In such a beautiful old village like San Gemini, you are sure to find a great deal of historical gems. The following are a few of the places you can admire whilst visiting San Gemini.
Abbey of Saint Nicholas
One of the oldest churches in San Gemini, the Abbey of Saint Nicholas (Abbazia di San Nicolò) showcases the best of Umbrian Romanesque architecture. The doorway was carved and assembled in the 11th C CE, and sold in 1936 to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. It was replaced with a copy by sculptor Fernando Honors Rome (pictured above). The marble originally came from Roman buildings. The doorway shows different styles, carved at different times during the 11th C CE, and the lions at the base are even older. The abbey houses the first written documents which refer to San Gemini c.1036 CE.
Where: Strada Statale, San Gemini, Italy
When: Friday-Sunday 10am-1pm or 3pm-6pm
Phone: +39 0744630139 or 0744630130
Church of San Carlo
Along Via Casventino in Palazzo Vecchio is the Church of San Carlo (Chiesa di San Carlo), which dates back to the 13th C CE. The church showcases 14th and 16th C CE frescoes, and was once the palace chapel known as Santa Maria de Cincercchis or Incertis for several centuries. Around the 15th C CE it expanded to merge an adjacent building which featured an open loggia with four open arches.
Where: Via Casventino, San Gemini, Italy
Church of San Francesco and Palazzo Comunale
The 18th C CE Palazzo Comunale was once the Palace Genuensi, which replaced the former town hall in Palazzo Vecchio. It is the heart of the village, and is the first major square which you enter on arrival. The Church of San Francesco sits in the Palazzo Comunale, next to the former Franciscan monastery. This big old church was built by the noble family of Capitoni, and dedicated to the Saint Francis who stayed in San Gemini during 1213 CE. The original wooden 14th C CE door remains in the entrance, restored by the Enhancement of Historical and Cultural Heritage of San Gemini, and the Capitoni coat of arms is seen above the arch of the entrance.
Where: Piazza San Francesco, San Gemini, Italy
When: 7:30am – 7:30pm
Church of San Giovanni Battista
Dating back to 1199 CE, the Church of San Giovanni Battista, found in the northeast corner of town, is one of the oldest structures in San Gemini. Throughout the years the San Giovanni went through a series of changes whereby the original entrance was eventually abandoned and a new entrance from the Piazzetta San Giovanni was built.
This church was actually the location of my classes during my time in San Gemini. The room we were based in had an absolutely spectacular view of the mountain, Monte Torre Maggiore. If you are lucky you will see some skydivers on their decent.
Where: Via delle Mura, San Gemini, Italy
When: by appointment
Contact: Parish Priest
Phone: +39 0744630158 or 0744630130
Church of Saint Gemine
The Church of Saint Gemine (Santo Gemine) dates back to the late Gothic period. It has undergone several changes between 1817 and 1847. Restoration of the 14th C CE façade has been completed by UWM faculty and students. Under the altar is the urn containing relics of Saint Gemine, patron of the city, which were discovered around 1775 in a walled niche near the sacristy.
Where: Piazza Duomo, San Gemini, Italy
When: 7:30am – 8pm
Former Convent of Santa Maria Maddalena
Dedicated to the nuns of the Benedictine order, the former Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene can be found on the left side of the Piazza Garibaldi. It has been fully restored to its original 11th C state, and would have been the oldest women’s community.
Where: Via Cataone, San Gemini, Italy
When: 8am – 6pm
Former Palace Santacroce
Built between 1729 and 1730 CE was the Ducal family palace, Santacroce. Now known as the Albergo Duomo, it is your best choice for accommodation in the old city. You can stay in a part of San Geminis history in this magnificent 18th C CE converted palace.
Where: Via Campo Fiori, San Gemini, Italy
Phone: +39 0744 630015
Palazzo Canova was once the summer residence of sculptor Antonio Canova during the early c.800s CE, from whence the Palazzo got its name. It is now known as Palazzo Santi Terzi and is another great option for your stay in San Gemini!
Where: Via del Tribunale n.78, San Gemini, Italy
Phone: +39 335 383173
Where: Private property – Piazza Palazzo Vecchio n. 8, San Gemini, Italy.
When: by appointment only
Contact: Mr. Franco Nulli
Phone: +39 0744 630 478
The Porta Burgi, built c.13th C CE, is adjacent to the town hall and bares the coat of arms of the Princes Publicola of Santacroce. This Porta Burgi leads in to the Via Casventino, which follows the old Via Flaminia. It was once the town gate.
The Porta Romana is the current entrance to the city, built c.1723 CE by Duke Scipione Publica of Santacroce. To the right of the Porta Romana is the Albergo Duomo, formerly the Palazzo Santacroce.
Remains of the former Church of Saint Stephen
At the height of Palazzo Vecchio the remains of the Church of Saint Stephen (Santo Stefano) is visible. Only the apse is visible outside as the church was partially destroyed c.800 CE to be converted in to a mill.
Where: Via del Tribunal, San Gemini, Italy
The Via Flaminia, Church and Convent of Saint Catherine, Church of Santa Maria de Incertis, Church of St. Nicholas, Museum “Guido Calori”, Roman Domus, and the Geolab or Museum of Earth Science are also some great places to learn about the heritage of this beautiful Italian village. More information on these places can be found using the links below.