The hermitage of St. Mark
is in southern Ascoli Piceno
. The religious buiding clings to the rock surface of San Marco Hill, near the hamlet Piagge, in the Montagna dei Fiori (Flower Mountain).
This place, characterized by forests, pastures and difficult paths, was chosen by Cistercian monks who, in the search of silence and solitude for their spiritual life, settled here at the beginning of the 13th century.
Besides, in compliance with the rule of essentiality of the Order, they built a simple hermitage and dedicated it to St. Mark. It was raised using as a basis a wide rock ledge, topped by a huge natural cave that opened in the middle of the boulder and access was possible thanks to a narrow gorge.
Visible from Piazza del Popolo, it was built using roughly squared blocks of travertine and it’s possible to get to it through a mighty stone staircase, that, like a bridge, spans the deep ravine. Its front is made up of two adjacent buildings, i.e. the bell tower on the left and the facade divided horizontally by a double row of mullioned windows vertically divided by a capital in the central column.
Between the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, the monastic life declined, going into crisis.