Sanctuary of La Verna

Original name

Santuario Francescano "La Verna"

Geographic Area

Chiusi della Verna, Tuscany, Italy

Reference Project

Hermitic Architecture - Documentation of the Great Hermitages of Tuscany

Site description

The mountain of La Verna became a religious and retreat place since 1213, following the contact between S. Francesco of Assisi and the Count of Chiusi in Casentino, who offers the site as a gift dedicated to built a place of retreat to ascetic life. In the rocky landscape of the wild forest, the most characteristic events of the Saint's life, such as the temptation of Satan and the reception of the Stigmata, find correspondence in the design and architectural transformation of the landscape, modelled to accommodate the sanctuary complex.
In the Hermitage of la Verna, the natural limit of the rock encloses the complex of the Stigmata, separating it from the monastery, including the small cells for hermits and the religious chapels in a bounded area that is inaccessible to visitors and other monks, naturally separated by the rock ravine of Sasso Spicco. The Chapels are dedicated to specific characters and features of S. Francesco’s life, and they are located both in the interior environments of the hermitage and in the spiritual paths among the mountain, traditionally occupied by Blessed monks, defining a deep relation between soul, architecture and landscape.


Sandro Parrinello

University of Pavia
University of Florence
University of Bologna
University of Basilicata

Survey Activities

Laser Scanner
Andrea Pagano, Giovanni Pancani, Sandro Parrinello

Mobile Laser Scanner
Auro Palastanga, Raffaella De Marco, Francesca Galasso

Terrestrial Photogrammetry
Antonio Bixio, Mario Annunziata, Sara Bua, Carmelo Cozzo, Giuseppe Damone, Raffaella De Marco, Filomena De Robertis, Erika Ficarelli, Francesca Picchio

On-site hand drawing analysis
Mario Manganaro, Sandro Parrinello, Silvia Bertacchi, Giulia Bianchi, Marianna Calia, Sara Colaceci, Francesca Picchio

Post production Activities

Hand Drawings and SfM models
Hand drawings and 3D mesh models from photogrammetric survey on landscape, architectural and decorative apparatuses have been elaborated by researchers and students of partner universities during the workshop “Architettura Eremitica – Design systems and cultural landscapes” in 2013, organized during the 4th edition of the conference cycle “Architettura Eremitica” organized by University of Florence and University of Pavia.

2D Drawings and 3D models
Students of the course of Architectural Survey a.a 2013-2014 and a.a. 2014-2015, Masterdegreee course in Building Engineering and Architecture, University of Pavia. Professor: Sandro Parrinello, Tutors: Francesca Picchio, Raffaella De Marco, Francesca Galasso.

  • Gallery
  • Hermitage Point Cloud
  • Chapel Point Cloud

Documentation Methodology

The sanctuary, which collects the main areas of lay and religious monastic life, is compared with the development of the corresponding hermitage, built on the peak of the most inaccessible rock of the mountain, and together with the path of the Chapels of the Saints consolidates the Franciscan matrix of architectural tradition.

The research project concerns the construction of an archive of three-dimensional data useful for the development of critical and interpretative considerations on the morphological design and the development phases that characterized the construction of the hermitage of La Verna. The relationship between built and naturalistic system constitutes one of the most relevant aspects in this hermitage, which is inspired by the monastery of the temptations of Jericho. For the documentation of these environments, mostly inaccessible for cloistered reasons, a three-dimensional data archive was built. The project foresees the remote use of these spaces, in order to make these sacred places accessible and to promote their knowledge. Particular attention was paid to the design of the rooms and of the architectural elements that characterize the hermitage, with the development of detailed drawings for the Della Robbia and wooden decorations.

The survey activities have been mainly conducted within a multi-phase campaign of Terrestrial Laser Scanner survey, with a Z+F laser scanner model. The global point cloud, composed by more than 100 scans, has been integrated by more detailed survey activities to document the decorative apparatuses of chapels and churches. In particular, high-poly mesh models have been processed within Structure from Motion fest-survey procedures to digitalize the sculptural value of historical objects and Della Robbia ceramics present into the monastery environments. The spatial relation between the sites of the complex, enriched by the design of monumental paths, passages and rocks of the surrounding landscape, has been implemented within Mobile Laser Scanner surveys. Wide range point clouds have been acquired on the conformation of the mountain site, from the urban block of Chiusi della Verna till to the borders of the Sanctuary complex, to complete the overall 3D digital database.


Parrinello, S. (2016). Matrice sacra dell’eremo tra interiore e infinito. Firenze Architettura 20, 110-117. ResearchGate

Bertocci, S., Parrinello, S. (2013). Gli Sviluppi della ricerca sull’architettura eremitica: La Verna. In S. Bertocci, S. Parrinello (Ed.), Architettura Eremitica Sistemi progettuali e paesaggi culturali. Atti del Quarto Convegno Internazionale di Studi (p. 15). Firenze: Edifir.