The Spina Family saw for the first time the Monastery of Santa Illuminata in 1986, and loved it at once.
However, the Family decided to acquire the “Conventino” only in 1988, after visiting other properties in Umbria and Tuscany. We knew that another powerful Family, holder of an important Industry of cars, wanted to purchase the monuments and the surrounding fields, aiming to create a golf club.
Nevertheless, we managed to purchase Santa Illuminata before them. At that time, the Monastery and the Church were “ruins”! These ruins left the people see the historical and artistical importance of the monuments; yet, a massive restoration was necessary in order to prevent the breakdown! The internal court was invaded by weeds and the walls of the monument were wounded by vast cracks and structural instability. Furthermore, the farm was invaded by brambles. Photographs of the Monument before restoration are available, as a witness of its condition at that time.
The work of recovery of Santa Illuminata could start only in 1997. Meanwhile, the earthquake, that had destroyed in that year the Basilica of San Francesco di Assisi, had further worsened the precarious situation of the Monastery and the Church of Santa Illuminata.
A visceral love for art and history had induced the head of Family, Carmelo, to study literally “stone by stone” the Church and the Monastery and to produce a detailed photographical documentation of their situation necessary to the subsequent restoration.
The aim of Carmelo, trasmitted to the entire Family, was to restore the originary situation of the monuments in a rigorously faithful way. He read in the disposition of each single stone the tracks of previous archs, windows, vaults, that at that time were hidden by interventions made the subsequent centuries. It has been an intensive archeological investigation, that let the
Church and the Monastery become the way we can see them today: their current situation reproduces faithfully their ancient aspect in the XI century. This restoration, conducted under the guide of The Soprintendenza alle belle arti di Perugia, met several difficulties: such as technical, bureaucratic, economical, and environmental problems.
The archaeological excavation of the floor of both the Church and the court of the Monastery has been particularly interesting. It was carried out in order to consolidate the stability of the foundations of the current Church (the one built during the XI century) as well as verify the structure and morphology of the foundations of the previous Church (the one built during the IX century: (see “history”).
As a result of these excavations, a sarcophagus containing a male skeleton, in addiction to bones from those who should have been friars of the Monastery, have emerged: in fact, at that time, it was used to bury the friars close to a Church or a Monastery. These bones have been buried again, being inspired by a feeling of Christian piety. The sarcophagus is currently exposed outside the Church.
A fragment of mosaic floor of roman age has also been found and is now exposed inside the Church. The huge work of recovery of the Abbey of Santa Illuminata, which was started
by the head of Family Carmelo and continued after his death by his wife Rachele and his brother Felice, has been completed in 2011 (a 15 years time!).
This work of restoration, of which there exists a photographical documentation, offers the opportunity to live today the mediaeval history and atmosphere of the Church and the Monastery, as well as the religiosity emanated from them.