The Linden Tree of Montesanto, around 600 years old, is majestic and beautiful, certainly one of the symbols of Todi and above all, it has an important story to tell.
The Tree, a precious monumental tree, is certainly – along with the Garibaldi Cypress – the town’s most important tree of cultural, historical and scientific relevance, and is absolutely worth seeing.
It is also called the Linden Tree of San Bernardino as, according to tradition, it was planted in 1426 to commemorate the beginning of San Bernardino da Siena’s preaching in Todi.
According to some sources it was he who planted it in the soil of the small hill of Montesanto, during his visit to the town which, on the other hand, according to other reconstructions, took place two years later in 1428, on the occasion of the trial of Matteuccia : in any case the two events are certainly connected in some way since Bernardino, through his influence, played a crucial role in advancing accusations towards the lady who was sentenced for witch craft and burned alive at the stake.
The linden tree is therefore certainly hundreds of years old, its trunk has a circumference of almost 6 metres, the crown measures approximately 19, and it stands more than 14 meters tall and in front of the entrance to the Montesanto Convent, marvellously facing the hill of Todi and the surrounding valley.
The Montesanto Convent
In ancient times it was called Monte Mascarano, meaning “the hill of spirits”, and at the time of the Etruscans it was a sacred place, with a temple dedicated to the god Mars and the goddess Bellona.
In 1235 the construction of the Clarisse Monastery was authorised, and maybe also Jacopone da Todi belonged to the religious community that lived there.
Over the centuries thereafter, the building was turned into a defensive fortress and then a convent.
In 1834 several large relics of columns were found there, followed by, in 1835, the famous bronze statue of “Marte di Todi (Mars of Todi)”, the god worshipped by the Etruscans and the protector of “Tùtere”, the ancient name of the city: today the work is kept at the Vatican Museums.
Montesanto Hill, with its unmistakeable profile, dominates the valley to the west of the city of Todi and is clearly visible from various points of town, in particular from the view point of the Oberdan Gardens.
The landscape is beautiful in the fog, when the peak resembles an island in the mist below, in the centre of a truly enchanting scenery.