St. John of Antro
Stories of peoples carved in rock
What it is and where it is
Entering the Natisone Valleys, one discovers quite special places: not yet mountains, no longer Collio, a nature not only intact but wild, a secluded and almost secret dimension. In a wall overlooking Pulfero, hides an eagle's nest and Gothic-looking chapel, a place of worship and an impregnable fortress: from here begins a Speleological trail between the fairy-tale and the naturalistic, ghostly shadows of giant bears and vaults decorated with sculptures created by water over the millennia.
Why it is special
So many realities and nuances are encountered here that the word special is reductive. Cave paintings intersect with the remains of cave bears (Ursus Speleus), alternate with pre-Roman, Roman and medieval relics, are interrupted by the Slavic Gothic-style chapel. A whirlwind of forms, materials, eras and cultures that might seem haphazard if it were not dropped into what is truly a natural labyrinth carved by water.
Not to be missed
Human intervention, however admirable, is but a small part of Anthro Cave. Precisely as a cave, it is made of tunnels, halls, chimneys, ponds, etc. To orient oneself inside it is not easy. To make it accessible to everyone, there are well-marked and equipped trails. Those who want to go further will have to make use of the experienced guides and be well prepared for the labyrinthine environment of the cave.
A bit of history
Starting with the earliest prehistoric settlements, we come to the Roman rule that included the place in its defense system. In 889 an edict by Berengar initiated its transformation into a place of worship, which, however, until the xv century coexisted with defensive and military functions. Since 1885 intense speleological activity has been taking place there.
When Queen Vida heard that Attila was about to arrive in the valley, she invited all the people to take refuge with her in the Cave of Antro, bringing animals and as much food as possible as well. When the Huns arrived in the Natisone Valley, they found it deserted, but it was not long before they located the impregnable refuge and besieged it, waiting for the starvation surrender. When only one last sack of grain remained, the queen made an extreme attempt: she threw the grain from the rock, shouting that she had as many sacks as grains had fallen to the ground. At the sight of such waste, Attila surrendered and continued on his way.
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