The Pertosa-Auletta Caves
By boat through the stalactites and stalagmites
The name of Pertosa recalls the word pietra, rock, but when you look at the village, all you see are brightly coloured houses nestled in the green of the Alburni Mountains. However, the origin of the village’s name is truly to be found in the rock, the one that faces the left bank of the Tanagro river. Here is what the ancients called pertusium, a hole that gives access to the Grotte dell'Angelo (Angel's cave), also known as the Caves of Pertosa-Auletta.
Why they are special
The caves are undoubtedly the most famous karstic phenomenon in Campania, a record-holder not only in Italy but in the entire Europe. In fact, they are the only non-marine caves in Italy that can be visited by boat. And this since 1932. They are crossed by the Negro river (or black river), which owes its name precisely to the darkness of the cavities. We enter this magnificent underground kingdom floating on water, in a silence broken only by the mysterious roar of the river. The underground kingdom, shaped over the centuries by the force of the water, reveals its countless wonders: incredible limestone formations, strangely shaped stalactites and stalagmites, and even a waterfall.
Not to be missed
Even less experienced speleology enthusiasts can enjoy the adventure of walking upstream to the source of the Negro river, in the company of expert guides, of course. Somewhere along the way there's the most romantic spot in the caves: after thousands of years, stalactites and stalagmites finally come together in a long-awaited 'kiss'. It may be an illusion, but they do seem to have human resemblances...
A bit of history
The great number of artefacts found in the caves proves that they were inhabited from the most ancient times: the most sensational find is not a jewel or a tool, but a pile-dwelling village dating back to the 2nd millennium B.C., the sole example in the entire Europe! Much later, with the arrival of Greeks and Romans, the caves became a religious site, a role maintained even with the advent of Christianity, when it was consecrated to St Michael the Archangel. His statue at the entrance seems to protect the light of the world against darkness.
Good to know
The Angel’s Caves are also used as a theatre: several shows are staged here, with the complicity of the wonderful acoustics of the rocky vaults, and the ethereal ballet created by the reflections of the lights on stalactites and stalagmites.
The temperature inside the caves is around 15°. Warm clothing is recommended even in summer. The caves are accessible to all and the routes are completely safe.
Credit to: Radio Alfa