Grotta dell'Angelo

Useful Information

Location: Monte d'Elio, Gargano.
(41.915889, 15.621806)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave SubterraneaSt. Michael Caves
Light: bring torch
Dimension: A=150 m asl.
Guided tours:
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1967-1968 excavated by Mara Guerri from the Istituto di Paletnologia, Università di Firenze.


The Grotta dell'Angelo is a small undeveloped cave with a great location. The entrance on the northeastern slopes of the Monte d'Elio offers a view over the lago di Lesina and the Mediterranean Sea. The cave is a horizontal passage, rather small but with several side branches. Most of the cave is high enough to walk in without stooping, the visit is very easy. It actually has a single horizontal cave passage which starts rather large and becomes narrow, halfway it turn 90° to the left. At this point the cave is closed by a gate since about a decade.

The cave was obviously lately used as a stable, but it was used by man much earlier. At one time, the entrance portal was closed by a wall with a door, but today most of the wall is collapsed. During excavations, the remains of human inhabitants from the Palaeolithic were discovered under the direction of Mara Guerri, Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria (Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History), Università di Firenze (University of Florence). The oldest remains were from the Gravettien (Upper Paleolithic). More than 3 m high up on the wall some engravings can be found, which were created by the paleolithic culture called Romanelliana. Between 1.50 m and 2.60 m deep Bronze Age remains were found, similar findings were also made on the plateau above the cave and at other places nearby. It is followed by Roman and Medieval remains.

The name Grotta dell'Angelo originates from the Middle Ages. During the early Middle Ages caves were said to be inhabited by dragons, devils, fairies, gnomes and elves. In this cave Archangel Michael (Arcangelo Michele) was worshipped very early. He is often displayed killing a dragon with his lance, a typical legend which originates from this region. So actually this cave was seen as the place where he fought the dragon, and with it occult forces of nature. Another legend about the cave is told by the locals.

It is called leggenda della Sciatora (legend of the skier). There once was a fabulous, hidden treasure, hidden by a goblin named Scazzamurredde. A man dreamt about the treasure, so he knew its location. He went to the cave with his baby, which he rested on the earth, while he dug for the treasure. But for every dig his boy sunk a little bit into the soil. Finally, he found the treasure, and it had the face of his son. When he looked up he saw the child vanished into the earth, only the hair still sticking out. He ran, but when he arrived at the place, the child had vanished forever.