Grotta di San Michele Arcangelo

Grotta di San Michele e Nardantuono


Useful Information

Location: Grotta di San Michele Arcangelo Olevano sul Tusciano, Monte Raione, 84062 Olevano sul Tusciano SA.
At Olevano sul Tusciano. North of Eboli, east of Salerno.
(40.6692544, 15.0444677)
Open: No restrictions.
This is a catholic church, so it is open daily. Please respect worshipers and services, behave properly.
[2023]
Fee: free, donations welcome.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave. SubterraneaCave Church SubterraneaSt. Michael Caves
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=290 m, VR=25 m, A=600 m asl.
Guided tours: L=900 m, self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography:  
Address: Grotta di San Michele Arcangelo Olevano sul Tusciano, Monte Raione, 84062 Olevano sul Tusciano SA.
Associazione Olevano Sul Tusciano A.R.T.E. Arte Recupero Tradizioni Eventi, 84062 Olevano Sul Tusciano (SA), Tel: +39-338-900-0072. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

9th century first mentioned when Bishop Pietro, pursued by the Lombard prince of Salerno Guaifiero, found asylum inside the sacred cave.

Description

Grotta di San Michele Arcangelo is located on the western slopes of Monte Raione, also called S. Ermo. The cave contains the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Unlike other cave churches, where the cave replaces a wall and the ceiling of the church, is this a complete church with roof built inside a huge chamber. Actually there is a 900 m long trail inside the cave with five chapels scattered along the route.

The cave of San Michele Arcangelo was a stop on the great pilgrimage routes to the Holy Land. Monks coming from the monasteries of Europe, were passing through the sanctuary. There is a document called Itinerarium Bernardi monachi, which tells the story of the Frankian monk Bernhard between 867 and 870. Together with two other monks, he returned from the Holy Land. He visited Abbot Valentino, the cave of San Michele Arcangelo then went on to visit the tombs of the apostles in Rome.

“…exeuntes de mari,venimus ad montem Aureum ubi est cripta habens VII altaria, habens etiam supra se silvam magnam. In quam criptam nemo potest pre obscuritate intrare, nisi cum accensis luminibus. Ibidem erat abbas dominus Valentinus. A monte Aureo venientes pervenimus Roman…”.
"…coming from the sea, we came to Mount Aureus where there is a crypt having 7 altars, and also having a large forest above it. Into this crypt no one can enter before darkness, except with burning lamps. Abbot Lord Valentinus was there. Coming from Mount Aureus, we reached Roman…”.

The church is located high above the valley close to the village Olevano sul Tusciano. The only way to access the church is on a walking trail starting at the Ariano di Olevano sul Tusciano hydroelectric power plant, which is well-prepared and has numerous staircases. It's at least an hour walk, with an elevation gain around 450 m. At certain dates, there are guided walks to the cave church which start at the hydroelectric power plant. They are offered by the volunteers of the associazione Olevano ARTE. Recommended equipment are trekking shoes and a backpack with a snack and water, a sweatshirt and a lamp for the cave. Nearby, but lower, is a second cave called Grotticella del Ricovero (A=460 m asl). If you use the other trail downhill you will reach the river further up the valley, at a deposit of tufa. Here it is possible to visit the primary cave Grotta dei Travertini di Olevano (A=230 m asl). From here follow the single lane gravel roaw dowhill back to Olevano sul Tusciano.