San Michele Arcangelo

Useful Information

Location: Lama dei Peligni
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. SubterraneaCave Church SubterraneaSt. Michael Caves
Light: bring torch.
Dimension: A=1,300 m asl.
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Various Authors (2000): Grotta Sant'Angelo in Eremi d'Abruzzo Guida ai luoghi di culto rupestri, pag. 45, Carsa edizioni (2000), ISBN 88-85854-75-5
Address: Municipio Lama dei Peligni, Tel: +39-0872-91221.
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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1327 inhabited by Roberto da Salle.
1447 first mentioned in the description of fires in the valley.
1656 used as a hideout by the notary Camillis from Lama.


The village Lama dei Peligni is part of the mountaneous National Park Maiella. To the north a steep mountain ridge with Alpine peaks is composed of limestone and riddled with caves. Nearby is the Grotta di Cavallone, a show cave. Right above the village Lama dei Peligni on the mountain side, the southern slope of the Maiella, lies a cave, about 1,300 m asl. The cave was closed by a massive wall and a used as a church named San Michele Arcangelo in Lama. It is deicated to Archangel St. Michael, like many other cave churches in the area.

The altar in the cave is almost destroyed. Once there was a terracotta statue of Sant'Angelo. According to legend a woodsman sought shelter in the cave because of a storm which lasted for three days. The woodsman became so angry about the continuing bad weather, he cursed and threatened to destroy the terracotta statue if the storm did not end. St Michael did not listen to his threat. The next day the weather calmed and some shepherds came to the church. They found the destroyed statue and the dead body of the woodsman.

According to local lore this place was the home of Roberto da Salle before he founded the monastery Monastero di Santa Maria della Misericordia at Lama dei Peligni. However, there is no written account and the first written mention of the cave church is from 1447, where the cave is described as Margarita concubina priorpis Sancti Angeli de Monte. The text is actually a description of a series of bushfires in the valley. Another legend is told about the time after the church was already abandoned. In 1656 the notary Camillis from Lama went to the cave to avoid the black death. While he stayed inside the cave he found a boot full of gold coins. His discovery caused a treasure hunt during which the few remaining walls of the hermitage were destroyed.

The entrance to the cave is small and irregular, followed by a small cell, which probably once had a window towards the valley. It is followed by a passage with a flat floor, which was probably once the home of the hermits. A stone staircase leads to a cistern which collects the water of a small spring.