|Location:||Near Palombaro (Ch). Along trail G3. Star of walk at parking lot Sterparo picknic area. Duration of walk: 1.5h|
|Classification:||Karst cave. Cave Church St. Michael Caves|
|Address:||Centro Visitatori Parco N. Majella Fara S. Martino, Tel: +39-0872-980970, Mobile: +39-339-2615405. 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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The Eremo della Grotta S. Angelo is located above the town Palombaro on the eastern slopes of the Majella massiv. It belongs to the National Park Majella. Part of the small hermitage is a cave entrance with the church Grotta Sant'Angelo. The place is reached on the road Via Colle Forche uphill from the town.
The place has a long history. It was used by the pagan cult of goddess Bona, the goddess of fertility. Below the dripstones in the cave holes were cut into the rock to collect the tripping water. This is explained with the belief that the tripping water is the milk of the goddess and it is usefull for mothers in order to produce enough milk in their breasts for their children. There are four such cisterns, one half-circular at the right side of the entrance is connected to asecond of rectangular form by a channel. The third cistern was cut into the rock at the foot of the cliff face and has an elliptic form. The fourth is in a sidebranch of the main chamber and has an overflow.
When the place was christianized it was dedicated to Sant'Agata d'Ugno, which was actually a rather similar cult. It is also known as Chiesa rupestre di Sant'Agata d'Ugno. But soon it was dedicated to the worship of Archangel St. Michael.
The cave has a 35m wide entrance and is almost rectangular. This is the place wher the church once stood. Only the Apsis is still there, built using the cave wall and using the local limestone. The Romanesque arches were built during the 11th or 12th century.
On certain occasions guided walks are offered to the cave church. They start at the Majella park visitor center at Fara San Martino. There is a fee for the guided walks.