Città sotterranea di Camerano

Grotte di Camerano - Grotte nel sottosuolo di Camerano


Useful Information

Location: Largo Faustina Maratti, 6 - Camerano (AN).
(43.529989, 13.552812)
Open: SEP to JUN Sat, Sun 10, 11:30, 15:30, 17.
JUL to AUG daily.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 10, Children (9-26) EUR 8, Children (0-8) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 8, Disabled free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 8, School Pupils EUR 2, [2021]
Classification: SubterraneaCellar
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=3,000 m, VR=20 m, T=14 °C.
Guided tours: L=1,000 m, D=60 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Alberto Recanatini, Marco Campagnoli (2000): La Memoria del Sottosuolo, Camerano Cavità artificiali e sistemi ipogei sotto i centri storici alle falde del Conero ed in area mesoadriatica, Proloco "Carlo Maratti", 1999. Comune di Camerano, 2000.
Roberto Bizzarri, Angela Baldanza, Irene Luccioni, Alberto Recanatini (2013): The geology of the Camerano area through the reconstruction of sedimentary sequences of the urban caves, October 2013Geologia Croatica 66(3):205-218. researchgate
Address: Ufficio IAT Informazioni e Accoglienza turistica, Piazza Roma, 26, 60021 Camerano, Tel: +39-071-7304018. E-mail:
Pro Loco "Carlo Maratti" Camerano, Piazza Roma, 26, 60021 Camerano, Tel: +39-071-7304018. E-mail:
Comune di Camerano - Ufficio Turismo e Cultura, via San Francesco, 24, 60021 Camerano, Tel: +39-071-730301, Tel: +39-071-7303058.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1327 oldest inscription in the caves.
19th cty first map drawn by the Mancinforte family.
JUL-1944 used as air raid shelters.
1998 opened to the public.
2013 photographer Gianluca Mainiero makes photos of the caves.
2014 virtual tour on the website.

Description

The Città sotterranea di Camerano (Underground city of Camerano) is an underground complex of considerable extension. Sometimes they are also called Grotte di Camerano (Caves of Camerano). It is located below the historic center, but reaches outside the boundaries of the ancient fortified city. The historical origin of the caves is unknown, the earliest written documents mention that they already exist and were created long before. Some techniques used to dig the caves were used since prehistoric times, so probably small parts are this old. Probably the caves started as wells or cisterns to collect water. Later sandstone was quarried for the construction of houses. The abandoned quarries were reused for various purposes. There are some parts, where the walls show traces of quarrying, including some rocks which were started but never completely removed. But in most of the caves the walls were finished and decorated. Other rooms were dug for special purposes, like the three rotundas, places clearly designed for meetings.

During the 18th and 19th century the noble families took an interest in the caves and redecorated them with new motifs and themes. They used them as ritual and meeting places. The first map was drawn by the Mancinforte family in the 19th century, but only of the part below their own palace. In 1944 the caves became quite important, because they were used as air raid shelters during World War II. The entire population of Camerano, some 2000 people, took refuge in the caves for a period of 18 days.

The name Camerano means chamber or large room. It is a reference to the vast underground structures, which are considered an underground city by the locals. There is a saying, that at Cameron there is more below ground than above ground. The locals also insist that the caves were dug when the cit was founded, around 3,000 BC. They say the city was founded by the Piceni, who settled on hills after the cut off the top of the hill for their settlement. And under this artificial plateau they built underground labyrinths for unknown reasons. And actually there is no way to say if this is right or wrong with scientific means. After all, it is impossible to date voids, and the lack of content in the cave which is so old does also not tell anything. In other words, the legends are quite unlikely but not impossible.

As diverse and unprovable as the age, are the theories about the purpose of the cavities. It is quite obvious that the builders had a use for them, nobody would have spent so much work without any kind of benefit. This could be of an economic nature, for example because digging was cheaper than building a storage room, the cooler temperature meant that food could be kept longer, or the safety of valuable goods that were inaccessible to neighbours or thieves. Perhaps they were also religious, because faith demanded underground places of worship. Something similar is known from the cult of Mithras. And then, of course, it could also be a security-related reason, the corridors could serve as escape tunnels, to smuggle in food during sieges, as hiding places during raids, or as a supply route during battles.

For many of tose reasons the tunnels were actually used, but much later than their construction. Over centuries the caves have hosted catholic masses, pagan rites, and masonic rituals. They were a refuge for the population during the bombings of World War II. And earlier they were a refuge from the raids of the pirates who landed in Portonovo and reached Camerano.

Like a true underground city, the caverns are connected by tunnels, wells and staircases. There are different levels of caves, and sections of the caves are named after the buildings above: Grotta Manciforte, Corraducci, Trionfi, or Ricotti.

The caves were created inside Early Pleistocene (Calabrian) marine deposits, which lack subaerial outcrops. In other words the sediments could only be examined because they became accessible through the cellars. The geologists made the stratigraphy underground.