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    • Day 30

      Santuario Madonna di Frasassi, Genga

      September 28, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

      Next stop was to find the temple in a cave that I had seen online. I had read it was near the entrance of the Frasassi Caves but in actual fact we could not walk to it from the caves and had to catch the bus back to the car park and drive, in the hopes it would be easy to find. Considering how windy and narrow the roads were we were a bit concerned we wouldn't be able to park anywhere but thankfully the Sanctuary was properly signed and there was parking, a bit of a surprise considering how hard it has been to find other sites in Italy.

      The Sanctuary of Santa Maria infra Saxa and the Tempietto Valadier are two sanctuaries and chapels located at the entrance of the Frasassi Caves, but not the main entrance. The sign said that it was only a 700m walk to the sanctuary and the temple, but it failed to say that the walk was straight up. I really earned my piece of pizza today. The walk was exhausting and Brad was not impressed so I was crossing my fingers it was worth it. I'm not sure Brad throught so but I was pretty impressed when we rounded the final corner and there in the entrance to a cave was the temple.

      The Tempietto is a small octagonal temple commissioned in 1828 by Pope Leo XII, who was originally from Genga. The white marble structure once housed a marble statue of the Madonna and Child by the studio of Antonio Canova, but has since been substituted with a copy, with the original now on display in the civic museum of Genga.

      Behind the temple, the cave continued back in tiers, with steps leading up to the insides of the caves. On the tiers were hundred of cairns, human-made stacks of stone built as a memorial or landmark, and it was pretty cool.

      The hermitage of Santa Maria Infra Saxa, Sanctuary of Madonna di Frasassi,
      is located not far from the temple, on a ledge at the entrance to the cave. The sanctuary is ancient; it is cited in documents from 1029. It is a simple stone structure built by Benedictine monks to house a burned image of the Madonna. The one room of the sanctuary was formed by being carved into the rock and it isn't until you go into the sanctuary that you grasp how it was actually built. Once again I am amazed of the history of this place. I think it was worth the long walk up and thankfully the walk down was a bit easier.
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