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St. Giovanni of Maiella's cave/hermitage

Municipality: Caramanico Terme (PE)

Locality: Orfento River Valley, at about 1,230 m a.s.l.

Building: It is formed by a natural cave, partly carved with a scalpel, placed above a natural rocky shelter. It is accessible by a staircase and a narrow walkway, which in the past had a fence on its external side to make the passage safer. Even though today the last stretch, only 35-50 cm high, forces to crawl to get in, making the cave even more striking, in the eleventh century a comfortable and safe wooden gangway was built.
The hermitage consists of tree small and poor rooms: the first rectangular room, about 2 m high with two niches; an oratory with a little altar and a tabernacle carved in stone; a small space with some closets.
The water supply was provided partly by rainwater and partly by the water dripping from the rocky shelter, below; the unique and ingenious hydraulic system is formed by an uptake system, a canalization system and a collecting cistern. In the shelter below a housing structure was built and formed by a church, cells for the monks and guest quarters.

History and traditions: It was attested for the first time in the privilege of Gregorio the X in 1275 as a dependance of St. Spirito of Maiella. It's not possible to know for sure whether the heritage was founded or just rebuilt by friar Pietro del Morrone. In “Vita C” (“C Life”) it's told that friar Pietro, with a companion of his, climbed the Maiella and then descended into a cave placed on the top of the Orfento River Valley, which was a rather dangerous place to reach. He adapted some wooden planks in order to go up and down safely. When his brethren of St. Spirito of Maiella knew that he abandoned St. Bartolomeo they started to look for him and after a long time they found him in that cave, where he stayed for some years with two companions. He built here a nice oratory and some cells for himself, for the brethren and, on the outside, for the pilgrims, as the cave was really big.

Reachable by path: S (Spirit Path)

Visit information: Visitor's Centre in Caramanico Terme – Tel. +39.085.922343Email:

Image of the access of "S. Giovanni all'Orfento"
Image of the access of "S. Giovanni all'Orfento"
Image of "S. Giovanni all'Orfento"
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