At Cagnano Varano.
A14 (E55) exit Lesina, take SS693 towards east, exit Cagnano Varano, turn left towards Cagnano Varano. SS693 crosses Cagnano Varano underground in an tunnel, at the begin of the tunnel turn left across SS693, then again left into the opposite direction, towards San Nicola Varano and Capoiale. About 2km to the cave church, small parking lot.
All year daily at daylight.
free, donations welcome.
|Classification:||Cave Church St. Michael Caves|
|Dimension:||L=30m, W=8m, H=8m.|
|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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|1054||first written mention.|
Archangel Michael was really busy in this area, seems he liked it. And this cave, Grotta San Michele, is one of the many places where he appeared. To his honor the huge cavern was transformed into a church. Every year on 08-MAY the apparition is celebrated.
The cave is located northwest of the village Cagnano Varano, in a tranquil valley. There is a sort of garden or small park, which is very well kept by the locals. The park ends at a white limestone cliff facing south, with some reddish and brown stains. At the foot of this cliff the portal of a natural cave was closed completely by an obviously Medieval wall. It is resembling a fortified house with a sort of tower, but it is just a facade, a wall proteting the cave with a rather small wooden door, which gives way into the cave church.
The floor of the cave is covered by limestone tiles, at least at the entrance. deeper in the cave it is just the natural dark brown earth and gravel. There are three altars in the cave one to the right at the entrance, another one deeper in the cave at the same side, and the third at the far end facing the entrance.
The cave itself is really beautiful. There are only very few speleothems, some small stalagmites growing on the tiles, but the ceiling is a rugged landscape of rounded scallops. The white, dry limestone ceiling is between 6 and 10m high, with a few parts protruding deeper down. The single huge chamber is a wide arch, a single chamber which gets a little narrower at the end and then ends abruptly.
This is probably the most impressive church on the Gargano. Simple but beautiful, well preserved and still almost unknown, frequented primarily by the locals.