The Abbey in the Cave

May 26, 2009 / Places
Cava de' Tirreni
abbaziabenedettinacava1Anna introduced me to a jovial-looking, rotund monk with a broad smile, “This is Don Gennaro, he is the exorcist for southern Italy.” I found myself shaking hands with a man who looked like Friar Tuck. But after a day full of wonders, should this have come as a surprise?

At first glance the Benedictine Abbey of the Holy Trinity at Cava dei Tirreni looks to be a rather dreary place with an unprepossessing 18th century fa├žade made of grey lava stone. In reality this is home to what was once one of the most magnificent, powerful and opulent seats of temporal power in Italy, and what is amazing is that it all began as one hermit’s get-away cave.

abbaziabenedettinacava2A tour will take you to see the the Abbey and its ornate baroque cathedral with magnificent marble inlays and chapels, and then the Romanic cloisters squeezed under the overhanging rock (the original cave – see below), the Catacombs, and the Longobard Cemetery and Museum. The juxtaposition of the ornate and the unadorned is truly startling.

Part II about the Abbey, specifically its amazing library, coming soon…

Special mention: These visits have been made possible thanks to the perseverance of one woman, Anna Russo, who has worked closely with the Abbey with energy and dedication in order that the amazing art and artifacts contained behind the walls within this awesome cave can be praised by the public. Contact Barbara at Savour the Sannio for more info.


Barbara Goldfield

by Barbara Goldfield

Owner of “Savour The Sannio”,, a travel consultancy for central and southern Italy.

7 Responses to “The Abbey in the Cave”

  1. It is really a great visit. The museum is very interesting. The church is beautiful. There is a wonderful hotel next to the abbey. I look forward to the article on the library. My next visit will include the library. I want more research on the Longobardi.

  2. Joe Amato

    Thank you, thank you. Makes me realize how much I missed in my almost three-year WWII experience with my tank repair outfit from Salerno to Milano, but moved up along the West coast and the foot of the Apennines. I look forward to each of your daily posts, hoping to revisit familiar Italian cities and towns. Thanks, again.

  3. We were fortunate enough to meet Anna on a visit to the Abbey around Christmas 2006 when she took us on a tour of the Abbey and showed us the incredible life-sized Presepe in the caves. It is among our most memorable experiences living in nearby Vietri sul Mare. I wrote about it on our blog in December 2006. Thanks for reminding me of this special place!


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