The Abbey in the Cave
May 26, 2009 / Places Cava de' Tirreni
Anna 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 façade 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.
A 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.