The Entrance to Hades

July 29, 2009 / Places
Lago d'Averno, Campania
EntranceHades2The Entrance to Hades exists, according to Carlo Santillo, a tour guide for the Grotta della Sibilla. Hidden along a walking path at Lago Averno, the grotta (cave) is a 300-foot long Roman tunnel with many corridors that once interconnected, but now end in dirt or water. One of these passageways, Carlo insists, leads to the swampy Styx where Aeneas passed on his way to the Underworld.

After peering into murky water, we walk to the very end of the tunnel where a grand stairwell spirals down into a waiting room. A mammoth stone juts in the middle with an arched opening. Crouching through, on the other side we walk along a wooden plank above two watery caverns where, Carlo explains, the Sibyl once bathed and then gave her dual-meaning predictions.

Whatever the truth, the inky darkness illuminated by Carlo’s candles convinces everyone that Pluto himself likely roams close by.


by Barbara Zaragoza

Barbara is author of several books, including “The Espresso Break: Tours and Nooks of Naples, Italy and Beyond” available on in print as well as Kindle versions.

Bonnie Alberts, Penny Ewles-Bergeron and Barbara have teamed up to create a new Naples travel guide, the Napoli Unplugged Guide to Naples. See all their articles at or order the book at

2 Responses to “The Entrance to Hades”

  1. Fascinating! I remember visiting the Antro della Sibilla years ago, long before living in Napoli, and it the stories and atmosphere scared me so much…

    Thank you for reminding me of this awesome place.
    Ciao Lola xx

  2. Gian Banchero

    Oh, wow!!! I just saw Barbara Zaragoza’s blog “The Espresso break” Gosh, but a whole day can be spent perusing its great photos, recipes, story telling, etc. I’m soon to cook the ancient Roman legume recipe. Thank you Barbara…


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