There are many reasons to discover Italian region Marche and especially its inland: sweet hills revealing enchanted woods, an archeological heritage still filled with uncovered secrets, stunning landscapes and an irresistible local food culture.
If you happen to be in this area, I suggest you to visit the Frasassi Caves with your children: here is an experience which will make them feel like little Indiana Jones!
A path through the woods leads to the Valadier Temple and to the Sanctuary of Frasassi Virgin Mary, but it’s such an easy track you may even walk through it with prams. The walk is upwards, but it’s not very demanding and takes less than one hour. The landscape you will find once arrived will fill your heart, with the Frasassi Gorge as background and the eagles’ nest on the top of it.
Once you arrive on the hilltop you will discover one of the area’s most charming places: the Valadier Temple, builded at the beginning of a large cave, and the medieval church known as Sanctuary of Frasassi Virgin Mary with its internal spring.
Santa Maria Infra Saxia – which names the whole gorge – was probably the oratory of an ancient benedictine cloister. A landslide destroyed the cloister, but the small church survived, as did the small Mary’s statue, which the legend considers miraculous and is now hosted in a museum. Here the locals also tell about a man who walks barefooted up to the church every week, to thank the Virgin for a grace he received.
If you look over the Great Frasassi Cave you will see another church, white and octagonal, expressly requested by pope Leon XV – who was born in Genga, the largest village of the area – to protect the gorge. The first glance is already spectacular, but if you continue a few steps into the cave you will find a really unique sight, a combination of the small bright temple and the mountains in the background.
Even arriving nowadays through a paved road, this place still feels as a mysterious and powerful corner and it was not by chance that the area was inhabited since ancient times. Researchers think the primitive people considered the caves being sacred and used them to get in touch with gods.
But even if you don’t believe in legends, you will not regret the walk to the hilltop and these wonderful landscapes will fill keep the memory of Marche alive for a long time.