The Grotto of Lamia, a true natural and geological treasure

yescalabria_grotta_lamia_01-minThere are many little known places in Calabria of untouched nature, shrouded in mystery and legend, yet ideal for the adventurous and passionate explorer.

One of these places is undoubtedly represented by the Grotto of Lamia, a natural outdoor museum in the underbelly of Italy. Located in the Grecanica area of the Regina province, in the municipality of Montebello Ionico, the Lamia Caves formed by sedimentary rock that created in a marine environment when the Massif of Aspromonte hadn’t yet emerged.

After the tectonic lifting of the Aspromonte area, there began the slow but constant erosion by the water of the calcareous and arenaceous rock that was found in this area. The Grotto therefore begun to take shape and the water continued its erosive action, forming spaces between the most solid and solidified rock, creating imaginative pathways. yescalabria_grotta_lamia_03-min

The effect, observable today, is an alternation and sequence of winding paths, ravines, columns, pillars and large stalactites made from calcium carbonate. Along the way, in the dark surroundings or in semi darkness, one finds the bat colonies. On the rocks and walls, there are clusters of fossil shells, remains of those marine organisms living in the ancient Aspromonte sea, present here in exceptionally large and well-preserved specimens, predominantly of the genus Pecten.

The entrance to the cave is always free and open, there is also an accessible part for everyone and another for which speleological equipment is needed.

The emotions that the grotto evokes are suggestive of its name, “Lamia” (from the Greek “lamyros” to huddle, or “laimos” the gorge) a name that belonged to the mythical and beautiful queen of Libya, the daughter of Belo, who soon entered the heart Of Zeus and from whom he bore many sons; A descent, envied by Era, who not endure their love, unleashing the uncontrollable hatred of their children, killing them all except Scilla and Sibyl. Lamia, overwhelmed with pain, turned into a monstrous creature and took refuge in the darkness of the caves for her dreadful appearance. The “mouth” of the monster, in fact, appears at the entrance of the cavity. A mouth that in the ancient stories handed down by the elders of the countries of Montebello and Fossato Ionic was able to swallow whole herds.yescalabria_grotta_lamia_02-min

The ancient stories handed down by the elders of the village tell about the tunnels that would reach the town of Motta San Giovanni; Others argue that the caves extend deep into the river’s banks. Truth, however, is enveloped by the mystery, but one thing is certain: the Lamia Caves are part of our invaluable environmental heritage.  An untouched part of nature, wrapped in the mystery of its pathways, and that only its inhabitants – and bat colonies – know the secrets!

HOW TO GET THERE

The caves, though hidden, are easily accessible.

Just follow the SS 106 and take the turn for Montebello Jonico, continue towards Fossato Ionico and from there, towards Lungia. Once you get to the church of the same name you go on and go a few kilometers uphill. At a certain point, instead of going uphill, turn left. A few meters on the right, an iron gate allows entry to the cave site. Going for about five hundred meters you get to the main entrance.

Maps