Fascinating, impressive and mysterious, almost paralyzing. This is how it appears to visitors of Pietra Cappa, the highest monolith in Europe overlooking the village of upper Natile, occupying about 4 hectares of land at a towering height of over 100 meters. Located on the eastern side of the Aspromonte Park, in the Valley of the Big Stone, called as such because of the presence of numerous rocky conglomerates modelled by the elements until they took particular forms. Pietra Cappa has ancient origins and is cited amongst the ancient medieval monuments.
The monolith includes several legends which are connected to the struggle between good and evil. That of Christian origin stars Peter and his malice. Jesus would ask of the starving apostles to make penance by going up the mountain of stones. Peter chooses the smaller stone, which he sees crumble into bread crumbs compared to the soft loaves of his companions. When asked to take a second stone, the apostle responds by choosing the larger. In reality it is an admonition: His teacher in fact indicates it is for a resting place. It was then that Peter asked to remain that stone there for eternity. The stone swells enough to become the foundation of the monolith.
Cloaked in history and legend also the origin of the name Pietra Cappa that many indicate is a translation of inverted cone.
What is certain is the charm of this place, surrounded by dense vegetation of heather, mastic, myrtle, strawberry trees, chestnuts, oaks, bushes of mint and oregano, a sense of strength and atavistic energy, with its wild yet lonely character, still not affected modern man’s hand.
The only signs of human settlement are the Byzantine remains one encounters along the path leading to the monolith. It’s a site to visit, the ruins of the Byzantine church of San Giorgio, once with marble floors, of which remain some suggestive columns and walls.
Guarding this breath taking valley are the Giants of San Giorgio, chestnut trees left to us by legacy, probably by Byzantine monks, that frame the natural beauty and landscape of this setting.
Pietra Cappa is located within the National Park of the Aspromonte, in S. Luca. For more info see: http://www.viaggicalabria.it/itinerario-suggerito-trekking-il-monolita-di-pietra-cappa-81.aspx