A sinkhole isn't exactly something that a person would (or should) plan a trip around but in the case of Roccantica, Italy. Situated almost exactly in the center of the boot of Italy, this tiny town has a history that dates back to Medieval times. However, that's not the only thing that makes it so alluring to travelers - it's also home to a massive sinkhole, with a particularly interesting legend that follows.
The town of Roccantica is surrounded by groves of lush forests, with the mountains to the east and valleys to the west. Its central location makes it prone to unusual geological phenomena, which is how it gained a reputation for being home to one of the most camouflaged - and intriguing - sinkholes in the region.
The Sinkhole Known As U’revotano
Scientifically, it's known that this part of Central Italy is prone to doline, which basically means that the process of erosion can lead to ground collapse. This is true for the limestone 'roofs' found in the area, underneath which underground caverns are found. In short, they become sinkholes, with the ground giving out without any notice or warning signs. While the phenomena can be explained away by scientific cause and effect, that hasn't stopped the region from passing down a legend that seems to explain what caused the sinkhole known as U'revotano, specifically.
Those visiting this mountainside town are likely to hear of the legend if they plan to go hiking around the ravines of the sinkhole. The story goes that there was once a village that was built on top of where the sinkhole sits today, known as Revotano (hence the name of the sinkhole that followed). In this village, there lived residents who were considered 'wicked' and 'blasphemous' and one of them had a wife. It was she who went down to the stream to wash clothes one day when she heard a voice coming from the water. The voice claimed to be delivering a message of divine origin and warned of unbelievable wrath that would soon be unleashed.
Little did the residents know that it would be in the form of the Revotano sinkhole. The event started with an earthquake; the voice warned the woman to run and so she took her son, and they fled. That same woman was said to have survived and founded a village by the name of Roccantica - the town that sits near the same spot to this day.
Details Of This Massive Sinkhole
Upon first look, the sinkhole is almost hard to decipher from the surrounding forests and plant life that has grown in and around its walls. However, it is massive in size and spans a full 820 feet in diameter. This sinkhole is a result of the collapse of the walls and vault of the limestone formation that once towered above it, and one can imagine that when it happened, it event was quite terrifying. Vegetation has since taken over the sinkhole and hikers should be wary where they walk, but the area, for now, has already seen most of its sinking ground. What remains of the 'red earth' and collapsed rocks can be seen along the edges of the sinkhole.
This is not the only sinkhole in the area, either. Another by the name of Catino sits near the town of Poggio Cantino, which took the name of the sinkhole of which it overlooks. Therefore, the region is no stranger to geological events of massive proportions, which makes for a unique hike for those interested in seeing more.
Hiking The Sinkhole Near Roccantica
Getting to the sinkhole is surprisingly easy and a trail can be found at the base of the mountain at the Church of San Valentino. The hiking trail features a trail marker, so it's easy to find even for those who have never visited the area before.
For those requesting directions, the sinkhole in Italy is known as 'Abisso del Revotano.' On the hike, visitors may see abandoned farmhouses, the surrounding Sabina Hills, and a fairy tale-esque landscape that's covered in lush greenery and plant life.
- Total Length of the Hike: ~2.2 miles
- Notable Points of Interest: Hikers will pass by the Hermitage of San Leonardo, ruins of an old mill, and will eventually reach an overlook that gives them a view of the sinkhole below.
- Hikers should be wary of where they step; although the sinkhole has already sunk, the region is still prone to ground activity.