Tunnel to the Past

At the end of town, a dusty, weed-covered trail led down and around the lower side of the cliff towards a collection of Etruscan caves carved into the side of the mountain.

At one time, a couple of them had been used as livestock stables and remnants of this use was still visible.

The cave further on is now an odd little chapel: Cappella del Carcere — the Chapel of the Incarcerated, a fitting name since the entrance was blocked by a barred door.

Chapel of the Incarcerated

Through the bars we could see a depiction of the Madonna and child on painted tile. Aside from its original use as an Etruscan tomb, this chapel had been previously used as a Medieval jail, mostly likely the reason for its name. Today, residents come here during religious processions to honor the Madonna of the Incarcerated.

From this point, the trail grew wilder, obviously not often frequented by either resident or tourist. I was intent on reaching the Etruscan tunnel further down that had been used by villagers as a bomb shelter during WWII air raids. What could be more enticing to me than something combining Etruscan lore with WWII history?

The cool dark cave appeared and I entered. I walked its length, imagining I was an Etruscan trudging towards the river far below to fetch water. But in the middle, I stopped and let a much stronger image wash over me: a frightened woman standing in this corridor of stone, elbow-to-elbow with fellow villagers, the deep drone of WWII bombers terrorizing the skies outside.

It's easy to smile in the freedom of 2009 -- not so back in 1943

We left the past and returned to the upper level of the town, finding Mom and Dad sitting on a stone ledge. They had been chatting with Maria who told them her 50th anniversary was coming up — it was for her that the church was in full bloom.


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