Cava d’Ispica: wonder in the joy of light
Sicilian author Gesualdo Bufalino once described Cava d’Ispica, near Modica, as “a long and thin valley, dotted by old caves and sacella, grass-less walls, interweaving tunnels and portholes offered to the joy of light.”
Cava d’Ispica is a 13-kilometer-long canyon that was home to generations of men and women for millennia, from the Bronze Age to the 17th century. Its long history has left behind the prehistoric tombs of the Sicani, Hellenistic spaces, Paleochristian necropolises, underground oratories, beehive tombs, rupestrian churches, monks’ hermitages, Byzantine crypts and sanctuaries with traces of ancient frescoes… and even a castle.
Some explorers even recorded that people lived in these caves until the second half of the 1800s:
“We would never have believed that in our day men could live in such lairs. But having gone in deeper into the valley, we saw a group of boys – poorly dressed with goat skins – run away from us and hide in their shelters like marmots in awe, calling out to their families with high-pitched screams. These people came out that seemed to look at us with more surprise than fear…” (Vv.Aa., “Usi e costumi di tutti i popoli dell’universo”, Milan 1858).
Today Cava d’Ispica is a naturalistic and archaeological area of great charm, wide open to the Sicily’s “joy of light”.