Monday, October 6, 2014

Cava d'Ispica and the Museo Cavallo d'Ispica

Cava d'Ispica is a rocky gorge filled with prehistoric tombs, lovely walking paths, and plenty to explore. 

As so often happens in Sicily, a visit to this archaeological site is as much about the nature as it is about the ancient remains. The walking paths take you up along the cliffs that line the gorge. It was used as a cemetery in prehistoric times when the tradition was burying the dead in rock cut tombs. Later, in medieval times, the gorge was used to create catacombs, rock hewn churches, and cave dwellings, the remains of which can be explored at your leisure in this beautiful place. 

Other than all the rocks and caves, prickly pear cacti, walnut and pomegranate trees were our main company, and yes, we did sample their delicious fruits along the way for some nutritious and delicious snacking to take a break from all the rambling and climbing.

This 34 meter huge cave, which was used as a catacomb, is one of the biggest we explored.
If you are daring you can test your balance by walking along the uneven edges of these now empty graves and go exploring deep into the dark corners where it can be hard to see. Apparently there are a total of 464 tombs inside.

After our visit to the site, we were intrigued by the signs that directed us to the nearby Museo Cavallo d'Ispica, a Water Mill (mulino ad acqua) museum. Here we were amazed by a 17th century house still inhabited by the descendants of the original owners, and still functioning as a flour mill powered by a water wheel. The house is built into a rocky cliff similar to the landscape of the archaeological park, and includes the original caves that were used as living quarters, stables, and the flour mill. Really brings those caves to life!
It was raining so hard I wasn't able to take many photos, but the visit includes a tour of the water source that powers the water wheel as well as a demonstration of how the wheel crushes the grain into flour which is available to purchase for only 1.50 euro per bag! More information and photos here.

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