The Cave of San Giovanni d'Antro

The Cave of San Giovanni d’Antro

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Carved into the slopes on the right bank of the Natisone River to the north of San Pietro di Natisone in Slavia Veneta is an underground cave. It can be reached through the Natisone valley either from Cividale del Friuli or from Kobarid/Caporetto across the former border crossing Robič/Stupizza. Leave the main road in Tiglio. Continue through Tacetta until you get to Antro. Parking is available behind the village church.

A gently sloping, well-kept trail leads to the stairs that take us to the cave entrance. The entrance to the cave and church at 348 m above sea level is at the top of a flight of 86 stone steps. The remains of a former castle can still be seen in the middle of the staircase. The entrance to the cave is constructed and also serves as the façade of the church dedicated to St. John. Venetian Slovenians call the church Sveti Ivan v Čele (St. John in the rock). Čele is the local name for a rock cliff, also a rocky slope or a rock face. The cave is quite spacious at the entrance. It has an altar opposite the entrance and a chapel to the right.

The chapel was restored in 1477 by master Andrea from Škofja Loka with his helper Giacomo. The altar in the cave part of the church is the work of master Bartolomeo Ortari, who worked in Caporetto in the late 17th century. Behind the altar the cavern narrows and unwinds inside the mountain.

In the ancient past the local people would seek shelter from attacks in this cave. A legend goes that Slovenian Queen Vida and her people found shelter here when they were fleeing from the fury of Attila, King of the Huns. It is said that the Queen threw the last sack of wheat that they still had to Attila, shouting that they had as many sacks of wheat left as there were grains in the sack. Thinking he was facing a long wait, Attila gave up the siege.

Inside the cave you can also see bones of the cave bear that were found there.

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Entrance fee:

  • adults: 7 €
  • children 6 to 12 and adults over 70: 5 €
  • children up to 5: gratis