Located 1 km north of Pizzo Calabro, The Church of Piedigrotta (Chiesa di Santa Maria di Piedigrotta) is a unique structure – carved into a cave, with a fascinating history dating back to the 17th Century. According to legend, in 1665 a ship from Naples was caught in a storm and was headed from the cliffs around Pizzo. The sailors on board prayed to the icon of Saint Mary of Piedigrotta and promised to create her an altar if they survived the storm. When the men miraculously washed ashore safely, they kept their promise and placed the holy image inside the cave where they waited out the storm. After some time, local fishermen tried to replace it to another churches in town, but found it back in the cave after each new storm, supposedly to God’s chosen sight.
Two hundred years later, a local artist named Angelo Barone, inspired by the legend, carved religious images into the caves for about 15 years. And once he died, his son Alfonso continued the work for another 40 years, making the caves deeper and wider. The church was finished in 1969 by Angelo’s nephew, George Barone, making it the remarkable structure it is today. Several rooms of the church are filled with evangelic scenes, while 20th century influences are also seen in images of Pope John Paul II and John Kennedy.
The Church of Piedigrotta is located on the beach, with the entrance facing the sea. High levels of humidity and moisture constantly cause the sculptures to be covered with moss, giving the church a long abandoned appearance with a hauntingly ominous atmosphere, as if you personally just discovered a secret hidden cave! A visit to The Church of Piedigrotta is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
It is currently functioning as a church and a museum, but closes for the winter season due to the weather conditions.
Address: Via Riviera Prangi, 89812 Pizzo VV
Opening hours: 09:00-13:00, 15:00-19:20 every day. Closed in winter.
Phone number: 0963 532523
Average time spent: 45 min
Ticket price: €2,50