Cerchiara di Calabria, 75 km away from Cariati
Cerchiara di Calabria is a small town in the Pollino National Park and in its territory there is the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Armi. The sanctuary was built in 1400 on the ruins of an existing place of adoration at 1015 m, on the slopes of Mount Sellaro. The complex is surrounded by rocks. Inside there is a cave, where in a silver casket, is kept the miraculous image of the Madonna. The interior is rich in artistic heritage, which correspond to five centuries of history. In Cerchiara you can also visit the small but fascinating museum of bread, are accumulated where various tools, machinery and millstones of the country of the past, models of the miller and the baker and, among others, the proper bread of Cerchiara. Just outside the village is the Cave of the Nymphs, an old source of sulfur water. The water forms a mud which flows in a spa.
The first inhabitants of Cerchiara had their residence in caves. They earned their living by hunting wildlife and culturing vegetables. The story says that Epeo took the wood to build the Trojan horse, from the forests of Mount Sellaro. During the Middle Age, this part of Calabria had one of the best-fortified Lombard castles against the attacks of the Byzantines to Rossano, which is just around the corner. His name means that, in the circle of its walls was possible to find a reliable defense. Cerchiara Di Calabria welcomes the visitors of the Pollino massif, with its beautiful mountain views and roads that go down to 1450 meters above the sea level.
Cerchiara is also famous for its caves, that in the past represented a secure accommodation for the Byzantine monks of the ninth century and then a refuge for robbers and shepherds. The most important is the "Abisso del Bifurto", 683 m. deep also called the "Fossa del Lupo". It is a deep, which descends vertically to 683 feet, on the slopes of the Pollino. The "Abisso del Bifurto" takes the fortieth place in the world's deepest caves ranking. Of great importance are also the source of the cave of the nymphs, which feed the homonym spa with its sulfur-rich water. In the picturesque cave there is a pool of warm water (30 C °), which was already known to the ancient Sybaris inhabitants. From some places of the limestone walls it is possible to see the open sky.
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