Nature, history and art:
a multi-faceted cave
After arriving from Tarcetta to the quiet hamlet of Antro, which dominates the gently-undulating valley floor of the Natisone river, a short but fascinating stroll through the woods will bring you to the steps of the Cave of San Giovanni d’Antro, also known as Landarska Jama. To climb the eighty-six steep steps is to take a trip back in time through an incredible stratification of Nature, history and art dating back to a remote and unknown era. Lying at an altitude of 348 metres above sea level, the cave is first and foremost a complex underground world carved out over the millennia by water and winding for miles through the heart of Monte Craguonza. In this extraordinary natural setting, evidence of the presence of man dates back to remote eras: from the nomadic hunters of the Neolithic age – although the traces of their life have been almost entirely destroyed by the floodwater of the underwater stream – to the settlements and sacred buildings of our ancient ancestors. Used as a fortress during the period of domination by the Romans, it is thought that the cave was later used for the religious ceremonies of the Arian cult, and then by Byzantine monks in the period before the Longobards. There is solid evidence to suggest the passage from a place of pagan cults to one of Christian worship, such as the dedication of the church of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, which generally indicates heretical precedents. Theories, hypotheses and suggestions render San Giovanni d’Antro not only the most magical part of the Natisone Valleys, but also a truly bottomless well of history and culture.