The cave ways: suggestions of Maremma beyond time

Two thousand five hundred years ago, skilled hands - probably Etruscan - dug a network of paths in tufaceous rock , in an area on the border between Tuscany and Lazio between the provinces of Grosseto and Viterbo. Even today, this network of "vie cave" is able to excite those who travel through it ...

Crossing a via cava projects the traveler into an atmosphere without time in which it can happen to be abstracted from its own contemporary reality. The landscape is more or less what was to be presented to the patriotic walker on the trail of just united Italy, the valiant medieval Templar and the charismatic Etruscan lucumone. Ben has not changed much in the last twenty-five centuries , in these parts. Men have changed more than anything else, not the nature of these places. In the territory of Pitigliano, Sorano, Sovana and San Quirico, in the province of Grosseto, there is a network of at least thirty vie cave . These ancient villages surrounding the tufaceous paths are also a spectacle, with their constructions carved into the tufa and the rock.

 sorano
Sorano, source: jacqueline.poggi/flickr

The walls of the vie cave arrive in some places to measure also about twenty meters in height . Instead, their width is on average a couple of meters. Which means that the only way to get through them is to arm yourself with a good pair of shoes and your muscular performance. The length of each "stretch" can instead reach the kilometer.

via cava via fratenuti The presence of trees and bushes on the top, a bit 'camouflage the outside of the street below, a little' turn the way into a kind of green gallery , which provides appreciable shading especially during the warmer months. They are not a natural phenomenon, the vie cave, they are due to the work of man. For some scholars it would be only practical means of communication built to overcome the difference in height in the area. Others argue instead that their function was to drain the rainwater . It remains however inexplicable because it has gone so far in depth, bearing in mind that there is certainly not an area of ​​tropical rains.

It seems plausible then that the hollow ways may have been built by the Etruscans in operation of atypical religious monuments, to get in touch with the Mother Earth ". The sacral value would also justify the sometimes almost sought-after labyrinthine tortuosity and the incongruity of some paths, which develop in parallel fashion and then end in the same point. The vie cave could therefore be born because the Etruscans had been able to perceive these places as energy centers .

via cava trekking In fact, under the earth's crust there are imperceptible telluric movements, magnetic forces and overlapping flows of water. The Etruscans , with the emphasis given to the spiritual and mystical sphere and their developed environmental sensitivity , certainly had the right "antennas" to incorporate these forms of energy. The vie cave could then be "read" as a spiritual path. A journey that progresses towards enlightenment from semi-darkness and tortuousness.All this, always with firm feet on the ground.

Text & images of Raffaele Basile , r blog editorial exponent Socialtrekking , expression of a "movement" of free thinking walkers who love to interact with nature, the landscape and the "soul of places". Writer and walker, Raffaele happily combines these two passions in the blog.

WaldenViaggi on foot organizes a trek in mid-march in the areas described in the article.