Cave of Sant'Agrippina in Mineo

Cave of Sant'Agrippina in Mineo

Meno Occhipinti - CC1.0


 SP200 - Mineo (CT)

The Grotta di Sant'Agrippina in Mineo is a cave that was the site of a fortified site, a 13th century rock castle and later a rural sanctuary dedicated to the patron saint of Mineo, Sant'Agrippina.
The site is also known. with the name of Grotta di Drafone, due to the presence of a grove of laurels, Grotta della Làmia, where "Lamia" indicates a narrow river valley.
The fortified dwelling excavated in the late Middle Ages was born in the place where the narrow valley fluviale, which in ancient times offered a quick connection along the ancient road between the Hyblean plateau and inland Sicily, elbows its outlet towards the Piana di Mineo, creating a rocky spur.
The fortified dwelling is excavated in the culminating part of the rocky spur and was initially inaccessible from the valley floor. There was a single access camouflaged behind the spur, closed by a massive pointed portal, built from a fan of visible ashlars well connected and slightly rounded at the corners. The portal, well preserved, is certainly reflected in the civil architecture of the 13th-14th century of the Syracusan area.
A poorly lit gallery follows, flanked by two service rooms with an ogival vault and narrows into a narrow divergent corridor, a fortification device used in other Sicilian rock castles for access control. The corridor opens into a large room without internal supports, with an ogival vault, and terminated to the south by three irregular rooms partly divided by masonry walls and open to the precipice.
In the 16th century the rupestrian castle was about to transform in the rural sanctuary of Sant'Agrippina. This cave was considered a place haunted by demons until the arrival of Sant'Agrippina in Mineo. The toponym Lamia was in fact shifted from its geographical meaning of "river valley" to that of a monster with a woman's face and a serpentine body. Monster that was believed to dwell in the cave.
Following the transformation of the fortress into a sanctuary, an external flight of stairs was built along the eastern side of the spur, which allowed devotees to overcome the steep difference in height between the valley floor and the altitude of the cave and to reach the access to the sanctuary from the outside, and the large internal hall was transformed into a church.

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