Mourning Francisco González Gragera, creator of Capricho de Cotrina

Close

Angelo & Alfonso Barone, Chiesetta di Piedigrotta [The little church of Piedigrotto]

ShareAdd page to my spaces
Visiting Information

The grotto was private property – and thus access was restricted – for many years, until the municipality acquired it in 2008. At this time visitors are welcomed for a small fee.

About the Artist/Site

The beautiful seaport of Pizzo Calabro is a popular tourist destination. Reached via State Route 552, it is located on a steep cliff facing the Golfo di Sant’Eufemia, in Prangi.

According to legend, during a storm in 1665, a ship from Naples came near to crashing against the rocky cliffs below Pizzo. The captain, like many Napolitanos, was devoted to Saint Mary of Piedigrotta, so he and his crew prayed to a picture of her image that they carried on board for their survival. When the sailors arrived safely, they placed the holy image on a small alter they built for it inside a cave located just a few meters from the sea, right where they had miraculously landed. After some time, the local fisherman moved the holy image to a small inlet where they believed it would be better sheltered; soon, however, another storm washed it away, taking it back to its original location. This was taken to be a clear sign that a divine power had chosen this site for a chapel in honor of the virgin.

Two hundred years later, toward the end of the 19th century, Angelo Barone, a stationer from Pizzo Calabro, began to widen and deepen the cave with a pick, cutting further into the rough and pitted stone tuf. He then began to embellish the interior, adding some thirty figures by carving into the calcareous rock. The work continued to be carried on by his son Alfonso, a photographer and painter, who devoted many years of his life to excavation and decoration of this site, carving hundreds of religious subjects and creating frescoes (unfortunately, now lost). He often slept in the church, dedicated to the Saint Mary of Piedigrotta. Then, beginning in 1969, a third generation of the family began working at the site: Giorgio Barone, a sculptor, began to add contemporary subjects, including Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy, Jr., to the mostly religious subjects his grandfather and father had sculpted out of the rocky turf.

There are both freestanding and bas-relief sculptures within the cave; most are figures in sacred or secular scenes, often dressed in ancient wear; among them are angels, a supplicant with one leg on crutches, families, and religious figures. There are also horses, fish, and other animals as well. Light penetrates the grotto through little fissures within the walls, and also through barred windows on the façade facing away from the cliffs.

The grotto was private property – and thus access was restricted – for many years, until the municipality acquired it in 2008. At this time visitors are welcomed for a small fee.

~Gabriele Mina and Jo Farb Hernández

www.costruttoridibabele.net



Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Pizzo, Calabria, Italy
Latitude/Longitude: 38.734762 / 16.167941

Visiting Information

The grotto was private property – and thus access was restricted – for many years, until the municipality acquired it in 2008. At this time visitors are welcomed for a small fee.

Discussion

We welcome visitors' comments about this site. If you have additional information you feel should be included, or have questions or comments, please share your thoughts with us here.

Leave Your Comment

The SPACES website allows you to save your favorite art environments and share them with your friends or colleagues. Create your own portfolio of your favorites from environments in the online collection.

Send them to your friends, post them on Facebook or to your Twitter account!

Look for this button on pages that can be saved:

Add Page to my spaces