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The Treasure Cave

Nicolucci’s Cave is located in the Cretaceous limestone ridge overlooking the extreme part of the town of Sorrento, about ninety meters above sea level, where it flows a small waterfall, stream of the source Neffola, that emerge into the sea at Marina Grande. It is not easily visible from a distance, especially in the spring season, as the surrounding area is completely covered with Mediterranean vegetation and a weed in brambles. The opening of the cave has semi-elliptical shape, quite large and high. It leads into a small space of a few square meters where the floor has been lowered due to the input of the many uncontrolled excavations. The interior of the cave has a high vault with stalactite formation, while on the walls are frequent mosses and algae. The back wall, opposite the entrance, is divided into two shelves, one above the other, separated by a stalagmite arch. The upper chamber, raised about two meters from the ground floor, is divided into a vestibule and into an inner chamber, which is accessed with difficulty. The lower compartment is wider than the upper compartment.

Over the years, the cave was often subject of study by many scholars, but it has also undergone many alterations, especially at the hands of curious in search of hidden treasures. The area is in fact linked to many legends, rumors and weird stories, which helped to create an aura of fear and mystery around this place. It seems in fact, that many people from Sorrento and surroundings believed that every night, a warrior armed like S. Giorgio, would monitor the area riding a huge black horse, disappearing later into the ravine below. Woe to meet him!

There’s then the most widespread legend which tells that the cave once treasured a hidden treasure consisting of: precious gems, jewelry, statues and ancient gold coins. The story goes that giant skeletons would have bitten up with unprecedented ferocity and cruelty those who, out of greed or simple curiosity, would have introduced into the cave without knowing the magic words and the other spells designed to allow access guarded the treasure. However, to tell the truth, the treasure really existed and it was the one that Leonardo Lorenzoni, director of the boarding school and the Technical School of matched Viggiano, discovered in 1885. After the excavations, Lorenzoni described the numerous and interesting material found in the cave which he dedicated as a token of esteem to Justinian Nicolucci professor of Anthropology at the University of Naples. Many of the objects found by Lorenzoni in the cavity are now kept in the Museum of Anthropology, founded by Nicolucci himself.

Nicolucci’s Cave currently holds a considerable regional importance since it is so far one of the only extant example of the Bronze Age in Sorrento peninsula. It has restored a large amount of fragments, about a thousand, now found only in small part, which may date back to a period that goes from the Neolithic Serra d'Alto until the fourth century BC, allowing us to reconstruct with a certain approximation the succession of human presence in the cavity. The spots carbonaceous stored on the funds of the vases, the faunal remains (wild but also domestic animals) and ash, the remains of lithic and bone, the weights of the frame, the different whorls, not clearly attributable to a specific cultural horizon, testify, according to some scholars, the unfolding of an activity in the cave of domestic life, every day. The modest size of the cave, however, make it difficult to assume a continuous residential use of the site and suggest rather an occasionally natural shelter probably only as a supplement to a closer and more comfortable home.

Finally it cannot be excluded, the possibility that this place was used as a worship and burial cave.

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