Perhaps the oldest Greek colony on mainland Italy, Cumae overshadowed the Phlegrean Fields and Neapolis in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, because it was home to the Antro della Sibilla, the fabled Cave of the Cumaean Sibyl—one of the three greatest oracles of antiquity—who is said to have presided over the destinies of men. In about the 6th century BC, the Greeks hollowed the cave (currently closed for restoration) from the rock beneath the ridge leading up to the present ruins of Cumae's acropolis. Today you can walk—just as Virgil's Aeneas did—through a dark, massive 350-foot-long stone tunnel that opens into the vaulted Chamber of the Prophetic Voice, where the Sibyl delivered her oracles. Standing here in one of the most venerated sites of ancient times, the sense of the numen—of communication with invisible powers—is overwhelming. "This is the most romantic classical site in Italy," claimed the famed travelogue writer H. V. Morton, referring to Cumae.
Not everyone has the courage to explore these macabre destinations. Do you?More