Dolina del Revotano – Province of Rieti, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Dolina del Revotano

Province of Rieti, Italy

This enormous sinkhole hides a secret world created from divine wrath.  

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The mountains and forests surrounding the medieval village of Roccantica are wild and lush. They also hide several beautiful sights, such as hermitages and waterfalls but above all, the enormous and unusual sinkhole locally known as “U’revotano.”

This enormous abyss is a common geological phenomenon in Central Italy, also known as doline, in which karstic processes of erosion cause the collapse of a limestone roof over an underground cavern. This natural occurrence has inspired a local legend in which a village is known as Revotano.

According to local tradition, the village was inhabited by blasphemous residents and was swallowed up by divine wrath. As the story goes, the young wife of a local inhabitant who had gone to the stream to wash her laundry with her son suddenly heard a voice. The voice warned that divine punishment was going to befall her village. A great earthquake shook the land and the voice-guided them to safety. Revotano was swallowed into the sinkhole

The abyss is 820 feet (250-meters) wide and 426 feet (130 meters) deep. There are a few viewpoints that provide an understanding of the enormity of the sinkhole. A slippery, unmarked trail leads (with the help of a few ropes) to the bottom of the sinkhole where a fragile world of moss-carpeted trees and boulders resides.

The air is colder and more humid at the bottom of the sinkhole, allowing the moss and ferns to grow lush and in vivid hues. As this is a very fragile and unusual example of nature, take special care not to damage the vegetation when visiting. 

Know Before You Go

A 3.5-kilometer marked trail leads from Roccantica, past the Hermitage of San Leonardo, the ruins of a mill, and to the viewpoint above the sinkhole. There are information panels, bars, and restaurants in Roccantica.

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