Santa Brigida, Italy
The town closest to our Christmastime Italian villa was Santa Brigida. On our last day in Italy we decided to stay close to home and explore this small town. I’m glad we did, because although it probably won’t make your must-see list it reaffirmed that getting off the beaten path is always a good idea.
The first time we drove through town on our way to the villa I noticed a road that jutted off the main road and straight up the mountain. That is precisely the road we took to start our exploration. The road continues uphill and ends in a gravel parking lot. Here, you start a hike to the butter caves.
I’m not necessarily advocating that you take this hike. It is steep with no real redeeming find, other than the walk itself.
It’s best to get a map from a local because things are not marked well. We headed down this road for a bit, enjoying the views from above the hill town. Finally there are a few signs directing you up another steep hill.
In places the path was completely covered in leaves. They were ankle deep and made the most delicious sound as our group trudged silently through them.
We made several questionable, but fun, stream crossings which the kids loved. (They were all over the same stream, mind you.) Then we encountered our first butter cave, which was unfortunately under a barn and on private property.
A sharp left turn, back over the stream, up a huge hill, past an abandoned house and we finally uncovered a butter cave. The sign informed us that we had happened upon “the worst example of a butter cave” in the area. These caves were used long ago to store butter. Each was near a spring so that the butter would remain cool.
Well we had a great laugh about that one and then discovered that we were mere feet from where the path had split and we had taken the path to the left. It’s about the adventure though. I got a bit slap happy on the walk back and started wrapping the littlest up in my scarf. I don’t think he was particularly amused.
We drove the cars back down in to Santa Brigida and parked behind the church. It’s an ordinary, dark, stone church. Saint Brigida came with her brother from Ireland as missionaries of sorts. Behind the church, accessible from the parking lot, is Saint Brigida’s cave. This is where she lived when she first moved to the area. The town grew up around her cave and thus bears her name.
At Christmas time the cave was filled with a darling little nativity. Push the button to turn on the lights!
More interesting to our children was the playground that is just below the cave near the church parking lot.
It was the perfect low-key day exploring a little town we otherwise would have only passed through.
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