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Eremo di San Giorgio della Spelonca

The ancient Eremo della Spelonca (Hermitage of the Cave) also known as “di San Giorgio” (St. George’s) is situated between Lucca and Pisa, near Dante’s pass, where the ancient communication route between these two cities passed. It can be reached on foot from the pass itself.




address: Santa Maria del Giudice





Once there were so many hermit settlements in Tuscany and especially in the Monti Pisani (Pisan mountains) that they were identified with the famous “Mons Heremita”, which appears in several coeval frescoes, at the Monumental Cemetery in Pisa and in the church of Sant’Agostino (St. Augustine) in San Gimignano. Local oral tradition is rich in legends about the presence of hermits in the Monti Pisani since the early Christian era and in the early Middle Ages, often associated with the presence of miraculous waters and caves.

The hermitage of St. George or of the Spelonca is a small one-room church of medieval origin that was rebuilt several times until the 19th century. The hermitage was founded in 1190 by the "black hermits," who were not true hermits, but rather monks who lived together like the apostles, in poverty and in rather isolated places, sometimes contrary to ecclesiastical institutions, devoting themselves to the religious assistance of people who lived in these places and had difficulty to reach the churches.

Nearby, carved directly into the rock, there is a cistern with a quadrangular mouth, partly dug in the cave chamber and partly in the rock, where one can still see stone supports and notches that probably supported wooden structures, a staircase with holes for a gate and a circular basin surrounded by gutters, holes for posts and grooves.

This under-rock shelter extends for several meters under a large canopy vault with a large opening. Just beyond there is a legendary rock on which the footprints of a horse, allegedly mounted by the Devil himself, are imprinted . The Devil was sent directly to Mount Penna by the Saint hermit.


Itinera Romanica (Romanesque itineraries)

Today the church is an important stop on one of the many Romanesque itineraries that characterise the Upper Tyrrhenian area between Italy and France.

Naturalistic, historical and cultural routes passing through small hillside villages and rural environments, along paths and ancient tracks, can be encountered, where there are minor religious architecture worthy of being rediscovered and enhanced such as churches, basilicas, parish churches and chapels.

The hermitage of San Giorgio della Spelonca was founded on the heights of Monte Pisano (Pisan Mountain) in 1190 by two religious men belonging to the group of "Black Hermits." The artifact consists of a small one-room church built in the minor Romanesque style typical of the area. The facade and interior vault date to the 19th century, while the structures date to the Middle Ages (12th century).