Passions & Places

Cunicoli al Conero

Coves and Tunnels

It is not easy to immediately relate the sense of mystery surrounding the Portonovo Bay, its fried fish and family tourism with the existence of pirate legends and “true” stories about raids and hidden treasure. However it is the presence of historical landmarks like the Cove of Slaves and the famous watchtower of Portonovo (erected in 1716) that provide some truth to the myths. The Cove of the Slaves had an opening 70 metres wide, a small inner beach and was accessible by boat from two entries until a landslide in 1920 obstructed it forever. Legend suggests that it was probably named after the “Schiavoni” pirates who used it as a shelter.

Following the Pirates were the stories of the friars who are believed to have chosen the Cove of San Benedetto, situated at the base of the mountain, as their secluded hideaway. The most fascinating mystery of this mountain stems from the series of tunnels, passageways and defensive hideaways, including water conduits used to supply the city of Ancona, as it is believed to have been built by the Romans.

The whole Conero area between Poggio di Ancona, Massignano, Camerano, Sirolo and Numana is famed for its network of tunnels (some even reached the centre of Ancona). However they have now collapsed and it is therefore impossible to map them, even though they are still researched by the speleologists. Situated between Camerano and Ancona on the western side of the Conero there are vertical openings like sinks approximately every thirty meters. The most famous of these is called “Hole of the Devil” or “Hole of the Fear”. According to tradition, the tunnel goes down twenty meters in depth before splitting into two galleries that lead in several directions to the sea and the Cove of the Slaves.

Some legends related to the coves and the tunnels tell of unlucky explorers who, once inside, were hypnotised by the song of a mysterious weaver. Nevertheless these legends will never cease due to the many places like “Il Ripone”, the cliff that descends from “Pian Grande”, “Ripe” and “Montirozzo” that talk of pirates,  tunnels and cavern’s buried full of treasure.

© 2001 Liberation Ventures Ltd.

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