The Sanctuary of the Montagna Spaccata (Cracked Mountain) is located on the slope of the promontory of Mount Orlando, within the Urban Regional Park of Gaeta.
Going up 35 steps makes you immerse yourself in a surreal ambience, within the main fissure between the rocks.
The Montagna Spaccata was in fact named after the almost perfect match between the two rocky sides you can see while hiking down – the indentations and protrusions look like they’d fit if they moved close again.
Legend says the mountain split into two when Jesus died, as written on the gospel of Matthew (27:51), whose words are engraved on a marble plate close to the main fissure.
Also very interesting is the Mano del Turco (the “Turk’s hand”).
The legend behind this attraction says it is the handprint of a sceptical Saracen seaman who didn’t believe the mountain cracked because of Jesus’ death and touched the rocky surface, that suddenly melted. Today, it is still possible to recognise the fingers sinked into the side of the mountain.
Beyond the main fissure, there’s the Chapel of the Crucified Christ.
Approximately during the XV century, a large rock detached from the mountain and got stuck into the fissure. The chapel was then built onto this suspended rock, where an antique wooden crucified Christ is situated.
In 930, the Benedictine monks founded the Sanctuary of the Santissima Trinità on the ruins of Munatius Plancus’ Roman villa. Several popes, kings, bishops and saints prayed here, such as Pope Pius IX, Bernardino of Siena, Ignatius of Loyola, Leonard of Port Maurice, Paul of the Cross, Gaspar del Bufalo and St Philip Neri.
Another legend says that St Philip Neri lived inside the Montagna Spaccata on a stone bed that in fact today is known as “St Philip Neri’s bed”.
Last but not least is The Grotta del Turco. This place is named after the historical happenings between 864 and 915, when the Saracen ravagers used to hide here during their raids, until they got defeated during the battle of Garigliano in 915 that freed the territory from the pirates.
History, culture and sunsets make the Montagna Spaccata a must-see attraction when visiting the Pontine area. Don’t miss the iconic view over the beach of Serapo!