La Grotta del Genovese - Levanzo Island

The Cave and its Discovery


A careful seaman could see the Grotta del Genovese, along the north-east coast of Levanzo (the smaller but not less enchantress Egadi island). He should just look about thirty meters up on the high and steep climbs in front of him. The cave of Karst -formation leans out on a small creek (also called "del Genevese")and is rounded with typical vegetation of the Mediterranean undergrowth that almost hides it. The results is a landscape of great fascination.

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Karsism caused to the cave a very articulate morphology. In fact it's made by a wide chamber as an entrance (called "precave"), and after this, there's a tight and short shaft that brings to an inner chamber less tall and longer. Inside the precave there are the remains of a kiln aimed at the making of lime that dates back to late medieval age.
Recently, it was used by agricultural peasants as a stable and shelter for agricultural tools. In the inner chamber we can find 33 engraved pictures and about 100 painted figures: they represents absolutely the richest Italian inheritance of prehistoric figurate expressivity. This part of the cave was unexplored. It has been known to the inhabitants of the island as a good hunt place, were, besides some ferret and some bunnies, nobody ever entered. But among the inhabitants of Levanzo circulated some rumours about the presence of "inscriptions" in the dark chamber, maybe the echo of an old story of an explorer which didn't recognize to have faced such important prehistoric images.


The discovery and the popularization of the extraordinary inheritance of rock images in the inner chamber dates back to 1949, when Francesca Minellono, a painter from Florence in holiday, discovered this part of the cave, driven by a great curiosity due to the rumours she heard. The first ones to be informed about the discovery were Prof. Paolo Graziosi from Human Paleo-ethnology institute of Florence University, and the Superintend to Antiques for Eastern Sicily Jole Bovio Marconi. After a short time, the first scientific researches started in Levanzo. They made tracings of the images, stratigraphic studies, and a series of archeologic explorations in many other caves of Levanzo and the near Favignana.