The Sibylline Mountains have always been a place of great stories and fantastic legends, of preserved wilderness from a much older time dazzling in its austere beauty, of sanctuaries perched on mountaintops, of convivial meals and fragrant spices. This wilderness, its waters, caves, and lakes have given rise to mysterious and evocative stories.
It is Sybil, the ancient oracle who was believed to dwell in the deep gorges of the mountains, who has animated this place from time immemorial. She was an oracle to be consulted about the future and entrusted with one’s troubles and doubts, as has been recounted in novels since the fifteenth century. According to legend, in the bowels of Mount Sybil lies an enchanted kingdom that could only be reached through a narrow cave. It is a world populated by wonderful creatures that for one day a week turn into fearsome monsters.
Myth has it that the body of Pontius Pilate, who was sentenced to death by the Emperor Tiberius, was thrown into Lake Pilate, a small lake found deep in the Sibylline Mountains. The story has it that he was first stuffed into a sack that was then attached to a cart of buffalo free to roam aimlessly around the countryside. These animals wandered all the way here from Rome and reached the top of Mount Redeemer from whose crest Pilate’s body fell into the lake.
A tangle of mysterious yet paradoxically calming landscapes are open to visitors of the National Park of the Sibylline Mountains where rare species of animals that have disappeared elsewhere can still be found, such as wolves, wildcats, porcupines, and the roe deer. For a few years now, the park has also been reintroducing into the wild colonies of elk and antelope, golden eagle, goshawk and sparrow hawk, the eagle-owl and peregrine falcon, birds that take us back to the days of medieval hunting and the earliest landscape paintings.
It is a park that joins together the Regions of the Marche and Umbria offering ancient and diverse food products (from the prosciutto of Norcia to the lentils of Castelluccio), extraordinary places of spirituality such as the Abbey of Saint Eutizio at Preci, and historic and natural itineraries of incomparable quality.
Ancient engraving depicting the Apennine Sibyl, mythical inhabitant of the homonymous cave of Mount Sybil, which for centuries has been veiled in an aura of legend and mystery.
View of Lake Pilate
Mount Sybil as drawn by Antoine de La Sale (1420) conserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris
The slender ridge leading from Mount Redeemer to the Devil’s Point.