Occupying a quarter-region parcel, La Montagna Spaccata is a personal interpretation by Lana (Svetlana Pexie) of a place she refers to as being “close to home” in Italy; a place which in English is called The Split Mountain, and which forms the location of the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity.
Located near the city of Gaeta in the province of Latina, Lazio, Southern Italy, the original Montagna Spaccata lies within the Monte Orlando natural park. It comprises three sea clefts that cut into the coastal mountain, which local legend would have were created by a lightning bolt hurled to Earth by a distraught God on the crucifixion of Christ on the Cross; its a place where, to honour the legend, Benedictine monks built the Sanctuary in the 11th Century.
A place steeped in religious significance – it is said the St. Philip Neri, the “Second Apostle of Rome” would visit the Sanctuary for periods of quiet reflection and contemplation, as would Bernardino of Siena – it is a place today fabled for its primary gorge, down which – for a fee – visitors can travel the 300 stairs to where the water ebbs and flows within the Grotta del Turco, the water turned to a brilliant turquoise by the light of the Sun.
The Grotto is perhaps the centre piece for Lana’s design. I have no idea as to how reflective the build is in regards to the original – but frankly, that’s not important; this is after all and interpretation, not a representation. As such it has a beauty entirely of its own.
What I will say is that fortunately for visitors, Lana has reduced those 300 steps to something a lot more manageable for avatar legs that may still tire under the stress of descending climbing (!) from and to where the water can, under the right EEP settings, offer colours that whilst not necessarily turquoise, may still be as eye=catching, as I hope some of the pictures here demonstrate.
Even this is a design representative of deep coastal gorges, the land itself is understandably elevated and sits as a high plateau into which the main grotto gorge and a second cut to varying degrees, with the second gorge being much shallower and home to a sheer waterfall at its head.
As to the third cleft from the original, visitors can take their pick: to the south the land falls away to the sea, presenting what might be a further stretch of coast near to Gaeta – or might be taken as one side of the third gorge, should the parcel to the south come to be rented. Alternatively, the north parcel is given over to Lana’s private home and is landscaped in a manner in keeping with La Montagna Spaccata, and so might again might be imagined as a part of the local coastline or where, beyond the rock wall separating the two parcels, the imagination might like to picture the remaining gorge as being.
To the west of the plateau is both the landing point and what remains of ancient fortifications. Again, whether the latter are part of the actual Montagna Spaccata or intended to evoke some of the fortifications of Gaeta itself, I’ve no idea; but they serve as a perfect backdrop to the eastern extreme of the parcel, where people can finding seating at the local café and also the entrance to the steps leading down to the grotto. The latter switch-back their way down a set of terraces built into the cliff and the rocky foot of the gorge. Meanwhile, two finger-like promontories extend eastward, the main gorge set between them. These can be wandered as well, offering heady views down into the two gorges and excellent views back to the fortifications.
Lana feels that sitting within a quarter region perhaps doesn’t do the actual Montagna Spaccata, and hopes that one day to be able to build something bigger and more reflective of the original. For my part, I’d say that while I’d love to see such an expansion, the current build has a beauty and charm of it’s own; yes, there are a couple of elements of texture overlap, and I would suggest experimenting with daytime settings when taking photos, but none of these points detract from the whole in any way.
My thanks to Shawn Shakespeare for the pointer and the landmark.
- La Montagna Spaccata (Duat, rated Moderate)