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by Jeff Matthews

By grottoes I mean natural marine caves at sea-level and not man-made or natural spaces at higher elevations. Marine grottoes in southern Italy are well-known; some are of great anthropological importance; and some, indeed, are world-famous, such as the Blue Grotto on Capri. The grottoes of Ischia are not as well-known as others in the bay, but there are a number of them, each with a bit of history and lore of its own. Almost all of the grottoes of Ischia seem to be connected with mythological beings. Sometimes it's a giant, a wizard, and even a sibyl. Indeed, the most famous sibyl of all, of Cuma, is said to have vacationed in a grotto hereabouts, now appropriately named for her—the Grotto of the Sibyl near Casamicciola.

And the tales of the famed Sybil on Ischia continue. Perhaps she was attracted by the medicinal properties of the baths (she was a notorious hag, having forgotten to bargain for a fine skin-gel instead of mere longevity) or perhaps forced into exile to flee the tyrant Aristodemus of Cumae (c. 550 – c. 490 BC) as was indeed the case with many Cuman families of the day...

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