Lorenzo Presbitero, a priest had lived in this place, growing different kinds of plants.
Antro also appeared in 1265 in “Saggio di un glossario geografico friulano dal VI al XII secolo” by A. di Prampero, published in Venice in 1882, and it’s called like this because of its similarity to cavern - “spelonca”. So Jacopo Valvasone of Maniago in 1565 described the small village that has “… in the nearby mountain a rather spacious grotto…”
In friulano it is called Z. Zuan di Landri and in Slovenian Svet Ivan u Čelè.
To get there from Udine, take the S.S. 54, which goes to Cividale del Friuli, and continue until you get to San Pietro (Špietar). In the area of Tiglio (Lipa), turn left, pass Tarcetta (Tarčet) and you reach Antro, which is in the municipal district of Pulfero.
From the small parking square of the church of San Silvestro, go along a small road on foot, part of it is a dirt road and part of it is covered in slabs of stone (photo 1). The scenic walk unwinds across bushes and precipices, in an environment ideal for a future botanical garden. This path leads us to the foot of the most important historical and naturalistic monument of the valleys of the Natisone, famous for it’s rare beauty in which art and nature melt into a striking interlacement.
The grotto 348mt above sea level opens inside a rocky wall, partly constructed externally, which now can be reached by walking along an external steep flight of stairs, that has 86 stone steps next to the precipice (photo 2). In ancient times you could only go up using ropes and wooden ladders, and when necessary were removed and became inaccessible.
At the top of the external flight of steps, the landing of the grotto gives you an ample view of the precipice and the low-lying river valley. Then one enters into something, similar to an entrance-hall, in which two distinct entrances lead to the inner cavity. The first one is similar to a tunnel made in blocks of stone, and runs under the church floor, and one enters by climbing up a few steps. The second one is the natural opening of the grotto, on the left it has a scenic terrace, in a hollow in which there is an ancient oven to cook (photo 3). The short staircase, narrowed on the right by a wall on which there is a holy-water stoup, leads you to the main grotto (photo 4). Higher up from a natural crevice of the vault, a small bell hangs (photo 5). At the end of the staircase, on the wall on the left hand side of the grotto, perhaps by a local unknown artist in ancient times, the head of Christ similar to the image of the Holy Shroud was painted (photo 6). The initial part of this grotto has wall works with the natural ravines that form a terrace, a small loggia most probably of Lombard origin, a sacristy and the presbytery of the chapel. The architectural lines of this unique sanctuary with walls and vault formed by the rock harmonize the natural structure