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The golden butterfly in Monti San Lorenzo, a Prehistoric mystery in Lerici

Essential traces of ancient and mysterious civilizations are present in La Spezia. One of their most extraordinary and unique testimonies is the menhirs located in Monti San Lorenzo, precisely on the mountain Caprione, one of the heights between Lerici and Romito Magra. On summer solstice days, the sunlight slips between the standing stones every year, drawing a light butterfly.

This area hosts several sacred buildings; a Buddhist temple, the ruins of the old San Lorenzo church (XII sec.), and a megalithic complex. According to some, the dense woods with sparse rests of human artifacts exudes unique energy. On the edge of the wood, we admire this fascinating seasonal mystery suggesting the fact of primitive and unknown rituals, perhaps 8000 years ago or so. The supposed practices were possibly related to the cycle of seasons, fertility, the passage between life and death, and primitive astronomy.

SUMMER COMES, AND THE SUN DRAWS A BUTTERFLY OF LIGHT BETWEEN THE STANDING STONES. IT COMES FROM 8000 YEARS AGO.

For sure, the stone blocks are not placed there by chance in a layout that, close to the summer solstice, will let the last rays of the day pass through the rocks and form the perfect light reflection of a butterfly.

At sunset, the sun’s rays are caught between four stone blocks arranged in a blockage at the base, two columns and one over them. Then, the light is projected on a little rear monolith in the shape of a perfect golden butterfly. The phenomenon has not been visible for years because of the vegetation that prevented sunlight from reaching the menhirs.

THE GOLDEN BUTTERFLY MYSTERY SHROUDED MEANING. 

It is challenging to comprehend the site’s significance and the butterfly’s symbolism. Probably the ritual symbolizes a “step ” occurring right at the change of season, towards a borderland. For this passage, the butterfly is a mean, the site a gate. Whether it is the souls of the transition between the world of the living and the dead, then a cult linked to fertility/birth or death, or symbolizing a transmutation, we will never know.

In the immediate vicinity, you can see other remains of monoliths, traces of walls, and the remains of an exedra. Again, a practical function for these structures is excluded; it is thought they formed together with the ritual area.

WHEN CAN YOU SEE THE BUTTERFLY OF LIGHT?

The “magic” of the butterfly of light is repeated every day from late May to late Julyfrom 20.00 to 20.45 (of course, with good weather).

The more we are far from the exact day of the summer solstice, the more the butterfly will be deformed and eventually disappear altogether.

DIRECTIONS TO THE SITE:

By car: from Lerici, drive towards Sarzana. In Guercio, turn right at the sign “San Lorenzo.”

On foot: for trekking lovers. The site is reached via a pleasant footpath from the scenic town of Rocchetta di Lerici (from La Serra). However, suppose you’re in the mood for oddities. In that case, a short path leads to the charming Villa del Fodo at the junction of Redarca Cava (a beautiful vantage point). This abandoned ancient house hosted a clandestine printing press during WWII. Then, continue into the Mediterranean scrub to get to your destination.

THE ENRICO CALZOLARI ASSOCIATION

A local association rediscovers and gives voice to the Lerici territory’s history. It bears the name of Professor Enrico Calzolari, an archeology enthusiast who was deeply linked to Lerici and the exploration of the Caprione mountain and its secret cultural treasures. First, he discovered the golden butterfly thanks to his deep passion and scientific curiosity. Then he rediscovered and gave voice to the submerged history of the territory. Today’s association’s volunteers spread the result of significant research work about the territory’s identity through guided visits, conferences, and other cultural activities.