The Golden Butterfly lights up the San Lorenzo al Caprione romanic church

The captivating phenomenon of the Golden Butterfly is once again attracting a multitude of enthusiasts, curious onlookers, and tourists to the slopes of Monte Caprione, nestled in the enchanting Gulf of Poets. People flock here to uncover the millennia-old secrets that lie within its history. Starting from June 17th, visitors can make their way to the archaeological site in Monti San Lorenzo and witness a truly remarkable spectacle: the moment of sunset, when the sun’s rays delicately pass through the rocks, casting a distinct shadow that forms the shape of a butterfly upon an ancient menhir.

The butterfly shapes itself, a symbol of rebirth and transformation found in various ancient cultures, undoubtedly signifies an ancient religious cult that was practiced in this region by the Ligurian Apuans. evidence of a civilization deeply rooted in this territory since time immemorial. The surrounding area of the archaeological site has yielded numerous findings of significant archaeological value, providing tangible evidence of a civilization deeply rooted in this territory since time immemorial.

Dedicated to the first explorer of this extraordinary luminous phenomenon, Enrico Calzolari, the Pro Monte Caprione Association fervently carries out ongoing and astonishing research on the remains of ancient settlements, the “Cavanei” (burial sites), and the religious altars of Monte Caprione. This verdant region in the hinterland of Lerici, where the sacred Monte Sagro delle Apuane majestically looms, served as a thriving hub for our ancestors until the notable chapter of their conquest by the Romans. It was a place that inspired their religious practices, intricately intertwined with the celestial realm of astronomy.

Enrico Calzolari In the 90s Enrico Calzolari already gathered the first onlookers who were dazzled by the appearance of the shape of the butterfly and its intense golden color before their eyes, while the scholar’s passionate account described the extraordinary concordance with other phenomena and historical circumstances in many other archaeological sites in the world, much better known and recognized. Today the walk to the Golden Butterfly is an unmissable appointment, of moving beauty, to learn about the local history and its deepest history.

In a remarkable initiative this year, the golden radiance of the Monti San Lorenzo butterfly also illuminates the nearby Romanesque church of San Lorenzo, drawing attention to its architectural beauty and the importance of its preservation. The Association has organized guided tours to unveil the marvels of the Golden Butterfly phenomenon, specifically during the days of the Summer Solstice. These tours will be offered free of charge, although donations to support the conservation of the church, believed to date back to the 10th century, will be gratefully accepted. Curiously, and likely not by coincidence, the layout of the Pieve, or parish church, follows a precise orientation. Its nave is perfectly aligned to capture the sunrise during the “winter solstice” and the auspicious occasion of “Holy Christmas,” representing two pivotal moments in the celestial calendar, complementary to the older site of the Golden Butterfly Menhirs. Naturally, one cannot help but ponder the intricate connection between these human structures, which reflect the celestial influence on earthly existence, as they have evolved through time, blending harmoniously with the advent of Christianity and its architectural heritage. From an archaeoastronomical standpoint, the church’s alignment along the equinoctial axis adds yet another awe-inspiring dimension to its allure.

The San Lorenzo al Caprione church, Ph. Judith Flacke
The San Lorenzo al Caprione church, Ph. Judith Flacke

Take note of the upcoming events organized by the Association, inviting all to embark on a captivating journey towards the Monti San Lorenzo butterfly and other intriguing sites of interest on Monte Caprione.

17-25 June – every day
1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16 July

16.30 – Meeting point at the end of the road to the Agriturismo Rosa Canina
16.45 – Departure and visit of Barbarasco
17.45 – Portoro marble quarry
18.30 – Visit at the Cavaneo
19.15 – San Lorenzo’s church
19.30 – 20.40 – The Golden Butterfly
21 – Back to starting point

It is possible to get to the starting point only on foot. Please park your car at Monti Branzi locality or at the Madonna della Misericordia alla Rocchetta

For booking, you need to email the Associazione Monte Caprione