The golden butterfly of Monti San Lorenzo: Prehistoric mystery in Lerici

In Monti San Lorenzo prehistoric site, every year a megalithic stones group offers the magic of a light throttle at sunsetting. A story that comes from prehistoric times.

Important traces of ancient and mysterious civilizations are present in La Spezia and one of their most extraordinary and unique testimonies are the menhirs located in Monti San Lorenzo, precisely on the mountain Caprione , one of the heights between Lerici and Romito Magra. Every year, in correspondence with the summer solstice (and in the following days) the sunlight slips between the standing stones going to draw a butterfly of light .
In an area that, according to some, exudes special energy (several are the sacred buildings: a Buddhist temple , the ruins of the old church of San Lorenzo (XII sec.) and a megalithic complex ) on the edge of the woods we can admire this fascinating mystery that suggests the existence of primitive and unknown rituals, perhaps dating back to 8000 years ago, related to cycle of the 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

The stone blocks, in fact, are not placed there by chance, but in a position that, close to summer solstice, will let the last rays of the day pass through the rocks to form the image of a perfect butterfly of light.
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) and then projected on a further little monolith in the shape of a perfect golden butterfly. For years the phenomenon has not been visible because of the vegetation that prevented sunlight to reach the menhirs.


The butterfly of light: meaning shrouded in mystery

It’s difficult to totally comprehend the significance of the site and the symbolism of the butterfly. Probably the ritual symbolizes a metaphysical “step“, a “ transmigration ” that occurs precisely at the change of season, towards a borderland, for which the butterfly is the vehicle and 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 the fertility / birth or death, or symbolize a transmutation we will not know never exactly.

In the immediate vicinity, you can see other remains of monoliths, traces of walls and the remains of an exedra, all structures for which a practical function is exlcluded, but 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 July , from 20.00 to 20.45 (of course with good weather). The more we are far from 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 starting from the scenic town of Rocchetta di Lerici (reached from La Serra). If you’re just in the mood of oddities and curiosities, at the junction of Redarca Cava (beautiful vantage point) a short path leads to the charming Villa del Fodo (abandoned ancient house that during the war hosted a clandestine printing press), and then continue into the Mediterranean shrub to get to your destination.
Spezzino Vero



  • Jay June 24th, 2019

    Unfortunately, impossible to get there it seems. Local vigili (like police) send you to a distant car park where there are supposed to be guides but there are none. This parking area is several kilometres away from the Butterfly, and requires a long walk by night through the woods, with no signposts. I don’t think they really want visitors. Even map coordinates were no help. Per Google the ‘pleasant walk’ to the butterfly from the car park in Rocchetta takes 95 minutes. Each way, of course. If you can find it.

    • Teresa Turano August 19th, 2019

      Hi Jay, thanks for updating. Actually, I think Google has issues finding the way in the wood, as it cannot take that long. Did you go all the way? On what day did you try to go?
      Perhaps, Vigili may try to avoid too many people to be in the same place at the same time. Going a few days after the 24th of June could be an idea, as the butterfly is still visible and fewer people want to go there.
      Sorry for your bad experience, and sorry I read your comment only today.

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