Under the hill town of Osimo lies a mysterious city of passageways and chambers that connect the city's palaces in a mystical maze. Ancient secrets and symbols of the Templar Knights converge to add to the aura of secrecy and ceremony. The complex comprises 88 rooms in all, with nearly nine kilometers of corridors, many of them outlined with niches. There were water wells and carefully crafted inscriptions. The uniformity of height and width testify that it was a single project rather than additions being dug at different times.

The Grotte, as they are called, spread out below the most important palaces in Osimo, and were known to be used by the Templars for initiation into the order and for secret meetings. Archeologists found many sculptures and symbols that are still not understood, though.

Grotte Simonetti: below Palazzo Simonetti, the chambers have many templar symbols and Maltese crosses. An unique triple incised rectangle, referred to as a labyrinth, (or tripla cinta in Italian) was said to be also found in Solomon's temple and on ancient chess boards.

Grotte Campana: Below the palace of the same name, there are elaborately carved designs in relief that are among the most mysterious found in Italy. Their significance are still not understood. Arches and vaults add to the allure.

Grotte Cantinone: The best known and most easily accessible is reach by way of a steep staircase, where a long gallery outlined with niches awaits. This section goes below the Convent of San Francesco.

Grotte Matteotti: Located below Largo Matteotti, this is the most charming. It is a circular chamber with a support column in the middle and niches all around the circumference of the room.

To visit the underground world below Osimo, buy tickets at the Tourist Information Center. Tours are conducted at 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:15 PM, 5:15 PM and 6:15 PM and last for about 45 minutes. Closed Mondays. Cost is €5.

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Address in Osimo:

Via Fontemagna, 12.

Ph. (+39) 071 723 6088.

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