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Monte Vettore is a mountain on the border between Umbria and the Marche, in central Italy. It is part of the Sibillini Mountains range and lies in the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini. Today climbers reach it from the Umbrian side from Norcia, or, on the Marche side, from Ascoli Piceno. Below the peak, in a small enclosed valley is one lake called the Lago di Pilato, at an altitude of 1,940 metres, where, according to the local medieval legend, the body of a remorseful Pontius Pilate was buried in the waters.
The local medieval tradition was that the Apennine Sibyl, a mysterious prophetess not counted among the Sibyls of Classical Antiquity, was condemned by God to dwell in a mountain cavern and await Judgement Day, having rebelled at the news that she had not been chosen Mother of God, but that some humble Judaean virgin had been favored. The peak of Monte Vettore, surrounded by reddish cliffs was recognized as the crown of Regina Sibilla.
Less stringently Christian legend set her in an underworld paradise entered through a grotto in the mountains of Norcia. Nearby the magical lake is fed by water from the cavern. Whoever stayed longer than a year could no longer leave, but remained deathless and ageless, feasting in abundance, amid revelry and voluptuous delights.
Locally the Sibilla was in some sense a beneficent fata whose retinue would descend from her mountain at times to teach the village girls all the secrets of spinning and weaving, and perhaps to dance the saltarello with the best of the young men. But if they weren't back in their mountain fastness by sunrise, they would be denied access and would become mere mortals. On one occasion, what with dancing and pleasure, the faterelle had not noticed the approach of dawn. Scrambling up the Vettore, their goatlike feet crushed the rock to fragments. They reached the safety of their grotto just before dawn, but the long slope of talus is still pointed out as the Path of the Fata.
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