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Stazzema, Italy

Monte Forato

A massive natural rock arch gives the Tuscan mountain its own window to the sky. 

Monte Forato towers over clusters of quaint villages. But it doesn’t completely block the sky from view. A great arch makes it seem like a window was carved directly into the mountain, providing a circular portal to the heavens.

The opening is created by a natural rock arch that stretches over a roughly 80-foot-tall opening. It connects the mountain’s two twin peaks, and even inspired the mountain’s name (“forato” means “pierced” in Italian).

When viewing the arch from particular angles, lucky skygazers can catch a glimpse of a “double sunset.” This happens when the sun first sinks below the top of the arch, only to reappear inside the circle as if in some scaled-down version of a sunset encore.

According to local legends, the hole was formed during a spat between Saint Pellegrino and the Devil. The saint hit the Devil so hard it sent his head crashing through the mountain, creating the vast, circular opening. In reality, the strange formation was formed by water and wind gradually eroding the limestone rock. Visiting the hole offers hikers a wonderful opportunity to view the mountainous landscape as framed beneath the iconic arch.