Le Grotte di Frasassi

July 19, 2012 / Places
Genga, Le Marche

The Frasassi Caves are a marvel to behold. We aren’t just talking your run of the mill underground pebbles and rocks. These caves in Le Marche were formed thanks to the river that runs above them. The caves are truly enormous, wonderfully cool year-round at 14° Celsius, and they have a wide variety of stalactites and stalagmites (there is a “giant”, a crystallized lake, a room filled with “candles” and another section looks like organ pipes). Abisso Ancona is so big Milan’s Duomo could comfortably fit, with room to spare. Of course, once you walk into the caves you will lose all sense of proportion as you behold the enormity of the formations and the surrounding bigger and smaller caves.

A most amazing experience is the Percorso Speleologo, which takes you behind the scenes and off the beaten track into tight passageways, downward spirals, uphill climbs, and slimy clay tunnels. You will be asked to don rubber boots, a jumpsuit, and a helmet with a battery operated light on it as your group is sent on its way on a one-of-a-kind journey of discovery.

Certainly not for the faint of heart, because as you shimmy over the clay, trying to get a foothold onto the stalagmites and a somewhat firm grip onto the slippery stalactites, you will be wondering why on earth you signed up for this crazy adventure. That is until those tiny tunnels lead you into a large opening where your guide will ask you to simply sit. As you marvel at the grandeur before you, you will slowly, one by one, turn off the lights on your helmets. And it is there, in the absence of light, which is darker than the darkest night you can imagine, that you will understand that this crazy adventure has taken you into unchartered and eye-opening territory. And as you are hosing down your boots at the end of your 2 hour tour, you will be mentally checking your calendar to plan another trip to Genga’s Grotte di Frasassi.

All photos are courtesy and copyright of Piero Principi. Many thanks to Piero and the Consorzio Frasassi!

Enrica Frulla

by Enrica Frulla

Enrica was born in Italy, raised in the United States and is now living in Senigallia, on the coast of the beautiful Le Marche region. A marketing consultant in a past life, Enrica is now a freelance translator. Recently, her creativity and passion for telling people what to do has also  “translated” into an event planning business. www.besteventlab.com

7 Responses to “Le Grotte di Frasassi”

  1. Evanne

    Marvelous story, Enrica. If only I weren’t claustrophobic, I’d surely join a tour there.

  2. louise

    Good grief! What a place. Never in a thousand years would I ever go slipping around on those rocks. Yet, how wonderful to have experienced it through you, Enrica. Many thanks for sharing this with the faint of heart.

  3. GAIL Schomer

    Did you know there are ‘Italian’ Fox & Beaver who make their homes underground ? What a palace for our animal friends. :)

  4. As if Italy itself does not have enough beauty above ground now we find out about the beauties that are below. One could not visit for a day or a month trying to capture all the beauty and wonder she holds. It would certainly take a lifetime to explore her richness. Great article and I know if I was in this group I would have brought my camera along.

  5. My introduction to caves was Mammoth Cave in 1972, on a geology field trip during college. It wasn’t on the original itinerary but we had time and the professor wanted us to see it. (Thankfully this was on a level surface with a guide, and a big open space with benches of sorts.) We had the exact same experience of lights-out and utter blackness. Not only that, but our sense of hearing was also affected because there was absolutely no ambient noise other than our tentative breathing. I’ve been a National Park and cave junkie ever since — with limits, meaning I need a pedestrian-friendly path, emergency exits, and, in the case of Carlsbad, the elevator was nice for those who didn’t want to hike back up. (Gift shops are nice too.) To experience heart-stopping squeeze-gut crawling from the safety of your armchair, and read a truly terrifying story, try “Blind Descent” (by Nevada Barr, who uses National Parks as the geographic base for her novels). The story is set in a newly-discovered area within the Lechuguilla Cave system of Carlsbad, in southern New Mexico. A “helpful” map of the system is included, making the story even more gut-clenching. I read this JUST AFTER going to Carlsbad. I am ever thankful that I decided against the guided “crawling” cave adventure. Go to the Carlsbad website; that’s on the home page: http://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm. (This also has a helpful “find a park” link.) The “Ranger Guided Cave Tours” has a most inspiring photo.

  6. Enrica

    Thanks, everyone, for the amazing comments! Italian Notebook readers are the best. Tom, I am not sure your camera would survive the “percorso Speleologico” :)
    Evanne and Louise, the spelunking tour is just one of the tours you can take in the Grotte. There are also tour guides that take you through the caves on lit walkways that are definitely “pedestrian-friendly”, to quote Ginny.
    And Ginny, I have always wanted to go to the Carlsbad caves!

  7. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    This world in which we live is so amazing, the created wonders never cease to astonish. Italy is most fortunate to have mre than it’s share of the beauty of God’s hand.


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