Grotta della Spipola

Grotta del Farneto - Grotta Novella

Useful Information

Location: Gessi Bolognesi. Parco Regionale Gessi Bolognesi e Calanchi dell'Abadessa. Croara, near San Lazzaro di Savena, souteast of Bologna.
Open: All year, by reservation.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. SpeleologyGypsum cave Messiniano period
Light: none, helmets and headlamps provided.
Dimension: L=10,000m (Complesso Spipola-Acqua Fredda)
Guided tours: L=
Address: Parco Regionale Gessi Bolognesi e Calanchi dell'Abadessa, via Jussi 171, Croara, 40030 San Lazzaro di Savena, Tel: +39-051-6251934, Fax: +39-051-6254521. E-mail: contact
Park Centre, Via Emilia 302, Fraz. Idice, 40068 S. Lazzaro di Savena (BO), Tel: +39-051-6258569, Fax: +39-051-6258581.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1871 first documented archaeological and spelaeological research.
1890s gypsum mining in the cave.


The Grotta della Spipola is a rather huge wild cave in gypsum. It is open to the public for cave trekking tours. Because of its closeness to Bologna it is rather well visited. However, the trip is rather strenuous, as the walk to the cave takes 1.5 hours which adds three hours of walking to the cave visit.

The gypsum of this area was formed about six million years ago in the Messinian period. At this time the Straits of Gibraltar closed up and the Mediterranean sea became a salt desert. The Bolognese Gessi, the gypsum of Bologna, was deposited in the sounding-depths contouring the just emerged Apennines. The rock is rather young and the karstification too, it started two million years ago in the Pliocene. The gypsum was locally called selenite (moon stone), due to its pale white colour. This stone was used for buildings in the area and in the close city of Bologna, which then was called moon city for its shine during the day when the sun was grazing. The term selenite is still used but it describes a certain sort of gypsum crystals, not the common rock.

The Grotta della Spipola is one of more than one hundred caves in this formation. Guided tours are offered by the Regional Park and take either half a day or a full day. The include the Grotta della Spipola, the Grotta del Farneto, the Grotta Novella and many other karst features like dolines and ponors. In the Grotta Novella a subterranean laboratory has been placed. The cave ecosystem and the development of gypsum formations is studied here.