|Image: a window in flysh shows the continuation of the main passage.|
At Lusevera, Villanova delle Grotte.
28km from Udine, 9km from Tarcento.
Autostrada A23 exit Udine Nord-Gemona. Follow Strada Statale 13 Pontebbana about 20km to Tarcento, the the signs to Alta Val Torre, Lusevera. When the Val Torre narrows to a gorge turn right to Villanova. Signposted. (46°15'28.29"N, 13°16'56.14"E)
15-JUN to 03-JUL
Mon-Sat 9:10, 10:30, 12, 14:20, 15:40, 17, 18:30.
Sun, Hol 9-12, 14-18:30.
04-JUL to 31-JUL Mon-Sat 9:10, 9:50, 10:30, 11:10, 12, 14:20, 15, 15:40, 16:20, 17, 17:40, 18:30. Sun, Hol 9-12, 14-18:30.
AUG Mon-Sat 9:10, 9:40, 10:10, 10:40, 11:10, 12, 14, 14:30, 15, 15:30, 16, 16:30, 17, 17:30, 18, 18:30. Sun, Hol 9-12, 14-18:30. Ferragosto 9-18:30.
01-SEP to 15-SEP Mon-Sat 9:10, 10:30, 12, 14:20, 15:40, 17, 18:30. Sun, Hol 9-12, 14-18:30.
Gruppo Esploratori e Lavoratori Grotte di Villanova, Sede: Villanova delle Grotte N°3, 33010 Lusevera (UD), Tel: +39-0432787915, Fax: +39-0432787915.
Spelunking tours: Braida Lucia, Tel: +39-03332389687, Tel: +39-03921306550. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1925||discovered, developed and opened to the public.|
|1984||new entrance inaugurated.|
Grotta Nuova di Villanova is not very well known, as it is located in a remote place. To reach this place you have to drive into Alta Val Torre (Upper river Torre valley) and then cope with the steep ascend to the village Villanova. The cave is located below the village, with a parking lot and a nice cafe at the ticket office. From here you have to walk downhill a steep single lane road to the new cave entrance.
Apropos new, the term new is repeated so often that it is hard to determine what is meant. The village is called Villanova, which means new town, obviously founded by people from an old town. They discovered various caves, but when they found a new one, they called it Grotta Nuova, the new cave. It was developed with paths and visited for decades. The entrance is on a prominent place, right in the middle of town, but the tour was a little difficult and visitors became wet and dirty. So far so good, the cave visited today is another part of this same cave system, buit it is the lower end, and so the entrance is far below the village. It was discovered from the old entrance in the middle of the town, but it was developed by an artificial tunnel.
The tour starts at the ticket office, right in front of the newest cave entrance. The tunnel goes down ???m and ??? steps. The cave is entered at ???, a huge chamber with a small artificial lake. Here two main passages branch off, to the right and the left. First we follow the right one, which leads further down.
|Image: the left wall and the floor are flysh, the erosion of the cave river built the cave inside non-soluble rock.|
This part of the cave shows almost no speleothems, but still it is the most impressive and most interesting part of the whole cave. It shows a cave developed in flysch, which is composed of marls. Karst caves are formed by the solution of limestone, but this cave is formed inside a water resistant and not soluble rock. The explanation of this enigma is pretty easy: the impermeable rock dammed the groundwater inside the rock. The ground water collected on this layer and flew downhill on top of the impermeable rocks, but in cracks it formed inside the soluble rock by dissolution.
But once a cave had formed, the water flew inside the hollow, and erosion, the mechanical destruction of rock, started. The water has some energy from flowing downhill, which is multplied by the grinding by sand and small rocks it transports. This process is not restricted to soluble rocks, solution is not necessary. The impermeable marl is rather soft and so it is subject to really fast erosion.
|Image: the left branch has a different character. The narrow passage is completely in limestone.|
This part of the cave has a really characteristic shape: huge passages and chambers with an extremely flat ceiling. This ceiling is formed by the lowest layer of the limestone. We are in the Southern Limestone Alps, the rocks have been moved by strong tectonic forces during the orogeny of the Alps, and so the limestone is tilted by approximately 35°. The ceiling shows some cracks and solution forms, socalled anastomosis, which is the start of every karst cave. But the cave is almost completely formed inside the soft marl. The walls show a crossection through soft, thin bedded sedimentary rocks with an high content of clay.
The tourist path is built on a metal framework and it is very comfortable. Still the path follows the path of the water, straight downhill, and so the descent to the end of this passage is about 60m. And at the end we have to go up the same way again.
Back at the entrance hall, we now take the other direction. This passage is completely different, it is not huge, it is not tilted, and it is more or less horizontal. This part of the cave is formed entirely inside limestone, and thus has a completely different structure. Narrow and high gorges run snakelike through massive rock with little clefts and no bedding. At the end of this now dry river passage lies a labyrinth of small passages and chambers, filled with speleothems. Some side passages show steps cut into the floor, a remains of the old show cave, developed from the city center above. This was once the lower end of the tour from the other side.
Again we have to return to the entrance hall and now leave the cave through the tunnel. All in all there is an enormous height difference, both to reach the cave entrance and then inside the cave. Although the path is very well developed and definitely not difficult, we would advise people with medical problems like heart disease or respiration problems, to think about not visiting the cave.
|Grotta Nuova di Villanova Gallery|