North of Pisa in the Apuan Alps' Natural Park.
From the South: Leave A11 at Lucca, take S.S.N.12 Abetone/Brennero to Ponte a Moriano (8,5 km). cross River Serchio and follow main road to Gallicano (36 km).
From the North: Leave A15 at Aulla, take S.S.N.63 Passo del Cerreto for 12 km, then turn right for Casola in Lunigiana (19 km), uphill Passo dei Carpinelli towards Piazza al Serchio (42 km), Castelnuovo Garfagnana to Gallicano.
From Gallicano pass the rocky gorge of Lake Trombacco to Fornovolasco (44 kms.). Cross three valleys to the cave.
APR to SEP daily, OCT to MAR Sun, Hol.
Tour 1: 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.
Tour 2: 10:10, 14:10, 17:05.
Tour 3: 10:10, 16:05.
Adults EUR 10, Children (0-10) EUR 8, Speleologists EUR 8, Soldiers EUR 8.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 8.
Adults EUR 18, Children (0-10) EUR 15, Speleologists EUR 15, Soldiers EUR 15.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 15.
Adults EUR 25, Children (0-10) EUR 20, Speleologists EUR 20, Soldiers EUR 20.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 20.
Groups: reservation 5 days in advance mandatory.
Parking EUR 4.50 for 3 h, overnight parking free.
|Classification:||Karst cave Blowhole Speleotherapy Jurassic limestone|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Dimension:||L=4,000 m, A=627 m asl. T=10,7 °C.|
Tour 1: D=60 min, St=366.
Tour 2: D=120 min, St=860, MinAge=6.
Tour 3: D=180 min, St=1195, MinAge=6.
|Address:||Grotta del Vento, Località Grotta del Vento, I-55020 Fornovolasco, (Lucca), Tel: +39-0583-722024, Fax: +39-0583-722053, 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.
|17th century||the air current was mentioned and used as refrigerator.|
|19th century||a four year old girl was forced to climb into the opening.|
|1932||first expedition by speleologists from Florence, discovering 70 m until reaching a siphon.|
|1961||the siphon was overcome by speleologists from Bologna exploring another 600 m.|
|1964||expedition of the Lucca Speleological Group explored 1110 m.|
|1965||start of development.|
|1967||first tour opened to the public.|
|1970||second tour opened to the public.|
|1982||third tour opened to the public.|
|1996||cave entrance destroyed by a flood.|
Grotta del Vento (Wind Cave) has three natural entrances, at an altitude of 600 m, 800 m and 1400 m asl. The height difference between the entrances and the temperature difference between inside and outside, create a convection stream of air! In winter the cave is warmer than outside, and as the warm air is lighter, it leaves the cave through the upper entrance. In summer the cave is colder than outside, and the cool air being heavier leaves the cave through the lower entrance. The speed of the air depends on the temperature difference between external and internal air. This strong air current or wind produced by this convection is the reason for the name of cave.
At first only a narrow crevice was known, called Buco Soffiante (Blowing Hole) because of the air current. The cold air leaving the cave was used as refrigerator to keep food fresh by the inhabitants of the nearby village Trimpello, simply by building a small hut on top of the crevice. The air temperature of 10 °C is not low enough to cool food, any cellar would do the same. But the cave air has a much higher content of carbon dioxide than outside air, and less oxygen. This added a second preserving effect and made the hut almost as effective as modern refrigerators. The hut from the 17th century existed until the beginning of World War II.
The lowest entrance of the cave system is the entrance for the cave tours. During tours a reinforced door blocks the air current almost completely. This has about the same effect as the original situation around the entrance. A small brook, dry in summer, becomes a torrent each spring and filled the cave entrance long ago with rubble and earth. So only a small gap at the ceiling of the passage remained. This passage was often blocked, or extremely narrow, which made it difficult to explore.
The cave was first entered by a little girl, forced to do so by some local boys. But even the little girl was not able to crawl in very far. In 1932 the gap was widened by a flood, and an expedition of speleologists was able to get into the cave to a deep siphon. But they were not able to cross it, so the exploration ended after only 70 m. The cave seemed to be little promising.
How much they erred was discovered in 1961, when another expedition tried to enter during low water. The siphon had fallen dry in this year and it was easy to wade through. The speleologist explored 600 m of the cave on this first tour! Now the dam was broken, huge parts of the system were explored and soon the idea came up, to open the cave to the public. This required a way to avoid the siphon for security reasons, so an artificial tunnel was built high above high water level.
A second important problem was the gravel in the entrance section. It was removed to build the path, but in 1996 a flood destroyed the entrance section, filled it again with gravel, and destroyed the nearby ticket office. The entrance was reopened with bulldozers, a new ticket office built, but to avoid repeating destruction during future floods, the whole entrance section was redesigned and protected by a massive concrete wall. This dam diverts the nearby brook and leads it directly into the valley
The developed part of the cave shows three totally different cave sections. The first one has numerous beautiful speleothems, stalactites, shawls, and cave pearls. The second one is lower, at the bottom of a 45 m deep pit, and sometimes water filled. It has no calcite speleothems but rather rare clay dripstones. The third part is above the entrance siphon. The narrow path winds up a steep and ragged shaft and shows an astounding vertical section of the cave.
There are three cave tours, which last one, two and three hours. The short tour shows the speleothem-part, the two-hour tour shows also the lower part with the clay dripstones. Only the three-hour tour shows all three and is strongly recommended for everyone who has enough time.
Most caves in Italy prohibit taking pictures with flash. But this cave is a honorable exception: they allow photography, as long as it does not disturb the tour. The cave is frequented very much by visitors, many of them from foreign countries. So tours are guided in several foreign languages like German, English, and French. If no guide speaking your language is available you can take an audioguide in your language and join the Italian tour.