Places to visit
The “Grotta de Vento” (Cave of the Wind), located near Fornovolasco (Municipality of Vergemoli), is one of the best-known caves in the world. Inside, various paths were created to allow visitors to see the wonders of that part of nature that normally remains hidden from their eyes: stalactites, stalagmites, columns, alabaster draperies, underground rivers etc.. .. The temperature of the cave is constant during all the year; it remains at about 10.7 ° C. During the winter, the Grotta del Vento is characterized by airflow from the bottom (the main visitor entrance, at 642 meters above sea level) up to the cavity exit, located on the opposite side of the mountain, at about 1400 meters above sea level. During the cold season, in fact, the warmer and lighter indoor air rises to the top. During the summer, the cooler and heavier air of the cave flows in the opposite direction (from the upper cavity on top of the mountain to the bottom), causing a strong “wind” near the entrance of visitors (from here the name “Cave of the Wind”). In the XVII° century, the original little crevice (called “hole of wind”) and the airflow phenomenon were already known. In fact, the locals decided to take advantage of this fresh natural airflow during summer time by building on this hole a little house to use as a sort of refrigerator. At the end of XIX° century, a little girl got into the original narrow cavity and walked inside for a few meters; other children enlarged the original hole and ventured for about 20 meters inside but they immediately returned back, afraid of old legends about monsters and demons hosted into the cave. The real scientific exploration of the Grotta del Vento, dating back to 1932, was done by a florentine group of speleologists who explored the gallery for about 70 meters till a place where the cave was completely immersed. In 1961, the cavers pushed Bologna, for the first time, besides the well full of water. In 1964 an other expedition was done by some Lucca speleologists who explored over 1000 meters of tunnels, starting to mark the tourist path of today. Currently, we know more than 4 km of tunnels even though there are still non-exlored cave branches.
The 3 itineraries inside the Grotta del Vento :
- The first path (800 meters – about 1 hour) is flat and it is characterized by many calcareous stalactites, stalagmites and columns in continuous growth;
- The second path (1500 meters – about 2 hours) which includes the first, is characterized by a slope of about 50 meters which leads you to a room in which 3 underground streams converge. The ascent is through a gallery adorned with small calcareous concretions that look like gray pine forests;
- The third path (2200 meters – about 3 hours) includes the first and second. It adds (to other paths)a visit to a magnificent area carpeted with white stones and a 90 meters lift along the walls .
All the paths are equipped with concrete floors, protective metal handrails and lighting. Visitors are also accompanied by a guide who provides them with informations about the various areas of the cave.
Visiting hours of Grotta del Vento:
The Grotta del Vento is open every day of the year (Christmas Day excluded). In the periods between April 1st/November1st - December 26th / January 6th and during all other periods of non-working days, the visiting times are :
Path 1: 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00. Path 2: 11:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00. Path 3: 10:00, 14:00. On working days in the periods: November 2nd/ December 24th and January 7th/March 31st you can only visit path nr. 1 (duration one hour) in the following hours: Path 1: 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00.
For organized groups (minumum 20 people), you can visit , on reservation, all the paths in each day of the year.
Reservations are received at: Direction of “Grotta del Vento” Tel +39-0583-722024 / Fax +39-0583-722053 How to arrive: Address (for your sat navigator): Grotta del Vento, via Grotta del Vento, 1, Vergemoli (Lucca) GPS coordinates: Lat. 44 °02′ 03″ N – Lon. 10 ° 21′ 27 “
By car: The best way (arriving from outside the province of Lucca) to reach the cave is to take the highway A11 Firenze-Mare; exit at Lucca (either east or west). From Lucca you have to follow the road signs for Castelnuovo Garfagnana, or the tourist signs, colored in brown, indicating “Garfagnana”. At about 37 km from Lucca, always following the signs for Castelnuovo, you arrive in Gallicano, where you encounter the first signs to the cave. Cross the center of Gallicano and follow the signs to “Grotta del Vento”. After about 12 km of a mountain road, you reach your destination.