Discovering the “Grotta del Vento”

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 cave for about 70 meters till a place where the cave was completely immersed. In 1961, some speleologists from Bologna, went, for the first time, beyond that water well. In 1964, during another expedition, some Lucca speleologists explored over 1000 meters of tunnels, starting to mark the tourist trails of today. Currently, we know more than 4 km of tunnels even if there are still non-explored cave branches.

The 3 itineraries inside the Grotta del Vento :

– The first trail (800 meters – about 1 hour) is flat and it is characterized by many calcareous stalactites, stalagmites and columns in continuous growth;

– The second trail (1500 meters – about 2 hours) which includes the first, is characterized by a slope of about 50 meters which leads to a room in which 3 underground streams converge. The ascent is through a tunnel adorned with small calcareous concretions that look like gray pine forests;

– The third trail (2200 meters – about 3 hours) includes the first and second. It adds (to the other itineraries )a visit to a magnificent area carpeted with white stones and a 90 meters lift along the walls .

All the itineraries are equipped with concrete floors, protective metal handrails and light. Visitors are also accompanied by a guide who provides them with informations about the different areas of the cave.

Visits to the Grotta del Vento:

It’s possible to book the visits online:

 

“Grotta del Vento” Phone +39-0583-722024 / Fax +39-0583-722053, web site

 

Address: Grotta del Vento, via Grotta del Vento, 1, Vergemoli (Lucca)

Google maps link

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.