The Grotta del Vento in the Apuan Alps
The Grotta del Vento is located in the heart of the Apuan Alps Park in Garfagnana. Known since the nineteenth century, the Grotta del Vento (Wind Cave) owes its name to the strong wind that blows from the heart of the mountain up to the entrance. In Italy there are several caves open to tourists but this is certainly one of the most beautiful and interesting. The Grotta del Vento can boast some characteristics that make it unique: here you will find the longest route among those open to the public and an extraordinary morphological and evolutionary variety. Entering its galleries, you can admire stalactites, stalagmites and numerous fossil remains.
How does the wind come out?
Why does this wind come out of the cave? This is a question that everyone rightly asks. To give an explanation to this phenomenon, you need to know a few things about the cave. The first is that the cave has two entrances, one, the one from which tourists enter, which is located at 642 meters above sea level, and another at an altitude of 1400 meters. The second aspect to consider is that in the innermost parts of the cave, there is a temperature of 10.7° throughout the year.
Since there is a difference in altitude of almost 800 meters between the two entrances, a large column of air is created inside the cave. During the summer, this large amount of air is colder than the air outside and for this reason, it rushes down, thus creating the wind that blows up to the lower outlet. In winter, on the other hand, the opposite occurs: since the air inside is warmer than that outside, it rises towards the higher exit, thus sucking in new air that enters from the lower entrance.
The history of the Grotta del Vento, from refrigerator to tourist attraction
The air that blows from the heart of the mountain has been known since the seventeenth century and the inhabitants of the nearby village of Trimpello used it to keep their food fresh. In 1898, a curious little girl was the first to enter the cave which had a crevice too small for adults. The girl walked a few meters which, however, were enough to understand that a cave was hidden behind that narrow fissure. Having widened the opening with shovels and picks, a group of young people entered the cave until they reached what is now called the “Hall of the Bear”.
Soon the news of the existence of this windy cave spread, so in 1929 an expedition was organized by the Florentine Speleological Group which managed to penetrate 77 metres. From the 1960s various expeditions followed one another which made it possible to discover more than four and a half kilometers of cave.
To visit the cave we can choose between three itineraries: the first, 800 meters long, lasts an hour and is an easy flat walk during which you can admire the magnificent limestone formations, such as stalactites, stalagmites and lava flows.
The second itinerary is 1500 meters long and lasts 2 hours. Along the way it reaches the Abyss of the Giants, the Sala delle Voci, which owes its name to the very particular acoustics inside, and to a small underground river.
The third route lasts three hours and allows a complete visit of the cave, with some even vertical sections, for a total length of 2,200 meters and a truly remarkable total height difference. This itinerary, which is the largest of all the caves in Italy that can be visited, includes the first two, a large underground well of 90 meters and also a small canyon.
Information for visiting the Grotta del Vento
The temperature inside the cave is 10.7 degrees, while the relative humidity is around 99%. Keep this information in mind when choosing how to dress for the visit. In any case, comfortable clothing with closed shoes and rubber soles is recommended. It is forbidden to wear backpacks, bags, umbrellas and other bulky items. Pets cannot enter.
The Grotta del Vento is open to the public every day of the year (except Christmas).
Tours start at the following times:
1st itinerary: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm.
2nd itinerary: 11am, 3pm, 5pm.
3rd itinerary: 10am, 2pm.
1st itinerary: full price €10, reduced price €8, schools €6
2nd itinerary: full price €18, reduced price €15, schools €11
3rd itinerary: full price €25, reduced price €20, schools €15
How to reach the Grotta del Vento
To reach the Grotta del Vento from Lucca (50 km – 1h), you must take the State Road 12 and the Provincial Road 20 following the signs for Castelnuovo Garfagnana. Once near Gallicano you will find the first signs indicating the cave that you will reach by taking the Provincial Road 39. From Gallicano to the Grotta del Vento there are about 12 kilometres.