Grotta Azzurra

Blue Grotto


Useful Information

Image: La Grotta Azzurra. Photochrom pictures from the Photochrom Prints Collection of the Library of Congress.
Location: On Capri. From the Marina Grande by boat in 35 min to the cave. Alternatively take a bus or taxi across the island (Marina Grande-Anacapri-Grotto) and walk down to the cave.
Open: during the Summer months daily 9-17
Fee: workdays LIT 22.200, holidays LIT 23500
Classification:  Karst cave  Sea cave
Light: natural.
Dimension: L=54m, W=30m.
Guided tours: The cave is visited by little rowing boats, that take a maximum of two or three persons. The cave cannot be visited during bad weather conditions.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Ferdinand Gregorovius (1853): Wanderjahre in Italien, Die Insel Capri.
Address:  
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.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:56:20 $

History

Image: Die Blaue Grotte auf der Insel Capri by Jakob Alt (1789-1872). Watercolor from 1835/36, original in the Albertina, Wien.
 
Roman Ageused as a nymphaeum.
1755discription by G. Addison.
1826the German writer August Kopisch described its extraordinary beauty.
1853description by Ferdinand Gregorovius.
1953highlighted in the book Red Sails To Capri by Ann Weil.

Description

Image: Ingresso alla Grotta Azzurra (Entrance to the Blue Grotto), by Carlo Brogi (1850-1925).

The Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto) is one of the most famous caves of the world, and the reason for its fame is the blue light shining through the salt water of the Mediterranean Sea and filling the cave with blue reflections. But thats only part of the explanation, this cave has been described and painted uncountable times. The fame started as early as So the cave is called Grotta Azzurra which means Blue Grotto. Once Grotta Azzurra was called Gradola by the locals after the nearby landing place of Gradola. But it was avoided because it was said to be inhabited by witches and monsters.

I went into one of the caves, which the locals call the Grotta Oscura, and once the light of the sun had left my eyes, I could clearly make out all its features... The opening is low and narrow, but after travelling a bit further in, the sides of the cave open to form an oval measuring roughly a hundred meters from one end to the other. The ceiling is rounded, and from its entire surface it distills fresh water which fell on us like the first drops of a rainstorm.


Text by G. Addison (1755).

Image: Capri - Grotta Azzurra by Roberto Rive (18?-1889).

But the cave was well known much earlier by the Romans, as proved by antique statues found inside the Grotto. This discovery, the remains of an ancient landing place and the work on an underground tunnel, create an image of a natural cavern adorned by statues: a nymphaeum built around the intense and brilliant blue of the sea.

Swimming into the grotto is a unique experience. But it is only possible when no boats with visitors are frequenting the cave. In summer this is just early in the morning and in the late afternoon. Unfortunately this time is not very good concerning the light. The blue colour is best, when sunlight shines on the water in front of the cave entrance, as it is on the southern coast this is best around midday.

Image: Capri - Grotta azzurra by Giorgio Sommer (1834-1914).

If you visit the cave by boat, you have to lie down on the bottom of it - in order to fit through the narrow natural opening. The ceiling is hardly high enough to allow the low boats to enter. The waves of the sea make this abit tricky, the gondolier has to wait for the lowest water between two waves to enter the cave. Then he hurries to drag the boat into the cave on a rope along the wall.

This situation restricts the access to the cave. Boat tours are only possible with calm sea. High waves, which are even with good weather possible, make the cave visit impossible. But cloudy weather is also a drawback. No sun on the water means no blue light in the cave. So the boats will not enter the cave is one of those weather situations takes place. Please consider this when planning a trip to the cave.

The underwater life inside the cave is extraordinary, and much bigger and exotic as in other sea caves of the area. The reason for this are submarine sulphuric springs that pipe hydrogen sulphide into its water. This source of energy for the marine life is independent of sunlight. And it created an exotic ecosystem, similar to the black smokers ecosystems at the Galapagos Islands. But unlike those black smokers, which are 3,500m below the sea, this cave is easily accessible for divers. The exotic marine life includes giant sponges, oversize mussels and lobsters, and flashy coloured coral. The ecosystem was studied during the past 15 years by Professor Francesco Cinelli, a marine biologist at the University of Pisa. Unfortunately the popularity of the cave above starts to destroy this fragile ecosystem. The visitors bring bright lights, noise, carbon dioxide and sweat, but the most destructive aspect is that they throw things overboard.


See also


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