|Location:||Oliero, Valstagna, at the main road. Leave SS 47 at Valstagna and take the old road through Oliero. In the Val Brenta, north of Bassano del Grappa.|
JAN to FEB Sun, Hol 9-19.
MAR to APR Sat, Sun, Hol 9-19.
MAY to JUN Tue to Sun 9-19.
AUG daily 9-19.
SEP Tue to Sun 9-19.
OCT to DEC Sun, Hol 9-19.
Grotta Parolini: Same days as Park, Mon-Sat 9-12, 14-17, Sun, Hol 9-17. AUG daily 9-18:30.
Museum: MAY to JUL Sun 14-19. AUG daily 10-19. SEP to OCT Sun 14-19. 
Adults EUR 2.
Grotta Parolini: Adults EUR 6, Children (3-10) EUR 4,50, Children (0-2) free.
Groups (40+): Adults EUR 4,50.
|Classification:||Karst cave. River cave.|
|Dimension:||T=12°C (air), 9°C (water).|
|Guided tours:||D=40min (trail), 20min (Grotta Parolini).|
|Address:||Valbrenta Team, Via Oliero di Sotto 85, 36020 Valstagna (VI), Tel. +39-0424-558250, Fax +39-0424-558251. 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.
|1822||explored by the naturalist Alberto Parolini.|
|1830||olms from Postojnska Jama released by Alberto Parolini.|
|1832||opened to the public with a boat tour on a subterranean lake.|
|1964||olms still living in the cave, rediscovered by cave divers.|
|1967||Aellen and Strinati bought an olm from the cave.|
|Image: the dam of the mill, Val Brenta.|
The Grotte di Oliero are several caves which are the springs of the short fiume Oliero (Oliero river), a tributary of fiume Brenta (Brenta river), and so the plural is definitely justified. The Brenta valley is a typical valley of the southern rim of the Alps. Cut deep into the limestone mountains, it has a fertile floor and steep walls. Here at the Oliero spring, it is rather narrow, and so the Oliero is only a few hundred meters long, from its source to its mouth. To the southwest lies the Altiplano d'Asiago, which is not really a high plain, but a mountain range, also called Sette Comuni. It is the recharge area for the spring.
All together four caves may be visited on paths through a small park, called Parco Naturale delle Grotte. The most interesting is the Grotta Parolini, originally called Covolo dei Siori (Cave of the Lords), but renamed Grotta Parolini in honour of the first explorer Alberto Parolini. The trail on the left side of the river also leads to two dry caves, located on the slopes above the spring. The Covolo degli Assassini (Grotto of the Murderers) and the Covolo delle Sorelle (Grotto of the Sisters). Back at the river Oliero, it is possible to cross it on the old mill dam and follow the right shore of the river upstream to the other spring of the Oliero. This deep blue pot at the foot of a limestone cliff is called Cogol dei Veci.
|Image: Grotta Parolini.|
The Grotta Parolini is obviously the main cave of the park. The trail leads to a quay in front of a limestone cliff, the cave portal is only about 2m high, but very wide. On the rock face, above the portal is an old plate telling about Alberto Parolini, who visited this spring in 1822 and was the first to enter the cave on a boat. He discovered dry passages bihind the calm lake which are today electrically lighted and toured as a show cave. Wooden boat bring visitors continually across the lake and back to quay. The deep and calm water hides a strange mystery, which astonished cave divers some years ago. It is home to olms (Proteus Anguinus), an amphibian troglobiont from Postojnska Jama in Slovenia. This animal is endemic in the Triestine Karst and along the croatian coast. Its apearance in Italy is artificial, an experimant undertaken by Alberto Parolini in 1830, who brought olm to this cave and released them. He wanted to know if this animal was able to adapt to the slightly different living conditions. He never found out and the olms were forgotten, until they were rediscovered by cave divers in 1967, 137 years later. As olm live about 90 to 110 years, this is at least the next generation. Olms still live in the cave, and were seen now and then.
The Covolo degli Assassini (Grotto of the Murderers) has an impressive portal and a nice view across the valley. On a sunny day the sun shine into the portal of the cave and makes it a really pleasant place. This place was obviously used for a cave house once, the holes of the timbers are clearly visible. It seems there once was a two storey wooden house built into the cave. Behind the area of weather influence the cave immediately narrows and lowers to a passage, which can be visited only stooping and crawling.
|Image: Cogol dei Veci.|
The last cave is the second source of the river Oliero. The Cogol dei Veci is at the foot of a high cliff, and goes down immediatly. There is no cave which can be visited, but the rocks around the pot show many stalactites, which make clear that this place once was inside a cave too. Since 1990 divers from Italy and Great Britain try to reach a cave behind. The first sump is 2,340m long and 55m deep, first explored by Olivier Isler. The second siphon, after 200m of dry passage, is 1,090m long and 50m deep, and was first dived by Rick Stanton and John Volanthen in 2004. They again found 200m of dry passage with an enormous shaft and a waterfall.
The park is entered from the road through the village Valstagna, there is a small parking lot on the opposite side. The first building to the left contains a restaurant, with fine cappuchino, bruschetta and beer in Bavarian Masskrüge, which hold one liter. Obviously they are not typical for this region, the landlord brought them back from a trip to Munich, and as he does not need them very often he is quite happy if a guest requests a Mass beer. The upper and basement floor of the building is home to the Museo di Speleologia e Carsismo (Speleological and Karst Museum), a very nice museum about caves, speleology and the geology of the area. There is also a vast collection of shells, see-, earth- and fresh-water molluscs from Veneto and fossils from the Palaeozoic to the Quaternary.
Today the park and cave are maintained by Valbrenta Team, a young company offering rafting trips and canoe courses on the Brenta river.
|Grotte di Oliero Gallery|