|Location:||2km north of Castro Marino, Lecce, Italy. (40°0'43.40"N, 18°25'56.10"E)|
|Classification:||Karst cave, sea and karst cave.|
|Guided tours:||L=150m, V=100.000/a|
|Address:||Municipal Administration of Castro, Tel: +39-0|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Grotta Zinzulusa is located at the coast, a natural karst cave, which once drained to a much lower Mediterranean Sea, during the Ice Ages. Later the sea level rose, the water and waves started to erode the costline and create a vertical limestone cliff. The cave was opened by this eroseion, and as the cave itself is a sort of weakness in the rock, it gave the waves more chances for their destroying work. As a result the rather small natural passage becomes a huge portal where the cave development was intensified by the waves.
The cave shares parking lot and ticket office with municipal swimming pool. At this steep coast is not as much beach as elsewhere in Italy, so the sweet water pool is highly frequented. From the ticket offic, a footpath goes to the cave, first down in u turns and then along the cliff face around the corner. An this is probable the part of the cave visit: the first view of the cave portal, aquamarine sea, white and yellow limestone cliffs, and the neormous cave portal. The portal has a small wooden pier, which is used by wooden tourist boats. For a few Euros visitors are driven to the small sea caves around, a nice but short fun.
Now the path goes up again, to the cave entrance, which up at the rear end of the cave portal. The cave somewhat two levels. The upper, dry one is used for the tours, the lower one has a sort of cave river. The stops which allow a view down to the water level, aro called pools. The first pool, La Conca, is characterized by brackish waters and contains both marine and fresh water species. This tells us that there is a connection, the cave continues below the water level and end underwater in the cove. The second pool, Il Cocito, is characterized as oligohaline and is home to a stygobitic fauna. A formerly unknown stygobitic sponge has been collected in the far reaches of Il Cocito.