Grotta del Farneto

Useful Information

(44.432530, 11.404790)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Paolo Grimandi, Paolo Forti, Piero Lucci (2020): Guida ai fenomeni carsici del Parco regionale dei Gessi Bolognesi, Bologna, FSRER, 2020, 4to brossura con copertina illustrata a colori, pp. 227. €10 online
Address: Gessi and Calanchi Bolognesi Regional Park, Ente di gestione per i Parchi e la Biodiversità – Emilia Orientale, Reservations, Tel: +39-051-625-4821. E-mail:
Ente di gestione per i Parchi e la Biodiversità, Emilia Orientale Piazza XX Settembre, 1, 40043 Marzabotto (BO), Tel: +39-051-670-2811, Tel: +39-051-625-4811, Fax: +39-051-625-4521. E-mail:
Parco Regionale Gessi Bolognesi e Calanchi dell'Abadessa, via Jussi 171, Croara, 40030 San Lazzaro di Savena, Tel: +39-051-6251934, Fax: +39-051-6254521. E-mail: contact
Park Centre, Via Emilia 302, Fraz. Idice, 40068 S. Lazzaro di Savena (BO), Tel: +39-051-6258569, Fax: +39-051-6258581.
Museo della Preistoria "Luigi Donini", via Fratelli Canova, 49, San Lazzaro di Savena (BO), Tel: +39-051-465132, Fax: +39-051-6275077. E-mail:
URP - Ufficio Relazioni con il Pubblico del Comune di San Lazzaro di Savena, Piazza Bracci 1 - 40068 San Lazzaro di Savena (BO), Tel. +39 051 6228174, Fax +39 051 6228283. 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.
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1871 Grotta del Farneto discovered by Francesco Orsoni.
1890s gypsum mining in the cave.
2008 Grotta del Farneto reopened for tours.


Grotta del Farneto (Farneto Cave) was discovered in 1871 by Francesco Orsoni. It became known in the 1960s when Luigi Fantini discovered Copper Age graves in a natural shelter in front of the cave. The graves were excavated and the findings are today exhibited in the Museo Archeologico di Bologna (Archaeological Museum of Bologna). The outcrop had been destabilized by quarry works and collapsed finally, the cave was blocked by the landslide. The landslide was removed and the cave entrance stabilized, the cave was reopened for tours in 2008.

The gypsum of this area was formed about six million years ago in the Messinian period. At this time the Straits of Gibraltar closed up and the Mediterranean sea became a salt desert. The Bolognese Gessi, the gypsum of Bologna, was deposited in the sounding-depths contouring the just emerged Apennines. The rock is rather young and the karstification too, it started two million years ago in the Pliocene. The gypsum was locally called selenite (moon stone), due to its pale white colour. This stone was used for buildings in the area and in the close city of Bologna, which then was called moon city for its shine during the day when the sun was grazing. The term selenite is still used, but it describes a certain sort of gypsum crystals, not the common rock. Numerous quarries, where the gypsum was quarried can be seen in the area. After being closed for centuries, the quarry walls look like natural cliffs.