Grotta di Labante


Useful Information

Location: Labante.
SS64 Bologna-Lucca. At Vergato turn off onto SP25 10 km to the Chiesa di San Cristoforo. 5 min walk.
(44.260408, 11.036073)
Open: no restrictions.
[2021]
Fee: free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyTufa Cave SpeleologyPrimary Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=51 m, VR=12 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Chiesa di San Cristoforo, Via Val D'Aneva, 102, 40034 Labante BO
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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History

2005 cave pearls discovered.

Description

The Grotta di Labante (Cave of Labante) is located in the center of a beautiful park. It was named after the nearby church Chiesa di S. Cristofano di Labante. A limestone rich karst spring forms a waterfall and deposits limestone forming tufa. The tufa deposit is typical, the limestone precipitates around the spring forming a plateau which grows continually. The growth is largest at the waterfall, which forms an extension like a snout. The irregular growth is the reason for the formation of irregularly shaped caves.

The Grotta di Labante has two main entrances, which are connected by a rather straight passage, and numerous side entrance leading into smaller side branches. There is a lake inside one cave entrance, which is crossed on a small wooden bridge. The cave is not a show cave, it is part of the park and open without restrictions, but there are some wooden railings to make the visit easier. It is not big, so a torch is actually not necessary, but we nevertheless recommend bringing one.

Tufa caves are rare, and in general quite small. But some webpages tell that this is the "largest primary cave in the world". That's obviously untrue, but to disprove it: the ShowcaveOlgahöhle, in Germany is 170 m long, this one is 51 m long. Q.E.D.. And there are numerous other tufa cave over the world which are longer. The superlative "one of the largest tufa caves in Italy" on the other side is true, but actually quite lame.

The most famous specialty of this cave is really exceptional. It is called Le Pisoliti (the Cave Pearls), and is a sections of cave floor in the middle between the two main entrance consists of cave pearls. SpeleothemCave Pearls are spherical dripstones, created in flowing water, which are rather rare. Huge amounts of cave pearls are pretty rare. Here the floor is actually formed by cave pearls, the largest have a diameter of 2-3 cm, while the smallest are smaller than 20 μm. This great difference in size is quite uncommon, and a result of the form of the floor, which prevents easy washout of the smallest pearls. A sample was analyzed and contained 50 million pearls with an average diameter of 40 μm, while just 21 had a diameter greater than 6 mm. The impressive discovery is explained on an explanatory sign in front of the cave, unfortunately only in Italian.

See also in this Villa a superb cave made by nature, with such a vague artifice, which could not do more in that site art, is this a few fathoms below the Church of S. Cristofano di Labante located. It is all made of sponges, it has two rooms, one upper and the other lower, and each one of them has on different sides the exit, the light is varied; it is turned to the east, and from the top there is the fall of a water from a height of about 20 fathoms, which naturally scattering itself equally on all sides makes a beautiful sight. Water is very easy to condense, and everywhere where it beats or falls it generates the sponges already mentioned, of which the cave is composed. But what is worthy of marvel is that all enjoy that water and use it for drinking, and no one in that place suffers from stones, calculi, or kidneys, as we may say, when the water is used for drinking, or renelle that we want to say when for reason of its ease in petrifying it should naturally do so"
(Cinelli Calvoli, 1692, p. 4).

According to Prof. Paolo Forti from the Istituto Italiano di Speleologia, Università di Bologna, this site was described by some naturalists during the 17th and 18th century. Unfortunately those texts are hard to find, you have to go to a university library and check historic documents. It seems the site was not described in modern caving or touristic literature. This changes slowly with some blog posts of people who visited the site and were quite impressed. Still the site is not listed in touristic Italy guidebooks. We are actually not sure if a wider publication is actually good for the site. More visitors results in damages, and this would imply either massive damages or access restrictions, and both is not good. However, we contributed to the destruction by publishing this site, so please do your best to avoid any damages when you go there. It's an important geotope and natural monument, please respect the rules of CavingNature Protection when you go there.