Cóvolo di Camposilvano


Useful Information

Location: Parco Naturale Regionale della Lessinia. Near Camposilvano.
(45.626389, 11.092973)
Open: 15-MAR to 14-JUN Sun, Hol 10-12, 14:30-16:30.
15-JUN to 1st week of SEP Tue-Sun 9:30-12:30, 15-18.
2nd week of SEP to 15-JAN Sun, Hol 10-12, 14:30-16:30.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 4, Children (6-15) EUR 3, Children (0-5) free, Seniors (70+) EUR 3, Disabled free.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 3.
[2021]
Classification: KarstCollapse Doline SpeleologyKarst Cave KarstLimestone Pavements
Light: bring torch
Dimension: Doline: Ø=100 m, VR=70 m.
Cave: W=70 m, H=35 m, L=80 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Ugo Sauro (2000): Morphogenetical aspects of collapse dolines and open pits in the karst of the Venetian Fore-Alps, Acta Carsologica, 29/2, 14, pp 195-199, Ljubljana 2000. online
Address: Museo Geopaleontologico di Camposilvano, Via Covolo, 1, 37030 Velo Veronese, Tel: +39-045-651-6005. E-mail:
IAT LESSINIA, Piazza Chiesa, 34, 37021 Bosco Chiesanuova VR, Tel: +39-045-247-7050, Mobile: +39-393-8953923. 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.

History

1999 museum opened to the public.

Description

The Cóvolo di Camposilvano is a huge collapse doline with vertical walls. A trail with railings leads into the doline to the bottom, 70 m below ground, where a huge cave portal opens. The cave is actually just a huge hall which is open on one side, a small remains of the even bigger chamber which collapsed to form the doline. This huge cavern has a diameter of some 70 m and a height of 35 m. The trail becomes a bit rough at the cave entrance, and actually there is a sign warning about rockfall. Rockfall obviously happens and a helmet with a headlamp is definitely a good idea for this visit. Nevertheless the cave is rather easy to visit.

In the cave you can see the three typical rocks of the area. The San Vigilio Oolite is a fine oolithic limestone, formed by precipitation in a warm, limestone rich sea. Then there is the rosso ammonitico (Ammonite Red), as the name says full of ammonites and other fossils, and reddish because of its content of iron. And then there is the Biancone. During the winter the cave contains ice, its actually a cold trap, but the temperature is not deep enough to allow ice during the summer. Nevertheless we very strongly recommend warm clothes. In former times the locals used the cave during summer as a fridge, to store food.

According to a popular legend, Dante Alighieri, exiled in Verona and the guest of Cangrande della Scala, was inspired by the ice in the cave for the description of the circles of hell and the frozen lake of Cocytus in the Divine Comedy. Folk traditions tell it is the home of ogres and fade, spiteful human-like beings.

The Museo Geopaleontologico di Camposilvano (Geopaleontological Museum of Camposilvano) is located in the nearby town. Actually you should go there first, as the ticket to the museum includes the ticket to doline with cave. On the other hand, nobody will check your ticket there. This page is actually not about the cave, its about the whole area, and a visit to the museum is much recommended, as it offers the necessary background information. The museum exhibits prehistoric remains, which were excavated in the cave. The earliest traces of human presence are between 50,000 and 70,00 years old. Roman and Medieval remains were also found.

The museum is based on the collection of Attilio Benetti (1923-2013), who lived in a nearby house. He collected anything, but mostly fossils, and used the warehous in front of his house to store his collection. Here he explained the details to to tourists who visited him. The building became a de-facto museum. He infected the youth with his palaeontological interest and his collection became a sort of town project. Finally the mountain community of Lessinia built the current museum and in 1999 it was inaugurated. Centered on local fossils it also shows fossils from allover the world, explains the evolution, and has an archaeoloical exhibition. Highlights are the footprints of theropod dinosaur Kajentapus from Bella Lasta in the upper Lessini, and the reconstruction of a cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) skeleton from the nearby caves.

Many people come to the area for something completely different. The name Camposilvano or Campo Silvano is often associated with weird limestone rocks of various shapes. Such erosional formations happen now and then in karst areas, but generally they have certain shape which is called karren or pinnacle. If the rocks form patterns and are divided by wide cracks, they are often called limestone pavements. This here is the same, but it looks quite different. The limestone rocks form boulders, mushrooms, slaps with holes, and even castle like structures. The can be found all around the village, and while they are easily accessible, it requires some effort and some walking.

There is actually no trail with numbers, which we think is a good thing. We recommend to visit the museum first, then go to the doline and the cave and finally walk around looking for weird rocks. And, hey, you are in Italy, end the day with great food in a local trattoria and some Venetian red wine.