Grotta del Caudano


Useful Information

Location: Associazione del Mondolè, Via Mondolè, 12083 Frabosa Soprana CN.
Between Frabosa Sottana and Miroglio, Valle Maudagna (Maudagna valley). The parking lot and ticket office is located at SP327, 15 minutes walk to the cave entrance uphill.
(44.2930025,7.7905788)
Open: All year daily 10:30, 15, 16:30.
Only with reservation!
Closed 25-DEC.
[2022]
Fee: Adults EUR 7, Children (0-10) EUR 4.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 5, only with appointment.
Grotte by Night: Adults EUR 13.
[2022]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave TopicLiving Isolated Underground
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=3,200 m, VR=35 m, A=780 m asl, T=12 °C.
Guided tours: L=900 m, D=70 min, Min=2.
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Grotte del Caudano, Associazione del Mondolè, Via Mondolè, 12083 Frabosa Soprana CN, Tel: +39-331-8757807, Tel: +39-0174-244481-1. 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

DEC-1899 discovered.
1949 discovery of a dead wild boar in the lowest level, how it got there remains an enigma.
???? show cave closed.
06-AUG-1961 to 07-SEP-1961 scientific experiment 700 ore sotto terra (700 hours under the earth).
1992 development with new trails, electric light.
2000 managed by the associazione di albergatori e ristoratori (association of hoteliers and restaurateurs).
2002 managed by the Pro Loco initiative.
2006 managed by the Associazione del Mondolè.

Description

The Grotta del Caudano was discovered in 1899 during the construction of the Frabosa Sottana hydroelectric power plant. There seem to be different opinions if this was in 1898 or 1899, we decided to believe the cave cadastre which says 1899. An aqueduct was constructed to collect water for the plant. The spring water which was collected here, was warm enough, so it never froze, not in the coldest winter. So the locals said it was caudan, which means hot in the local dialect. When the spring was examined by the engineers, they soon discovered the cave behind and named it after the spring Grotta del Caudano.

The cave was first explored by the engineer Vittorio Cav. Trona and some colleagues, who crossed the river to reach a huge chamber with numerous speleothems. They found several chambers. What followed was an intensive exploration by experienced cavers. And soon the cave became the longest cave of Italy, and also the one with the most speleothems. But as time went by, new discoveries of other caves which were bigger and more beautiful made those superlatives obsolete.

The first development as a show cave followed soon after the discovery, and many people visited the cave in the early 20th century. But nevertheless it was not successful enough and so it was closed.

In 1961 a strange scientific experiment took place in the cave, named 700 ore sotto terra (700 hours under the earth). 12 cavers and some domestic animals (chickens, goats, rabbits...) stayed in the cave for one month, between 06-AUG-1961 and 07-SEP-1961. The scientists tried to understand the effect of the underground life on people and animals.

Unfortunately the cave was not closed with a gate, and so people were able to enter the cave and during the following decades, the cave was heavily vandalized. Finally, the owner, the town Frabosa Sottana, asked the Gruppo Speleologico Alpi Marittime di Cuneo to take care of the cave. They gated the cave, but made guided tours on special Holidays.

In 1992 the cave was closed completely and the works for converting it into a show cave - again - were started. The cave was developed with good paths, iron railings, staircases, and electric light was installed. Again the financial success was insufficient, and the cave management changed various times. But since 2002 the caves are successfully open all year. Today the tickets are sold by the ticket office of the Mondolè Park, a climbing park which is right beneath the cave. The park offers multiple climbing experiences, but mostly it has ropes and suspension bridges in the trees. The park also offers winter like skiing and snowboarding, and they say they are open all year (except for Corona restrictions). Cave tours are also offered all year, but since Corona prebooking by email or phone is required, which seems to be a Corona obligation which might stay. Tours are held from two visitors, which is quite nice. Do not forget to book, and be there 15 minutes earlier. Good walking shoes are recommended, not only for the cave but also for the ascent.

The cave system has four levels, the main level is developed as a show cave, the third level is used for cave trekking tours. The other two levels are only accessible for speleologists. The lowest lever is the still active part, where the cave river flows. The yield of the cave river is almost constant, even after heavy rains, which is rather exceptional in karst. However, this level is very flat, so the changes in water level in the dammed pool outside the cave, caused by the hydroelectric power plant, influence the level of the cave river 400 m deep into the cave.

During the exploration numerous bones were discovered, mostly of Ursus spelaeus, the cave bear. Cave bears lived in this area between 80,000 and 12,000 BP. Other animals still live in the cave, like bats, amphibians, arachnids, diplopoda, and orthoptera. Bats hibernate in the cave.