Near Lama dei Peligni, Chieti, Abruzzo.
46 km south of Pescara.
A14 (E55) exit Fossacesia/Fossacesia Marina. SS 652 west towards Napoli/Casoli, turn right at Archi towards Casoli/Pescara onto SS 84. After 6 km turn left to Casoli, follow SP ex SS 84 along Lago Di Sant'Angelo, and through Lama Dei Peligni along the mountain side towards Palena. Cable car at the road half way between Lama Dei Peligni and Palena. From upper station follow good path to the cliff side, well developed stairs with roof (against falling rocks) to the cave entrance.
(42° 2'9.25"N, 14° 9'23.43"E)
|Classification:||Karst cave cave with a view..|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Dimension:||A=1425 m asl, L=1360 m, T=10 °C.|
|Guided tours:||L=1000 m.|
|Address:||Coop. Majella, Museum nat. Arch. "M. Locati", Lama dei Peligni (Ch) -Tel: +39-0872-916067|
|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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The Grotta del Cavallone is probably the most exceptional cave with a view in Italy. Located in the middle of the country, south of Paescara and about the same latitude as Rome, only a few kilometers from the coast with the motorway and all the tourism, it is secluded in a remote valley and surrounded by steep and rocky mountains. The area is really alpine, there is even a cable car which is used to get to the cave. In old guidebooks the way to the cave is described to be a several kilometers long walk from Lama, the next town. Some also talk of several kilometers of bad road which are only possible with a 4WD.
The mountain massif Majella is one of the most beautiful and most impressive parts of the Abruzzi mountains. The whole area is protected by the Parco Nazionale della Majella. It is popular among climbers and mountaineers, and it is a weekend destination for Romans. But the center of the park is not developed and there are virtually no roads inside.
The mountain side right above Lama looks like a stranded whale, a huge layer of sloping limestone, falling with approximately 45°, with Lama located on the lower end. From Lama a rather new road leads up the valley on the right hand side, cut right into the middle of this slope. After some kilometers, there is a valley or gorge in the flank of the mountain, and a turnoff leads to a cable car. This cable car brings mountaineer up to the numerous trails of the park and cave visitors to the cave.
The ride on the open cable car is rather impressive. To the northwest, where the lift is going to, is a high massive of limestone cliffs, to the southeast a much lower hillcountry. On the foot of the mountain is a deep valley with some villages built on top of hills. Both sides of the valley where the cable car is built in, are of limestone full of caves. At the end of the ride, you can see the huge entrance of the Grotta del Cavallone on the right side. The upper station of the cable car contains a small restaurant and cafe with an impressive view from the veranda. Here a very good track, nearly a single lane road starts. It leads to the foot of the cliff below the cave. From there a roofed flight of stairs leads up to the cave entrance.
The development of the cave includes rather rough paths, concrete steps and iron bridges. The older wooden bridges and stairs can still be seen. The cave has electric light, which is rather new and very good. The cave is developed at the moment, but there are still some parts, especially at the end, where visitors walk on rough trails or even on flowstone. With the new cable car the number of visitor increases continually and so the cave developed to accommodate the demand, but also to protect the cave.
This cave is impressive and we recommend it very much. But we have to say some words about the problems of a cave visit. The whole trip, driving on narrow roads, riding the cable car and walking to the cave takes some time. Probably you should plan a nice one day trip and spend some time on the trails around the cave too. The cave visit is not suitable for old people or people with ill health. There is the height difference, a lot of walking and the trails in and outside the cave are a bit rough, typical for trails in high mountain areas. Appropriate clothes, especially good walking shoes, are much recommended.
But now for the cave itself. It starts with a huge entrance hall, a portal right in the middle of a cliff face. Known for a long time, difficult to access, it impressed visitors for centuries. Gabriele D'Annunzio used the cave as scene for the first act of his tragedy Figlia di Jorio. Here the visitors wait for the guide enjoying the breathtaking view or just resting from the strenuous ascent. Numerous balconies with some signs about the National Park and its nature (only in Italian unfortunately) lead up to the highest point of the cave.
From the highest point of the entrance hall the tour starts. The cave narrows as soon as weathering from outside has no more influence, but the passage is still impressive in size, being 10 to 20 m wide and nearly the same height all the time. There are numerous speleothems, but most of them are on the floor, stalagmites, flowstone and rimstone pools. The speleothems on walls and ceiling are rather small and sparse. The main passage goes up and down all the time, there are several pits, one is even a sort of shaft which must be crossed. On our visit (2001) the path went down into all those pits and back up on the other side. As there is no second exit, the tour has to go back the same way and cross all those pits a second time. However, the works to build bridges across all of those pits was going on and this may have changed by now.
The cave is very impressive in both size and beauty. It is different to other caves, with much less speleothems on the walls, which is probably a result of the altitude and the corresponding temperatures. The cave is rather cool compared to other Italian caves.
Nearby is also the karst spring sorgenti Acquevive, the spring of the water of life.
|Grotta del Cavallone Gallery|