THE NATURE OF VERSILIA
A peculiar characteristic of Versilia’s mainland are caves, which are present on Apuan Alps surrounding the Versilia area. There are nearly 200 caves in the Apuan Alps, but in this part we choose to concentrate our and to drive your attention on the Cave of the Wind, the first in the area to be explored, and the Cave of mount Corchia, that means the deepest cave in Europe.
The Caves the Wind
THE CAVE OF THE WIND
The Wind cave lies in the centre of one of the most picturesque areas of the Apuan Alps park and due to the harsh geological events it has a varied orographic structure. However, we suggest to the visitors to visit not only the impressive underground world, but also to catch the opportunity to make excursions to other interesting artistic attractions such as the splendid architectural complex of the "Calomini Hermitage", to see the spectacular view of the massifs of the Panie mountains and the natural arch which connects the twin peaks of Monte Forato.
Inside the cave comfortable cemented footpaths have been built, so as all the wonders of the underground world can be seen illuminated by spotlights: from the living, glistening stalactites and stalagmites, to the polychromatic flowstones and alabaster curtains, from the pools encrusted with crystals and the underground streams, to the strange types of erosion. All the visits are conducted by speleological guides who explain the various phenomena in a very accurate way.
It’ s important to underline that this trip can be made in all weathers, due to the favourable temperature in the cave (it is constantly kept at +10,7 C.) which is pleasant during the summer and also in the chill of winter. In fact, even if outside it is windy, raining or snowing, inside the cave the situation will be much more comfortable and sometimes it is possible to see fast-flowing underground streams and waterfalls which are illuminated by spotlights and plunge into the darkness of the abysses in thousands of reflections.
There is the opportunity to choose between 3 different itineraries, the exceptional length of the third itinerary (3 hours, the longest in Europe) and on the premises, the well stocked snack bar and the wide range of minerals and fossils on show, all contribute to give visitors the choice of passing a splendid day close to nature even when in bad weather. As for clothing, we advise you to wear shoes with rubber soles and, in summer, a light jacket. During winter it is best to leave heavy clothing at the ticket office.
Here we have the three different itineraries that is possible to choose :
- 1st itinerary: it takes one hour, it runs flat and is covered almost everywhere with splendid limestone formations.
- 2nd itinerary: it takes approximately two hours, it also includes the first, but illustrating at the same time a fascinating underground river which crosses over wide areas of smooth rock.
- 3rd itinerary: it is the longest one among the three. This is a complete tour of the cave, adding the thrill of a vertical section where the footpath remains comfortable and safe even along the incredible passages suspended in the space of an abyss that never seems to end.
There is a useful reception area with a very well equipped snack bar where tea, coffee, soft drinks and spirits are served. Visitors can also sample a large selection of tasty sandwiches, savouries, pizzas and snacks.
There is also a wide range of minerals and fossils from all over the world which have been classified by an expert; these are on sale in the large shop "Geode" which is located in the same building as the ticket office and snack bar. It is an opportunity not to miss for collectors or those who want to start a collection. Here you will find also a variety of fine costume jewellery.
There is also a picnic area, a very well- equipped zone with benches, trees and running water ideal and comfortable for those with a packed lunch.
TOURIST INFORMATION: Detailed information is available about the local tourist attractions and the surrounding area, accommodation, the road conditions and the numerous excursions which can be made here; there is also a big quantity of brochures, postcards, maps, slides and guidebooks.
THE CORCHIA CAVE
For those who enjoy the underground world, in the commune of Stazzema, there are about 70 km of caves and galleries with stalactites and subterranean lakes to visit. What about a stroll along these galleries in an unreal and impressive hidden world?
What is it? Situated in the heart of the Apuan Alps it is the longest karstic formation and the third deeper cave in Italy (the Corchia mount is a massif rich in coal and in its underground there is the well known Corchia cave, formed here due to the abundance of precipitations and due to the presence of soluble rocks).
How to reach it? Well, it couldn’ t be easier to reach: the point of meeting is to Levigliani of Stazzema. The tourist entry to the cavern is about 2 km far from this inhabited area and reachable in few minutes from here, through a marble-bearing road which goes up to 860 mt., with some hairpin bend.
The only access is a gallery which connects the external front of an abandoned excavation of marble and a middle point of the so called ‘Galleria franosa’. In light slope it proceeds for almost 170 meters of length, overcoming a gradient of about 20 mt.
However, you have not to be worried, because the progression in the cavern is facilitated by gangways, in the form of bridges, ramps and terraces in steel.
At the entrance, three doors in succession, project the visitors to a magnificent and strange atmosphere but their object is to control the exchanges of draught between the outside and the interior of the cave.
The tourists will be received at the entrance of the cave by the so called ‘Gendarme’, which is a strange cone-shaped stalagmitic formation. The very interesting run begins with a demanding descent (there are 212 steps) along the "Galleria franosa". The middle way is a unique and narrow passage, which reaches 30 metres in height, with a width superior to 4 metres and whose splendid wavy walls are well worth of a visit. The ‘Galleria franosa’ ends at the height of 843 metres, in an open space, where the so called ‘Galleria degli Etruschi’ and the pothole Suzanne have origin.
Then you will visit another gallery, the ‘Gallery of the English’ and besides you’ll pass through the ‘Gallery of Snow’, seeing a small waterfall which creates images of a touching and penetrating rust colour. After this, reaching the bridge on the so called ‘little lake of the Venerde’, you’ll feel enraptured, ready for the last stretch heading for the Petrified Forest, a kind of isle before getting to the ‘Gallery of the Stalactites’.
In a locality of mount Corchia called "the Hell", there are lots of caves. One of these is called 'the cavern of the Devil' because two holes have been found on the ceiling , that, according to a legend, are the prints of the Devil horns.
In another quarry known as ‘the hole of the Wild Men’ there is a gigantic horse with its glance fixed in a point of the grotto printed on a concretion calcareous.
According to the legend, who will discover the point in which the horse is looking, will find a lapis–lazuli and a golden vein, while there are other stories telling that the horse keeps guard over a hidden treasure.
The run doesn’t end here...but you will discover the rest only if you take the opportunity to do this splendid run!
For MORE INFORMATION about the run to the "Antro del Corchia":
Booking: FORESTERIA DEL PARCO, via IV novembre, Levigliani di Stazzema (LU)
More Info: TOURIST OFFICE, via Corrado Del Greco, phone/fax: 0584/756144, e–mail: firstname.lastname@example.org