Grotta del Vento

The Grotta del Vento, wind cave, is a cave in a mountain in Garfagnana, an area in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. It is near the towns of Fornovalasco and Vergemoli. (About 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca) The cave has 2 entrances, one at 642 metres above sea level and another on the other side of the mountain at 1400 metres.

It is a wind cave because air is able to blow through the cave from one entrance to the other. The direction of the wind depends on the temperature outside the cave. In summer, when the air outside is warmer, the air is drawn through the higher entrance and out of the lower entrance. In winter the reverse happens and the air flows upwards. If the temperature outside is the same as inside there is no wind. The temperature inside the cave stays at around 10.7degrees C all year. A heavy door has now been installed to stop the flow of air, but you can certainly feel it once the door is open.

The cave is open for visitors. There are 3 guided tours available. The first is the one I did. It takes about 1 hour and explores the part of the cave lined with limestone formations. Fascinating stalactites and stalagmites glisten as you walk along the narrow path which takes you deep into the cave.

The entrance.
Grotta del Vento

Grotta del Vento

Grotta del Vento

Just for fun a large skeleton of a bear has been installed near the entrance.

Grotta del Vento

Grotta del Vento

Grotta del Vento

Soon the door is opened and we enter the cave.

The narrow paths are lit and you can see the stalactites and stalagmites and pools of water. There are steps occasionally, but it is not too strenuous and there are hand rails for safety.

Grotta del Vento

Grotta del Vento

Grotta del Vento

You can see some tiny ones beginning to form. It would be necessary to come back in a few hundred years to see much of a difference. Most take about 1000 years to grow 10 centimetres.

Grotta del Vento

At one point the guide turns off the lights so that you can experience total darkness. It is quite an eerie feeling.

The second tour takes 2 hours and a descent is made into an area without limestone formations but interesting forms of erosion on the walls. The third one takes 3 hours in a vertical shaft which is climbed from the bottom to reach a final chamber at the top, followed by a short underground tunnel.

The cave was first discovered in 1989 by children exploring the area. The only one small enough to climb through the entrance was a 4 year old girl. The others opened the entrance a little, but were too frightened to go further than 20 metres into the cave.

The first expedition for research purposes was organised in 1929 by the Florentine Speleogical Grouo of the Italian Alpine Club which stopped at about 60 metres from the entrance by water.

The Bolognese Speleoligical Group got further in 1961 after a prolonged dry spell. Other expeditions followed until 1975 when the explorations extended to 2470 metres and the cave was opened to tourists. Now there are 4 galleries known with at least another 20 branches to be explored.

The guided tours are well organised and the guides are very knowledgeable. There is a shop and a restaurant nearby, so it would be easy to spend several hours here.

See more on the Grotta del Vento website…grottadelvento.com

Goats on the move

One of the things I really enjoy about Bagni di Lucca is occasionally coming across traditional farming activities.

In the area behind Montefegatesi on the way to Orrido di Botri it is not unusual to come across a large herd of goats, with the occasional sheep, being brought in for the evening after a day foraging in the forest.

It doesn’t even matter when the road is taken over for a while.

Goats

Sheep

Goats

These goats are milked to make cheese, a labour of love for the couple responsible. I wonder if young people will step up to keep these jobs alive or will they eventually be lost.

 

La Sosta

La Sosta, near Pescaglia, is a bit of a drive from Bagni di Lucca, but is a great place for Sunday lunch.

La Sosta

The little restaurant is nestled into a pine forest beside a church.

La Sosta

There is an outdoor eating area for sunny days.

La Sosta

We visited on a cool autumn day and chose to sit in the cosy indoor area.

La Sosta

It isn’t a big room and it was soon packed.

La Sosta

The food is great! Porcini mushrooms and pumpkins are in season so it made sense to order some. The pasta below has pumpkin and spicy sausage…delicious.

Pumpkin risotto.

Scaloppine with porcini mushrooms.

La Sosta

Excellent fried vegetables.

La Sosta

The table next to us ordered a feast.

La Sosta

La Sosta

La Sosta is open through the week for dinner and Sunday lunch. It is in Pascoso,via Pescaglia or Fabbriche di Vallico.

Phone…0583 357657

A wet day at Devil’s Bridge

I took this photo of the wonderful Ponte della Maddelena through the windscreen of the car. (I wasn’t driving).

It is a pity there isn’t a footpath on the road near the bridge. It could be done. A small foot path could be built beside the road, over the river. It would make a great viewing platform.  I tried walking along the road once…never again!

Here are a few photos I have taken of the fabulous bridge over the years.

I took the photos below years ago with my first digital camera. It must have been 2004. The conditions were perfect.

Whatever the season the bridge looks great.

The bridge was decorated for the 150th anniversary if the unification of Italy.

The bridge always looks stunning. Fortunately it never changes…everything around it does.

Anyone fancy a burger?

We all love Italian food, but sometimes it is good to eat something else. Who doesn’t love a good hamburger? Eataly has opened a “Hamburgheria” in Via Fillungo in Lucca, and the hamburgers are great. You can have your burger cooked to your liking, rare, medium or well done, the bun is good and it is all well presented. (The chips could be better)

As you would expect from Eataly the cafe is very stylish.

They also have pastries and desserts…to be tried on another visit.

This is well worth a trip to Lucca.

Eataly…91A Via Fillungo, Lucca. It is in a courtyard off Via Fillungo, so you might need to look carefully to find it.

 

Osteria I Macelli

The translation of I Macelli is The Slaughterhouses. I am guessing that the site of this excellent restaurant was once an abattoir. The bright yellow building sits beside a little stream behind the main commercial area of Borgo a Mozzano, the village near the Ponte della Maddalena.

Osteria I Macelli

The restaurant is one of our favourite places to dine, with good reason. The food is very good, the setting pleasant and the service is friendly and efficient.

image image image image image

To get there, drive down the one way street in the centre of Borgo a Mozzano and turn left at the sign for the restaurant.

I look forward to many delicious meals at I Macelli when I return to Bagni di Lucca very soon.