The Frasassi Caves were discovered by chance in 1970 by a speleological party. It’s one of those places everyone in Italy knows about, and with good reason.
They are Europe’s biggest and most popular caves. The stalactites and stalagmites decorating the huge rooms leave speechless any visitor walking through the corridors. After reaching the first room there is a natural balcony, and already from here the sight is just breathtaking.
The guided tour takes about an hour and moving from one room to the other the visitors can take a look at the ‘bear’ and the ‘giants’, the sulphurous lake and the ‘candles’, to finally end in front of the ‘heart’ of the caves.
Another great chance offered by the Frasassi Caves is to enjoy its incredible beauty from the very inside, climbing down to the ‘centre of the Earth’ as in Jules Verne’s novel. Here you can join a guided speleological tour with experienced professionals and have a unique look at the ageing of Earth from its belly.
The simplest route takes slightly more than one hour and it’s available to kids from 12 years. I had this experience last May and I must confess that when the gate at the beginning of the path closed behind me I felt a mixture of curiosity and fear.
During the trip we went on using the forehead flashlights, staring at the steps of the companion in front of us, careful to find the right spot to fit our foot. Time becomes meaningless while you move in the darkness from one room to another. I tried to imagine how the speleologists could have felt when they discovered the caves and adventured for the first time in their maze.
There is room Finland, with its small ponds and limpid stream. Room Gentile da Fabriano requires a quick break to admire ‘the speleologist’s throne’. And it’s here where, for just a moment, the visitors can experience the very essence of a cave: pitch black darkness, a solid mantle covering everyone and everything as rarely happens in our society of electric lights, solid enough to cover altogether every other sense.
It’s then that one can hear it: thin, rhythmic, persistent. It’s the water, whose subtle ticking becomes deafening after a prolonged time in the caves. The water is the true protagonist of the caves, its voice thundering in one’s head until it becomes unbearable.
I listened to it just for a few seconds, before reaching the light again and leaving behind me the overwhelming feeling of the caves. Overwhelming and bewitching…