The Toirano Caves some remarkable show caves of Italy and one of the most notables of the region.
They are some remarkable show caves of Italy and one of the most notables of the region.
The area is situated close to the town of Toirano and few kilometers to the Ligurian Ponente Riviera.
The exit "Borghetto Santo Spirito" of A10 motorway dists 5 km from the caves. One of the most important caves is "Basura", discovered in 1950, and shelter of the Cave bear.
The Grotte di Toirano are located in a karst area at the end of the Vallone del Vero (valley of truth). More than 70 caves are known in this area. As the plural in the name shows, there are several different caves. The whole system consists of the caves Grotta della Bàsura, Grotta della Strega (Witches cave), Grotta del Colombo (Pigeons Cave), and Grotta di S. Lucia (Cave of St Lucia). The show caves are two of the caves, the Grotta della Bàsura with its prehistoric remains and the lower level of the Grotta di S. Lucia. Both are connected by an artificial tunnel.
During prehistoric times the cave was once visited by prehistoric man, probably 12,000 years ago. Very interesting are the hand and foot prints from Neanderthals, many of the handprints are of children. Other remains found in the cave were graves and amphoras from the time of the late Roman Empire. A building at the parking lot of the caves contains the Museo Preistorico della Val Varatella, the prehistoric museum of the Varatella valley. The findings from the caves are on display here.
Another cave visitor was the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus). They left traces like footprints and scratches from their paws. And of course some died in the cave and left their bones in the Cimitero degli Orsi (bear cemetary). A complete skeletton was reconstructed and is on display in the cave.
But the prehistoric remains are not the main sight of this place, much more impressive are the speleothems, which are unique and impressive. The Antro die Cibele, the final chamber of the Grotta della Bàsura, is filled with bulbous calcite conretions, looking like aubergines or melons. Sometimes they remember a bunch of hanging penises, a comparison you wont hear on the tour.... This passage of the cave was still waterfilled when it was discovered, but the water was drained by the construction of the tour path. And so calcite concretions, which form over a very long time in carbonate rich water, which is completely undisturbed.
After this treasure the path enters the artificial tunnel to the final chamber of the Grotta di San Lucia Inferiore. And here the spelethemes are completely different, but still as exceptional as those before. They are mostly fragile and pointy aragonite crystals of exceptional size and number. After this the remaining chambers, offering a wealth of dripstone speleothems, are not appropriately appreciated by the visitors which are overwhelmed by the things they have seen before.
But this place has even more caves for the visitor. There is Grotta di S. Lucia, the upper level of the show cave with a medieval cave church in the entrance. Unfortunately the cave and church are closed most of the time, but it is possible to see the church portal. On the way to this cave a steep trail branches off, which leads to the Grotta del Colombo. This trail includes some iron ladders and climbing, until the visitor reaches the cave entrance. The view is impressive, but the cave itself is closed by a iron bar gate.
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