Feel the Jules Verne’s atmosphere at the Frasassi Caves
Have you ever tried to discover a place going underground? Deep down, underneath the mountains, it happens to find some special places, full of mistery and magic. One of these places is in Le Marche and it’s called Frasassi Caves.
The Frasassi Caves – or Grotte di Frasassi – are one of the biggest and beautiful underground complexes of Europe, discovered in the 1970 and, since then, open to the public. I must confess that, at first, I was a bit skeptical about visiting it, because sometimes famous places are not so worthy as we are told. But running a B&B in that area I must know many things as I can, in order to give good advices to my guests, so one day I decided to book a visit. What was the first thought that crossed my mind? “It’s like beeing in a Jules Verne’s novel!”
After we parked our car in the big parking and took our tickets – it’s really easy, the ticket shop is in the middle of the parking – our group of visitors took the free bus heading to the entrance of the caves. From there, everything is a great discovery. You go through a short tunnel to reach the first room called “Abisso Ancona”. A big, huge room where you could easily fit the Dome of Milan. Stalactites and stalagmites everywhere, high and imposing. Rocks and an ancient landslide. After that, there are many more rooms, everyone with a peculiar name and singular formations. You’ll be guided through every room by a professional guide and a lot of anecdotes.
The visit takes about 1 hour and a half and I really suggest it. It’s a way to explore Le Marche in an unusual way and to be surprised by something unique.
The great part is that, when you think it’s over, you still have more things to see! Under earth or above! On your way back to the car, don’t take the free bus but walk, instead. The street goes just on the side of the Sentino’s river, with its sulfurous waters. About 400 mt ahead, turn left to San Vittore alle Chiuse and visit one of the most important romanic churches in Le Marche. This magnificent elegant and simple building stands in the middle of the gorge with the mountain of Frasassi just above it. It’s full of mystery, its stones are withe and regular and inside it you can find a unique symbol of the infinite carved into the calcareous stones.
Only after you’ve see the church you’ll be ready to go back to the car and, if you are hungry after all that walking, to taste one of the tipical “crescia con ciauscolo”. But, be careful, your journey in the Frasassi area is not over yet. Take you car and drive toward Genga/Sassoferrato and stop after a couple of kilometers from the entrance of the caves. On the right there is a small parking spot and a water spring. Refresh yourself and start walking through the path that starts from there and leads on a big cave. There you’ll find a small temple, called “Tempietto del Valadier”, and a tiny ancient hermitage. From there you can have a different perspective of the gorge of Frasassi.
From here, after you have reach again your car, you can drive to Genga and take a few steps in this small and beautiful hamlet. You’ll see, it’s like walking in the past. What I’ve understood visiting those places is that the Frasassi area worth a visit both underground and above. The caves are stunning, but you should also see the landscapes, the mountain, the color of the river…
Am I writing too much? Look it by yourself and see if there’s something more!
Some more info:
Main pic courtesy of Ben Francis (Flickr user Kessiye)
Visit Ancona: helpful hints
The nearest airport to Ancona is the Bologna airport. First you reach Bologna Central Station from the airport by bus (rides every 15 minutes, it takes 30 minutes and costs 6€). Then you can travel to Ancona by Train: Trenitalia Company offers lots of options for different prices and duration.
You can easily visit Ancona on foot or using public transports. Bus ticket costs 1,25€, for more information and different options visit the ATMA website.
What to do
Ancona is the capital city of Le Marche region in the north of Italy.
It is usally a passing-by-place, here you catch all the ferries connecting the two side of the Adriatic Sea (Italy to Croatia, Albania, Greece, etc.). But it worthes also a visit, take a walk on its beautiful beaches and discover the city centre: the Dome, the fountain of Calamo and the Jewish cemetery. Here you can find some ideas for a tour in Ancona by Italia Slow Tour ambassador Chiara.
Nearby, consider a tour to the impressive Frasassi Caves.