Welcome to the wind cave… this is what I’ve been saying for 6 months when I was working as a tour guide in this beautiful place situated in the north of Tuscany, in Garfagnana.
The wind cave is a karst system inside the Pania Secca a mountain 1711 metres high.
3 hours of guided tour to discover the inside of the fabulous cave carved by the water of an ancient river
With this article I’m going to bring you inside a gorgeous subterranean world.
Inside the temperature is about 10,7° C, so put a sweater on 🙂
Three important rules:
- Do not touch rocks and formation, Stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones are extremely fragile
and have taken thousands of years to form
- Is forbidden to take rucksacks, tripods, sticks etc..into the cave
- Pictures are allowed only during the explanation of the tour guide
We just walked through an ancient karst source, if you look around on the walls and ceiling you can still see the signs left by the whirlpools of the underground river, now long gone, which was once flowing out of the cave. We are going in the opposite direction to the river to the bottom of the cave, 30 meters above the entrance where the river flows.
In the past the entrance to the cave was hidden by a layer of debris, the only thing known about the big natural cavern was the icy cold air current blowing out in summer.
The first person entered into this cave was a 4 years old girl, her name was Bettina, in 1989. Convinced by some young boys from Fornovolasco she slide inside the blowing hole and stopped after few meters. The adventure of Bettina was of fundamental importance because it started a long series of explorations made by professional speleologist.
It’s time to feel the wind, why the name of this cave is “Wind cave”?
Because there are two openings situated at different heights. The lower is situated at 642 meters above sea level. The top one is situated at over 1400 meters altitude. The temperature inside the cave is constantly 10.7°C.
The difference of the temperature between the outside and the inside makes the wind blow into or out of the lower entrance. During the summer when outside is much hotter than inside the wind is blowing out of the lower entrance and can reach 40kmh. When the two temperatures are equal all wind stops.
To feel the wind we have to open a door…are you ready?
We are passing the only artificial gallery of the cave, mind your head.
We just passed the gallery, look at the spectacular limestone formation in front of you, it’s a flowstone.
It’s time to climb some steps and go to see the higher part of the cave, we will climb a 90 metres shaft. “The shaft of the infinity”
This part of the cave is still active, if you are lucky during the winter or rainy period you can see the waterfalls, an impressive sight inside a cave where sounds are multiplied.
Going forward into the first level we will find some of the most interesting formations, we will pass through a complete white gallery full of flowstones, straws, stalactite, stalagmite, columns, draperies mostly formed by pure calcium carbonate. After this “wonder gallery” we enter into the part considered the first itinerary, we are passing by a pretty little lake surrounded by white formations. Here the tunnel gets very low. Mind your head, and don’t fall into the lake!
The only word to say at this point is wow…probably the most impressive room if we talk about formations, the colors have changed, now with the white color of the pure calcium carbonate we have some beautiful red and gray shades probably due to the presence of iron and manganese minerals. This room is called “The pendant room”. Look at the ceiling how many draperies and columns lining the walls.
The formations accompanies us until the end of this first itinerary and the beginning of the second one.
Here they abandon us permanently, the color of the walls turns in grey, and we are in front of a “giant abyss” a gallery with 70-degree gradient dug by a mass of water circulating under pressure.
It’s impressive and we have to descend this round section gallery for 50m. It looks like we are going to the center of the world…It reminds you of Dante’s book “Divine Comedy”.
Grey walls and this descends to the bottom of the cave.
This gallery brought us to the hall of voices where the acoustic effect given by the round shape of the Abyss make us hear voices coming from far but is just an illusion, in reality is just the sound of a small hidden river…imagine being here during the speleological exploration with just a little gas light and after hours and hours of exploration, without the path that makes this tour easy for us as visitors. It was totally different. In this room the speleologist during their stay had the sensation to hear voices.
Have you a fear of the darkness?
It’s time to turn off the light and see the complete darkness. Without any infiltration.
Just stay in the darkness for few minutes, pass a hand in front of your eyes, close and open your eyes…we cannot see any difference.
This is a special experience that usually the guides in this cave give you the opportunity to have in this room, the complete darkness with the sound of the cave.
to the bottom of the cave we need to descend for other 30 metres. We are going to meet the river of the cave…
we will go back to the entrance passing by another gallery where we will find again some formations…but different from the ones in the first itinerary…but stop…I’ll stop talking about this cave. If you want to know all the secrets of the wind cave you just have to go there and discover them.
Make a road trip in the beautiful nature of the Garfagnana area, see the caves, do a hike in the nearest spectacular mountain Monte Forato and eat some delicious traditional food.
I hope you appreciated this trip and enjoyed the journey inside a mountain!