The Frasassi Caves are by far one of the most incredible areas of natural beauty I have ever seen in Italy. The dark pools of crystalline water and humongous stalagmites and stalactites are an entirely natural phenomenon, something which only adds to their extraordinary appeal. In a country where your first thought is usually of the food, art, or history, it was a surprise to see something of this nature that also lived up to that fascination and mystique that this country’s more well known destinations are known for. But aside from the clear visual element of the Frasassi Caves, there are also quite a few interesting facts about its discovery, uses, and formation that make it even more intriguing the more you find out about it;
At 180 metres long and 120 metres wide, the Ancona Abyss is the largest room in the cave that is open to the public. The huge columns of stalagmites that stand erect on the cave floor tower above you, as big as multi-storey buildings.
2. Caver Maurizio Montalbini lived in the cave in complete isolation from December 1986 until July 1987.
On 14th December 1986 Maurizio Montalbini entered the Frasassi Caves and a video feed was set up to monitor him from the surface. He emerged from the cave successfully on 12th July 1987, breaking the world record for complete isolation.
3. The Frasassi Caves has been used to conduct experiments in chronobiology.
Chronobiology is a field of science which examines periodic phenomena in living organisms and their adaption to solar and lunar related rhythms. The conditions in the caves at Frasassi, and how one can be cut off from the rays of the sun and the moon, make this the perfect environment for such experiments.
4. The temperature inside is around 14 degrees centigrade all year round.
As the caves are naturally hidden from the outside fluctuations in weather, the temperature inside the Frasassi Caves stays at around 14 degrees centigrade all year round. Whilst this may be a little chilly for some, for me it was actually something of a surprise when you consider this is not much less than the temperature of an average summer in Scotland! So basically, I’d be better off in an Italian cave over winter than staying in my hometown when it comes to temperature! It’s as good an excuse as any for me to go travelling!
5. On a cliff above the cave is the Temple of Valadier, which can be reached only by path.
I mentioned the Temple of Valadier briefly in a previous post about the best photography spots in Marche, the region where the Frasassi Caves are situated. Well, without wanting to repeat myself, you should really make a visit to this temple built in 1828 if you’re ever passing this way. The temple is situated very close to the Frasassi Caves anyway (so you might as well make a stop off), and its epic location situated within a cave of its own make for some breath-taking viewing.
One of the things that surprised me most about the Frasassi Caves were that they were only actually discovered in 1971. In part this may be why they are so well preserved and have become the spectacle they are now which has been responsibly converted into a show cave. It is mind blowing to think these huge natural sculptures lay in darkness and completely untouched for so many hundreds of years.
7. Did I say they look like this inside?
– If you were planning a trip around Italy during the summer then I’d definitely recommend adding the Frasassi Caves to your itinerary. Aside from just being an epic site to view and learn about, it’s also something a little different compared to all the main activities in Italy that you’d typically do. It would certainly add some variety to your trip.