Do you remember our slow weekend in the Marche region in that charming private reserve? Well, we did not spend the entire weekend sunbathing and getting massages. Only half an hour away from our Resort, there is indeed one of the most beautiful attractions in this region. I am talking about the Frasassi Caves, the largest underground cave complex in Europe.
This is a truly magical place, that extends for about 30 km over eight levels full of stalactites and stalagmites, crystallized ponds, tunnels, rocks and minerals. It is strictly forbidden to take photographs, so I cannot describe its beauty through images. However, the Caves Organization allowed me to use the three shots you see in this article, so you can get an idea of how stunning the caves are. Once you get in, it is like walking through an upside-down world, where time and space become blurred concepts: you’ll completely lose your orientation and size awareness.
The first “room” you visit is called Ancona Abyss. It is huge, among the largest caves in Europe. It is so big that it could easily contain the entire Duomo of Milan. In the centre, your eyes will be caught by a group of ancient stalagmites called The Giants, as they are about 20 mt tall and their diameter ranges from 2 to 5 meters.
As you progress, you will visit several other caves, each one with wonderful corners to discover and mineral masterpieces coming in different shapes and sizes: for example, Niagara Falls, a huge mass made of pure calcite, so white that shines like a big diamond; or rock formations that will remind you of castles, swords, obelisks, organ pipes, camels and whatever your fantasy will see …
The most beautiful room? Definitely the Hall of Candles. Pure magic.
The ticket office is located about one km from the entrance of the caves, which can be reached with a free shuttle service. The Caves can be visited only by guided tour. Every 10 minutes a group of about 50 people, together with a professional guide, is allowed to enter into the caves. To get in, you will walk through an artificial tunnel of about 200 meters, crossing several watertight doors, to maintain a constant internal temperature (which is of 14°, so it is also essential to wear a sweater even in summer). The time of the visit is printed on the ticket.
In addition to the standard path, there are two alternative routes, which provide access to a few caves that cannot be visited through the normal guided tour.
There is the Blue Route, which is suitable for everyone, adults and children (minimum age: 12 years old). It takes about two hours and involves easy climbing, tunnels and natural slides. The second path is called the Red Route and is indicated for those who have already experienced the Blue Route or for those who feel particularly adventurous. The Red Route takes about 3 hours and it involves a 30-meter “jump” (to be made, of course, properly harnessed), crawling through tiny tunnels and a bit of slippery climbing.
If you want to give it a try, you need to book at least a week in advance, writing an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Blue Route costs 35 Euros per person, while the Red Route costs 45 euro per person. The fee includes the guide and all the necessary gear.
Good to know
- Getting there: by car, take the A14 motorway (Bologna-Canosa), exit Ancona Nord, then follow the SS76 highway Ancona – Roma, exit Genga (25 minutes by car from the motorway). By train, Genga – San Vittore Terme station. Nearest Airport: Ancona – Falconara. GPS coordinates: N 43 ° 24,243 E 12 ° 58,554
- Where to park: about a km from the entrance of the caves, you’ll find the ticket office and a large free car park. The caves can then be reached by bus (free shuttle service)
- Opening times: the Frasassi Caves are open daily, except 10th to 31st January. From 1st March to 31st October, they are open from 10 am to 5 pm. From 1st November to 28th February, they are open from 11:30 am to 3.30 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 5 pm on Sundays and bank holidays. You need to be at the ticket office half an hour before your visit.
- Ticket Prices: 15.50 € per person; € 12 for children (6-14 years old), free for children under 6. The price includes the guided tour of the caves, the parking and the shuttle service to the caves. It also includes entrance to the Paleontological Museum of San Vittore and to the – Art & History Museum of Genga. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office on site or online on the Caves website.
- Language tours: from 1st June to 30th September, guided tours are also available in English, German and French, every day at 11:15 am, 12:45 pm, 2:45 pm and 4:15 pm.
- Facilities: both at the parking/ticket office and at the entrance of the caves there are toilets and cafes with pizza, sandwiches and drinks. I have not seen baby-changing facilities. No toilets inside the caves.
- Where to stay: we stayed at San Settimio Reserve, about a half hour drive away.
- A personal advice: we recommend to visit Frasassi Caves during weekdays and the offseason. When crowded, the groups get too large and you may not even be able to hear what the guide is saying. Furthermore, since the paths inside the caves are not circular, you will return exactly through the same way, bouncing continuously with other groups arriving from the opposite direction. This means, often, people getting on each other’s nerves and unavoidable delays.
Grotte di Frasassi
60040 Genga – Ancona (Marche)
Tel 0732 90090 / 0732 90080
Free Toll Number (only if you are in Italy) 800 166 250