Only thirty years ago, two kilometres south of Venice (and a hundred kilometres south of the mosaic travel wonder of Ravenna), Italian cavers stumbled across an extraordinary wonder of the world. Considered by many to be Europe’s finest show cave (though Skocjan Cave in Slovenia is stunning), shining their torches into the first huge cavern must have taken their breath away.

The cavers named the massive cave hall the Ancona Abyss after their nearby home city and from the seemingly endless pitch black hole that they bravely abseiled a descent of two hundred metres. Today an artificial tunnel enters the huge cavern at ground level. Having grown over millennia from dripping water, the huge stalagmites that jut twenty metres into the air are dwarfed by the room able to hold most of the world’s cathedrals.

This room contains unusual formations called palm trunk stalagmites formed from the water dripping from such a height that the drip splashes vigorously creating a roughened exterior like that of a palm tree.

Through the five rooms on the tour, the cave regular uses soft blue lights to complement the standard lighting to highlight the incredible purity of the formations. While coloured lighting in caves is often gaudy and kitsch, the tasteful lighting in Frasassi highlight a number of delicate formations and doesn’t detract from the experience.

The tour is littered with the typically imaginative names for formations including Niagara (last photo), Fairy Castle (right) and Organ Pipes that highlight the finest and most unusual of a treasure trove of cave decorations.

A carpet of calcite crystals lies perfectly flat marking thousands of years of growth in an undisturbed lake, the surface marking the height of the lake. The lake level has since dropped leaving a crystalline floor, delicately thin and sparkling as only nature could create.

The third room includes numerous small stalagmites reflected perfectly into a crystalline lake and is appropriately name the Hall of Candles (top photo). The backdrop of this lake are narrow column, albino white in the colour of pure limestone and untainted and with no discolouring by any mineral element. Most traditional cave formations have hints of brown from iron, green from copper and various other shadings from other mineral impurities picked up as the water flows through the soils inside or surrounding the caves.

An hour later, the final cavern, the Neverending Hall, contains a circular path that loops back onto the main path. Visitors peer deep into the Earth trying to view more remarkable formations as the cave fades to an inky blackness, the last vestiges of lighting soaking into the walls.

The late discovery of Frasassi Cave has aided its beauty with early lanterns and candles not tarnishing the glistening limestone and early visitors not sampling the delicate formations. Over a million years with small deposits of limestone from every drip and trickle of water has created a treasured wonderland of formations, reflections and decorations on an unimagined scale.

Other Cave Posts
Caverns, Crooks and Castles (Slovenia)
Underground Fantasy (Skocjan Caves, Slovenia)
Crystal Wonderland (Western Australia)
Waterfall Hidden in a Mountain (Switzerland)

Source: Photos

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12 Responses to Europe’s Finest Cave? (Frasassi Cave, Italy)

  • Cecil Lee says:

    Wow, you have been to so many caves around the world! You must be a cave lover! I've never been to any one of them, the only cave I've been to is our Batu Cave in Malaysia… :(

  • eunice says:

    I also wanted to say "WOW!"
    I've been to a few caves before, mostly are small ones in Malaysia. My favourite is still Werfen ice caves in Austria. :)

  • Mark H says:

    @cecil: I adore limestone caves (and also waterfalls) and seek them out when travelling. i have probably been to over 100 show caves around the world, not including Batu Caves.

    @eunice: Werfen is superb and I plan to write that up one day. Most unusual but does not equal the remarkable formations of Frasassi (or Skocjan) in Europe.

  • BarbaraW says:

    I love caves and no two are alike. Wish I had known about this one when I was in Italy, but your photos make me feel like I had seen it in person.

    • Nadia says:

      It takes your breath away. You can’t relaly anticipate what you’re going to see a the big door rolls back at the end of the tunnel..Will definitely read all your posts on China it’s one of my favourite countries!

  • vacation deals says:

    wow!!!!!!!!!!!!
    stalagmites and stalactites…
    they are wonderful..
    nice to look at and to personally see it…
    love the shots…

  • Nisha says:

    This is very nice. I have been to some caves in Australia and in India but never knew about it.

  • Donna Hull says:

    This cave reminds me of Kartchner Cavern in Arizona which was discovered in the 1970's but kept a secret for many years because it is a "live" cave. Now it can be toured but under vigorous circumstances. Is this
    Frasasi Cave still alive? In any event, your photos of it are beautiful.

  • Mark H says:

    @barbara: I adore caves as well. Their mystery, their differences, their stunning works of nature

    @vacation deals: Thank you

    @donna hull: Frasassi is very active. I think they have left a lot of it inaccessible to the standard visitor but it is one of the most stunning I've seen, so I ma glad that they have opened some of it up to the public.

  • car hire rio de janeiro says:

    Thats nice one! I've been to a few caves before, mostly are small ones in MalaWerfen is superb and I plan to write that up one day. Most unusual but does not equal the remarkable formations of Frasassi (or Skocjan) in Europe.ysia.

  • cheap flights says:

    Very nice article, the photos are very good, your cave search will not comes to an end Regards cheap flights

  • Tel Aviv Vacation Rentals says:

    This is very nice post. In any event, your photos of it are beautiful

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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