Top Caves in Italy Part 3

More on part 1 and part 2.



Pagliacci Cave



Down south in Apulia, we find the cave of the "Clowns" near Rignano Garganico. This cave was discovered relatively recently - in the mid-20th century - and contained Paleolithic tools along with both animal and human bones - the skeletons of a woman and a boy, both wearing deer bone and  antler ornamentation. These finds can be seen in the museum in Rignano Garganico.


On the walls can be seen Paleolithic mural paintings of horses, and some hand prints. Images of goats, cows, a serpent, a nest with eggs, and a hunting scene have been found engraved on bones.


Unfortunately the cave is in danger of collapsing, and archaeologists are scrambling to find a way to preserve it.




Pastena Cave


Let's move now to central Italy, in the Lazio region, near the city of Frosinone. This is a remarkable karst cave system, among the most notable in the area. The cave consists of two sections, and contains human remains, and ancient stalagmites and stalactites. The importance of this cave is mainly archeological - many of the human remains have been found in burial positions with sacrificial offers, and date to as early as the Neolithic era.




Pertosa Caves


A little further south, near Salerno, we find the Pertosa caves that are quite large in their layout and hard to fully define.  A river of fresh water runs through the caves, very unusual for the area, as many of the other caves that carry water have seawater. Samples of prehistoric dwellings were found here, confirming that people lived there.


Pertosa Cave in Campania. Ph. Fiore Silvestro Barbato on flickr


Grotta dello Smeraldo


This cave is accessible by sea, but also through a very comfortable elevator ride. The brilliant blue and emerald color is provided by the amazing reflection of the light through the water, and the cave contains stalactites, thin and delicate, that catch the light. Stalagmites seem to emerge from the sea, twisting upward toward the ceiling. Aside from the natural elements, this cave is famous for its series of underwater statues featuring the nativity - which get mixed reviews but are certainly an experience.




Toirano Caves


Now, let's head back to the North by Savona in the Liguria region. These caves are particularly known for revealing samples of the Homo sapiens, the presence of whom can be seen in foot, knee and hand prints that date back more than 12,000 years. The caves also contain an exciting paw print of a prehistoric version of today's bear. The caves are part of a system connected by an artificial tunnel.  Additionally the cave has a small lake that hosts a prehistoric survivor, the Niphatgus, an ancestor of the shrimp.



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