In the area surrounding the Grotta del Vento you can find many amazing places to visit, varying from incontaminated nature to medieval towns, below are a few examples:


The Calomini hermitage

4580 metres from the cave as the crow flies

Taking the road that goes to the Grotta del Vento, about three kilometres past Gallicano, the white facade of an impressive sanctuary can be seen, characterized by a series of arches held up by slender sandstone columns.

The origins of this temple go back to ancient times. As far as is known it appears that the first worship place was a small cave made wider by chiselling out the rock about 1400 years ago. It is difficult to think that the great fascination of the place, the always mild temperature and presence of an abundant stream of fresh water would be left unnoticed by prehistoric man, from the Ligurians to the Etruscans, especially if it is considered that the latter also used another cave with similar characteristics as place of worship: the Buca di Castelvenere, near Cardoso (Gallicano), where more than eighty bronze votive statues were found. If it was possible to excavate under the apse of the eighteen-century church, precious testimony of this remote past would probably come to light, but this is highly improbable because it would mean destroying that jewel of Baroque art that is the main church.

Although the church extends for two thirds within a natural cavity, inside it is not possible to see the bare rock in any point, since it has been completely covered by artistic decorations and architectural features. The natural light comes from windows which flank the door and from a small dome above the vault of the only aisle. Both the dome and the bell tower with a pointed roof are protected by the overhanging rock face above.

The rock and the marks left by chisels following the expansion made over the following centuries make up the main characteristic of the sacristy, the numerous rooms, the old kitchen and the so-called “old church”, which is situated a few metres distance away, in realty was built in an era after the main church.

The “old church” is accessed through a door in the rustic building of the guest house, which is also mainly carved into the rock at the bottom of a large limestone rock face which hangs above the entire architectural complex.

The place is enhanced by a copious spring.

The Calomini hermitage which can be reached by car in a few minutes from the road which leads to the Grotta del Vento, is one of the main attractions of Garfagnana, one of the few, like the Grotta del Vento, the cathedral of Barga and the Verrucole fortress, accessible to everyone, and no particular physical requirements are needed.

  •  The complex is open every day from 8 am to 8 pm. A guided tour is recommended, which during Summer is made every day at 9,30 am, 11,30 am and 3 pm.

  • Holy Mass is celebrated at 11 am.

The fascination and mystic atmosphere make it not only a tourist attraction, but also a way to relate with the beauty and perfection of the Creator, enabling also those more resistant to the call of the Christian religion to get closer to it.



m. 480 a.s.l. - 620 metres from the cave as the crow flies

A picturesque village situated at the bottom of a narrow valley at the confluence of three streams. As the crow flies it is about 600 metres from the Grotta del Vento (2,5 km of road and about 1 km. of footpath). Each of the three streams originates from big karst springs (Battiferro, Chiesaccia and Buca del Tinello), where water that comes from mostly unknown underground basins surfaces. The village is characterized by simple stone houses which look onto the streams and onto narrow streets which cover many of the houses, perhaps this was to make it easier to move about in a recent past when snowfalls were frequent and heavy and could sometimes reach a metre in height. there are numerous stone arches (cavernous limestone, locally called “caproniccio”) a porous but very hard rock, which can be chiselled easily.

The particular position of the village, surrounded by steep slopes make any type of agriculture difficult, this is due to the presence of heavy streams which can provide the energy necessary for the functioning of at least three ironworks, where the metal coming from the mines of Trimpello, situated near the Grotta del Vento used to be manufactured. The extraction was particularly intense during the Renaissance period.

Inside the church a series of frescoes can be seen. They represent different moments of a terrible flood which seriously damaged the village on the 19th June 1996, when on the crossing which separates Versilia from Garfagnana in just four hours 400 mm. of rain fell.
An hour is generally enough for a quick visit of the village.

Monte Croce

m. 1314 a.s.l. - 3060 metres from the cave as the crow flies

From the Grotta del Vento go up by car to San Pellegrinetto. proceed on foot in a southerly direction passing a metal hut and then proceed along a mule track, which after 500 metres, reaches a tractor trail. Follow it for about seventy metres, then take on the right a path that goes round in a west-south-west direction on the north face a wide wooded crest, first going up, that down for a short part, until the Foce del Termine (m. 1119), marked by an old boundary stone between the Duchy of Modena and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Proceed in the same direction until a meadow pass (m. 1161, one hour on foot from the car) situated at the bottom of Mt. Croce from which, going along a wide grassy path (east crest) the peak can be reached easily in twenty minutes.

From the pass to the peak the scenery is wonderful: the meadow that covers the peak of the mountain, one of the most extensive pastures of the Apuans, in Springtime become white with perfumed daffodils and along the lines that border with dark green circles of grass thick colonies of Tricoloma Georgii can be found, a delicious spring mushroom that is not well known. Within this vast panorama, which on clearer days includes the mountains of Corsica, the Tyrrhenian sea, the coast of Versilia and Tuscan-Emilian Appennines, the impressive Massif of the Panie mountains stand out to the north, with its elegant profile and vertiginous precipices which from the blue of the sky sink their roots into the dark green of the valley. The silence of this charming place is only broken by sound of the sheep’s’ bells, which are numerous everywhere.

For those who wish to enrich this excursion with a charming detour of morphological interest, instead of turning back, from the peak go down to the south crest until you get to a footpath. Follow it in a western direction until an isolated group of beech trees can be seen up on the right. They precede a grassy hill situated immediately to the west of the pyramid-shaped peak of Mt. Croce. climbing up the hill, you reach the first rocks which indicate the start of a nice area of karst absorption covered with numerous sinkholes and dolinas with circular borders. The white limestone rocks appear everywhere sculpted by the intense erosive action made by water. Everything is dotted with beautiful flowers like le peonies, saxifrages, lilies, pink cushions of silena acaulis and different types of orchids.
The excursion to Mt. Croce is easy up until the crest but does require more caution if it is prolonged up until the area of karst absorption. Please note that no streams are found along the path.

Monte Forato

m. 1221 a.s.l. - 2720 metres from the cave as the crow flies

It is a very unique relief, situated on the watershed which divides the Serchio valley from the coast of Versilia, made up of two peaks, a little more than 1200 metres high, connected to each other by a huge limestone arch almost thirty metres high and thirty-two metres wide, through which a beautiful view of the valley of the Versilia torrent and one part of the Tyrrhenian coast can be seen. The natural bridge is eight metres in width, although, since the arch is so wide, looking at it from below, it can appear much narrower. The panorama is also wonderful from the south peak: The arch seen from above takes on a really unusual and breathtaking aspect. A little further on the unmistakeable profile of the Massif of the Panie mountains can be admired; in the background the view spreads from the west to the sea, from the east up to the peaks of the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines. It is really extraordinary natural monument, unique in its kind, That is different both from the well-known natural sandstone arches of the “Arches Natural Park” (Utah – U.S.A.), and that are located in an almost flat area, and from the “Ponte di Veja” (Lessini mountains – Verona), which is a relict of the roof of a vast karst cavity which today has practically completely collapsed.

The origins of the arch of Mount Forato can be explained by the progressive loss of rock of a limestone crest thicker at the top and narrower below. The lower part becoming eroded and weather-worn eventually collapsed isolating the natural bridge.
To reach Mount Forato it is best to leave your car at the second bridge (“yellow bridge”) which is along the road going from the Grotta del Vento to Fornovolasco, and take path n° 6 and go along it until Foce di Petrosciana (m. 960 a.s.l. about 90 minutes walking), a charming pass where the huge tower of Mout Procinto can be admired. proceed along the crest in a north direction until an “iron path” can be seen. It is suitable only for experts. Then leave the crest and proceed on the right for parts of the footpath going up and down (more up than down), until the arch suddenly appears before your eyes, a breathtaking and unforgettable view, both for the grandeur of this natural monument but also for the absolute perfection of its form.

For excitement lovers there it is possible to go on swing in mid air which is anchored under the natural bridge, swinging back and forth towards the sea at a maximum height of almost thirty metres. This is possible only in a few days of the year by phoning the hiking guide Valentina Lucchesi (tel. 3402946579).

On the way back it is best to take path N°12, going down and soon arriving at the house “Casa del Monte Forato”, recently renovated, which in a near future could be transformed into a mountain refuge. Continuing along path n° 12, after a long descent you go back onto path n°6 again. The one taken to go up. Another ten minutes to reach the “yellow bridge”, the starting point of the excursion. In total the return trip will take at least four hours.

The fascinating occurrence of the “double sunset” can be admired twice a year from various localities on the Garfagnana side such as Barga, Fornovolasco, Trassilico, San Pellegrinetto, etc. as long as the arch can be seen from them. Before disappearing under the horizon, the sun, hidden for a few seconds by the natural arch, reappears through the arch for a handful of seconds projecting a powerful ray of light across the valley.


m. 720 a.s.l. - 3750 metres from the cave as the crow flies

Amongst all the villages that surround the Massif of the Panie one of the most characteristic is Trassilico, perched on top of a long rocky crest which dominates the valley of Turrite. In the highest point some ruins of a medieval fortress have been renovated from which a vast panorama can be admired which spreads from the crest which separates Garfagnana from Versilia, to the Middle Serchio Valley and the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines. The parish church of Saint Peter+-, going back to the 12th century, made up of one aisle in Romanesque style, stands, unusually so, in the lowest part of the village, detached from the crest line. The main town of the municipality until 1947, when there were several hundred inhabitants, today is a hamlet of Gallicano, and the population has reduced to a few dozen people.

Those going along the main street, which in the part situated south of the fortress goes exactly along the line of the crest, can have the impression that the village is a lot bigger than its actual size. In reality the village, which develops in length for 450 metres, has a maximum width of just 60: on average two rows of houses or little more.

During the Estensi’s domination, Trassilico was the birthplace of two illustrious scientists : Antonio Vallisneri (1661 – 1730) and Leopoldo Nobili (1784 – 1835).

Vallisneri, whose family originated from Scandiano (RE), was a doctor who was also dedicated to other sciences, such as entomology, botany, biology, hydrology and geology. In the field of speleology he was known for his studies on the springs. After exploring the initial part of the Tana che Urla, a big karst spring situated in Fornovolasco, about 1300 metres from the Grotta del Vento, in 1714 he published a study on the existing links between rainfall and the regime of subterranean water.

Leopoldo Nobili, whose family originated from Vetto d’Enza (RE), was a physicist, whose reputation went outside of Europe. After a distinguished military career in the Neapolitan army, which rewarded him the Legion of Honour, he managed an arms factory in Brescia. In 1825 he invented the astatic galvonometre, which is essential for the study of electromagnetism, and numerous other measuring instruments.

The Trimpello mines

m. 720 a.s.l. - 3750 metres from the cave as the crow flies

From the Grotta del Vento go up for about one kilometre along the road that goes to Vergemoli, until a panoramic spot is reached equipped with benches and a picnic table, from there a beautiful view of the vertiginous southern slope of Mount Pania and the natural arch of Mount Forato can be admired. The entrances to the mine, which goes into the mountain for almost one and a half kilometres, are partly along the road, until about 400 metres past the panoramic spot, and partly lower down, hidden by lush vegetation. It is strongly advised not to enter the mines due to the risk of collapse which in the last few years has been getting more frequent because of the continuous deterioration of the retaining structures.

The extraction of iron, under the form of pyrite, magnetite and limonite, starting in medieval times, had its maximum impulse during the domination of the Duchy of Modena: the metal was used mostly for the manufacturing of arms and cannon balls. In the same period another mineral was also extracted: melanterite, also known as “vitriol”, used widely in dyes.

Time needed to make this excursion: maximum one hour if going by car.


We mention this little town, although as the crow flies it is more that ten kilometres from the Grotta del Vento (eleven exactly), because apart from being the main town of the most populated municipality of the Serchio Valley, it also is of interest from an urbanist and architectural profile and possesses an artistic patrimony of great value. There are numerous types of accommodation.

This town is divided into two distinct parts: one modern and one old. The modern part runs along a gentle slope and most of the offices, shops, sport’s facilities and elegant villas can be found there.

The historical part is characterized by steeper slopes, and a tight network of little streets of a medieval urban structure. There are several Renaissance buildings.

A magnificent Romanesque cathedral dominates everything, whose first nucleus goes back to the year 1000, characterized by irregular sides which correspond to extensions made during different times. The inside, which houses an exquisite 13th-century pulpit, work of the masters comacini is divided into three aisles. At the end of the centre one a multi-coloured wooden statue stands going back to the 9th century, depicting Saint Christopher, the patron saint of Barga. In the left aisle several glazed terracottas by Andrea della Robbia can be admired. Other earthenware by Della Robbia decorate the church of Saint Francis, situated close to the hospital, outside the circle of the ancient walls of the town.

There are several folkloristic and cultural events that are periodically held in Barga. The association Opera Barga organizes every year an important opera festival whose concerts are held at the theatre called Teatro dei Differenti, built in the 17th century in the historical centre of the town. The jazz festival also has international fame. There is also an interesting festival held in the historical centre every year in the middle of July with street food and open-air shows in the squares.

Just over four kilometres distance from Barga, at Castelvecchio Pascoli, it is possible to visit the house-museum where the poet Giovanni Pascoli lived from 1895 to 1912.


We look forward to seeing you at the Grotta del Vento, click here for information about the itineraries.