Is there a child that does not like Indiana Jones? Most, at least once, have dreamed of travelling to unknown lands, in search of lost treasures, thus experiencing a great adventure.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to take your mini-explorers to the other side of the world, in order to let them experience such emotions. If the little ones are thirsty for adventure, to see something different, the ideal destination for you is the Caves of Toirano, in the province of Savona, inland inland from Borghetto Santo Spirito and Loano. It is a 70-minute walk through 12 rooms formed in the rock, during which you will come across marvelous calcareous formations, such as stalactites and aragonites.
In fact, in this small corner of Liguria there are these sites of great archaeological importance, in which human traces have been found dating back to about twelve thousand years ago. We’ve known about The Toirano Caves since the 1800s, and they are divided into: Grotta della Bàsura, Grotta del Colombo, Upper and Lower Santa Lucia Grotta. The Grotta del Colombo and that of Santa Lucia superiore are not accessible to the public.
Imagine the excitement of the children when they enter these unknown caverns, which wind around inside the mountain, already enthusiastic about wearing the protective helmet and everything that is necessary for the excursion. Expert speleologists will accompany you and satisfy your every curiosity.
One thing that will most likely intrigue them right away will be the traces left by the cave bears, in addition to those left by humans. The best-known cave, the Grotta della Bàsura, has sheltered this animal for thousands of years. The children are likely to be amazed while staring at the remains of the bones, the footprints and the signs of the claw marks on the walls. They will have the same reaction when they see the prints of prehistoric men’s hands, feet and knees, but the best thing you will encounter is when you enter the Hall of Mysteries: here the Palaeolithic men threw numerous clay balls against the walls, perhaps for some kind of ritual.
It is really worth discovering this hidden world, perfectly preserved for thousands of years, and not only to make your children happy.
The Grotta della Bàsura, through which most of the route winds, is the most spectacular. Here the rock formations are presented in the most varied forms and inside it, bears and men took refuge. The last section, discovered in 1960, is particularly fascinating; it is carved out of an immense flow of alabaster. The perfection of these rock architectural forms will amaze you, along with your children.
After coming to the end of the path inside the Grotta della Bàsura, you will go through an artificial tunnel 120 meters long that connects this cave to that of lower Santa Lucia, the second and last part of the visit. Here formations of thin aragonite crystals, arranged in “flower-like” shapes, cover the walls. Some of the rooms are very large and there are huge stalactites, also covered with aragonite crystals.
If, once you leave the caves, you still want to explore, take a jaunt up to the village of Toirano. It is a village of medieval origins and this is clearly noticeable in the cobblestones that characterize the paving of the streets, the architecture of the parish bell tower, in the numerous vaults and arches of the ancient palaces, many covered in stone, overlooking the typical narrow Ligurian “caruggi” (alleyways or lanes typical of Ligurian towns and villages). If you feel like going up to the plateau of the Abbey of San Pietro, you can enjoy a beautiful view, stretching all the way to the sea.
Below, some useful information on the Toirano Caves
1) HOW TO GET TO THE CAVES
BY CAR: With the Dei Fiori (A10) Motorway: exit at Borghetto Santo Spirito, from either direction (Genova or Ventimiglia), then take the provincial road toward Toirano (3 km). From Via Aurelia, from any direction, take the Y-intersection at Borghetto S. Spirito, direction Toirano, km 4.
BY TRAIN: Get off at Loano from any direction. From here, walk to one of the bus stops along the nearby Via Aurelia and wait for the public bus going to Grotte di Toirano (see below). At Loano’s train station taxis are also available.
BY BUS: Daily departures from Pietra Ligure, Loano and Borghetto S. Spirito with arrival on Piazzale delle Grotte at 9:15 – 11:55 – 14:30 – Departures half an hour prior to the stated arrivals. Last departure from Piazzale delle Grotte at 17:15 – For info: www.tpllinea.it – Green Line: 800 01 27 27.
2) OPENING HOURS
OPEN EVERY DAY: from 9:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 16:30
Guided visits with size-limited groups
Average waiting time 30 minutes, entrance regulated by staff members
Visits last 70 minutes
We thank Grotte di Toirano for the photos.