Passions & Places

Potholing & Caving





Potholing & Caving

As in a peculiar game of oppositions, mountain climbers are always challenging the mountains to reach their top and approach the sun, whereas speleologists always look for darkness and try to reach the subsoil to reveal its magic. Spleologists are driven by their love for nature, and descend into the deep cavities created by the millenary flowing of water. There, they find different and mysterious shapes, and their breath seems to amplify, surrounded as it is by absolute silence.

Speleology cannot be simply defined as a sport, the predecessors of today’s speleologists discovered the first entrance to the spectacular Frasassi Caves in 1948. Speleologists are driven by curiosity and the pleasure of the contact with nature, and with a unique environment. They always try to discover new areas which are beneath our feet, with an approach that may be considered scientific.

The territory of the Marches is mostly characterized by a calcareous geomorphology, and thus provides speleologists with numerous opportunities to enter caves and steep ravines, each of which has a particular fascination and charming details.

The richest areas in terms of natural cavities, some of which are very difficult to detect, are in the vast mountain system of the Pesaro province (Nerone Mount, Mounts Catria and Cucco) and on the Sibillini Mounts, while close to the Furlo Gorge (which seems jealous of its subterranean and still concealed treasure) a training ground was created. There, speleologists can learn techniques that only apparently resemble those used by climbers.

It is impossible to become an expert speleologist overnight, this is why many clubs organize the courses needed to tackle the perils concealed in dark caves. Lessons range from geology notions to exploration techniques, from subsoil biology to topographic surveying, from Karst phenomena to useful indications aimed at ensuring safeguard in a very delicate environment. Other topics include a training ground and first aid notions when in a cave; those who wish to help other people in danger can further study these notions. 

In order to make this discipline more enjoyable, in summer speleologists like engaging in canyoning. They use ropes and diving suits to go down the many ravines scattered in the Marches’ territory and have fun in exciting jumps. Another interesting variation of speleology is the so-called urban speleology, which has been recently developed. It uses speleology techniques to explore the ancient anthropic cavities (those created by men); such as aqueducts, forgotten conduits and mines, ravines full of charm and mystery. The Speleology Group of Urbino is carrying out a topographic project to explore, survey and count the numerous tunnels that develop in Urbino’s subsoil. This project has already led to interesting discoveries, and to the discovery of epigraphs sculpted in sandstone 500 years ago.

Many more discoveries shall be made, thanks to the curiosity and the work of speleology enthusiasts, who are always ready to go down wet caves and secret passages, to hear their hearts beat with excitement in the dark subsoil.

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