THE CAVES OF OLIERO NATURE COMPLEX
Situated in the Brenta Valley, in Valstagna, in the Municipality of Valbrenta, the Oliero springs are some of the largest karstic springs in Europe and a national tourist attraction. Four caves are currently open to the public: the river Oliero flows out of the two lower caves (Covol dei Veci and Covol dei Siori) while the two upper caves (Covol dei Assassini and Covol dee Soree), ancient sources of the same springs, are now dry.
A path winds tortuously upwards inside the park to the first two dry caves, Covol dei Assassini and Covol dee Soree, overlooked by towering rock walls upon which you can admire a rich display of rock wall flora, most beautiful of all, the tufted horned rampion. You descend into the shell-shaped depression between the two main caves, completely surrounded by cool spring waters and lush greenery that is centuries-old. Close by, the entrance to the cave open to tourists yawns wide before you. This is Covol dei Siori or Grotta Parolini (the Parolini Cave), named after the famous botanist Alberto Parolini, who explored it in 1822 and made it accessible to the public in 1832.
You can visit this extraordinary cave by boat, accompanied by Ivan Team nature and environmental guides, who will show you the features including the internal landing stage and the Sala della Colata, a giant cascade of alabastrine stalactites, an incredible fourteen metres high that twist around each other in a bizarre muddle of shapes and colours. The temperature inside the cave is a constant 12°C and the water almost 9°C all year round. The last cave, Covol dei Veci, can only be visited by cave-divers who frequently dive in its crystal-clear waters.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CAVES
COVOL DEI SIORI (or the Parolini Cave). A karstic cave home to one of the two source springs of the Oliero river. It only takes a few minutes walk through the park to reach it. You can visit the cave aboard a little boat driven by a nature and environmental guide. Inside the cave you can see remarkably sized stalactites and stalagmites. Half an hour spent deep in the heart of the mountain.
COVOL DEE SOREE. Named after the two daughters of Alberto Parolini, the old owner of the park complex. Like Covol dei Assassini, it is a former outlet for water coming down off the Asiago plateau. The cave is no longer active. It is easily reached from a small deviation off the main path to the Parolini Cave.
COVOL DEI ASSASSINI. It sits precisely above the entrance to Covol dei Siori and is named after the bad reputation of its mediaeval occupants. Archaeological evidence has confirmed proof of human presence in the cave as far back as the stone age. This cave was also the former outlet for water coming down off the Asiago plateau.
COVOL DEI VECI. Second active spring of the Oliero river. A huge stone arch looms over the cave, which stretches out completely underwater and is therefore only accessible to cave-divers with suitable equipment.
The Oliero spring waters are home to a rare living fossil: the Proteus, or olm, a cave-dwelling chordate found only in the karstic caves of Trieste and Slovenia. Parolini introduced a few specimens here to see if they could thrive and develop in his cave too. They disappeared from sight, and there was no further news of them until a sighting by some cave-divers in 1964, a clear sign that the experiment had been a total success.
The Caves of Oliero are surrounded by an enchanting nature park, traversed by the Nature Path, a green space (there is no play area, but there is a huge space where children can play freely) and a picnic area, where you spend a pleasant day out enjoying contact with nature. The Alberto Parolini Speleological and Karst Museum and the Paper Mill Museum are also within the complex.
NEARBY: the Ethnographic Museum of the Canal di Brenta in Valstagna and a kids’ play area are just 2 km away in Villetta.
Rent a Bike!!
For several years now the Caves of Oliero Nature Complex has been offering a bike sharing service (city bikes and e-bikes) located at the complex entrance, near the Brenta Cycle Path. This area allows you to access the bar at the Caves of Oliero for a snack break and also offers basic bike maintenance facilities.