The Equi Caves Geo-Archeo-Adventure Parkis a site of outstanding natural interest that offers many and diversified activities for the public: geological, naturalistic, paleontological theme visits, adventure trails, and hiking and e-bike excursions. The park comprises the Visitor Centrewith its ApuanGeoLabinteractive earth sciences museum, E-Bike Centrefor bike rentals and guided tours and its well-stocked bookshop; the karst caves complexwith fully-outfitted route for tourist visits and Speleo-Adventureexcursions; an exciting Ziplineaerial runway for bird’s-eye observation of the karst torrent; and the Tecchia prehistoric site, the archaeological exhibition and the Museo delle Grotte.
The picturesque village of Equi Terme, home to the caves complex but also, as the name suggests, to a historic spa facility with pool, rises in the territory of the Comune di Fivizzano (MS) in the Lunigiana region, within the Apuan Alps Regional Park (a UNESCO Global Geopark). A short way from the caves is the Solco di Equi, a natural gorge that leads to the marble quarries: a perfect vantage point for admiring the glacial valley below the Pizzo d’Uccello peak. The Solco habitat supports unique flora, including carnivorous plant species found only in this area.
The Visitor Centre
At the Visitor Centre in the town of Equi Terme, visitors will find the ticket office, the Apuan Alps Regional Park information office, the well-stocked bookshopand a shop selling typical local products. The Visitor Centre also hosts an E-Bike Centre, where visitors can rent pedal-assist e-bikes and book guided tours, and the ApuanGeoLab, an earth sciences museum/laboratory with interactive ‘machines’ to learn about the genesis and geology of mountains like the Apuan Alps.
The Grotte di Equicaves form an extensive subterranean karst complex modelled by flowing water, over the course of the millennia, into chambers, galleries and halls with concretions such as stalactites and stalagmites, and underground lakes.
The tourist routetakes visitors through the caves, known since the 1700s, to explore fascinating cavities and still-active concretions.
The recently-inaugurated Speleo-Adventure route, instead, ventures into a portion of the caves until now never seen by the public and explored only by speleologists, a wonderland of large concretions in unusual forms and colours. Along the route, unique in its genre in Italy and featuring long climber-equipped stretches and ‘Tibetan’ 3-line bridges, safety is ensured by tethered harnesses and helmets with caving headlamps – and, of course, qualified guides.
The Prehistoric Tecchia
The Tecchia di Equi, an internationally-known archaeological and paleontological site, is located high on the park’s cliffs. The archaeological exhibitionat the site displays the finds, such as bones of long-extinct animals (and in particular, of hundreds of cave bears) and tools and other objects made by Neanderthal Man, found during the last 100 years of excavations.
Museo delle Grotte di Equi
The Museo delle Grotte exhibition/learning tour features faithful life-size reproductions of the gigantic cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) and of Neanderthal man (Homo neanderthalensis) as well as theme panels and a small display of fossil finds.
The Zipline over the Karst Torrent
The Geo-Archeo-Adventure Park also boasts a Ziplineover the course of the Fagli torrent. A trail with stretches equipped for climbers and with suspended bridges leads up to the Zipline terminus, where visitors embark on a 200-metre ca. ‘angel’s flight’ back down the mountain at a height of 20 metres above ground level, looking down on ‘giant’s kettle’ formations such as the Buca dei Serpi, the most beautiful and largest of these cylindrical holes ‘drilled’ into the rocky streambed by the action of water and loose stones.