Audio tracks about "Caglieron Caves" :
The Caglieron Caves are located in Breda, a tiny locality near Fregona, in the Treviso province.
The site consists of a series of caves, partly of natural origin and partly man-made. The natural ones are found in the deep gorge dug by the river Caglieron on alternate layers of limestone, sandstone and marlstone which date back to the Middle Miocene. The artificial caves were created in centuries by the work of the stonemasons ("scalpellini") who extracted the local stone used for building work.
Numerous waterfalls are to be found on the site, some several metre high, ending in wide water pools. In the deepest part of the gorge there are limestone concretions which partially envelop the vault, making it appear like a grotto.
On both sides of the gorge are some large man-built caverns, resulting from the extraction of the typical soft stone ("pietra dolza") there found. The extraction work started in the 15th century, perhaps earlier, and provided the material needed to build door-posts and lintels, some of which still extant on old houses and palaces of the surrounding towns and villages.
The extraction method used was very interesting. The layers of stone have an angle of inclination of 45°, consequently the material was removed using large chisels (their marks still visible), but columns of stone had to be left standing in order to support the vault. The result is a series of picturesque artificial caves, distributed along the ravine with the noisy and whirling river flowing at the bottom. A system of recently refurbished walkways enables the visitor to admire the beauty of the site.
Here is our suggested itinerary. Starting from the Visitor Centre, where the Information Office, a coffee shop and toilets are to be found, proceed along the fenced pathway along the river, off the main road. Next, cross the footbridge and walk along the gravel road that leads to the aves. Walk under the stone bridge on the right hand side of the Caglieron river and you'll find on our right a sizable cave called Grotto of Breda. Passed the wide entrance are the characteristic wilted columns supporting the layered sandstone ceiling. Opposite that cave, just after a rustic small bridge, you'll find the second cave, Grotto of Saint Lucio, where the "grotto cheese" is eft to mature. That is a cheese with a unique flavour due to the aromas originating from the icro climate of the cave.
As you proceed, please admire the large, deep pool of water dug by the steady fall of the water running under the bridge and flowing into the natural gorge just below. From the bridge see in both sides another two broad artificial caves.
Cross the river again and walk along the fitted and scenic pathway hanging upon waterfalls and pools. The footbridges run next to a natural cliff rich in Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Capillus-veneris L.), a fern growing on moist sandstone formations, in gorges and in moist places by streams. Another variety of ferns to be seen is the Japanese Holly Fern (Cyrtomium Fortunei J.Sm.), an exotic evergreen fern native of Japan, Korea and China, which grows in moist and partially shaded soils and rocks.
Numerous tiny springs of water come out from factures in the rocks both inside and outside the caves. The water is high in limestone content, therefore some of the limestone is deposited on the rock surface and creates new sediments. In the more illuminated areas there are formations of "travertine", a kind of sedimentary rock, where mosses, ferns and other plant leftovers are covered by limestone.
Inside the artificial caves there are some natural narrow tunnels explored by speleologists. In the water that runs through the tunnels they have found a tiny blind and colourless crustacean called Niphargus which typically lives underground. The steady temperature and the ever fading light in the deepest areas of the caves promote a variety of micro climates of remarkable naturalistic interest.
On leaving the gorge you can visit two watermills: one, has been converted into a restaurant and dates back to the 16th century. The second one features the original working wheel and is used as an exhibition centre. Next to the restaurant, the steep pathway proceeds towards two rural old houses, presumably belonging to the stonemasons working at the nearby caves. The place is called "Borgo dello Scalpellino" (Hamlet of the Stonemasons).
As you go up and reach the main road (P151), you'll notice the Grotto of Saint Barbara, once used as a mushroom farm.
The Caglieron Caves are appreciated both in summer for their cool climate and in winter for their wonderful icefalls. They provide the ideal site for Environmental Education workshops for schools and, during summer, they are the evocative scenario of theatrical plays and other performances.