On Thursday before we left for our cruise, we took Donna and Shelly to Trieste. I had heard about the Grotto Gigante a couple times and seen all the signs for it, and we wanted to check it out. I guess I was thinking a grotto to be… a grotto. Like a big cavern with a flat floor and a high ceiling, maybe in the side of a hill. I was wearing flip flops and a long maxi dress. Apparently “grotto” means “cave” in Italian, because it wasn’t at all a grotto like I was thinking of. In fact, it was like 100m down and 100m back up… (Translation of that means it was about 30 stories down and about 30 stories back up…)
So let me preface this by saying, again, that it is incredibly hard to take decent pictures in a cave without a tripod in the first place. Add to it that I ended up carrying Ben on my front so Mark could carry Abbie (again we weren’t at all prepared for this), and that the ground was slippery because it was wet and I was wearing flip flops… Just not a good combo. I was tip toeing around, so I didn’t slip and fall with Ben, and doing stairs is hard enough without adding all of those factors. So the pictures aren’t as clear as I would like, but they were as good as I could get with Ben on the front of me bouncing all over the place.
It’s hard to tell exactly how big the cave was from these pictures, but it was HUGE. It is over 14 MILLION cubic feet and is one of the largest in the world. It is so big because it was actually 2 levels of subterranean rivers, but the floor collapsed a long time ago and made it one big cavern. It is over 10 million years old and has been open to the public for over 100 years.
The stalagtites and stalagmites are formed from rainwater dripping down on the limestone and they grow about 1mm every 15-20 years. The width of the ring that they form (especially visible on the big ones) is dependent on how much rainfall occurs that year. It’s all pretty fascinating to me.
I’m not sure how these ones were formed, but I would guess that it has something to do with water running down the walls of the cave, making the ribbon like structures.
They call this one the palm tree and it is over 200,000 years old.
The two big tall things in the middle of the cave are called geodetic pendulums and they measure the Earth’s tides. They are so sensitive that they can pick up the minute shift in the tilt of the Earth when there is a lot of snow on the Alps. In the zoomed in picture on the right, those are the stairs we came down. You can barely see them on the picture in the left, but that’ll give you a little bit of a perspective as to how big this cave actually is. It is beautiful.
After the cave, we headed to downtown Trieste to grab some lunch, which took us a bit to find, but we figured it out eventually. Downtown Trieste is really pretty.
We sat along the canal for lunch and ate some really good food, but I can’t remember the name of the place now. Some of the dishes were created by a famous chef in Italy and they were really good.
And no outting is complete without some gelato. Abbie is a chip off the old block since chocolate is her favorite and she thinks the very bottom tip of the cone is the best part!
We took a few pictures along the shore before we headed to Miramare Castle. More on that next!!