Grotte di Equi

The magic of the caves of Equi Terme in the Lunigiana

Among the canyons and lakes of the Apuane Alps

During the oldest Stone Age (the Paleolithic) the Lucido valley was visited by groups of Neanderthal hunters. Here they found many animals to hunt, such as deer and cave bears. In fact, the cave bears would shelter in the Tecchia cave, hibernating there. However, over time, these bears – just like the Neanderthals – became extinct.

For all of the recent Stone Age (the Neolithic) the valley seems to have been unpopulated; however, at the beginning of the metal ages, during the Bronze age (the Eneolithic) new groups of humans -- mostly shepherds – came. Here they found water, salt and metals; so they stayed for long periods throughout the year. They used the fields and valleys for living in; while the caves (the Tecchia and la Tana della Volpe, the Fox’s Den) were for burying their dead and for worshipping (probably a water divinity at Buco del Diavolo, the Devil’s Pit).
That is how this place of nature, of water, and of stone came to be used and lived in by humans, up to modern times.
 
The Equi Caves Cultural Park is a multifaceted structure . It offers the visitor different features and opportunities:
·         the Buca (the Pit) , an ancient naturally-formed cave that has been studied since the 1700s. Starting in 2004 a new, much longer tract of it can be visited;
·         the Tecchia Cave , is described at the Caves Museum. Although not yet visitable, it will soon be possible to see it from a walkway leading off from inside the Pit Cave;
·         the Caves Museum , an educational center detailing the caves’ development and human interaction over time, providing a scientific background for the natural wonders surrounding the visitors;
·         the Solco d’Equi Walk (the Equi Cut Walk) , a natural canyon with insect-eating plants; here you’ll find theTana della Volpe (the Fox’s Den), small burial caves, the Grotta delle Felci (the Fern Cave), and the Buco del Diavolo (the Devil’s Pit), where water-worshipping rites were probably performed;
·         the Archeopark consisting of a reconstruction of Paleolithic and Eneolithic settings, with shelters and huts; here the hands-on archeological activities take place, to relive the day-to-day life, tasks, and sensations of prehistorical and protohistorical times
  
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