Exploring the historic Toirano Caves

posted in: Italy | 20

The Liguria region isn’t just full of mountains and luxury holiday resorts on the riviera, there are also some fantastic day trips to do. One of our favourite day trips whilst staying in the area recently was checking out the caves on the outskirts of the village of Toirano. Ideally a car is needed to get here as public transport isn’t that great and there is ample parking outside the main building. To visit the caves, we were put in a guided tour group but unfortunately due to the time of day we didn’t have English speaking so we had to go with the Italian speaking tour (which wasn’t too much of a problem for us).

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
We have arrived and ready to check out the caves
Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
The beautiful mountains nearby as seen from the caves
Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
Looking north into the mountain valley from the cave entrance
Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
The ticket office is found on the upper floor of the building. Underneath on ground level is the cafe.
Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
The building which hosts the cafe and ticket office.
Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
There is also a small museum next to the ticket office to check out whilst waiting for the tour to commence.

From the building to the cave entrance is about a ten minute walk up the mountain side and it can be hard going in the heat as the path is steep in some places, so our advice is to take some water. At the cave entrance we were met by our guide and about thirty of us followed her into the unknown.

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
The walking path to the cave entrance from the ticket office. It does get steep in places.
Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
The entrance to the caves. Not very big from the outside but it’s a different world once through.

The cave system has several main areas where we saw some interesting things we have never come across before. In the area known as Grotta della Basura (The Witch’s Cave), we were looking at the remains of the Ursus Spelaeus (the cave bear) whom decided to use this cave to hibernate. Here we found a the remains of ground paw prints, claw marks on the wall and loads of bones. We were totally amazed at what we were looking at, this amazing piece of natural history, this was worth making the trip just to see this, let alone the cave system. Also nearby is evidence that humans were in this cave around 12,000 years ago as there are foot, knee and hand prints in the clay.

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
Inside and it’s a little bit chilly

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
The footprints of prehistoric man
Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
More footprints in the clay
Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
The bones of a cave bear.

After a few areas of looking at the amazing stalactites and lakes we were taken to the deepest spot inside the mountain (which is open to visitors and about 170 meters above sea level), a tunnel which connects one cave to another. Before anyone asks, I did bang my head here whilst walking through this section.

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

The final section of the tour took us to an area where we were looking at calcite flowers which are formed by the process of water evaporation and condensation at different pressure levels and temperatures. To us, it was too much information all this science jargon so we going to say, they look like crystals and they were pretty. The last section was a huge den which was used as an air raid shelter for the locals during the Second World War and has even hosted concerts.

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
The largest part of the cave system on the tour.

We do have a few pointers if anyone is making the visit it. We always say take a jumper or coat when visiting caves as it can be quite chilly down here. In the middle of the hot summer months, a light jumper (pullover) is enough but make sure to wear the right footwear. It can be slippery in some places. This is not disabled friendly so wheelchairs is highly not recommended. A visit will last around one hour but there is a cafe afterwards to have a drink and a snack.

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
Another amazing view looking out towards the small town of Toriano from the caves.

Afterthoughts – we really did enjoy our morning visit to the caves and came way really happy as saw some fantastic natural history (bear bones and prints in the clay) and glad we made the journey here. As the caves are located in the mountains, the view of the local area are brilliant and we could even see the sea from here which is about ten miles away. We highly recommend putting a trip to the Toirano caves to anyone who is exploring this part of Italy.  

Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy
Claire just can’t get enough of the views.

Please note that while we were visiting the caves, the review and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. We value our readers too much to lie to you. Our blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!

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Toirano, Caves, Liguria, Italy

20 Responses

  1. I love Liguria, though I’ve only visited once. I’d really enjoy going back and seeing the Toirano caves – no idea they were there – and what amazing prehistoric remains they contain!
    Fiona Maclean recently posted…A Little Luxury On My Doorstep – The Runnymede Hotel and Spa

  2. Wow – seeing the human footprints gave me goosebumps! Where I’m from (Wyoming in the U.S.) caves are just pretty formations and virtually no human history. How intense, also that part of the cave was used as an air raid shelter!

  3. Funny – when I think of Italy it’s all Renaissance and churches etc. Amazing that there is something so ‘rough’ to find, too. And also the landscape doesn’t look so typically ‘Italian’. Completely new perspective on my favorite country…

  4. Those caves look magical, and they prove it’s good to see a country inside and out. I would never have guessed this is Italy – where I’ve mostly seen amazing buildings and eaten great food – but now I really want to go visit here.

  5. No way, those caves look so cool! Hope to visit there someday. Had no idea they were there and we’ve been to Italy.

  6. Such a detailed post! How interesting to visit a place where humans had lived 12,000 years ago, that’s incredible. Great to see so many markings have been preserved in the clay too. This place reminds me a lot of Jenolan Caves in Australia’s Blue Mountain area (NSW). Although, Toriano is that bit more fascinating having been an air raid shelter during WWII and having had concerts hosted in there! Great photos 🙂

  7. Ohh I have never heard of Toriano cave before! Its gorgeous! Ever since I have scuba dive into underwater caves (cenotes) in Mexico, everytime I enter into a cave I keep imagine me exploring the cave by scuba diving!

  8. I have to admit, I get a little giddy when I find out there are caving systems when I travel to a new place. Something about exploring them just get my excitement tingling. The Toriano seems amazing to explore, things like seeing human footprints, finding fossils just adds to the mystery of the caves 😀
    amit recently posted…First solo budget travel trip

  9. Super pictures guys. A cave bear, eh? Reminds me of something I’d see in myth or fiction, which makes seeing cave bear bones even cooler. Well done on the post and with your reporting. Toirano Caves are noted for when we do our Italy trip. Thanks for sharing.

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…Episode 31: 5 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic

  10. I love exploring interesting rock formations and have a fascination with caves. Both of these are beautiful here. And the views from outside don’t hurt either:)

  11. I always enjoy exploring caves and this one looks amazing! Would love to see the bears foot prints and pile of bones, that’s truly unique.
    sherianne recently posted…50 Things To Do in New York City for Christmas

  12. I’ve always like to see photo’s of caves, just not all that keen on entering them (did Carlsbad when young though). The way everything forms is quite something and each cavern is different. Pity they closed the one near Rocamadour in France, that I would have gone down to.
    Ted recently posted…Just a little shakshuka

  13. Megan Jerrard

    What an awesome day trip – sad that you missed the English speaking tour, but it doesn’t sound like it impacted on the experience too much. The views of the valley from the mountain are stunning – crazy that they’ve preserved the remains of actual bears who once hibernated here!

    The rock formations and stalactites throughout are quite amazing – good tip on traveling with a jumper – even on the hottest days, it’s always chilly inside a cave!

  14. I must plan a trip to Liguria for sure – I have not been to that part of Italy yet although the Toirano Caves look really interesting. I would like to explore them and see all the stalagmites and stalactites. The valley looks pretty amazing, I am sure you had a great time, even in the Italian speaking group:)

  15. Great cave photos those are so hard to capture. Super cool that this cave had ancient human remains.

  16. I love exploring caves but I have not heard about this place before. Caves can be a nightmare to take photos due to light but yours look fantastic

  17. I love caves like this. We did a similar tour in Dinant, Belgium, which was also used to accommodate people during the world wars. Good tip about the jumper, it really can get quite cool down in them. Love the stalagmites and ‘tites. A great experience doing this isn’t it.

  18. I’ve been very close from this place. I should have visied it. I love caves.
    Roman recently posted…Top 15 things to do in Zurich on a Budget

  19. I love to explore caves and I never knew about Toirano Caves or the area in Italy, it is definitely being added to the list. Even though you missed the English speaking tour it looks like you still had a great time and was able to take some great photos. That view of the local area is definitely brilliant too and its cool that you were even able to see the sea from there.

  20. We absolutely loved the Liguria region when we visited Italy, it is so incredibly beautiful! I would have loved to do this tour with the kids, they would have thought it was incredible! Not just something to see, but some pretty cool history as well. To see the caves, the evidence of man so long ago, or even the bear prints would be a great way to spend the day.

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