Gola di Frasassi - Valle Scappuccia Riserva Naturale Frasassi Grottoes
The territory of Genga, a small village in the province of Ancona, stretches over evocative panoramas at the foot of the Marches Apennines. In its vast extension lie the Frasassi Grottoes, crossed by the Sentino river, of exceptional scenic and natural interest.
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The TERRITORY encloses numerous grottoes in which, at various times, evidence of prehistoric life has been discovered: the Bad Hole (Buco Cattivo)Grotto, the Southern (Mezzogiorno)Grotto, the Grotto of the Baffoni, the Beautiful (Bella)Grotto, the River (Fiume)Grotto. The famous Frasassi Grottoes and the Sanctuary (Santuario)Grotto are situated precisely in this gorge. In the latter there is a temple in local travertine with an octagonal base and lead-covered dome, ordered to be built by Pope Leone XII to the design of the architect Valadier. In it there is a copy of the beautiful statue of the Virgin with Child, the original of which, in white marble and attributed to Canova, is conserved in the Genga San Clemente Museum. Nearby, to the right of the temple, the ancient chapel of S. Maria "Infra-saxa" is conserved.
A little further to the south, outside the Gorge, stands the XI century church of San Vittore in pure Romanesque style. The central plan construction is extremely simple and pure. In front of the temple stands the Roman Bridge over the Sentino river, defended by a truncated Gothic Tower; to the side of the church lies the a href=http://en.zerodelta.net/soggetti.php?id_sog=3215&id_voc=36>Spa, specialising in inhalatory and mud-therapy treatment, and the old Abbey, now a Speleological museum (in phase of preparation) in which the fossil of an ichthyosaurus is housed.
The Pierosara Castle, a medieval looking village, dominates the hill to the east, until the X century it was supreme sovereign over the territory but nothing now remains of its power except the Cassero and part of the robust encircling wall. Further to the north, outside the Gorge, rises the ancient Castle of Genga today the seat of the Municipality and the Frasassi Association. Leone XII, Hannibal of the Counts of Genga, Pope from 1823 to 1829, was born here. A triptych (Madonna enthroned with San Giovanni Battista and S. Clemente) and a standard (Madonna enthroned with S. Clemente), the XV century work of Antonio da Fabriano, are kept in the parish church. In the Museum, situated in the historic centre, interesting works of art may be admired.
Ascending the road again and crossing the village of Genga, the Valle Scappuccia Natural Reserve is reached, an uncontaminated habitat where barely outlined rambling paths lead the visitor to make contact with vibrant nature. The GROTTOES - The ancient city of Sentinum, near present-day Sassoferrato, takes its name from the river that bathes it (or is the opposite true?). The river and the city witnessed the celebrated battle of Sentino in 295 B.C. between the Romans and a coalition of Umbrians, Senniti, Etruscans and Galli Senoni. The river flows in a west-east direction and, over the millennia, has excavated a rather ample valley throughout its course except for the last two kilometres where is has cut a narrow gorge, two to three hundred metres deep, before going on to swell the Esino. The valley was formed because the terrain crossed by the river was easily attackable and trasportable. The gorge was formed because the river had to cut through rock to make room for itself. The river, then, flowed on high and its waters, penetrating the rock, filled itself with the materials it met (lime, carbon, sulphur), eroding the inside of the mountain and sinking because of the erosion of its bed. The waters inside the mountain also sank and the gap was formed. The formations of the concretions is the effect of the infiltration of meteorite water into the crust of the mountain. So, the Sentino is a uniquely beneficent river; more than those that carry gold nuggets along in their waters.
The Frasassi Grottoes treasure was discovered accidentally in 1971 by the Ancona C.A.I. Speleological Group and were opened to the public in 1974, quickly becoming one of the most important attractions of the Marches, visited by over ten million people from all the continents by now. The ROUTE is exalting and the illumination, supervised by the celebrated stage designer, Cesarini da Senigallia, accentuates the forms and colours of the concretions: inlaid stalactities, gigantic stalagmites, lakes enclosed among crystal arabesques and alabaster lances dangling from the majestic vaults: and underground itinerary that has been described as one of the most beautiful in the world. The names that imagination has given to each single scenario, because of their looks, are significant: the Ancona Abyss (Abyss for its 240 metres in height, Ancona in honour of the CAI discoverer who came from that city), Cave 200 (because 200 metres long) or of the Obelisk (because a 15 metre high stalagmite rises from the centre); Canyon (similar to the Colorado canyon) with its famous Organ Pipes and fantastic scenario of Candles and Columns, the White Cave, The Bear's Cave, the Stacks of Straw Cave and others. The origin of the Grottoes goes back 1.400.000 years.
The Frasassi Association proposes, with this name, a new and fascinating journey inside the Frasassi Grottoes. Fitted at the entrance with the necessary clothing and tools and accompanied by an expert guide along an unprepared route lasting two or three hours, there is the opportunity of admiring magnificent new caves, hidden from the sight of the normal visitor and sharing the extraordinary experience of the speleologist for a day.
ENVIRONS - It is easy to reach very attractive places daily from the Frasassi area, where extremely valid receptive and restorative structures with typical local cuisine are available (hotels, agricultural tourism, rented rooms, and a spa): places of worship LORETO, ASSISI, and CASCIA, of art and history URBINO, with the National Gallery, RECANATI with the Leopardian Library, ANCONA with the Archaological Museum, JESI with the Civic Art Gallery, MATELICA with the Piersanti Museum, MACERATA with the Municipal Art Gallery, FABRIANO, with the Civic Art Gallery and the Paper and Filigree Museum and for the relax there is also the sea of SENIGALLIA with its velvet beach and all Marches coast.

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