Bossea cave

The karstic system is located entirely in the arc of lithotypes belonging to the Briançonnaise-Ligurian series, the composition of which shows a succession of volcaniclastic sediments, essentially formed of Porphyroids of Melogno (Carboniferous - Middle Permian), which can be located in a period going back approximately between 275 and 329 million years, as well as a calcareo-dolomitic sequence, including dolomites dating from the Middle Triassic, approximately 237 million years ago, and the Limestones of Bossea, dating from Jurassic and which can be placed in a period going back to about 172 million years.

The digging of the karst networks could have started as early as -5 million years ago with on the one hand the uplift of the Alpine massifs (the limestones carried in altitude are eroded) and on the other hand the start of climatic cooling. Cold water and ice have a very corrosive action. Richer in carbonic acid than warmer waters, they actively dissolve limestone. During the Quaternary, while the uplift continues, the karst is intensely dug, the underground rivers flowing in the underground networks give rise to vast cavities like the immense cave of Bossea.

Scientific concept

Frequented very early on by tourists, quickly equipped with trails, lighting and equipment, and above all dynamic and in full development, the Cave of Bossea inevitably became a place of scientific research. The first studies even date back to the second half of the 1969th century. After a revival at the end of the Second World War, research took a decisive turn in 17 when the Underground Karstology Laboratory was founded, today dependent on the Italian Alpine Club and "international center of excellence" in the field of study. very vast: from hydrogeology to underground climatology, from speleobiology to natural radioactivity. Since December 2019, XNUMX, at the initiative of the Polytechnic of Turin and in synergy with the Karstology Laboratory, a mobile laboratory named Paléolab, with the aim of studying past climates, has been active in the cave. Thanks to this latest and recent development, Bossea has undoubtedly become one of the most watched and examined caves in the world.

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Bossea Cave constitutes the terminal area of ​​a large karst aquifer developing along the Corsaglia - Maudagna watershed line. The lower zone, about one kilometer long as the crow flies and with a descending difference of 128 meters, coincides with the tourist part, characterized by a succession of immense spaces literally sculpted by landslides and entirely crossed, a unique case among the great Italian caves, by a perennial torrent, whose flow rates oscillate between nearly 100 liters per second as a minimum and a maximum which can exceed 4200 liters.

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The water wealth, equivalent to at least 6 million cubic meters drained each year for a total of 750/800 tonnes of rock washed away, both by erosion and dissolution, is highlighted by these figures which give an idea of the permanent and tumultuous evolution of a cavity characterized by immense and majestic spaces, by vertiginous plunging views at times and by imposing concretions. The appearance, the atmosphere, the sounds express a reality that contrasts with the normally shared and cultivated idea that we have when we think of a cave, and it is precisely this that astonishes, fascinates and strongly moves the visitor.


The first cave open to the public in Italy, it was inaugurated, so to speak, as part of a solemn ceremony on August 2, 1874, when the sliding door finally opened to visitors at exactly noon. Cradle of speleological tourism within the Bel Paese, this cave was considered to be cutting edge because the only site, apart from that of the Pompei excavations, had at the time an automated passage mechanism, a kind of turnstile before the letter which thus allowed the precise calculation of entries at the end of the day. Personalities of the caliber of Giovanni Garelli, senator from Mondovì, and Quintino Sella were artisans of the opening to the public, and therefore pioneers and precursors of Italian speleological tourism, without forgetting Francesco Cirio, founder of the homonymous cannery, the Dukes of Aosta and the Princes Demidoff, originally from Saint Petersburg, who intervened from their residence in Florence, so that there was talk of a "union" between the Arno and the Corsaglia river.