Travel

Local Italy: Grotte del Caglieron

Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!

Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!

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One of the absolute best parts of living in Italy is that I get to spend time exploring the tiny stuff that gets overlooked when you’ve only got one week to see as much of the country as possible.

(I say that half joking, but the amount of friends who visit that I have to talk out to doing a new city every 36 hours is comical.)

But living here, I get to find the little tiny things – stuff that locals know but most visitors won’t unless it somehow ends up on Atlas Obscura.

It’s been even more true this spring and summer with the covid-19 lockdown here in Italy. Starting in May, we were able to exercise within our region! This meant we could drive out of town go hiking.

One of those local hiking spots is Grotte del Caglieron, or the Caglieron Grottoes. They’re a series of caves that have been carved out by water over the centuries. During that time, local stonemasons also harvested the soft sandstone from the area to use in homes throughout the area, making it a partly natural and partly artificial creation.

Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!
Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!
Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!
Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!

Grotte del Calgieron is free to the public and has a well-maintained walking path, making it great for families, kids, and dogs. Since much of it rocky and/or wooden beam paths, it’s not great for strollers, but it’s not a long hike, so just ditch it in the car.

The main trail down loosely follows the torrente Caglieron (Caglieron creek), mostly because the creek winds its way through and among the grottoes. It goes over waterfalls and through the entrances of several grottoes, sure to spark your imagination. Inside the grottoes, it feels so distant from the bright fields of corn and grapevines just outside!

Like all great European hikes (long or short), there’s a restaurant along the route. This one clearly knows its audience: inside, it’s a white tablecloth, multicourse meal setup, while outside it’s picnic tables and panini. Both serve wine, obviously, continuing the trend of Italians taking their food seriously at any price point or niceness. I have yet to eat inside, only because we always bring the dog on this hike and he’s just too big for that fancy restaurant vibe.

Once you eat, make sure you keep going down the trail another 100 yards to see the old mill or mulinetto. It’s not still generating anything, but the wheel does move with the water and creates that idyllic scene you always picture mills in, complete with bubbling brooks and green grass and forest.

Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!
Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!
Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!
Cheese caves!

You can head back along the road (yes, you can skip the hike entirely and just eat at the restaurant if you want, but why would you?) or go up the Grotte del Caglieron the way you came in. On your way back, don’t miss the cave where they age (culture? grow? not sure what the terminology here is…) cheese! Definitely worth a stop here to pick some up for later! Rumor has it they occasionally sell honey here as well, but I haven’t seen it yet.

At only 20 minutes’ drive from our town of Sacile, Grotte del Caglieron is an easy spot to spend a few hours without committing or pre-booking anything.

Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!
Grotte del Caglieron is a tiny series of caves tucked into the foothills of the Dolomites, and an underrated spot to explore in an afternoon!

Want more local Italy near Aviano? Try exploring the Dolomites or the prosecco vending machine!

You can also get an inside look at life in local Italy on my Instagram!

Thoughts?

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