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Speleological research in the Reggiano, from the beginning of the century to the present


42035 Castelnovo Ne Monti

Tourist Area:

Tourist Area Matildic zone and Parco Nazionale dell'Appennino Tosco-emiliano

Geographic Area:

Geographic Area

Analytical text:

Speleology in Emilia Romagna, after the pioneer period of the XIX century, characterized by lone researchers such as Brizio, Cappellini, Chierici, Scarabelli, Zauli Naldi, or by amateurs like Orsoni and the Abbot Feretti, became organized at the beginning of the 1900's with the foundation of the Italian Speleological Society in Bologna (March 3rd 1903).
The members of this society, among which Gortani, Alzona and in particular Trebbi, worked almost exclusively near Bologna, doing very interesting and fundamental research on the Carsism in gypsums (Bertolani, 1986). We need to wait for the foundation of Speleological groups for research and interest in speleology to return to the Reggiano territory. The formation of the firs of these: The Speleological Emilian Romagnolo Group, had its founding members come together on June 21st 1931, at the Santa Maria Maddalena cave, in the arenaceous limestone, under the peak of Mt Valestra, in the province of Reggio Emilia (Malavolti, 1952)
This cavity will be the first of the Emilia - Romagna register and will be the object of publications o the geomorphology (Montanaro, 1932) and on the fauna, which has an indigenous species of troglobio coleottero: the "Duvalius Menozzii" (Menozzi, 1933).
Speleological activity conducted in the Reggiano territory mainly by the Emiliano Speleological group and in particular by Fernando Malavolti, Rodolfo Salis and Salvatore Mascarà, is related in activity reports (Malavolti, 1935 - 1939) and in a publication on carsism in the arenaceous limestone (Malavolti, 1943).
In this period numerous cavities in the messinian gypsums and in the arenaceous limestone of Mt Valestra and the Pietra of Bismantova are located, searched and registered
The second world war interrupted activity in the entire region, which resumed, in an organized fashion, only in the Reggiano territory and always thanks to the Emilian Speleological Group, which dropped the "Romagnolo" domination as proper groups formed there.
The hillside gypsums were object of speleological studies as were the evaporated triassics of the upper Secchia Valley, an almost unexplored formation.
This is still a period when dozens of new caves could be found; a research campaign which took place from 1945 to 1947 discovered and registered 76 cavities only in the Evaporiti del Trias (Malavolti, 1949).
Also in these caves indigenous trologia fauna was found, mainly represented by the Coleottero " Duvalius Guareschi" and by the miriapode "Manfredia Guareschi" (Guareschi and Moscandini, 1948 - 49). In the carsistic area rare botanical species are also found, they are of great ecological and phitogeological interest (Bertolani, Marchetti, 1949). Besides the publications on the upper Secchia valley others come out on the hillside gypsum (Malavolti et al. 1954) and on the caves of Mt Valestra (G.S.E., 1958). Data regarding Reggiano cavities are also released in the "Pellegrino Strobel" Cave Group bulletin, founded in Parma in 1950, which worked in the Reggiano territory as well (Frattini, 1956).
Reggio Emilia witnessed its own group called Rinolofi Speleological Group form within its CAI section in 1964, but the following year it changed its name into Speleological Reggiano Group. Its most visible exponent was Giulio Melegari. It became a member of the newly formed Rescue Corp. In 1964 and 65 it published reports on Carsism in the Reggiano Territory.
This partnership didn't last long: on march 9th, 1967 the Palentological Speleological Group "Gaetano Chierici" formed, it was made up of young people, among which Mauro Cremaschi, who basically was the guide and the reference point of the new Reggiano speleologists. (Cremaschi, 1969 - 1972). The speleological and archeological research was supported by the Civic Museum of the city, directed by Giancarlo Ambrosetti. During that period a close co-operation with a group of naturalists guided by Father Agosti was underway. The new Reggiano group is to be credited for the interest in their own territory, which still offers perspectives of novelty and interest. Even if the Emiliano Speleological group made new discoveries, such as the Cà Speranza mouth and the underground torrent of Tanone della Gacciolina, there's no comparison between the activity of the Modena group and that of the Reggiano one. The new discoveries multiplied both in the gypsums of the hillside, and in the evaporates of the Trias. Among these the most significant is the exploration of the great "Inghiottitoio di Cà Speranza - Tana della Mussina" system (Chiesi, 1984) and the discovery of the profound Inghiottitoio dei Tramonti, near Talada. The activity of Chierici's group attracts many young minds. The followers are increasing.
A few of these became members of the Speleological Rescue Corps, without neglecting studies of the territory and naturalistic research. The fame of Carsism in the Reggiano territory evaporates, especially those of the upper Secchia basin, surpasses the boundaries of the region and the nation. During the international symposium on Carsism in Evaporates, which was held in Bologna in October 1984, the congress members of all different parts of the world showed great interest in the carsistic area of the upper Secchia valley, which represents one of the most naturalistically speaking interesting and uncontaminated areas of the region and where one of the carsistic springs with the most abundant mineral waters of Italy is found, it is called "Fonti di Poiano" (Poiano Springs).
The Chierici group, has organized and illustrated the excursion to the Tanone grande della Gacciolina, which with its peculiar carsism represents one of its most significant examples (Chiesi 1985). It's in this setting that the current Reggiano speleology works, having reached great levels of organization, efficiency and know-how.
(Mario Bertolani)
Last update: March 8, 2021


Castelnovo ne' Monti
Piazza Gramsci, 1
42035 Castelnovo ne' Monti (RE)
0522 610111
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