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Beyond the Blue Grotto: The 5 Most Gorgeous Caverns in Italy That Locals Love

30 May 2024
by Melissa Puppo
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Discover these enchanting natural destinations without the tourist crush.

Italy’s rugged coastline is beloved for many reasons, but its otherworldly grottoes may be the most picturesque. These naturally occurring caverns found at the water’s edge entice visitors with their quiet beauty and stunning rock formations. The most famous of these is Capri’s Grotta Azzurra, the Blue Grotto, with its brilliant blue water that appears to glow from within. It’s so famous, in fact, that many tourists make a special trip out to the island just to see it, and it’s common to wait for an hour or more in the summer season for your turn to go within. 

You might be surprised to learn that it’s not the only blue grotto in Italy; in fact, the country has many of these enchanting caves just waiting to be explored. From Puglia’s natural swimming pool to an exceptional diving site in Sicily, discover these hidden marvels scattered across the Mediterranean. 

Grotta di Capo Bianco, Ponza

Grotta di Capo Bianco, Ponza  

Located west of Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea is Ponza, the largest island in Italy’s Pontine Islands off the coast of Lazio, Rome’s home region. Ponza is home to the stunning Grotta di Capo Bianco, with its striking juxtaposition of white rock against turquoise waters. Peregrine falcons nest in the white cliffs, so it can only be approached by quiet rowboat (no motors allowed!), and swimming in the grotto is allowed. For optimal visibility, visit between noon and 4 p.m. 

 

Grotta della Poesia, Puglia

Grotta della Poesia, Puglia 

A natural sinkhole in Puglia whose name means “Poetry Grotto,” this beautiful pool is located in the village of Roca Vecchia on the Adriatic coastline between Lecce and Otranto. Its crystal-clear turquoise water connects to the sea through underwater passages and is part of a larger archaeological area that includes the ruins of ancient settlements. Spend an afternoon swimming, diving, and exploring the cave’s natural beauty. The site is easily accessible by foot from the nearby town.  

 

Grotta Azzurra in the Bay of Isola Bella, Taormina, Sicily

Grotta Azzurra in the Bay of Isola Bella, Taormina, Sicily 

What sets this Grotta Azzurra apart from its Caprese sister is its vibrant underwater ecosystem, which can be explored by scuba diving or snorkeling. The most popular diving site in Taormina, Sicily, it sits inside a marine reserve and offers a rich array of sea life to explore, like barracudas, rays, octopus, and more. Like its sister, this Grotta Azzurra got its name from the blue reflection on the water that completely illuminates the cave. You’ll find the entrance right by Isola Bella, at Mazzarò beach. 

Grotta del Bue Marino, Sardinia

Grotta del Bue Marino, Sardinia 

Grotta del Bue Marino is a magical sea cave in the Gulf of Orosei in Sardinia. This cave, once a refuge for monk seals called “Su Oe’ e Mare” in the local dialect, extends an impressive 43 miles inland, though only about a half-mile is open to visitors. Discovered in the 1950s, the cave’s southern branch holds petroglyphs and other evidence of use by the Neolithic Ozieri culture, hinting at its sacred past. It can be explored by boat (buy tickets at the port at Cala Gonone) or on foot from the Cala Fuili beach. 

 

Grotta dello Smeraldo, Amalfi

Grotta dello Smeraldo, Amalfi 

Not far from Capri, on the mainland of the Amalfi Coast, the Emerald Grotto is a must-see natural wonder. Located just outside Amalfi in the village of Conca dei Marini, this enchanting karst cave dazzles visitors with its magical emerald reflections created by sunlight filtering through underwater openings. The shimmering green light dances on the cave walls, offering a surreal and mesmerizing experience. Thousands of years ago, the grotto likely sat above sea level, allowing its dramatic stalactites and stalagmites to form. Like the Blue Grotto in Capri, this cavern can only be entered via ticketed rowboat. 

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