The wonderful Emerald Grotto in Conca dei Marini
Among the innumerable wonders offered by the Amalfi Coast, it is impossible not to mention the Emerald Grotto, an extraordinary karstic cavity partially invaded by the sea located in the enchanting bay of Conca dei Marini, about 4 km east of Praiano. It owes its name to the particular colouring of the water, the result of the reflection of sunlight filtering through an underwater fissure.
Upon entering its interior, one is fascinated by the astonishing natural spectacle before one’s eyes. Massive stalactites hang from the ceiling, which reaches a height of 24 metres, while stalagmites up to 10 metres high rise from the bottom. In some places, these limestone formations come together to create true works of art, making the environment even more impressive. Don’t forget your camera because there are so many wonderful photos to be taken. The value of the cave is not only aesthetic but also scientific. There are in fact quite rare marine species such as the coelenterate species Anemonactis mazeli, which generally grows in places where no light filters in.
Not everyone knows that in very remote times, the cave was located above sea level and only after a phenomenon of bradyseism did the ground level drop and the cavity was partially invaded by the sea. Its discovery is very unusual. For generations there had been rumours of the existence of a mysterious cave but no one could find it. It was discovered almost by chance in 1932 by fisherman Luigi Buonocore, who found it attracted by some cracks in the rocks.
One of the cave’s curiosities is the underwater crib, made of Vietri ceramics, placed on its seabed in 1956, at a depth of about 4 metres. Every year, on 24 December and 6 January, a spectacular pilgrimage to the crib is organised, in which diving enthusiasts from all over Italy take part, free diving and without a wetsuit.
The grotto can be reached by sea or by lift and stairs along the Amalfitana state road (SS 163) that runs along the entire coastline. Access is exclusively by boat. The best time to visit this naturalistic gem is between 12 noon and 1 p.m., when the reflections of the light are most intense and the colours of the water most vivid.
Whether you are a speleology expert or simply curious, it doesn’t matter because the Emerald Grotto is a magical and absolutely unmissable place that everyone should visit at least once in their life.
Photo © Grotta dello Smeraldo – Conca dei Marini