Caves abound in the Vileno-Sirente Regional Park, but perhaps none is as interesting as the one at Stiffe, near San Demetrio ne' Vestini. For about one-third of a mile, visitors follow the course of an underground river, with unusual rock formations, gigantic stalactites and stalagmites and subterranean waterfalls. Openings in the cave walls create dramatic natural lighting effects, while subtle artificial lights illuminate lakes, canyons and rapids. The walk ends as beautifully as it begins, when visitors emerge to face the outdoor waterfall that is the underground river's final destination. The caves are easily located on the road from L'Aquila to Molina Aterno. Tours depart from 9am to 1pm and from 3pm till sunset, every day in July and August, on week ends in fall and spring (closed Dec-Feb). Groups of 20 or more people can reserve a tour any day of the year. Contact Gruppo Speleologico Aquilano, Svolta della Misericordia 2, 67100 L'Aquila (tel. and fax 011-39-862-414273).
Meanwhile, if you visit this part of Italy, make sure you don't miss its many medieval castles!
Click here for a selection of lodgings in the area.