Discovering the Emerald Grotto
Being the first to admire the fantastic and magical spectacle must have been a unique experience. But not unrepeatable. Because any tourist visiting the Emerald Grotto in Conca dei Marini on the Amalfi Coast feels the same feelings that the fisherman Luigi Buonocore felt in 1932. The emerald hues that come from the water, which are reflected in the karst cliffs and the impressive stalactites and stalagmites are Nature’s tribute to mankind. Which can only feel very small in front of this wonder.
Actually, the story of the discovery of the Emerald Grotto is a bit more complex than that reported by the chronicles of the time. Of course the suggestion of a single fisherman that ‘discovers’ it after centuries and millennia has a great appeal for tourists. But in truth, many young people enjoyed bathing in the emerald waters already since the late 1800s.
The Emerald Grotto is a karst cave of about 45×30 mt, up to 24 mt high. Water takes the sunlight from a underwater fissure that connects the grotto with the open sea: the columns of stalactites and stalagmites formed over thousands of years, when the cave was still above sea level.
In 1965, a crib was placed on the bottom of the Emerald Grotto. Every year when Christmas comes a striking religious event takes place with divers who lay flowers at the foot of the cradle of the Christ Child.
The Emerald Grotto can be reached by either land or sea. From all the towns on the Amalfi Coast depart fishing boats and ferries leading to the grotto. From Amalfi, May through September from 9.30am to 4pm, visitors can catch boats departing from Molo Pennello: round trip tickets cost 10 Euros per person. By land instead, at km 26 of the road SS 163 Amalfitana, there’s a car park from where you can take a lift or the stairs to reach the cave.
In recent years, the Amalfi Tourist Office has been organizing events, markets selling handicrafts and food and wine of the Amalfi Coast on the square from which you access the Emerald Grotto, with music and cabaret shows, as part of initiatives referred to as “Spells at the Emerald Grotto.”