In and around Monte di Malo there are a number of interesting geo-paleontological features: one example is the Priabonian Stratotype, which is a series of strata that represent the Upper Eocene stage running from 37 to 34 million years ago.
To celebrate the centenary of the stratotype’s institution in 1990, a small museum was founded. The Priabona Paleontological Musem has since grown so that it now has three rooms: the Fossil (or Priabonian) room, the Quaternary room and the room containing fossils of fish teeth.
The Priabonian stratotype contains a wealth of fossils and the museum’s collection, which attracts enthusiasts and scientists alike from all over the world, is so interesting that it has been described as a “gem of nature and science”.
The museum receives visits from individuals, groups and school parties and is much appreciated for its simplicity along with its educational and cultural significance.
In addition to the thousands of people who visit the museum every year, others who are interested in the surrounding countryside take part in guided excursions along four nature walks:
1 –Priabonian and Buso della Rana cave.
2 – San Vittore.
4 –Madonna della Neve.
Along the walks, visitors can discover the traditions and historical, religious and cultural aspects of their surroundings that are often unknown even to the local people.
Another important attraction is the famous “Buso della Rana cave” which is a vast labyrinth of passages over 40 kilometres long, contains galleries, enormous chambers, waterfalls, impressive chimneys, potholes, lakes etc and is possibly the largest cave in Italy.
This important network of caves can be almost completely classified within the Oligocene series as Castelgomberto calcarenite. Over thousands of years a mighty complex of hard, fissured rock allowed water to seep downwards until it reached an impermeable, eastward-inclined floor of impenetrable altered basalt that forced the water to flow over it and emerge from the complex.
Guided by air currents groups of speleologists continue to explore every nook and cranny of this imposing system in order to extend knowledge of its topography.
Another interesting cave is the Grotta della Poscola in Priabona itself, with an accessible length of 1800 metres but with a similar water flow to that of the Buso della Rana.
There are many other caves all around the small Faedo plateau and elsewhere in the area.
Between 1955 and 1960, near the Buso della Rana, the remains of a late Neolithic Bronze Age settlement (between 5000 and 3000 years ago) was identified by finds of carved fragments of earthenware, worked pieces of flint, spear points, arrowheads, scrapers and the remains of a hut. A bronze axe, a basalt club, a quern-stone, carved deer antlers and a tiny copper sculpture of a calf head were also found.
Unfortunately, at the time of the find, authorization was given to open the Cava Maddalena gravel quarry. Located on the same site, the quarry took its name from the hamlet below it and within just twenty years the site was subjected to relentless destruction. Between 2004 and 2009 the Monte di Malo local council decided to tackle the problem of environmental degradation and neglect and a reclamation project for the area obtained a state grant that has already born fruit in the now well-established summer Incantamonte festival of music, theatre and dance that has become an increasingly popular venue for local people.
MUSEUM OPENING TIMES
The museum is open on the first Sunday of the month, from 3pm to 5pm; parties, groups and school trips can book an appointment to visit the museum by telephoning Renato Gasparella: (+39)0445-602413 (between midday and 1.30 pm). Entrance is free of charge but donations are gratefully received.