Cascata del Varone

Riva del Garda, Trento Province, Italy

About Cascata del Varone


Hiking Distance: < 1km round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2013-06-02
Date last visited: 2013-06-02

Waterfall Latitude: 45.9114
Waterfall Longitude: 10.83517

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Cascata del Varone (Varone Waterfall) was one of the more unique waterfall experiences we had in Italy.

It was basically a waterfall that had carved deep slots into the mountain.

Cascate_del_Varone_076_20130602 - The only visible drop of Cascata del Varone from outside the cave or slot canyon system
The only visible drop of Cascata del Varone from outside the cave or slot canyon system

There were a couple of caves (grotte) where we were able to see parts of the waterfall’s drop, but it also got us drenched in the process.

In a way, it kind of reminded us of the Trümmelbach Falls experience.

The difference here was that Cascata del Varone was more compact as it had put us in more direct contact with the waterfall’s spray, which was very intense.

Cascata del Varone and Riva del Garda

Cascata del Varone was our waterfalling excuse to visit Riva del Garda, which was a charming town on the northern tip of Lago di Garda.

Riva_del_Garda_271_20130602 - Cascata del Varone was our waterfalling excuse to visit Lago di Garda, which was a breathtakingly beautiful lake. It was even better that we stayed at Riva del Garda
Cascata del Varone was our waterfalling excuse to visit Lago di Garda, which was a breathtakingly beautiful lake. It was even better that we stayed at Riva del Garda

It was one of those instances where chasing a waterfall such as this led us to unexpectedly beautiful scenery.

In the case of Riva del Garda and Lago di Garda, we’re talking about a lake that was surrounded by tall and steep mountains with the town practically hugging the lake’s shores while surrounded by those same mountains.

Such scenery was probably as close to a Norwegian fjord experience as you’re going to get in Italy.

So as much as we thought this place was obscure in our trip research, we discovered that the lake and town were quite popular (at least amongst Italians and some international visitors in the know).

Riva_del_Garda_111_20130602 - Contextual view over the town of Riva del Garda at the headwaters of Lago di Garda
Contextual view over the town of Riva del Garda at the headwaters of Lago di Garda

Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to see that popularity spill over into this waterfall, which was about 3km from town (see directions below).

Experiencing Cascata del Varone

Once we were able to park the car, we followed a walkway that headed straight for the Cascata del Varone complex.

There was a cafe and souvenir shop plus some picnic tables with umbrellas.

Inside the shop, we purchased our entry tickets for 5.5 euros per person (as of June 2013) and went through the turnstile.

Once on the other side, we found ourselves in a manicured garden with wide walkways, interpretive signs (in four different languages – Italian, French, German, and English), and some soothing music.

Cascate_del_Varone_015_20130602 - Elevated catwalks allowed us to go deep into the slot canyon or caves containing the Cascata del Varone
Elevated catwalks allowed us to go deep into the slot canyon or caves containing the Cascata del Varone

Barely a few paces into the garden, we were at a wide opening where we noticed there was a cascade falling into the main stream as well as a cave-like entrance with mist blowing out of it (called the “lower cave”).

That immediately indicated to us that we were probably going to be very wet once we would go inside cave, and we turned out to be correct in our hunch.

For the short walkway lit up by floodlighting ultimately ended at the base of the Cascata del Varone.

Given the confinement of the slot canyon that the waterfall was in, the mist generated had nowhere to go but right onto the viewing deck.

Varone_002_jx_06022013 - Approaching the misty turbulence of the bottom of the first waterfall of the Cascata del Varone from inside a cave-like slot canyon
Approaching the misty turbulence of the bottom of the first waterfall of the Cascata del Varone from inside a cave-like slot canyon

Thus, it was very difficult to take photos or even movies (plus very risky to electronics due to the intensity of the “rain”), and we pretty much had to rely on Julie’s iPhone for still photos of the waterfall itself.

Back at the wide open area, the path ascended opposite a fountain with a shrine behind it.

Interpretive signs continued to line the walkway highlighting various aspects of the area’s history, nature, and geology.

It would eventually make a switchback where a viewpoint as well as restrooms were located.

Then, at the end of the ascent, the walkway ended up in front of the so-called “upper cave” at a split in the path.

Varone_006_jx_06022013 - A drenching view of one of the upper parts of Cascata del Varone
A drenching view of one of the upper parts of Cascata del Varone

The left path went onto a bridge with a view of the deep gorge while also getting some of the spray coming out of the narrow opening in the gorge.

The right path went into the “cave” where the path shortly ended right next to another section of the Cascata del Varone.

Like the view of the falls at the lower cave, this upper cave was also very turbulent with spray going right onto the viewing area.

It practically dared anyone to risk drenching clothes and cameras to get a shot of the waterfall.

Varone_007_jx_06022013 - Looking towards another part of the upper section of the Varone Waterfall, which was also quite misty
Looking towards another part of the upper section of the Varone Waterfall, which was also quite misty

So given how difficult it was to even satisfactorily photograph the waterfall from within any of the caves, it might have explained the relative scarcity of waterfall photos floating about on the internet regarding this waterfall.

Experiencing Cascata del Varone from outside the paid complex

When we left the complex and started heading to the car, I went down to the bridge on the main road to see if there was more to Cascata del Varone than what was revealed in the paid admission area.

It turned out that there was at least another attractive tier that I was able to photograph from the road bridge.

However, it was risky in that there was no formal shoulder on the road.

Thus, I was taking a chance with getting hit by a car the whole time I was taking photos from here.

Cascate_del_Varone_010_20130602 - Looking back towards Riva del Garda and Lago di Garda from the Cascata del Varone complex
Looking back towards Riva del Garda and Lago di Garda from the Cascata del Varone complex

In any case, it turned out that the most satisfying photo I had of the waterfall was from this spot, and it was free (see photo at the top of this page).

Authorities

Cascata del Varone resides in the commune of Riva del Garda in the Trento Province of Italy. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit the Varone Waterfall Cave Park website.

Cascate_del_Varone_004_20130602 - Looking towards Lago di Garda from the walkway leading to Cascata del Varone complex
Cascate_del_Varone_006_20130602 - Julie on the walkway connecting the second car park with the Cascata del Varone complex
Cascate_del_Varone_008_20130602 - Julie approaching the Cascata del Varone complex.  Note the limited parking space down below at the first car park
Cascate_del_Varone_012_20130602 - The large and wet opening near the entrance of the Cascata del Varone complex
Cascate_del_Varone_014_20130602 - Approaching the entrance to the lower cave of the Cascata del Varone
Cascate_del_Varone_016_20130602 - Misty view of the Cascata del Varone at the lower cave
Cascate_del_Varone_020_20130602 - Context of some people checking out the lower waterfall of the Cascata del Varone. However, I have a feeling that the umbrella didn't do them much good
Cascate_del_Varone_028_20130602 - Back outside the lower cave where we tried to dry off momentarily before going up to the upper caves of Cascata del Varone
Cascate_del_Varone_029_20130602 - Looking back down through the garden towards the entrance as we were making our way up to the upper cave of the Cascata del Varone
Cascate_del_Varone_032_20130602 - At the top of the ascending walkway with a pair of women about to get drenched in the upper cave of Cascata del Varone
Cascate_del_Varone_034_20130602 - Looking towards a bridge or lookout with mist swirling everywhere in the upper cave of Cascata del Varone
Varone_008_jx_06022013 - Closer look at the turbulence of falling water from the Cascata del Varone at the upper part of the cave
Cascate_del_Varone_039_20130602 - Looking down another series of steps from the garden area near the upper cave of the Cascata del Varone
Cascate_del_Varone_041_20130602 - View over the complex towards the SS421 and the surrounding mountains from the ascending walkway of the upper cave area of the Cascata del Varone
Cascate_del_Varone_049_20130602 - Looking towards a cascade beneath a large rock protrusion from the wet open area before the lower cave of Cascata del Varone
Cascate_del_Varone_050_20130602 - Zoomed in look at a cascade tumbling over mossy rocks as seen from a wet open area before the lower cave of Cascata del Varone
Cascate_del_Varone_060_20130602 - Looking towards a somewhat hidden shrine behind a fountain in the Cascata del Varone complex
Cascate_del_Varone_064_20130602 - Back at the entrance of the Cascata del Varone complex
Cascate_del_Varone_072_20130602 - View of the remaining drop of Cascata del Varone from the SS421 road bridge.  This view was free, but did carry some risk with automobile traffic given the lack of a shoulder and the narrowness of the road
Riva_del_Garda_090_20130602 - After having our fill of the Cascata del Varone, we returned to Riva del Garda, where this piazza seemed to be a pretty happening part of town
Riva_del_Garda_319_20130602 - Context looking back over Riva del Garda in the general direction of Cascata del Varone
Riva_del_Garda_298_20130602 - Twilight view of Lago di Garda from our hotel room after having enjoyed our day visiting Cascata del Varone and other waterfalls in the vicinity

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From Riva del Garda, we headed north on the SS421.

There were signs for Cascata del Varone at many of the roundabouts and intersections in town so we didn’t have too much difficulty covering the 3km distance from the center to the car park.

In hindsight, that distance was not too bad, and we probably could have walked since we were staying in town.

Anyways, there were two car parks that we observed.

The first one was right at the complex where spots were very limited.

If you go in and you can’t find a spot, you’ll have to reverse your way out of the car park onto the SS421.

Cascate_del_Varone_002_20130602 - The larger car park for the Cascata del Varone, which was right across the main road from the complex itself
The larger car park for the Cascata del Varone, which was right across the main road from the complex itself

However, just a few meters past this car park, there were signs pointing the way to another car park on the other side of a hotel and restaurant opposite the first car park.

This second car park was much larger than the first though they apparently raise the barricades when the Cascata del Varone closes.

For the latest information on hours and cost (among other things), here’s a link to the official website.

Finally, to give you some geographical context, Riva del Garda was 50km (under an hour drive) west of Trento, 106km (90 minutes drive) southwest of Bolzano, 200km (2-2.5 hours drive) northwest of Venice (Venezia), and 181km (over 2.5 hours drive) northeast of Milan (Milano).

Hasty movie starting from the red-lit lower cave waterfall before retreating to a less mistier part of the cave


Very hasty top down sweep of the waterfall seen from the upper cave before I sought to keep the camera from getting further drenched


Top down sweep starting from a very partial view of the uppermost part of the falls before panning down a vertical abyss with mist being thrown out through the cracks

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Tagged with: varone, riva del garda, trento, trentino, alto adige, sudtirol, south tyrol, italy, waterfall, cave



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