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I am alone, motionless in absolute darkness. It seems to be a folly to me. Once more in the womb of the earth, an impossible appointment. "We meet here in one hour" Gigi had told me one instant before departing. Before departing for this nth exploration of the unknown. An instant before his nth trip inside of himself, to his anxieties, fears, the desire to find out and to discover. Beautiful!, one day I thought to myself. Extraordinary!, to find the adventure near home. To explore a new world without going on the moon.. To set foot where noone, absolutely nobody, has ever been before, since the beginning of the history of the world. Without moving away too far from home. After all the speleology of Gigi is a world of itself. One world of his own, a world that belongs entirely to himself. And today I am part of this folly of his, I am allowed to draw near on toe-tips to this universe of his. And like this it gets normal to tell..." we meet here in one hour". An instant before putting the masks on the face and from the moment to give up the word. Like this I follow Gigi. We slip through the first narrow passage where I take some pictures. He in the meantime gets a little organized.. He shakes emphatically to arrange his two enormous twenty liter tanks on the back. We head on fast toward the second narrow passage. A magic environment, with the smooth stones paved on the bottom, the vault which is continuously lowering. I already realize that I will not like the photos: it would be necessary to have more light, a flash against, another one down there... and then in this viewfinder I don't see anything: the light of the helmet illuminates a spot and this grand angle is accursedly ample. And then there is the narrow passage. This is where I am slow and clumsy, Gigi passes as if swimming in the open sea. Beyond the narrow passage his scooter is waiting for him. He stops for an instant to effect the last controls, the last arrangements. I shoot quickly, without thinking, conscious only of the fact that some seconds later he will depart too fast for me to follow. In fact after few instants he jumps on board and off he goes. I try to follow him. Together we climb up a mountain of clay so solid that it seems to be rock. Here yellowish, there striped, stratified, brown and blackish. In this part the cave rises upwards. We race like mad. The computers howl their disappointment in a series of beeps. Beyond the hill of clay, Gigi launches himself downwards. One instant later only a distant shine remains. A trail of silver bubbles rising in the total black of the tunnel. Then nothing else than the distant humming of the motor. And then nothing at all. I look at the watch and in my mind I note the time. " We meet here in one hour"!. "Certainly Gigi, so what's the problem?"!. And I head towards the exit. To recharge with sun and light within a few minutes. Before returning, finning beyond the narrow passages, passing the clay mountain, taking the tunnel in descent and... here I am, in that "point ", punctual for the appointment. The Spring of the Mill at Castelcivita is different from the Parolini Cave. Up there, in Veneto, a wide horizontal, endless tunnel. Here a series of ups and downs, which set the conditions for the exploratory dives of Gigi, forced to a dizzying series of crazy jo jo profiles. I in an instant am at more than fifty meters of depht. I turn off the lights, leave the eyes half open and focus on the hearing. Waiting for the distant humming of the scooter of Gigi. In absolute darkness. Exploration of the Spring of the Mill is demanding. A cave in which Gigi is working for years by now. Demanding because of the elevated depths that are reached, but, especially for the crazy series of ups and downs which have to be faced during the progression. A morphology that will bring Gigi to more than 115 meters of depht, which then goes up again to 80 meters. From there down to 102, up to 90 and so on. A dangerous jo jo to be repeated on the way back. As usually the whole organization of this expedition of the Aquatica Team and the surface assistance has been entrusted to Jean Jaques Bolanz, friend and ancient instructor of Gigi. Gigi and Jean Jaques have organized all the members of the team in such way to prepare a whole series of tanks along the route. Tanks filled with different gas mixes to be used for the progression, for the return and for the decompression plus possible emergencies. The first setup of materials inside the cave has been organized on the base of the data and the results gained during the preceding exploration. The calculation of the decompression charts also has been realized on the base of the past experiences, considering some hypotheses of continuation of the submerged tunnel. A slow job, long, fatiguing, that Luigi and Jean Jaques carry on with the usual meticulousness, organizing the faithful companions, the members of their team that for years have accompanied and helped them. This one at Castelcivita is the third speleological expedition of the Aquatica Team from the beginning of the year. A great work for all the components of the expedition. For many years Castelcivita has been a main objective for the underwater speleologists. As mentioned, the fundamental problems are those connected to the depths that are reached and to the variations of depht which the explorer is confronted with. As well during the progression, as naturally on the way of return. It is impressive to see Gigi disappear riding his scooter at more than sixty meters of depht. To know that here, where I leave him, he is at the beginning of his exploration, and we are already at the limit for the greatest part of the normal divers. From there Luigi it begins a descent that will lead him to a " narrowing " (3m for 1,5m) at -90m. In this point the current is strong, all the water that reaches the various springs in the river passes here. After a little while when he deposits the first tank: which is at abount 350m from the entry; he picks up 3 more 20l tanks and off he goes. For three endless minutes he then continues inside a sub-horizontal tunnel at -115m, followed by a steep ascent to -85m (500m from the entry) where he deposits the second tank and the emergency tank. If the scooter had problems, the gas of the emergency tank would allow him the return with fin propulsion from the deep zone. The time goes by fast, 15 minutes have passed when he picks up again the scooter and passes a horizontal section for another 50m. A new slide of sand which doesn't create problems; at -95m the rock is clean and the magic of erosion accompanies him to -102m, where a bottom covered with black gravel waits for him. It is now time to deposit the third progression tank. The dunes of sand and clay don't let him wait and after another 40m at -100m he is forced once again to ascend to -90m (after 695m of progression). A little descent to -95m then again ascent to - 90m: 22 minutes have passed. the autonomy of the fourth progression tank is ended, too. The bizarre morphology makes him discend again to -105m, he leaves the scooter at the end of the exploration line laid out by himself in the preceding exploration. He starts to swim in a tunnel which continues horizontally for 50m. A new descent; the exploration reel allows to lay out line, the depth increases, a look to the manometers: it's time to return! Luigi is at 828m from the entry at -113m and the timer marks 27 minutes. It will tanke another 21 minutes to return back, to pass the endless series of ups and downs and to reach the first narrow passage at -90m, to oppose the current that pushes him upwards too quickly, reaching -75m (280m from the entry), where the decompression begins. A total run time of 40 minutes among -115m and -75m meters. A little further he will meet the first ones of the group who will meet him. I wait for him at about 50 meters. It is 65 minutes from the beginning of his dive when I hear the humming of the motor and perceive the first shine of the lights. Luigi is happy. Below the helmet, behind the glass of the mask the eyes are shining. Even if he is not the type to let himself go to demonstrations of enthusiasm it can be seen that he is happy. I stay with him for a little while he is decompressing, he fumbles with his different tanks, changes gas one after another, writes his first impressions onto the slate, a brief list of points that seem to be interesting to him. At 36 meters Massimo enters the water with a second computer and takes back the one of Gigi: it will serve us to upload the graph of this extraordinary dive onto the PC. The second computer will record the data of the decompression starting from 90 minutes until the end. The dive will last 295 minutes in total. Subtracted the fifty minutes of bottom time, it's unnecessary to say that the decompression is endless. The members of the assistance groupare alternated for not leaving Luigi alone for too long. To bring an exchange battery for the electric heating vest, to bring a bottle of warm tea. And why not bring our friend cave dweller a splendid slice of watermelon to make him remember the splendid sun of August in Italy. Outside Jean Jaques marks the times, the used tanks and calculates the remaining minutes of decompression. With this dive the stock of gas is finished and the first phase of this expedition is concluded. The second phase is proposing to be not less interesting: the intent of the Aquatica Team is to explore some little ponds on the bottom of the cave visited by the tourists and which could be promising sumps. We load the whole material on our shoulders and start on foot, loaded like donkeys. The cave is very beautiful, decorated by stalactites and stalagmites, with tall columns and concretions of alabaster and carbonate. Festoons of rock shine transparent like glass, once struck by the light of the lamps and the carbide lights. The first sump is at the end of a brief drop.

Gigi sets up the anchorages for the descent and we lower down. Jean Jaques will be the first one to break the surface of these unknown waters. He prepares laboriously on the steep shore of mud and quickly he slips into the little pond. Immediately the water turnes to all ranges of emerald when Jean Jaques illuminates it with the powerful lightings. From the shores mud slips into the water and explodes in dense and dark clouds that are slowly expanding. Shortly we don't see the light of Jean Jaques anymore, and the curtain of turbidity is closed above of him, over the surface of the small lake. We stay back waiting, Gigi and I, secured to the rope that dangles from above, with unsteady feet on the uncomfortable muddy slope. The dive of Jean Jaques won't last long: once reached seventy meters it was not worth to continue an exploratory dive with only two small mono twelve liters on the shoulders. It will be continued in the next days. Which will be full of surprises, which will bring the success to connect two sumps through an underground passage, which will find new and numerous ways for the penetration. The trip to the center of the earth of Luigi continues. His playground is even wider now. In a world in which everything seems to be explored, for him every day new horizons are opening. And so he marks the beginning of a new Castelcivita expedition on the calendar of the AQUATICA TEAM. Appointment always there, "in that point", at the end of July of the following year.


The expedition AQUATICA TEAM CASTELCIVITA 2002 has taken place for a period of about twenty days between the end of July and the first days of August. Our headquarter has been the tourist's farm "Il casolare degli Alburni" (C.da Serre of Castelcivita 96. phone 0828772 / 951 cellphone 333 2275637).  There we have set up the whole material and the filling station for air and other mixtures. We got ourselves spoiled with fruit juices and home made marmalade in the morning. Spoiled also in the evening in the restaurant S. Spirito (0828/772013) a stone's throw from our base camp where the stone-fungus, the mozzarella and others savory specialties have cheered our suppers.

The spring is found a few meters below the tourist caves. In proximity of a bend of the river Calore which flows placid and inviting in this place. A simple place, fortunately well organized by a cooperation. Where besides they serve a very good wine that indeed cheers up. The members of the assistance team were alternated for the tasks throughout the entire expedition.


Participants of the expedition:
Luigi Casati
Jean Jacques Bolanz
Matteo Diana
Roberto Rinaldi
Maximum Galvan
Mantio Mario
Max Cicchellero
Naibo Gualtiero
Ennio Lazzarotto
Massimo Vinci
Fabrizio Margarita
Zdenek Zenkak

A thank you to the Municipality of Castelcivita and the management of the show cave of Castelcivita for the collaboration.


Used equipments:
Regulators and manometers Poseidon
Equipments Aquatica
Illumination Hartenberger - Best Divers
Scooter Farallon
Technical accessories Bests Divers
Gas delivered by the company Utengas:
120.000l of oxygen
72.000l of helium
4.000l of argon


The water temperature is 15°
The total length of the Spring of the Mill is 828m, of which 278 of new exploration
75 dives of the group in total in the Spring of the Mill in 12 days


Sumps explored in the cave of Castelcivita to a total of 310m
Maximum depth -80
5 dives in total in two sumps

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