From the Alps to the pink beach of Sardinia, Italy is full of natural wonders. But when traveling outside of Bari, I was introduced to one in Puglia that I had never heard of: the grotte di Castellana. The cave system can be found near the town of Castellana and it is absolutely mesmerizing.
The grotte were officially discovered in 1938 though it is likely that local residents suspected that something existed down there. However, it is incredible to think that before then people must have been casually passing over the area, never really knowing what was below their feet.
The caves stretch for over two miles and reach a depth of around 400 feet. Their history dates back nearly 100 million years, to when Puglia was still covered by a sea. The complex is made up of limestone and some areas of the grotto system are completely white, while others have been crystallized by a combination of water and minerals.
Walking down into the caves to reach the bottom is almost chilling because there is no indication of what you are about to experience until you are at the mouth of the grotto and looking into the abyss. The caves are dramatically lit thanks to a naturally occurring skylight that illuminates the main area, known as “the grave.”
The Grotte di Castellana often organizes unique performances in the caves, and you can check out the schedule here. Even if you cannot attend a special event, I highly recommend a guided tour to explore the cave system. The entire experience gave me butterflies.
I know that Puglia is best known for its beaches and little seaside towns like Monopoli, but I hope you have the chance to discover this amazing natural spot and see the caves for yourself.