This is an excerpt from the book “Apulia”.
Castellana stands at the limits of an extended, depressed land-mass. It is the most striking example in a series of places that connote the morphology of the entire Lower-Murgia territory.
Before entering the town (arriving from Conversano) we finds signs to the Grottos, which have made Castellana internationally famous.
We owe the discovery of the grottoes to the speleologist, Franco Anelli, who climbed into the Castellana “Grave” on 23rd january, 1938. He demonstrated that is was not a bottomless, snare-ridden abyss (as a legend had it), but the entrance to an unspoiled route winding between calcareous concretion of rare beauty.
The explorations took place with the collaboration of Vito Matarrese and Domenico Magistro, youthful volunteers from Castellana. Hence the first touristic route was set up, and now corresponds to about three Km.
Leaving the “Grave” we go through underground passages, corridors and caves with suggestive, emblematic names (the Black Grotto; Angel’s Corridor; The Little Cavern of the Manger, with the famous Little Madonna of the Grottoes, and finally the Cavern of the Precipice, from which you can take the return route or proceed towards what has been defined “The most beautiful grotto in the world”, because of the abundance and purity of its crystalline concretions).
We approach the realm of alabaster by crossing the “Little Lake of Crystals”, and finally get to the splendid “White Grotto” (discovered in 1940).
At 70 m. below ground-level the grotto displays a spectacle of crystal inflorescence of the purest white. The stalactites extend sharply from the vault, whereas the stalagmites at one time surfaced from the mirror-like waters that collected in drips on the floor. From the depths of the grottos we return to the surface via a convenient lift service.
Where to stay in Castellana Grotte
There are hotels, B&Bs, villas and coutry houses available, check them out and make a reservation here.