Castellana Grotte

Castellana Grotte is a city in the province of Bari which owes its name to the presence of the fascinating caves. They are visited by many tourists every year that are enchanted by their beauty and peculiarity. However, the city is full of many other places to visit, experiences to have and typical products to taste.

Castellana Caves
Castellana Grotte ©dariolopresti via Canva

What to see in Castellana Grotte

The historic center of Castellana Grotte is characterized by small and cute streets full of important buildings. To mention a few: the Old Town Hall, the former Convent of San Francesco and the church of San Leone Magno. In this Church the statues of Leo the Great, John the Baptist and that of the Madonna Consolatrice are kept.

Another sanctuary not to be missed is that of Maria SS. della Vetrana, built in 1691 in honor of the Madonna who freed the town from the plague or, again, the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, built in 1651, in a late Renaissance style where you can admire the seven altars in local stone. Finally, a short distance from the city, the Church of Caroseno, Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio and Church of San Nicola di Genna.

Not only history, art and culture but also fun for adults and children in the Indiana adventure park which offers safe acrobatic courses for all the adventurous or, again, the Dinosaur Park, an open-air museum in which dinosaurs have been reproduced at natural size. Another museum is the Franco Anelli Speleological Museum, dedicated to the man who discovered the city’s famous caves (together with the speleologist Vito Matarrese) and the Sirio Astronomical Observatory.

The famous caves of Castellana

The Castellana Grotte were discovered in 1938 and are one of the major representations of the karst phenomenon in Puglia. They are located about 2 kilometers from the town center and extend for about 3 kilometres. They can be visited by following two types of routes, one of which is shorter, about 1,5km and the other about 3km.

Once you enter the caves, you find a chasm of about sixty meters called the Grave from which you can access the numerous caves, canyons, stalactites, stalagmites, which you can admire during your tour. They are all called with fascinating names to recall a particular shape or a legend. Some of them are the Owl Cave, the Serpent Corridor, the Precipice Cave, the Black Cave and many others.

Castellana Caves
Castellana Grotte ©igor_d via Canva

What to eat in Castellana Grotte

The charm of Castellana Grotte does not stop at the magic of the caves and the artistic and cultural heritage but also at a cuisine rich in typical products all to be enjoyed in refined dishes or in the Apulian culinary tradition. The imprint of the cuisine of Castellana Grotte is typical of the province of Bari in which mussels prevail, to be enjoyed marinara style or fried or meat such as braciole (a thin, seasoned and rolled meat).

Also worth trying are the simple and genuine dishes of the peasant tradition such as broad beans and chicory or baked lampascioni. Pettole are also typical, made with flour, yeast, water and salt, left to rise for at least two hours. They are stuffed with capers, cherry tomatoes, olives, chilli pepper and onion and fried in boiling oil in the form of balls.

How to get to Castellana Grotte

It is possible to reach Castellana Grotte by any means of transport:

  • by plane, the closest airport is Bari (about 36 km away), from which it will be possible to either rent a car or, after arriving at Bari station, take a train or bus to reach the city or rent a car.
  • By train, once you reach Bari station, simply take the train via Conversano-Castellana of the Ferrovie Sud-Est.
  • By bus, again from Bari, it will be very simple to reach the city with the means of the South-East Railways.
  • By car, for those coming from Bologna-Ancona, you will need to take the A14; from Florence-Rome the A1 and from Naples, the A16. Then, exit at Bari Nord and then continue along the SS16 until the Conversano-Cozze exit, finally take the SS634.
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