Thursday, November 11, 2010

Grotte di Castellana

The Grave of the Grotte di Castellana
Inside the Grave of Grotte di Castellana
The Grotte di Castellana is a large cave system about 20km north of Alberobello. It’s a fairly big attraction by the looks of the parking area and the buildings that have popped up around the entrance. However, on this fine fall day, it wasn’t packed at all and we parked right out front which I’m sure would not be tolerated during the high season. Anyway, we caught the 11:00am tour. The schedule is a bit confusing about when the English tours are and we ended up on an Italian tour which was fine. We visited the small museum after the tour but we would advise seeing it before the tour to appreciate what you see inside the caves.

The grottoes are in the Murgia (Latin murex for shell or sharp stone due to the ancient marine sediments) plain. The region is characterized as karst. From Wikipedia "Karst topography is a landscape shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite." The Castellana grottoes were formed by the same process.

The Castellana grottoes are a connected by a 1.5 km (just under 1 mile) long path at times wide and at other times narrow. You descend 60 meters (180 feet) and begin the tour. We caught the 10am Italian tour. The guide was easy to understand. We loved the inside but the amount of information that was given was scarce and amounted to statements like “oh that formation is called the owl because it looks like an owl...” The Madonna stalagmite was the topper. Still, an impressive 3 km walk. The culmination of the visit is the spectacular “White Grotto” or Grotta Bianca. Background on the Grotte di Castellana can be found on ShowCaves.

The caves are spectacular but alas no photography was allowed past a certain point (wink, wink). We chose to observe the rule. The photo shown here is the assembly point before entering into the caves. The tour of the cave is guided (1 – 2 guides) and took about 1.5 hours

We headed over to another cave (Grotto del Trullo) nearby to find it closed for repairs. Darn. We decide to head for Monopoli on the coast. We stroll the waterfront and get our first good glimpse of the Adriatic. (The Ionian starts below the boot of Italy.) In Monopoli we ate seafood-themed lunch at Osteria Perricci (Via Orazio Comes, 1).

Views of the Assembly Point in Grotte di Castellana

The Grotte di Castellan Tour
Grotte di Castellan Itinerary
Grotte di Castellan Itinerary

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