Puglia’s Secret Treasure: A Guide to the Grotte di Castellana (Caves)

Puglia is the place that can bewitch you for its uncountable beauties: Lecce’s crystal clear waters, small towns full of tradition around Brindisi, enchanted islands like Tremiti. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend the mounted caves as the most peculiar place, close to the centre of Castellana in the Bari’s area.

The Legend of the Cave

This place, as an old-age legend tells, was known by the local people as the Hell’s gate and it was then called The Devil’s House, place of wandering for the spirits of the dead.

This sinister mystery ended on January 23rd 1938, when the speleologist Franco Anelli discovered the existence of numerous caves of Karst formation. These had originally been digged by an underground river and, then, after centuries, a combination of limestone warp and water turned into astonishing stalactites and stalagmites.

Years and years of explorations uncovered a 3 km length and 73 m depth system, with two possible footpaths for visitors: a short one of 1 km (to be done in one hour) and a long one. This is the most interesting one as it gives the tourist the chance to appreciate all beauties of the natural environment (2 hours time).

Inside the Caves

The peculiarity of these caves gives visitors a unique experience to live. Besides dressing adequately for the low temperatures in the caves, people should also wear suitable shoes for high levels of humidity.

It is almost like a game between the well-prepared guides and the tourists. All along the path the tour guide and tourists try together to read nature’s work and with some imagination, it feels like being in the middle of a fairy tale, where every stone is an imagine or a character ready to be discovered. That’s why tourists need to be ready for the Lupa Capitolina, the Cavernone dei Monumenti, the Caverna della Civetta, Corridoio del Serpente or the so-called Gran Canyon, particular for its red colour due to ferrous minerals.

But this is nothing compared to the most secret and amazing part of the visit: the Grotta Bianca, invaluable real treasure and pride for the local community for its brightness and uniqueness. Having been also to caves abroad, I can honestly say  with some “pugliese” proud that the viewing of the Grotta Bianca is unique and unrepeatable. The whiteness, mixed up to ray of lights, leaves you speechless in front of Nature’s majesty that has created such a picturesque portrait.

The discovery of a new Karstic cavern with lake included made these days by the GASP speleologist was of deep impact. The  aerea  is located between  Alberobello and Monopoli  and Cosimo Cisternino chairman of  “Grotte di Castellana srl” defines it a true, genuine and unique in Italy “caverns’ system” of great dimensions. Mr Cisternino is aiming to widen the research to encourage the eco-friendly tourism and the respect of this landscape.


  1. Book Tickets in Advance: Especially during peak tourist seasons, it’s advisable to book your tickets in advance to avoid long lines and ensure entry to the caves.
  2. Wear Comfortable Shoes: The terrain inside the caves can be uneven and slippery in some areas, so wearing comfortable, sturdy shoes with good grip is essential.
  3. Dress Appropriately: The caves can be cool, even in summer, so bring a light jacket or sweater. Also, be aware that the temperature inside the caves remains relatively constant throughout the year.
  4. Guided Tours: Consider taking a guided tour of the caves. The guides are knowledgeable about the geology, history, and formations within the caves, and they can enhance your experience with interesting facts and stories.
  5. Photography: Photography is usually allowed inside the caves, but be mindful of using flash photography, as it can disturb other visitors and may not be allowed in some areas.
  6. Stay Hydrated: Bring water with you, especially if you’re visiting during the warmer months, as it can get hot inside the caves and you’ll want to stay hydrated.
  7. Follow the Rules: Respect the rules and regulations of the park, including staying on designated paths, not touching formations, and refraining from littering.
  8. Plan for the Surrounding Area: Consider exploring the surrounding area, which includes the picturesque town of Castellana Grotte and its local cuisine.
  9. Check Accessibility: If you have mobility issues or other accessibility concerns, check in advance to see if the caves are accessible to you.
  10. Be Mindful of Timing: The tour can take a couple of hours, so plan your visit accordingly, especially if you have other activities scheduled for the day.

By following these tips, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to the Grotte di Castellana.

Useful information

Planning your visit to the Grotte di Castellana? Here’s everything you need to know:


  • Guided tours typically last around 1 hour, but opening hours vary by season. Please check the official website (https://www.grottedicastellana.it/en/) for the latest times and available tours.


  • Long Path: €15 (reduced €12)**
  • Short Path: €10 (reduced €8)**
  • Reduced prices apply to children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Refer to the official website for confirmation and any other possible discounts.

Getting there:

  • By car: Follow the directions on Google Maps from Napoli, Pescara, or Taranto.
  • By train: Catch the Ferrovie del sud-est line from Bari Centrale station directly to Grotte di Castellana. Check their website (https://www.fseonline.it/s/in-tempo-reale) for timetables and tickets.
  • By plane: The caves are 50km from Bari and 70km from Brindisi airports. While the distances are correct, remember you’ll need to arrange further transportation to reach Castellana Grotte.

Additional tips:

  • Double-check opening hours and ticket prices on the official website before your visit. These can change sometimes.
  • See if any special events or programs are happening during your planned visit. The official website may have details.
  • Consider booking tickets online in advance, especially during peak season. This ensures your spot and saves you time upon arrival.

For further info check the Grotte di Castellana official website grottedicastellana.it

Where is Puglia?

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Lived in England since 1998 and travelled the world since 2005, visiting over 100 countries on 5 continents. Writer, blogger, photographer with a passion for adventure and travel, discovering those off beat places not yet on the tourist trail. Marco contributes the very best in independent travel tips and lifestyle articles.

2 thoughts on “Puglia’s Secret Treasure: A Guide to the Grotte di Castellana (Caves)”

  1. Looks like another reason to visit Puglia. Your first photo is fantastic.

    This cave I could deal with. It’s the squeeze yourself in and hope you can get ones that cause me some angst.

  2. This is just one of the highlights in Puglia, there’s a lot of activities that you can enjoy in this magnificent place. Would love to help those who are planning to visit.

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