Going Underground: Discover Puglia’s Beautiful Caves

Rocco Forte Hotels

Take a deep dive into Puglia’s historic caves, uncover paintings and one of the most breathtaking natural swimming pools in the world. The region’s extraordinary network of caves combines millennia of history with impressive geology.

Grotte di Castellana

Archaeologists, geologists and tomb raiders will want to visit the Castellana Caves, Italy's longest natural underground network, half an hour by car from Masseria Torre Maizza

The rugged chambers come with inventively descriptive names, such as Cyclops, Angel and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. However, it’s the cavernous expanse of Grotta Bianca (or White Grotto), a cathedral-like space which truly takes the breath away, while the spirit of Hades is conjured up in Hell in the Cave, a fiery aerial display inspired by Dante’s Inferno. For something really special visit at night for a torch-lit descent illuminating the vast network of caves, as you share the underworld with bats and beetles.

At Home in Caves

From Grotte di Castellana, drive an hour west into the centre of Puglia, to the beautiful town of Gravina di Puglia, tucked away on the limestone Murge plateau.

Less well known than Matera, Gravina is also home to cave dwellings and churches hewn out of the rocky hillside. Cross the incredible aqueduct bridge, which featured in the James Bond film, ‘No Time to Die’, to arrive at the church of Chiesa rupestre di San Michele delle Grotte, with its stone columns and statues, frescoes and human skeletal remains.

Otranto and the Deer Cave

The grottos surrounding the medieval town of Otranto are a mecca for spelunkers and speleophiles. The most impressive of this cave complex is the Grotta dei Cervi (or Deer Cave) near the town of ​​Porto Badisco. Make sure you take a mask and snorkel to swim with sea bream and octopus before reaching the hunting scenes painted onto the cave walls 8,000 years ago. Dance rituals, stags and abstract drawings are all that’s left of an ancient human culture.

The Rhythms of The Poetry Cave

Half an hour north of Grotta dei Cervi is the lyrical sounding Poetry Cave (or Grotta della Poesia in Italian). You may be moved to verse as you admire the pristine aquamarine waters of this incredible natural swimming pool.

On closer inspection, the collapsed cave is more than a spectacular rock pool. Inside the archaeological site of ​​Roca Vecchia, whose hollowed space was once home to the Bronze Age Messapi people, you’ll discover their imprint indelibly etched into their houses, battles and bones.

Do you want to explore Puglia’s impressive caves and grottoes? At Masseria Torre Maizza our Concierge, Pasquale Bernardo, contactable at reservations.torremaizza@roccofortehotels.com or +39 06 32 888 890, will happily arrange your underground adventure.