Castellana Grotte (Casteddóne in the dialect of Castelli) is a municipality located in the Murgia in the province of Bari, in Puglia. It is mainly known for the karstic complex of the Castellana Caves, among the largest and most striking in Italy.
Near the village, less than 1 km southwest, are the famous Castellana Caves, karst cavities discovered in January 1938 by Franco Anelli and Vito Matarrese, which are the main tourist attraction of the area. The Caves of Castellana are a complex of underground cavities of karst origin of speleological and tourist interest, located in the municipality of Castellana Grotte. The caves of Castellana open in the south-eastern Murge at 330 m s.l.m. on the calcareous plateau formed in the upper Cretaceous about ninety – one hundred million years ago .. In the past it was known only the first cavity of the huge complex, called the grave, used by farmers as a deposit because they thought it was the mouth of hell. In the cavity the animals fell, and a fall so high certainly led to death. And the death of the animals cause
d bad odor that came out of the cavity. This process made the peasants believe that the gases were the souls of the godssinners who died and went to hell trying to get out of hell, but were pushed inside by ambiguous forces. A first attempt at exploration was carried out at the end of the eighteenth century by some local youths, who nevertheless stopped a few meters after the majestic entrance. The discovery of the entire system of chasms and cavities that make up the complex
dat es back to 23 January 1938 by the speleologist Franco Anelli as part of a speleological research campaign conducted in the south-eastern Murge by invitation of the provincial tourism agency of Bari. The underground cavities extend for a length of about 3 kilometers, reaching a depth of the order of 72 meters below ground level, referred to the entrance of the cave. The visit to the complex is possible through two itineraries: the short one, about one kilometer long and lasting 50 minutes, and the complete one, which lasts 2 hours. The natural entrance is represented by a huge 60 meters deep chasm called the grave , a local dialect word to indicate a great chasm. From here it is possible to reach the white cave.