Grotte di Castellana

Today was an adventure. You may ask me how do I get to Grotte di Castellana, well if like me you rely upon public transport to get to such places you will be pleased to hear it is possible. So… first of all it’s important to understand that TrenItalia tells you that there is no train between Bari and Grotte Di Castellana, Loco2 tells you that your going to have to head towards Sicily which is also very wrong. I found the Ferrovie del Sud Est site last night that told me that there was a train from Bari at 08.14 so I got up early and decided to just go on an adventure. At the train station the man I try to buy a ticket from tells me “no, yes but another train company, go out, right then head to platform 11“. Now considering all of this was in Italian and how much Italian I know I’m quite proud that managed to understand him. It seems as though Bari has two train stations merged into one. Bari Centrale which is frequented by both the regional and high speed trains run by TrenItalia and Bari Centro which only runs this Ferrove Sud-East line. Buying a ticket was simple at the cost of 2.80€ return then I just needed to figure out which train I needed to get.

Travelling so much has taught me some very simple lessons, one of these is that if you see a train map and you have a camera on your phone, take a photo of it. Something that I forgot to do for my trip to Pompeii. The departure boards were displaying the train that when I checked with the map confirmed to be the one I needed. This eventually began to flash and then vanish from the boards, of course my initial reaction was that the train was cancelled which would of totally ruined my plans which is where the second major travelling lesson kicked in.

“As much as possible try to keep plans fluid and learn to roll with the proverbial tide.”

Looking around I saw there were a lot of people who seemed to be waiting for the same train as me. None of them were in a heightened state of emotions (although with Italian’s this is sometimes hard to judge) so I figured it might just be late. Ten minutes later the train turned up and I got on. Another slightly confusing thing is that Grotti Di Castellana actually has two potential stops. Castellana Grotte which is about 2km walk to the caves and the Grotti Di Castellana which is 100m or so from the entrance, of course I chose the second. I bought my ticket for the long (2 hours and about 3km in length) tour (15€) and then went for breakfast as the English tour started at 11:00.

People who know me well enough will know I am very into nature I love it when I can feel and see what the Earth does. Again trying not to be too religious about the whole thing but there are times when you can feel the force of what the pagans call Gaia (Mother Earth) and this was certainly one of them. This network of caves was formed a by the movement of tectonic plates probably a millennia (or more) ago. They were discovered in the 1940’s and then excavated to become a tourist attraction. I was totally blown away by the beauty and power of it all, now it doesn’t hold exciting things like sacrificial alters like Chislehurst caves but that’s not the point. You get to see the what nature is capable of and the science and beauty behind it. They are definitely something you should see if your ever in the area, it is worth the money and a great day trip out from Bari.

When you have finished your tour, check out the museum quickly then follow the main road to the actual town of Castellana Grotte. There was a plan in my head to get some lunch here but I knew that I could get a bus into Monopoli. Again after asking a person about a bus stop I found the right one and caught the bus to Monopoli. Monopoli is a pretty little town, I managed to grab lunch there which was really tasty but then have no real energy to do much else so I found myself a shady spot and stared out to sea. I do miss being able to see and hear the sea from time to time. It’s once again one of those times when I get really involved in nature and just drift off into my own world. I think I could not of asked for my trip in Italy to end any better, tomorrow I have a bit of a free day before catching a flight back to the UK in the evening and crashing in London one night before heading back to Bristol.

I don’t know what is going to happen next but I am pretty excited to find out, maybe my next job will take me elsewhere in the UK or further afield. It will be a shame to have to leave Bristol when I am enjoying being there so much but I did promise myself that I would try to say yes more. As long as it does not involve moving back to London, don’t want that no matter how much I miss the places I used to go and the people I hold dear to me.

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