discover its rhythm
Enter the narrow streets of Castellana Grotte
Enter the narrow streets of Castellana Grotte and experience the city, discover its rhythm, the warmth of its inhabitants, the scent of the territory with its traditions. Popular festivals, social, cultural, gastronomic and entertainment events. Immerse yourself in a land that you can become part of, as a protagonist.
“I Fanòve” is a celebration in honour of the Virgin Mary of Vetrana, patron saint of Castellana. The festival is preceded by the rite of the Diana, an evocative nocturnal quest among the town’s oil mills, in search of oil for the lamp of Virgin Mary. This is followed by Le Fanove, a night- long celebration on 11 January, which has been repeated in the same way every time for 330 years. Almost a hundred huge monumental piles of wood burn throughout the town amidst the warmth of its inhabitants and guests. A saving warmth, like that of the night of 1691 when the Virgin Mary of Vetrana freed the population from the bubonic plague.
Fire and embers. Heat and taste. A festival that becomes a festival, an opportunity to dance to the notes of popular songs, enjoying the delicacies set up in refreshment stalls throughout the town centre. A profane pilgrimage that every year succeeds in consecrating Castellana Grotte as the city of fire and flavours of Puglia.
Holy Week Ritutions
The moment of prayer, the emotion that envelops the streets and squares, the tolling of the bells, the poignant music of the town band following the Dead Christ.
Holy Week is lived with particular intensity in Castellana Grotte. The deep faith of the inhabitants and the ancient traditions come together in the Rites of Holy Week, which every year attract many believers to our village.
On Holy Thursday, suggestive altars of the Deposition are set up in all the town’s churches. From the afternoon until evening, the faithful walk through the streets of the town, stopping as if in a Way of the Cross to pray before each Altar.
On Good Friday, the town comes to a standstill as the Procession of the Mysteries passes by. The devout, dressed in black, parade in absolute and solemn silence, accompanied only by the glow of their candles, while the band sings evocative funeral music.
On Holy Saturday, in the early hours of the morning, the eyes and hearts of the townspeople turn towards “Madonna Addolorata”, who is carried in procession by the Confraternity of Sant’Onofrio.
Three days of authentic devotion that emerges succeeding in stirring emotions to the core.
The April Festival
Faith and popular traditions revive every year on the last Sunday of April, for a festival that once again celebrates the patron saint, Virgin Mary of Vetrana who freed the town from the plague in 1691.
The April Festival is a magnificent patronal feast, the first of the hot season in Apulia, which has become an attraction for lovers of religious, popular and folklore traditions.
Magnificent illuminations, band performances, a fun fair and a grand finale of fireworks set the scene for a festival centred on religious rites. Starting with the procession on Saturday evening: the procession starts from the Convent and the statue of the Virgin Mary of Vetrana enters the town, crosses the festival avenue embellished with decorations and coloured lights and arrives at the Church of San leone Magno. The great expectation, however, is for the gala procession the following day, when all the statues in the town’s churches parade in front of the statue of the Virgin. More than twenty-five sacred representations are carried on the shoulders of devotees through the streets of Castellana, before the fascinated and curious eyes of citizens and guests.
of the city with its colours
Summer in the city of the caves
From June to September Castellana Grotte is filled with colours, sounds, scents and events that enliven the summer. Every evening the town is transformed into an open-air stage that, in the most evocative corners of the town, offers pleasant opportunities to experience the town in a cheerful and carefree manner with smiles, shows for the eyes, emotions for the heart and a glass of good wine.
Every year the town’s summer programme features concerts, festivals, film and cultural events, religious events, dance and theatre shows, entertainment for children, sports tournaments and much more.
In summer, Castellana Grotte, the Italian capital of karstic tourism, becomes enthralling, showing all its great and festive hospitality.
WDM - World Dance Movement
Castellana has now become a fixed stop for dancers from all over the world, who meet in our town in summer to experience the “World Dance Movement – The International Workshop” together. This international dance workshop has been an extraordinary success since July 2009.
The major exponents of modern and contemporary dance, internationally renowned choreographers who boast artistic collaborations at the highest levels of world show business, gather in our town. Starting with the partnership with the Brodway Dance Center of New York.
The workshop lasts three weeks and at the end of each week the students perform together with their teachers in performances that capture and excite. In July Castellana Grotte becomes the biggest stage of international dance, bringing together in one place the most talented and successful dancers in the world alongside the promising dancers of tomorrow.
The “Madrelingua” event is renewed every year, centring on the objective of enhancing and rediscovering the beauty of the mother tongue of our land, the dialect of Castellana, and of all the local languages. “Dialect is a mother tongue because it is learnt by children while they are still in swaddling clothes, it is known by men and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives”. In this spirit, the event hosts cultural interventions, historical insights and moments of pleasant entertainment.
San Leo Music Fest
Largo San Leone Magno, with its 13th-century main church, is the evocative setting for the Contemporary Music Festival every summer. The San Leo Music Fest brings the best expressions of art music to the heart of the ancient village, stimulating the public to meet national and international artists who work with depth in the world of music.
Caroseno Fair and Chicken and Rabbit Sagra
Every year on 7 and 8 September Castellana Grotte celebrates folklore, satire and gastronomic delights. The occasion is offered by the centuries-old Caroseno Fair, which takes place on the morning of 8 September. The Sagra del Pollo e del Coniglio (Chicken and Rabbit Festival), promoted by the Pro Loco, is now a regular event that closes the summer season in style.
At every corner, the town is filled with food stands where you can enjoy roast chickens and rabbits. The smoke and scent of barbecued chicken attracts lovers of good food who gather around spartan and warm tables. Strolling between one food and wine stall and another, one’s gaze lingers on the satirical display cases set up in the town’s butchers’ shops. Over time, the festival has become an opportunity to satirize the events that have affected the local community over the course of the year in an amusing and witty way.
A genuine feast, a simple meal but rich in the flavour of tradition and the scents and colours of our land.
Christmas in the city of caves
From the beginning of December until 12 January, Castellana Grotte dresses up for Christmas. Lights and Christmas decorations are the backdrop to a rich programme of live events, food and wine, cultural and sporting initiatives to amuse and entertain guests walking through the streets of the town. From Santa’s house, which fascinates the little ones, to art shows and markets. Christmas in the City of Caves is also an opportunity to discover the artistic, monumental and cultural heritage of the town on a walk.
And of course, worldly events meet and embrace religious ones. One of the most heartfelt events for the faithful is that of the Diana: an evocative nocturnal procession through the olive mills of Castellana that precedes the celebrations in honour of the patron saint, the Virgin Mary of Vetrana.
Hell in the cave
“Dancing verses in the dreary air”, reads the invitation of the only permanent show in Apulia that has as its exceptional stage the extraordinary natural pantheon of the Grave, the first spectacular cavern you come across as you descend into the tourist complex of the Castellana Caves. Amidst coloured stalactites and stalagmites, the performance stages the Inferno from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, in an extensive programme of dates throughout the year. In the heart of Mother Earth, at a depth of 60 metres, the most famous characters of the epic work come to life thanks to a cast of talented young performers. The public, no longer just spectators, interacts with the infernal figures in a succession of sounds, lights and emotions. Until the “salvific” meeting with Beatrice, who floats in the void in a very suggestive aerial dance. A totally new and fascinating way to experience a literary text.
of the territory with its traditions