The Ravine of Petruscio--La Gravina di Petruscio in Italian--is a ravine near the village of Mottola in the Puglia region of Italy pockmarked with caves that were once below sea level. These caves have been occupied since the Bronze age, and were in use up until Polish soldiers hid out in them during WWII. The area has been made into a park with picnic tables and you can easily visit the area, although to visit inside the cave structures takes a bit of effort.
As you can see from the map, the ravine is east of the town of Mattola, and east of the SS 100 road.
From Mattola, take the "old" SS 100 in the direction of Taranto, following signs indicating "Ciese repestri" or rock churches, about 4 km (500 meters after a cross-street) to find the parking area on the left.
What You'll see at the Ravine of Petruscio
The ravines of Mottola can be considered the fossil rivers of Puglia. At the Ravine of Petruscio, natural caves were expanded into a village in the High Medieval for 4 km along the riverbed. There is also a medieval tower on top and a road bed with cart tracks. Residents ranged from Byzantine monks from the first Byzantine colonization through the Longobard domination, the Arab period, then through the Norman, Swabian and Aragon dominations and continuing until after WWII.
Besides cave hourses, there are systems of water channels and rock-cut cysterns.
In the spring there are many wild orchids in the ravine.
The tourism office in Mottola offers tours and information on the ravine and the rock churches of the area.
The office is open every day from 9am to 1pm and from 3pm to 7pm. They offer guided tours on reservation; select from the proposed tours below:
Telephonel: 099.8867640 or 099.8866948
You can also purchase the informative booklet called Mottola, The Ravine of Petruscio: Between history art and nature.
Mottola - Recommended Hotel
Hotel Villa Petruscio is a highly rated (by actual user review) hotel located in a pine wood just outside the center of Mottola. "Villa Petruscio provides comfortable accommodation near main points of interest in the Apulia region. Within a 30 km radius you can visit Taranto, Alberobello, Castellaneta Marina, Putignano, Grotte di Castellana and Martina Franca."
This video is in Italian, but it shows a group hiking the ravine.
The Ravine of Petruscio is a collection of cave houses or troglodyte dwellings just out of the town of Mattola.
Puglia was once covered by the sea. When sea levels lowered, the limestone sea bed, carved by rivers, become littered with caves. These were easily sculpted to fit the later inhabitants.
Mottola is a hill town developed on terraces which move in a circle towards the centre of the town. It's sometimes called the "Balcony of southern Apulia".
Hotel Villa Petruscio (marked on map)
Recommended Paper Map to Buy OnlineProvincial Map of Taranto