Grotta della Poesia


Useful Information

Location: Between Roca and Torre del'Orso.
On coastal road SP366. The parking lot is opposite the archaeological excavation, 500 m walk to the doline.
(40.285922, 18.429539)
Open: no restrictions.
[2022]
Fee: Adults EUR 3.
[2022]
Classification: KarstDoline SpeleologySea Cave
Light: n/a
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: R. Guglielmino (2006): Roca Vecchia (Lecce): New Evidence for Aegean Contacts with Apulia During the Late Bronze Age Accordia Research Papers 10: 87–102. academia.edu
F. Iacono (2015): Feasting at Roca: Cross-Cultural Encounters and Society in the Southern Adriatic during the Late Bronze Age European Journal of Archaeology, 18 (2): 259–281. DOI pdf
Address: Grotta della Poesia, Tel: +39-0
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1980s archaeological site explored by a team of the University of Salento.

Description

Despite the name Grotta della Poesia (Poetry Cave) this is not a cave at all. Actually it is a mostly natural seawater pool, one of the most beautiful natural pools in the world. It is obviously a karst cave running north to the sea which is partly filled with seawater. 25 m from the sea is a huge doline with a diameter of 35 by 18 m, and 60 m further is a second doline which is only 20 by 8 m and namedd Grotta della Poesia Piccola (Small Poetry Cave). It is surrounded by a wall and has a viewing platform. Unfortunately the site was so popular for swimming that the archaeological remains were damaged. Also, there was the danger of rockfall. The closing of the site with signs did not work, people just ignored them So they introduced an admission price to reduce the number of visitors, which is used to pay for the guard.

According to legend the big doline was the preferred bathing spot of a princess. The beautiful princess soon became the muse for countless poets in the Salento peninsula. So the cave was named Grotta della Poesia. This is just a local legend, but for the use of the dolines for religious purposes there is archaeological evidence. Messapian inscriptions on the wall tell that the area was dedicated to the worship of god Taotor, a Messapian deity.

Both dolines are located in an archaeological site called Roca, also known as Rocavecchia or Roca Vecchia. It was explored since the end of the 1980s by a team of the University of Salento. They discovered some of the best-preserved monumental architecture of the Bronze Age dated to the 2nd century BC and the largest set of Mycenaean pottery ever recovered west of mainland Greece.