|Location:||Between San Salvatore Telesino and San Tommaso|
A. Romano (1971):
Le Terme di Telese,
De Martini, Benevento, 1971, pag. 13
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The collina di Pugliano (Hill of Pugliano) is a hill covered with forest. The town Telese Terme to the south is only 60m asl, the plateau to the north is around 100m asl. The hill itself is almost 200m high and consists of limestone. On the slopes of the hill are numerous circular holes with vertical walls called Puri di monte Pugliano (Puri of mount Pugliano).
Long time ago several craters were formed, ancient authors like Abele De Blasio speculated about this, but actually the creation of the craters happened too long ago to be passed on. He was describing the discovery of a stone age hut, but he also mentions the craters which are called puri by the locals. He tells that locals say, there were once 14 craters but only thirteen remain. There were legends, that they were formed by an earthquke in 1349, another earthquake in 1815 made them deeper. He thinks they were of volcanic origin, but explains this only with the local name puri which resembles the Greek word πυρ (piùr), which means fire. From a modern point of view a strange explanation. However, another author named Perrotta also came to the same conclusion, despite a complete lack of evidence.
Those explanations are as wrong as possible, and the simple fact that there is no volcanic rock at all, makes this clear. The hill consists of limestone which is karstified and thus caverns formed inside the rock. If there was an earthquake which caused the caves to collapse, or if the collapse itself resembled an earthquake, is hard to say. But the craters are simply collapse dolines.
The dolines are of impressive size, the Puro Grande (Great Doline), also named Puro delle Mele (Doline of Apples) is more than 100m deep, the Puro Piccolo (Small doline) is 80m deep. The Puro Piccolo is also the only one which may be entered by visitors, a narrow trail was built along the wall to the floor of the doline. All other dolines can only be visited from the rim or with appropriate climbing gear. It seems the collapse debris closed the entrance to the cave system below, so it is not possible to enter the caves from the dolines.
To reach the dolines some walking is required. There is a series of trails all over the hill which start at the north. From the exit of SS372 between San Salvatore Telesino and San Tommaso turn right, and again right after 50m. This road crosses the highway and leads to a parking lot.
At the southern foot of the hill lies the Parco Naturale del Rio Grassano which is the spring of Rio Grassano. This is the drainage of the karst plateau to the north, including the collina di Pugliano.