Frantoi Ipogei di Grottaglie

Underground Oil Mills of Grottaglie

Useful Information

Location: Convento S.Francesco Da Paola, Via 25 Luglio, 94. At the foot of the hill Gravina del Fullonese.
Open: Only after appointment. [2014]
Fee: Free, tips welcome. [2014]
Classification: SubterraneaUnderground Factory
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: visit only with guide
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no, many stairs
Address: Frantoi Ipogei di Grottaglie, Convento S. Francesco da Paola, Via XXV Luglio, 94, 74023 Grottaglie Taranto, Tel: +39-099-566-1290.
Ufficio di Informazione Turistica, Tel: +39-800-545333.
For tours contact: Speleo Club Criptae Aliae di Grottaglie, Cell: +39-3284186752.
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.


16th century monastery erected.
1711 church and monastery destroyed by an earthquake, rebuilt in Barocco style.


Frantoi Ipogei di Grottaglie (Underground Oil Mills of Grottaglie) are located at the Convento S. Francesco da Paola on the western side of the town. They are also called Ipogeo dei Paolotti (Hypogeum of the Vincentians). They show historic underground oil mills, which were built into partly artificial, partly natural caverns of the Gravina del Fullonese hill behind the moanstery and below the grounds of the monastery. The caves were not only used for oil mills, but also for pressing wine and as cisterns for drinking water. The Cisternone (Big Cistern), a complex system of canals was used for collecting, settling and storage of rain water. A huge part of the caves was used as workshops for potters. And there is an underground tannery and a sloughterhouse for slaughtering pigs.

The presses in the mills were built of wood, eather oak or olive tree. The construction principles of the presses could be either of the calabrese type or of the genovese type. Here the people used the calabrese press, which consists of a horizontal beam fixed on one side and with two long wooden screws on the other side. The beam is pressed against the crushed olives by continually tightening the screws. The olive mash was mixed with reed to optimize the oil flow.

In the socalled gravines, the cliffs of the nearby hills and gorges, numerous small caves can be found which were used as cave houses. The most important artificial caverns are located at the Riggio Gravine. There are the Casa Fortezza (Fortress House), the Cavernone (Big Cavern) a big natural cave, and the Farmacia (Pharmacy). The Casa Fortezza is a system of connected artificial caves with three levels. The Cavernone is big natural cave, a single chamber of impressive size. The Farmacia was despite the name a dove house, with an 80 m long wall with 114 recesses for the doves.