I am participating in BootsnAll 30 Days of Indie Travel Project and today is Day 10 of the project and the topic is: “At what point in your travels have you felt most in tune with the Earth? Share a story of how you interacted with the local environment or nature.“ : To Read the blog in Italian click here
I have never felt more in touch with the mother earth than when I entered the caves of Castellana in Puglia last summer. Under the ground in the mysterious grottos, anything can happen! As I descended into the chilly, moist darkness to reach the first level of the caverns, nude creatures slithered along the path blocking my way. They tried to grab me with their sinuous arms. With their heavy tails and protruding appendages, that shook from side to side they seemed not of this world, but rather spawn of the devil. Crying out in fear I jumped back trying to avoid the strange animals that wanted to grab me and carry me away into some deep dark corner of the grotto. After having resisted one, another more disgusting would appear and there seemed no escape from this nightmare.
What a great fright! But fortunately for me these were not real damned souls, but actors in the play Hell in the Cave that unites dance, voice, sounds and light into a stunning performance that recounts the first canto of the Divine Comedy. Throughout the show there is a free interpretation of damned souls and demons and their bodies and movements reflect our deepest fears. The tunnel that conducts the audience into the caves with its writhing monsters is the first introduction that we are entering the woeful city of the damned. The main grotto with its stalagmites and stalactites is the perfect backdrop for this drama. Truly an unusual and scary experience.
The show Hell in a Cave a began around ten at night and we arrived at the Grotto in the afternoon to have time to thoroughly explore this subterranean marvel and to view the amazing natural artwork that took millions of years to create. Le grotte di Castellana is the biggest network of limestone caves in Italy. On the first level, where the show took place is La Grave, an enormous open space with a hole in the ceiling that lets in sunlight. But this is just the beginning of the underground structures and it is possible to continue further down into the earth to travel along 3 km of caves. Behind every corner there is something breathtaking to see. Walking along the paths and viewing the naturally colored formations one begins to feel small and it seems as though time has no significance. Every now and then I could feel a drop of water on my head and I realized that nature has not completed her work here. With every step I took I could see that the grottos of Castellane are continually forming and metamorphosing. We humans with are fears, dramas, devils and modern improvements, we are but a small piece of this big wide world that has such great power over us. After my visit to le grotte di Castellana I had new respect for the earth and the forces of nature that we can not possibile control.