Grotta Zinzulusa – The Raggedy Cave

September 10, 2014 / Local Interest
Castro, Puglia

South of Lecce along the Salento coast of Puglia, on your way to the very tip of Puglia’s heel, St. Maria di Leuca, you will find Grotta Zinzulusa.

Grotta ZinZulusa, on the Adriatic Coast of Puglia.
Grotta Zinzulusa - Puglia
Dramatic cliffs.

Once you make your way past the entrance, you will walk along a narrow and somewhat slippery path to the grotto entrance where you can see how the cave got its name. Zinzulusa comes from the word zinzulo which means “rag” because when seamen were approaching the grotto, the entrance resembled rags.

The path is narrow and slightly slippery...
Boat excursions are available.

You can only visit the grotto with a guided tour and you will be reminded that, due to the fragility of the grotto, it is critical not to touch anything (the cave is “living”) and to watch your step along the wet, dimly lit path. What captures our immediate attention, however, is the huge and fascinating primordial cave of stalactites and stalagmites. Incredible!

Dramatic stalagmites and stalactites are "living".

Although only discovered in 1793, Grotta Zinzulusa dates back many many millennia, an estimated 23 million years, in fact. Fossils of penguins and elephants dating back to the last ice age have been found here, as well as the remains of 63 other aquatic and terrestrial species. There is a fresh water “lake” where excavated objects were found indicating that “water cult” rituals were practiced here.

Our path is only from the 50′s and at the very end it leads us  to a “cathedral”-like dome over 25 meters tall! At one time this entire cavern was completely filled with bat waste, known as guano. And I’m telling you that’s a lot of bat waste! Workers who had unenviable task of shoveling it all out back in the early 1900′s left graffiti to “celebrate” their efforts on the opposite wall using, si, you guessed it!

Graffitti for the ages!

The Grotta holds the key to many secrets and today, and while it is delicate and endangered, it is fortunately well protected.

Spectacular views from the mouth of the grotto.

Victoria De Maio

by Victoria De Maio

Victoria is a lover of all things Italian! A travel advisor, blogger, writer, tour leader, and published author, she is passionate about traveling to and writing about Italy.

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3 Responses to “Grotta Zinzulusa – The Raggedy Cave”

  1. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    cara Vittoria. grazie your narative and pictoral showcase of bella Puglia and the Salentine enables many to see what is being missed in Italia such beauty and wonderfully warm ,embracing people….thank you again

  2. Its so wonderful to hear about and see such hidden natural treasures that have such a rich history. Grazie!


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