Grottole, Province of Matera, Basilicata

The village extends along a crest in a territory rich in waters: the Basento and Bradano rivers, the Basentello and Bilioso torrents and the smaller streams Cupolo, Rovivo and Acquaviva.
Its reputation is based on its artistic tradition of rustic pottery (plates, flasks, oil and cereal containers called orci) for everyday use, baked in antiquity in ovens excavated in the rocks.


  • Altitude: 481 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 2,100 inhabitants in 2017
  • Zip/postal code: 75010
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0835
  • Patron Saint: St. Rocco celebrated on 16 August.

History - Antiquity

The human presence dates back to very ancient times, as testified by the many prehistoric caves below the present town, and its Latin name was Cryptulae, which means small grottos in Latin.

The territory was inhabited in prehistory and in historical times by the Greeks between the 13th and 12th century BC, when it was part of the Metaponto colony, the most important of the 8 regions of Magna Grecia. In Roman times Grottole was a Municipium.

History - the Middle Ages and Modern Times

After the fall of the Roman empire, in 851 the Lombards included the Grottole fiefdom in Salerno dukedom, and at that time the castle was built. It was ruled by many feudal families, among them the Orsini-Del Balzo and Zurlo-Pisciscelli, then from 1547 to 1639 it was under the Sancez De Luna d'Aragona, to pass to the Caracciolo of Melissano, Spinelli of San Giorgio and finally from 1738 to the Sanseverino from Bisignano.

Records of the year 1010 show Grottole as a populous town with 13,000 inhabitants, but plagues and wars reduced the number to a little over 4,000 in 1133 when the town was siged and plundered by Ruggero. Plagues and a disastrous landslide caused a further decline, and in a Numerazione dei Fuochi of 1493 Grottole was inhabited by about 1300 people, and in 1783 the inhabitants were 2010. After an explosive demographic growth in the 19th century, there was another drop in the population because of emigration.

What to see

  • The church of San Rocco, previously called Santa Maria la Grotta, in the Romanesque style, hosting inside a precious 17th century polyptich (a paintings in many parts) consisting of 7 canvases by Pietro Antonio Ferro from Tricarico, and a fine 15th century wooden sculpture of Santa Maria la Grotta.
  • The "Chiesa Caduta" (fallen church), the ruins of the previous majestic parish dedicated to saints Luke and Julian, whose portal made in 1592 by Giulio Carrara from Padula is in Via Garibaldi.