Even if the landscape of the Puglia Imperiale area is often superficially described as uniform and only rich in suggestive olive trees, it actually consists in a wide range of enviroments and biodiversities. This is the result of thousands of stratifications that closely link natural components to the history of the human beings. Each of these stratifications has left its mark. This is the case of the S.Croce Grottos in Bisceglie dating back to the Paleolithic (about 70000 years ago). These grottos were surely inhabited as confirmed by some findings such as a femur of an adult Homo sapiens Neandertalensis and a fibre mat , the most ancient artifact discovered so far in Italy. The grottos are located along Lama di Santa Croce, that extends as far as Corato. The lame, the gravine and the karstic doline prove extraordinary natural transformations. The Gurgo, in the area of Andria, is one of the widest Doline in Apulia. The countryside surranding Andria is both characterized by a large number of age-old olive trees and vineyard producing good-quality extravergine olive oil and d.o.c wines, and enriched by a magnificent artistic heritage. The most significant example is the Castel del Monte, the mysterous castle ordered by Frederick II and famous throughout the world for its octagonal plan.
The importance of this precious landscape is confirmed by the institution of of the High Murgia National Park, the first rural park in Italy as a whole.
The tangible signs of the close integration between the wild nature and the human beings is confirmed by the presence of an ancient sheep tracks’ network used during the transhumance. These sheep tracks were bounded by drystone walls and “the poste”, i.e transhumance station.
Some examples of sheep tracks are: the ancient ones of Canosa/Corato corresponding to the Trajan Way, or that connecting Barletta to Grumo, or the Melfi/Castellaneta sheep track that passes through Spinazzola.
The beauty of the Altamura landscape, the only example of mediterranean steppe, is surprising. This territoy, important for its biodiversity (flora and fauna), is characterized by natural phenomena such as the karstification.
In the past millennia this phenomenon has shaped the area making the landscape unique.
Recently in Minervino, in the direction of Spinazzola a complex grottos’ system has been discovered.
This is the proof that the karstic phenomenon is widely spread in the High Murgia area and in Apulia as a whole.
Another interesting example is the San Michele Grottos. This was a place of worship dedicated to S.Michele Arcangelo.
The grottos can be reached through a tourist itinerary that allows to visit the Lama Matitani. In the area between the grotto and the rocky church of Madonna del Sabato, some tombs and ruins of settlements dating back to the 7th century have been found.