|Comune di Grottole|
|• Total||115 km2 (44 sq mi)|
|Elevation||481 m (1,578 ft)|
|Population (31 December 2006)|
|• Density||22/km2 (57/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Saint Roch (San Rocco)|
|Saint day||16 August|
Grottole is located in the Province of Matera, in the Region of Basilicata, in southern Italy. The village of Grottole 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.
As with most old towns, Grottole was strategically built on a mountain, standing 481 meters above sea level. At this altitude, the town was less susceptible to attack and also insects.
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. 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.
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. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 851 the Lombards included the Grottole fiefdom in Salerno dukedom, and at that time a 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. The castle (Castle Feudale) still stands today.
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 besieged 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 the explosive demographic growth of the 19th century, there was another drop in the population because of emigration, so that now the inhabitants are about 2,600.
- All demographics and other statistics: Italian statistical institute Istat.