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Geoheritage (6)

The steep scarp near the town of Spinazzola separates the Murge hills, in Apulia, from the Bradano trough, in Basilicata. This area is part of the Alta Murgia National Park, the first ever rural park in Italy. The breathtaking landscape is enriched by several awesome expressions of karst processes that shaped the Cetaceous bedrock for tens of millions years, such as the reddish bauxite deposits (quarried until the '80s of the last century in the Murgetta Rossa locality) and two among the biggest dolines in Italy: the Pulicchio, near Gravina, and the Pulo near Altamura. On the top of the scarp there is the impressive Rocca del Garagnone, the ruins of a castle built during the middle ages.

The "Stones" of Matera are located along a deeply incised Pleistocene river valley called the "Gravina", in the oldest part of the town. The ancient inhabitations have been dug since prehistoric times into the calcarenite bedrock. In some parts of the Sassi, the narrow streets facing the cave-houses run often above the rooftops of the downhill houses. Until a couple of dozens of years ago this area was almost deserted, because it was considered unlivable. Recently, however, this area has become more tourism-oriented since it was declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

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Sassi di Matera

Salento is the south-eastern extremity of the Apulia region, often described as the "heel" of the Italian "boot"; this is one of the most touristy Italian areas during the summertime. The entire coastland offers amazing sights, characterized by steep cliffs and a number of marine caves holding prehistoric treasures. The hinterland is dominated by wide fields cultivated with olive trees and nice small lightful towns built with the local stone called "Pietra Leccese".

In Apulia there are a few huge dolines: the Dolina Pozzatina, in the Gargano area, and the Pulo di Altamura and the Pulicchio di Gravina on the Murge hills. Their perimeters span several hundreds of meters, their depth is some 100 meters. These large dolines originated after the collapse of huge cave systems excavated by karst processes.

The Gargano is an almost entirely mountainous headland, it reaches a maximum altitude of 1055 m (Monte Calvo) and extends into the Adriatic sea for several kilometres. The inner areas are cut by the deep valley of the Carbonara fault, crossing the promontory from West to East; karst processes shaped the calcareous bedrock, creating wide surfaces carved by dolines, the greatest of which is the huge Dolina Pozzatina, near the town of San Nicandro Garganico. The eastern coastline of the promontory shows a number of deeply carved Pleistocene fluvial valleys, nowadays almost inactive.

Given the clayey Pleistocene bedrock, in a wide area across the Potenza and Matera Provinces developed a typical badland landscape created by the age-old surface run off. The badlands, "calanchi", in Italian, characterize the rough landscape of south-eastern Basilicata. The charm of this scenery has been described by Carlo Levi in its novel "Cristo si è fermato ad Eboli" (Christ Stopped at Eboli), published in 1945. A regional park has been established to protect and preserve the wild beauty of this area.

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Regione Puglia Regione Basilicata Provincia di Bari Comune di Bari Università degli Studi di Bari Università degli Studi della Basilicata ISPRA The Geological Surveys of Europe Consiglio Nazionale dei Geologi Società Geologica Italiana Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Puglia Parco Nazionale del Gargano Parco Nazionale dell'Alta Murgia Parco Nazionale Appennino Lucano Val d'Agri Lagonegrese