Enjoying the Laidback Attractions of Holidays In Puglia

Alberobello - Trulli
Alberobello – Trulli

Holidays in Puglia offer a more restful experience than those to the major cities. Here are some more laidback ways to enjoy this lovely region.

Holidays in Puglia, in Italy, reveal a region of restrained palette, but it’s no less beautiful than the more-visited areas of the country. With azure seas, white sands, and the muted golden tones of the rural grain and olive oil producing areas, the rich landscape of Puglia had its own unique appeal.

While not enjoying the touristy image of the more popular regions in Italy, it has a slow-burning charm that more and more people are discovering. Holidays in Puglia offer a wonderful experience for those who prefer a relaxed and restful itinerary, but without sacrificing the impressive sights and delightful attractions.

Here are some of the things that paint the portrait of unforgettable holidays in Puglia.

Blue Seas

The region reaps the benefit of two seas: the Ionian and the Adriatic. Santa Maria Di Leuca, located between the two bodies of water, and the Tremiti Islands offer beautiful seascapes with sea beds teeming with life and colour – with some areas extending 90 meters deep.

The Garganto Peninsula, located in the northern area of the region, is also a popular destination, with its sandy beaches and white limestone cliffs.

La Citta Bianca, Ostuni

Considered one of the most beautiful in the region, the historic city of Ostuni is regarded as an architectural jewel. Its white walls and buildings are an unforgettable sight and make for a wonderful photographic opportunity.

Ostuni’s “Old Town” is centred on a hilltop citadel, which is still fortified by ancient walls. A visit to the White City must include the Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace, as well as the wonderful palazzi that are open to the public.

The Trulli of Alberobello

Whitewashed, pointy-topped dwellings clustered together to give the impression of a hobbit town form the main attraction in Alberobello – it’s also the reason for the town being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. These strange yet picturesque buildings have thick stone walls, which are uniquely constructed without mortar.

While in some areas, all the dwellings are trulli, it’s quite a surreal experience to visit the places where they pop out between normal looking buildings. Don’t miss the trullo church, the Chiesa dei Santi Medici Cosma e Damiano, and the nearby Trullo Sovrano, which is just like a typical trullo dwelling, but on a very grand scale. There is also the Museo del Territorio, a structure comprising around ten trulli, where several rooms have been recreated in period style for a view of how the inhabitants used to live. It also features some interesting spires from the tops of old trulli. To complete the experience, you can even stay for a night or two in a trullo.

Wine and Olive Oil

Holidays in Puglia’s countryside should also include a visit or an overnight stay to one of the masserie in the countryside. These fortified farms are now mostly turned into hotels, and are usually set within vineyards or olive groves. They are a great place to try the products of the region, including honey-mulled wine, the white wines of Martina Franca and LocorotondoFree Articles, and the best olive oil.

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Author: Carolyn Spinks is COO of ABTOI – The Association of British Travel Organisers to Italy. .

Where to stay in Alberobello

Hotels, villas, apartments and B&Bs in Alberobello can be searched and reserved here.

3 Top Reasons To Visit Puglia

Alberobello Apulia Puglia
Alberobello Apulia Puglia – Photo © www.travelviaitaly.com

While there are many more, here are just three unique attractions you can visit when exploring Puglia (Apulia). This stunning region has so much to offer.

Puglia, located at the ‘heel of the boot’ of Italy, is rapidly becoming one of the country’s most popular destinations, and for good reason.

Pristine beaches, verdant rolling hills, charming villas, warm local hospitality, breathtakingly beautiful natural vistas, ancient architecture, cultural and historical treasures, and a cornucopia of nature’s bounty are the staples of every region in Italy. From Tuscany’s vineyards to the lemon groves of the Amalfi Coast, there is no end to the pleasures and rewards you can discover. Exploring Puglia, however, offers experiences that are unique to the region and cannot be found anywhere else in the country.

Listed below are a few reasons exploring Puglia should be on everyone’s wish list.

Massaria

As the region passed from feudal to modern times, the working farmhouses and country estates that had been fortified to repel invaders fell into disuse or disrepair, and many were abandoned and destroyed. Fortunately, some of these farms have been restored to working order, with buildings repurposed into comfortable alternative accommodation for tourists. Ranging from simple and rustic to over-the-top and opulent, these accommodations, called masserie, offer travellers exploring Puglia a chance to experience life on a working farm – some even offer cooking classes for that extra homey and authentic touch.

Among the most famous masserie in Puglia are the Masseria San Domenico in Fasano, which was once the home of the Knights of Malta, and the Masseria Torre Coccaro, an ancient farmhouse converted to a five-star hotel.

Trullo

When exploring Puglia, a visit to the trulli is definitely a must. Predominantly popular during the 19th century, trulli are dry stone huts with conical roofs, which are unique to this region. Originally built as temporary storehouses for harvests or dwellings for farm laborers, a number of these trulli have been restored and serve as either as B&Bs or cottages for travelers. Many of these restored trulli can be found in the Monti district in Alberobello.

The White City

Otsuni is one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. The town is known as ‘Citta Bianca’, or ‘The White City’, as almost all the buildings are painted white. It is nestled across three lush green hills, giving it an almost ethereal appearance. In addition to ancient Baroque buildings, such as the Cathedral of Otsuni and the palazzos Vescovile and del Seminario, the high defensive city walls bring back the glory of medieval times.

For a small seaside town, Otsuni loves to party, with several festivals being held throughout the year, especially in summer. The most popular festival is the Feast of San Biagio, held in February, during which thousands of devotees attend mass in the Santuario. Other attractions are the massive hole in the church grounds, considered by speleologists to be biggest underground cavity in the region, and Otsuni’s many beautiful beaches. The beach at Quarto di Monte even features a night bar, if you’re up to some socializing after dark.

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Author: Carolyn Spinks is COO of ABTOI – The Association of British Travel Organisers to Italy. .

Where to stay in Alberobello

Hotels, villas, apartments and B&Bs in Alberobello can be searched and reserved here.

Visiting Puglia – The Breadbasket of Italy

This is an excerpt from the book “Apulia”.

Alberobello
Alberobello (Bari, Puglia, Italy): Panoramic view of the trulli town – Photo © beachcomberpete.com

Italian vacation accommodation options in Puglia (Apulia) will set visitors in a stunning landscape with a host of sights and attractions.

When it comes to Italy, the question isn’t whether you can find enough things to do, but whether you’ll have enough time to see and do everything on your ‘must-do’ list. (Chances are you won’t!) Because of the wealth of choice available, picking a region and itinerary of attractions can be a somewhat overwhelming endeavor, even for those who have been to the country in the past. Even the simple task of choosing your Italian vacation accommodation can be daunting. However, for people visiting Puglia (or Apulia, as it is otherwise known), the choice is much easier.

Puglia, the Breadbasket of Italy

It would be hard to pinpoint a ‘signature’ image for Puglia. The heel of Italy borders both the Adriatic and Ionian seas, with its coast, woodlands, farmlands, vineyards, olive groves, and even swamplands, existing alongside medieval hilltop villages and industrialized towns. At its heart, however, Apulia is a breadbasket, specializing in the production of food, whether as growers, ‘catchers’, or manufacturers. Farms and fishing villages still make up the bulk of its communities, and the way of life remains predominantly slow-paced and agricultural.

It is this protectiveness of the land that is so integral to their simple yet authentic way of life that has captivated the rest of Europe and the world, and has given rise to a new and fast-growing type of tourism: agriturismo. Agriturismo not only allows travelers to experience authentic Apulian life, but also offers unique and historical Italian vacation accommodation options that can only be found here: masserie and trulli. In fact, some of these places are attractions in themselves. In addition to the trulli and masserie are both modern and traditional hotels, villas, and apartments.

Where to Stay

The basic concept of agriturismo is simple. As implied by its name, agriturismo is a farm-stay, a working farm that also serves as an Italian vacation accommodation for travelers. However, if you’re imagining run-down stable-like rooms, you couldn’t be more wrong. Typical agriturismo inns are more like apartment, villa, and hotel annexes that offer beautiful and comfortable living spaces and superb services.

Masserie, for example, such as the exceptional Masseria Cupina, are grand structures that were once the main buildings of agricultural estates but that have been converted into boutique hotels (complete with swimming pools). A tour of the farm is generally included, but you won’t be expected to do any chores—although you certainly could if you wanted to! Trulli – traditional Apulian dry stone huts with conical roofs, such as the charming Trullo Pietra, which is converted into a villa – are another unique Italian vacation accommodation option available only in Puglia.

Visit Lecce

You may choose to stay close to the lovely town of Lecce. With its wealth of Baroque architecture, this is a great place to start an exploration of the province. Lecce has been described by many as the most beautiful city in Italy, with its stone buildings acquiring a cream and gold effect in the sun. Among its more than 40 churches is the Basilica di Santa Croce, which is perhaps the most ornate, with a façade featuring cherubs, magical beasts, and even the odd dodo. This can be quite a surreal sight, especially at night, when the outdoor lighting further dramatises the effect. Piazza Sant’Oronzo is another must-see in LecceArticle Search, with the massive Roman amphitheatre providing a stark contradiction to the bombastic style of the rest of the city.

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Author: Giuseppe is a person who enjoys discovering new places. After my last trip I strongly recommend to pay a visit to Puglia.

Where to stay in Lecce

Hotels, villas, apartments and B&Bs in Lecce can be searched and reserved here.

A Low Cost Trip to Puglia with Bed and Breakfast Hospitality

Gargano
Gargano

I want to tell my personal travel experience in the very beautiful Puglia that I was able to visit without spending much money.

It was three of us: I, my wife and my twelve years daughter.

Time of the year for our holiday: early July. Maybe the best time to appreciate the summer in Puglia without spending too much, because it’s too early for the higher fares of August end.

Puglia is quite long; so we scheduled a stop in San Giovanni Rotondo, on Gargano hill.
We stopped just for two hours, ma it was worth it.

The curiosity of knowing the places were Padre Pio lived was strong, as we never were there.
We were able to leave on the early afternoon and after about two hours (if I remember well) we get to our first destination: Polignano a Mare (Polignano on the sea).

The place was simply enchanting and I advise it to everybody, even tough I think that the ideal stay should not be too long. We were advised in that direction and we stayed just two night.
Polignano, the town of Domenico Modugno (the singer of “volare”), has a very beautiful old center, with balconies overlooking on the sea.

If I remember well, in Polignano they hold an international dive contest. One of those we can sometimes watch on TV.

The town resemble a Christmas crib. I shot several photos and I advise it above all to picture lovers.

We managed to find a b&b where we stayed for two nights, spending 200 euro in all (I remeber we were three persons). Its name is “il villino” and we are satisfied with it. Second stay, the longer one: Ostuni.

The idea, which I advise to everybody, was to be in the “white town”, this is Ostuni nickname, and to take advantage of it as a base for knowing and appreciating all the beautiful places in the surroundings.

We stayed six days in the bed and breakfast in Puglia Pietrabianca. We were again satisfied of our choice, in particular for the care and cleanliness. The total cost was 660 euros, in line with what we spent in Polignano.

What a good idea to enjoy the Ostuni summer: it is surrounded by wonderful places!
Just to name some: the Itria valley of Cisternino, Martina Franca and Locorotondo.
A charming valley for its view and also for its several cultural events.

At last, after six days, the last adventure: lower Salento. We were in Castro Marina for two nights, spending 330 euros. Even though it is slightly higher than other fares, we again don’t complain about it at all.

We won’t forget easily the gorgeous view of the blue sea and of the Balkan mountains from the opposite side of the Adriatic seaFind Article, and the visit in the Zinzulusa cave.

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Author: Giuseppe is a person who enjoys discovering new places. After my last trip I strongly recommend to pay a visit to Puglia.

Where to stay in Vieste

Hotels, villas, resort villages and condo hotels in Vieste can be searched and reserved here.

National Park of Gargano, Italy

Gargano
Gargano

It’s twelve months now from the great fire that destroyed part of our coasts. Today our seasaside is one of the safest in Italy as it’s continually  controlled ( 24 hours a day ) by the local firemen and by two planes in the Foggia and Amendola airport.

The local and the national authorities realize that the Gargano is an enormous richness and they are working really hard to avoid what happened last year.

Gargano and Vieste belongs not only to the population living here but also to the hundreds of tourists who come here to relax and enjoy our beaches, our beautyComputer Technology Articles, and our places which are characteristic of our  wonderful area

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Author: Simone Benedetti

Where to stay in Vieste

Hotels, villas, resort villages and condo hotels in Vieste can be searched and reserved here.

Salento: Otranto and its fantastic wild beaches

Otranto
Otranto

The description of the crystalline sea of Otranto and its beautiful beaches and cliffs, beaches and advice on the cove you can not miss

The coast of Otranto is high at times characterized by high rocky cliffs of karst origin. The coast south of Otranto to the set of Porto Badisco shows with high cliffs overlooking the sea and picturesque bays, with breathtaking scenery, ideal for those who like adventure.

It’s in this part that we come across in the Cave where you can visit the prehistoric cave of Palombara. In the splendid setting between land sea and sky rises the tower or Torre del Serpe dell’Idra, symbol of the city of Otranto and in the distance still towards the south you can see the tower in the sixteenth dell’Orto homonym bay is easily reached on foot coming to the small beach of Porto Grande and where you can make diving and visit the caves.

Also continuing to the south we come across the famous flagship PALASCIA the east of Italy and among the coves and cliffs you come to the beach of Porto Badisco where according to legend landed Enea. Here the white beach and crystal sea treasures include one of the most important prehistoric settlements in Europe, unfortunately not open to THE CAVE OF CERVI.
Otranto passed, towards the north, however the coast is mostly low and sandy: particularly gripping the coastal zone of the two basins LAKES Alimini, natural heritage of Salento. Alimini is a large basin of brackish water basin fed the other hand, Fontanelle, which is fresh water.
Among the most beautiful beaches north of Otranto remind the sandy beach of Porto CRAULO, area of Conca Specchiulla full of facilitiesHealth Fitness Articles, the beach of Saint George and the Cave of Macaru.

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Author: Simone Benedetti

Where to stay in Otranto

Hotels, villas, apartments and B&Bs in Otranto can be searched and reserved here.

Salento: Gallipoli between night and the sea crystal

This is an excerpt from the book “Apulia”.

Gallipoli
Gallipoli

Gallipoli, from the greek “city beautiful”, is located on a beautiful limestone on the Ionian island of Salento, combined with the modern city by a bridge built in 1600. The old part of Gallipoli perimeter is surrounded by the so-called rivers, which give a sense of togetherness to the whole neighborhood. Interesting and rich l ‘existence of Baroque works (churches, monuments).

The lack of facilities makes it more in line with the naturalistic aspects that characterize it. At the center are in fact the beautiful baroque cathedral of Gallipoli, rich in paintings of the era, are the major palaces and churches dating back to the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, as the churches of Purity, S. Teresa, St. Francis; their decorations interval Lecce stone, tuff carparo and majolica. Details are also the interior, characterized by bright colors, flowers, fruits all majolica.

Do not miss the Greek fountain, with reliefs depicting mythological scenes, still perfectly preserved. For those who love shopping, however, the modern Gallipoli will meet every requirement, being now a major urban center, which is highly developed. Several Hotels in Gallpoli, villages, farms, etc. .. but also discos and nightclubs of all kinds are one half of Gallipoli tourist suitable for families but especially to young people. A wonderful long stretch of sandy beach, clean and cared forFree Web Content, the beautiful blue sea.

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Author: Simone Benedetti

Where to stay in Gallipoli

Hotels, apartments, B&Bs and villas: search and make reservation here.

I Love Italian Wine and Food series – Apulia Region

Vineyards in Puglia - Photo © claudiocaiaffa
Vineyards in Puglia – Photo © claudiocaiaffa

An article by: Levi Reiss

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Apulia region of southern Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on the fact-filled wine education tour.

Apulia is the heel of the Italian boot. It is located in the southeast corner of Italy on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Its population is over 4 million.

Apulia was frequently invaded by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Among its many rulers were the Byzantines, Goths, Lombards, Normans, Spaniards, and Turks. Its moment of greatest glory was in the Holy Roman Empire of the 13th Century, when majestic Romanesque cathedrals and palaces were built.

Apulia produces nearly half of the olive oil in Italy. Other major agricultural products include grain, fava beans, vegetables, pasta and rice, seafood and fish, cheese, and meat, especially lamb and kid. The region has some industry, in particular chemicals, petrochemicals, iron, and steel.

Apulia’s administrative center is Bari, the biggest city in southern Italy, whose population is slightly more than 325 thousand. Bari is a university city, with a historic old town. Taranto and Brindisi are important ports.

Apulia devotes about 260 thousand acres to grapevines, it ranks 2nd among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about 191 million gallons, also giving it a 2nd place. About 7o% of the wine production is red or rose’ (only a little rose’), leaving 30% for white. The region produces 25 DOC wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. Less than 4% of Apulia wine carries the DOC designation. Apulia is home to over three dozen major and secondary grape varieties, a few more red than white.

Widely grown international white grape varieties include Chardonnay. Italian versions of international varieties include Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Blanco. The best known strictly Italian white varieties are Bombino Bianco, which appears in eight DOC wines, and Verdeca.

Widely grown international or somewhat international red varieties include Primitivo, a close relative of Zinfandel, and Sangiovese, an Italian variety found increasingly elsewhere, for example in California. The best known strictly Italian red varieties are Negroamaro, found in eleven DOC wines, and Uva di Troia.

Before reviewing the Apulia wine and cheese that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with ‘ncapriata, also known as Favi e Fogghi, a Fava Bean Puree with Vegetables. Then try Pepata di Cozze al Limone, Peppery Mussels with Lemon. For dessert indulge yourself with Frittelle di Ricotta, Ricotta Fritters.

Wine Reviewed Azienda Vinicola Rivera Spa ‘Castel del Monte’ Rose’ 11.5% alcohol about $8

Some say that Castel del Monte, named for a 13th Century castle, is the best-known appellation in Apulia. Of course, best known does not necessarily mean best. This particular bottle was from Bombino Nero grapes, whose unusual pyramidal form remind one of a child (Bombino or Bambino) with outstretched arms.

I’ll start by quoting the marketing materials. “…After soft processing of the grapes the must macerates with the skins for 15-18 hours in stainless steel vats. It is a fruity, well-balanced and dry rose’ that perfectly complements appetizers, light soups, fish and white meats. Well-chilled it is a great aperitif.”

And now for my comments. I first tried this wine with an omelet containing red onions, Portabello mushrooms, and non-imported Provolone cheese. The wine was mildly acidic and refreshing, and brought out the onion’s sweetness. It was a summer wine, you’d know it was a rose’ without seeing it. On the other hand, it was very short.

My next tasting was with chicken meat balls and green beans amandine. While the wine was pleasantly acidic, once again it was quite fleeting and almost overpowered by mild food. This is one of the few wines that I prefer without food. It usually did not add anything to the food.

Caciocavallo Silano is a stringy semi-hard cheese produced in Apulia and neighboring regions of southern Italy. It’s made from cow’s milk aged for at least fifteen days. The cheese’s mild nutty flavor was enhanced by the wine. I had the same experience when tasting this wine with a Pecorino Sardo, reviewed in greater depth in my article “I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Sardinia Region” in this series. In conclusion, the wine went better with cheese than with eggs or meat.

Final verdict, I don’t think that I’ll buy this wine again. The competition is too great, even at the $8 price point.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com. You can reach him at ital@mail.theworldwidewine.com.

Apulia Wine

This is an excerpt from the book “Apulia”.

Apulia vineyards in autumn - Photo © Gianfranco_
Apulia vineyards in autumn – Photo © Gianfranco_

Apulia, the heel of the Italian boot, is a long, relatively level region with a prolific production of wine. In the past, the region often surpassed Sicily and Veneto in output, though Apulia’s former title of “Europe’s wine cellar” no longer carries much weight.

As traditional markets for strong blending wines have diminished, Apulia’s producers have increasingly put the accent on premium quality. Some have come forth with good to excellent wines: dry, balanced reds, whites and ros˜s, as well as sweet wines from a great range of grape varieties, both native and foreign.

Apulia can be divided roughly into two viticultural sectors by a hypothetical line crossing the region between Brindisi and Taranto.

To the north, the terrain is rolling to hilly and the climate is temperate, even relatively cool at certain heights in the Murge plateau. Dry wines from there tend to have moderate strength, with impressive fruit, good acidity and ample bouquet. Red wines generally derive from the native Uva di Troia or Bombino Nero, as well as Montepulciano and Sangiovese. White wines are dominated by the Verdeca variety, though Bianco d’Alessano, Malvasia, Trebbiano and Bombino Bianco are also evident.

The leading DOC zone of northern Apulia is Castel del Monte, an appellation that enjoys an international reputation. It has a fine rosé and a full-bodied red that often gains stature with age. In much of the north the emphasis is on red wines under such DOCs as Rosso Canosa, Rosso Barletta and Rosso di Cerignola.

Just north of the Brindisi-Taranto line white wines dominate, in particular those of the Itria valley – Locorotondo and Martina Franca – home of the conical roofed stone houses known as trulli. Throughout the region experimentation is under way with international varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon among the whites; Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Nero and Syrah among the reds.

South of the Brindisi-Taranto line lies Salento, a peninsula of low, rolling hills that extends between the Adriatic and Ionian seas to the easternmost point of Italy. Though hot, Salento is not quite torrid, thanks to the play of sea currents and breezes that waft across the Adriatic from the Balkans.

Salento’s traditional wines were the powerful, inky reds from Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. But increasing attention is being given to fresher reds and rosés, as well as to some unexpectedly bright and fruity white wines.

Primitivo di Manduria, the early ripening variety of Salento is related to California’s Zinfandel. Though it once served primarily as a blending wine, Primitivo from a new wave of producers has shown undeniable class in a style that stands comparison with its American counterparts.

Among the many DOCs of Salento, Salice Salentino stands out for its robust red and refined rosé, though wines from such appellations as Squinzano, Brindisi, Alezio and Copertino can show unexpected class.

The Salento IGT applies to red wines that often carry individual names. White wines also show promise, Chardonnay in particular, though Salento is also renowned for flowery rosés that rank with Italy’s finest.

The Puglia wines match very well the Puglia cuisine, with its local recipes.

trullo

Apulia Wines:

DOC Wine
Aleatico di Puglia
Alezio
Brindisi
Cacc’e mmitte di Lucera
Castel del Monte
Copertino
Galatina
Gioia del Colle
Gravina
Leverano
Lizzano
Locorotondo
Martina or Martina Franca
Matino
Moscato di Trani
Nardò
Orta Nova
Ostuni
Primitivo di Manduria
Rosso Barletta
Rosso Canosa or Canasium
Rosso di Cerignola
Salice Salentino
San Severo
Squinzano

IGT Wine
Daunia
Murgia
Puglia
Salento
Tarantino
Valle d’Itria

I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Apulia Region

Castles and Cathedrals in Apulia. This is another land of ancient civilizations Part 2: From Otranto to Ortona

The itinerary is the return of the itinerary Castles and Cathedrals in Apulia.

OTRANTO (49 km. 30 3/4 mi.), on a knoll overlooking the sea, with a majestic Castle and a splendid Romanesque Cathedral, whose chief attraction is the mosaic floor of 1165. It had a bloody past of siege, rapine and sack: 12,000 of its inhabitants fell victims to the Turks of Mahomet II in 1480, Martano is 22 km. (13 1/2 mi.) from Otranto on State Highway SS 16 and another 19 km. (12 mi.) brings us to LECCE.

LECCE, famous for the flourishing of Baroque architecture which took place there, whose rich ornamentation was assisted by the warm yellow of the local stone, which is easy to carve. This wealth of rich, but refined architecture, caused Gregorovius to call it “the Florence of Apulia”. We can begin to see it from the stage-like Piazza Sant’Oronzo with the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre in the center, together with one of the terminal columns of the Appian Way, brought here from Brindisi. The Palazzo del Senile with Gothic arches and loggia, is very fine; next to it is the small church of San Marco, built by the Venetians in 1543. We pass on to the nearby Castle from which we reach the Public Gardens, before which is the sumptuous Baroque facade of Santa Croce, the purity of whose interior remids us of Brunelleschi, and the adjoining former Convent of the Celestines (1695) now the Palazzo del Governo with the important Castromediano Provincial Museum, a collection of archaeological exhibits (sculpture, fine Attic vases) and art, including two excellent Venetian altar-pieces.

Along Via Brindisi we arrive at the 15th century Oratory of San Francesco di Paola, by Baldassare Peruzzi, from which we proceed to Porta Napoli (1548) built in honour of Charles V; here we leave the city for the piazzale of the cementery on which faces the fine church of SS. Nicolo and Catalan, built in Romanesque style in 1180 and altered in Baroque style in 1716, but with a pleasant mingling of the styles; the 18th century portal and cloisters are particularly admirable.

Going back to Porta Napoli, we take the ring road to Santa Maria del Rosario, from which we take Via Libertini with the churches of Sant’Anna and Santa Teresa, both Baroque, so reaching the elegant and lively Piazza del Duomo, with the facade of the Cathedral (1670), of the Bishop’s Palace (1632) and the Seminary (1709) with three arches over the portal and a note-worthy courtyard. Close by is the Roman Theatre, from which one can reach the fine church of Sant’Irene in Corso Vittorio Emanuele: passing once more through Piazza Sant’Oronzo we reach the churches of Santa Chiara and San Matteo with distinguished Baroque sculpture. Leave Lecce in the late afternoon to go through Squinzano with a fine Romanesque basilica, Santa Maria di Cerrale m the neighbourhood (14th and 15th century frescoes), and arrive after 40 km. (25 mi.) of easy road at BRINDISI.

BRINDISI, an extremely important port in Roman times, which Caesar tried to block, during the war with Pompey, by driving in piles, the remains of which were found in 1778. The ancient city stands on a rise, jutting like a wedge into two arms the steps of the Salita alle Colonne to the Cathedral; only the apse remains of the Romanesque church in Which Frederick II married Yolanda of Jerusalem (1225); to rest is Baroque. From the Cathedral we reach the of the sea which enters by a narrow channel. Our visit begins and this point; follow Corso Garibaldi to the harbor and turn left, to find yourself immediately in the fine stepped piazza which marks the end of the old Appian Way. One of the columns, as we said, is now at Lecce, the other remains standing, overlooking the sea. Between the severe facades of ancient buildings we now go up little circular Romanesque church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro, the architectural gem of the city. Nearby is the former church of San Benedetto (1080) with a fine portal and interesting Cloister.

Supposing that sightseeing in Brindisi has taken part of the morning, we now leave past the Swabian Castle, running round the Seno di Ponente (Western Sound) to take Via Ciciriello and Via Brin to the church of Santa Maria del Casale, an attractive example of Gothic-Romanesque architecture with excellent Byzantine and 14th century frescoes. Going north for 20 km. (12 1/2 mi,) we reach San Vito dei Normanni, the Carovigno (fine 15th century Castle) and 34 km. (21 1/4 mi.) from Brindisi, OSTUNI, high on its hill with a superb Cathedral (Gothic) and a picturesque medieval quarter. Another 23 km. (14 mi.) brings us to FASANO, where we turn left for ALBEROBELLO.

Alberobello Apulia Puglia
Alberobello Apulia Puglia – Photo © www.travelviaitaly.com

ALBEROBELLO, both picturesque and interesting because it consists of about 1000 trulli, low buildings with nigh conical roofs. At Alberobello we might have lunch and then proceed to MONOPOLI (24 km. – 14 3/4 mi.) with its Romanesque church of Santa Maria Amalfitana, its Castle, built by Frederick II, and a Veronese Madonna in the Palazzo Comunale. Going back inland for 16 km. we arrive at the Grotte di Castellana discovered in 1938, the most impressive series of caves in Italy.

Another 10 km. (6 1/4 mi.) and we are at Conversano, with its mighty Norman-Swabian Castle. The Cathedral has a fine facade and there is the harmoniously planned Cloister of San Benedetto; yet another 10 km. (6 1/4 mi.) brings us to Rutigliano, with the church of Santa Maria alla Colonna, with a noteworthy portal. Nine kilometers (6 mi.) from Rutigliano is Adelfia on State Highway SS 100, on which we turn right, reaching after 15 km. (9 1/2 mi.).

BARI, a great modern city to look at, but founded in pre-Roman times. The ancient nucleus with a group of wonderful Romanesque churches survives almost intact, with its ramps, flights of steps and walls, in a small and compact medieval borough on the little peninsula. Here we find the Cathedral of Byzantine architecture (1034-1062), rebuilt in Apulian Romanesque style in 1292 and afterwards completely spoiled by Baroque alterations which have ruined the facade; its best parts are the side walls, the mighty apse and the noble dome.

The interior has been cleaned of the Baroque stucco-work which spoiled it and contains some fine Venetian canvases. Proceeding through the narrow and picturesque streets of the old town we come to San Nicola, the first and most important church to be built in Bari after the Norman conquest, and prototype of all the many fine Apulian cathedrals of the same period.

It was begun in 1087 and consecrated in 1197 (dedicated to San Nicola of Bari, who is none other than Santa Claus!); the Apulian Romanesque betrays a certain Byzantine influence; the facade is majestic and plain; the central porch is almost Lombard in appearance. In the interior there is a rich ciborium on the High Altar (12th century), and wonderful Bishop’s Throne (11th century) of Abbot Elia, a beatiful panel painting by Bartolomeo Vivarini, 1476), chapels, tombs. Near San Nicola is the small church of San Gregorio, also Romanesque, with a graceful facade containing three portals.  From here we go down towards the harbor, reaching Corso Trieste, which we follow to the majestic Castle, built by in the Palazzo della Provincia (on the Lungomare Nazario Sauro) is the Provincial Art Gallery, a fine collection of mainly Venetian paintings: works by Giovanni Bellini, Vivarim, Tintoretto, Veronese, Bordone, some paintings of the Ferrarese school and of 17th and 18th century Southern Italians.

At the far side of the modern city, near the railway station, is the Archaeological Museum (Piazza Umberto 1). Keeping Bari as our base, we shal devote the twelfth day of our journey to a fascinating trip through the architectural and historical glories of the nearby coast inland regions. Going west out of Bari for 14 km. (8 3/4 mi.) we come to BITETTO and 3 km. farther on to PALO DEL COLLE, little towns with beautiful churches; 5 km. (3 mi.) from Palo del Colle is BITONTO, with the most graceful of Apulian Cathedrals, intact in every part from the facade to the side walls, to the interior, to the crypt-one of the most complete pieces of Italian architecture. Thirteen kilometers (8 mi.) from Bitonto brings us to Terlizzi with the 13th century Oratory of the Rosary, another 4 km. (2 1/2 mi.) takes us to RUVO DI PUGLIA whose splendid Cathedral has a high soaring facade with a graceful double window and rose-window. 26 kilometers of straight road parallel to the sea and we are at ANDRIA one of the most active cities in Apulia, with the churches of San Francesco and San Domenico, both with fine portals; in the interior of the latter, a bust by Francesco Lantana (1442). From Andria we now reach the coast at BARLETTA.

BARLETTA (12 km. – 7 1/2 mi.), a city of pre-Roman origin and now an important commercial center, with noteworthy Roman monuments such as the Colossus, bronze statue of an emperor of the Eastern Empire; from the Middle Ages there is the Cathedral, Romanesque with Gothic interior (1267-1307) containing fine works of art; the church of San Sepolcro, church of Sant’Andrea (in the interior, a fine Madonna by Alvise Vivarini, 1483) and the Norman-Swabian Castle Returning to Bari along the coast we reach TRANI.

TRANI. after 14 km. (8 3/4 mi.) with its graceful Cathedral, rising by the sea, pink with a wonderful bronze door; and the church of Ognissanti (All Saints): Eight kilometers (5 mi.) from Trani comes DISCEGLIE with with the delightful church of Santa Margherita (1197) containing 13th century sculpture. Another 9 km. (5 3/4 mi.) from Bisceglic and are at MOLFETTA with the grandest of Apulian Cathedrals in the center of a picturesque ancient quarter; leaving Molfetta we arrive quickly at GIOVINAZZO (another Romanesque Cathedral similar in form to that of Molfetta) and return to Bari in the evening, after having made a complete tour of Aplian Romanesque architecture. Leaving Bari again on the 13th day of our journey, by the road leading to Rove, we reach CASTEL DEL MONTE.

Castel del Monte Photo © Enrico Albanesi
Castel del Monte – Photo © Enrico Albanesi

CASTEL DEL MONTE (55 km. – 34 1/2 mi. from Bari), the finest secular building in Apulia and one of the most superb castles of the Middle Ages, in the perfect balance of its circle of eight towers, built for Frederick II in 1240.

After spending a little time in this enchanting spot, we continue for another 40 km. (25 mi.) past MINERVINO MURGE, in an attractive position on a hill covered with olive trees, to CANOSA, with a Roman Bridge over the River Ofanto, and a Cathedral which has preserved much of its original Romanesque structure; in the interior a fine 11th century Pulpit and a Bishop’s Throne supported on two Elephants.

Continuing, we arrive at Cerignola after 16 km. (10 mi.) where we turn right, toward the sea, continuing along the coast road to Siponto, where the only remnant of the ancient city standing is the solitary church of Santa Maria, Romanesque of Pisan-Luccan forms (1117).

We are now only a few miles from MANFREDONIA in the Gargano, that rocky and mountainous peninsula covered with woods known as the ,spur of Italy.

At Manfredonia or in the nearby town of MONTE SANT’ANGELO, perched in a wonderful position at 843 m, (2745 ft.) we can spend the night before the 14th day to be used for discovering the GARGANO.

GARGANO and the towns of VIESTE and PESCHICI, all superb places with little white towns and villages overhanging the sea; or inland, the mighty Umbra Forest. On the fifteenth day, having completed our tour of the Gargano, we go down to SAN SEVERO, with fine ancient architecture, from which a journey of 59 km. (37 mi.) brings us to TERMOLI.

TERMOLI in the Molise with a picturesque old city, a splendid Romanesque Cathedral and a Castle built by Frederick II. From Termoli 42 km. (26 1/4 mi.) bring us to Vasto and thence back to ORTONA, where our journey began.

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