PLACES TO VISIT
Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte stands alone up on a hill in the Apulian Murgia area and it is the most famous monument of the era of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia. Castel del Monte has a unique octagonal layout, in the centre of which there is an octagonal courtyard that is thought to have originally been occupied by a swimming pool. In the corners of the polygon, there are eight constructions, also octagonal, which look like towers but are no higher than the body of the castle. From a distance, the building looks like a crown.
The churches, buildings and gardens of the Old Town overlook the transparent, calm waters. The town stretches into a strip of land between the body of the Swabian Castle and the port. Facing the sea, next to the extremely tall Bell Tower, stands the Cathedral of San Nicola Pellegrino. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in the region and one of the most evocative in Italy. We recommend eating at the tiny restaurant “Caffè Nautico”, Tel. 0883.583030. We also suggest you buy the famous raisin wine "Moscato di Trani", as the owner of “Caffè nautico” makes an excellent homemade version.
The visit starts at the Castle, moving into the Old Town or historic centre, around which Corso De Tullio runs along the new port, and the Imperatore Augusto waterfront. Moving on, we come to the Cathedral, the Romanesque church dedicated to Saint Sabinus, inside which there is a crypt containing the relics of Saint Sabinus and the icon of the Madonna Hodegetria in the altar. Inside the imposing Basilica of Saint Nicholas, the crypt is supported by 26 columns with Romanesque and Byzantine capitals, while the tomb of Saint Nicholas is located under the altar. In addition, the basilica is also home to the Museum of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, where the precious treasure of the church is kept. The visit carries on and from the historic centre you will come to Piazza Ferrarese. The visit ends in Via Sparano for some shopping, as this one of the most famous shopping streets. Old lace and curtains from Mrs Vammacigno in Bitritto, a district of Bari, Tel. 333.3313735
Polignano a Mare
Polignano stands on the top of a rocky ridge overlooking the sea. The cliff is full of natural coves and marine caves. Once inside the historic centre, visitors can admire numerous terraces overlooking the sea. The imposing Palazzo del Feudatario was the residence of the noblemen who ruled Polignano for years, offering spectators all the grandeur of its façade. In the square named after Vittorio Emanuele II, formerly the clock square, named so because of the large clock located there, stands the Mother Church, one of the oldest and most important buildings in the village, that stands out thanks to the large quadrangular bell tower. Outside the historic centre, there is an old port that occupies the large inlet called Cala Paura, a natural phenomenon of unparalleled beauty. "Campanella Peppino" Artistic lamps, Tel. 335.6726257 Restaurant: "Chichibio", Largo Gelso, 12, Tel. 080.4240488; typical local restaurant, fish specialities. "Donna Gina", Via Porto 7, tel. 080.4240914. A beautiful view, fish specialities. "Da Tuccino", Via S. Caterina 69/F, tel. 080.4241560, fish specialities.
The visit to the caves begins with by going down an undemanding flight of steps to the first huge cavern. A natural quadrangular skylight lights up the Grave with sunlight. This is an immense pantheon that starts the underground tour, while immediately afterwards you enter the Black Cave. From the Black Cave, the tour continues to the Cavern of the Monuments, about 40 metres high, in which large stalagmites rise from the ground, to enter the Angel's Corridor. After the visit to the caves, we head towards the historic centre of the city of Castellana, full of noble palaces. The Mother Church is full of Renaissance and Baroque paintings, while the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, contains rich Baroque altars. Leaving the historic centre, the journey proceeds towards the Convent of the Franciscan Friars, where the adjoining church is dedicated to the Madonna della Vetrana, protector of the Castellana Caves. There is also a beautiful ancient Nativity Scene in the convent. Masseria Torricella-canale di Barois-Tel. 080.93099415.
Alberobello, known worldwide for its distinctive conical-shaped trulli dwellings, is divided into two districts: Monti and Aia Piccola, both National Monuments and world heritage sites recognised by UNESCO. The history of this unique little town dates back to the second half of the 16th century, when the Counts authorized the settlers to build dry-stone houses using stratified limestone rocks, so that they could be destroyed in the event of a royal inspection, since the creation of an urban centre required the payment of a tax. Places to visit in the Monti district include the church of Sant'Antonio, the Trullo Siamese and the two-storey Trullo Sovrano, while the Aia Piccola district is the area that provides the best idea of the old medieval village, where you can admire remarkable artisan crafts, such as the art of embroidery, and buy plenty of local souvenirs. Don’t miss the Casa D'Amore with an inscription on its façade, marking the victory of the people of Alberobello over the prohibition imposed by the Counts of Conversano, aimed at preventing changes being made to the trulli.
The crypts and the rock villages of worship deserve a visit. The Castle of Charles V in Monopoli has a pentagonal layout with towers at the top and it contains various treasures. It is very important from a historical and artistic point of view: The rock church of San Nicola de Pinna, founded at the end of the 10th century by Monopoli-born Sassone; the 18th-century Palazzo Palmieri. Lastly, adjacent to a small Apulian-Greek rock church, there is the Abbey of Santo Stefano standing on a cliff, embraced by two coves. You can enjoy excellent ice cream at the Iridium bar near the village or at the Roma café in Piazza del Pesce. The Meo Evoli Museum is located inside an eighteenth-century villa with ancient vases, antiques and period furniture. Tel. 080.803052-Contrada Cozzana Ristorante: "La Torretta" Fish specialities and also an excellent pizzeria, Via Procaccia 191, Tel. 080.8876722 Shopping: High Fashion Clothing for Men.
Selva di Fasano
Selva di Fasano is a holiday resort famous for its amazing panoramic position known as "Italy’s balcony to the East" from which you can also admire the Itria valley to the west and the Adriatic Coast to the east. The landscape is dotted with centuries-old olive trees and the ancient picturesque stone constructions, the famous Trulli. Various possibilities for having fun are offered by the nearby “SAFARI PARK”, where you can visit the biggest wildlife park in Italy. Trattoria la Siesta: traditional, high-quality food Tel. 080.4331217
Torre Canne is a small fishing village that comes alive in the summer, becoming a well-equipped, busy seaside resort that offers excellent hospitality and a magnificent sandy beach. Torre Canne is also a well-known spa resort, with the springs of Torricella and Antesana, where the waters are consumed for treating ailments linked to the liver, the biliary tract and uricemia.
When walking through the old town, even without a specific destination or itinerary, at every turn an in every alley you will see new and captivating views, unexpectedly elegant or authentically simple baroque elements and the scents of old and new. With the charming and distinctive fountain in Piazza Roma, the historic centre of Martina Franca, with its unique artistic beauty, welcomes visitors with a spectacular network of alleys and enchanting little lanes. The Basilica of San Martino, a splendid building of worship, is universally acknowledged to be one of the most successful examples of Martina Franca’s unique baroque style. Lastly, the elegant baroque-style church of San Domenico is also worth visiting. Restaurant: “Al ritrovo degli Amici”, Corso Messapia, 8, Tel. 080.4839249. Traditional cooking with vegetable and meat dishes. Shopping Boutique Massa in the main square with Italian designer clothing. Antiques market every third Sunday of the month. Info tel. 080.4304951. Azienda agricola Barnaba (dairy), Via Mariucci, 10 along the Martina-Alberobello road. Antonio Malecore-papier-mâché-Via Merine, 9. Excellent capocollo pork cold cut, from Romanelli, in Via Valle d’Itria 8.
Nicknamed the White City with its medieval village called "terra". Departure is from the spacious and triangular Piazza Libertà, where you will find the Town Hall, the Church of San Francesco, the Obelisk of Sant'Oronzo and the Church of the Holy Spirit. From Porta San Demetrio, you enter the medieval village via a long uphill street between arches and whitewashed walls. You will reach Via Cattedrale, where you can admire the façade of the Church of San Vito Martire, currently a museum, where the cast of an extremely important archaeological find is kept: the remains of a woman with her unborn child dating back to about twenty-five thousand years ago (Upper Palaeolithic Age). After leaving the museum, we proceed to Piazza Cattedrale, which offers an architectural and artistic setting of incomparable beauty: the Cathedral (a national monument), the Bishop’s Palace, the Library and the stone bridge. In this itinerary, visitors have the opportunity to taste typical products (oil, wine, orecchiette pasta, dairy products, sweet foods, dried figs, toasted almonds, preserves and rosolio liqueurs) and buy fine quality artisan products (wicker baskets, laces, olive wood objects, whistles and pottery), from the numerous shops in the streets of the historic centre. One artisan speciality of this village is clay-working, resulting in whistles, small terracotta works of art, with a variety of bizarre subjects. "Taverna della Gelosia" traditional cuisine in the historic centre, on a beautiful terrace with a view-Via Andriola 26, Tel. 0831.334736 "Osteria del Tempo Perso" in the historic centre, traditional cuisine, Tel. 0831.303320 Antiques market, every second Sunday of the month. Ceramiche d'Alò in the main square, Piazza Matteotti no. 51 "Riccardo Caffè" in the historic centre, an elegant and trendy setting for an after dinner drink Tel. 0831.306046
It was the abundance of clay in the area that favoured the initial development of artisan crafts, dating back to the Classical and Magna Graecia age. The pottery district, with its dozens of artisans specialised in ceramics, is worth visiting. In the historic centre, you can witness the processing of precious objects, as they are forged, painted and fired in full accordance with the most traditional processing technique. Located in the historic centre, the following buildings have important historical and cultural characteristics: The Archbishop’s Castle, an ancient medieval Keep dating back to the end of the 15th century, now home to the Pottery Museum; The imposing Mother Church in Piazza Regina Margherita; The Sanctuary of San Francesco De G., dedicated to the Patron Saint and containing a beautiful stone nativity scene created in 1530. In the rest of the town, you will find the Sanctuary of Madonna di Mutata (with a large farm attached) built in memory of a miraculous event attributed to a fresco of the Virgin Mary that "changed position". Visit the pottery district with its dozens of artisans specialised in ceramics.
The Archaeological Museum of Taranto is a place of exceptional beauty and has a great novelty: the Salone degli Ori (Hall of Gold). A collection presented during travelling exhibitions in different parts of the world. Among the jewels from Taranto, the most remarkable pieces are the gold-leaf tiaras, resembling laurel or oak leaves. In addition to the gold and silverware, a substantial part of the Taranto museum is dedicated to ceramics, mostly from excavations carried out in the town.
In the historic centre of Brindisi, in Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square), next to the ancient portico of the Hospital of the Knights of Jerusalem, there is the Provincial Archaeological Museum named after Francesco Ribezzo, an academic who studied the Messapian civilisation. Inside, the epigraphic collection, including statues of figures in togas and armour is worth visiting, along with the antiques section. La Bohème, Via Fermi 42, industrial area. Antiques shop.
Its very ancient Messapian origins and the archaeological remains dating back to Roman domination are, in fact, mixed with the typical rich and exuberant seventeenth-century Baroque style of the churches and buildings in the town centre. An example of this is the splendid Piazza del Duomo, where you will see the Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta-the Episcopal Palace and the Palace of the Seminary. Like many southern Italian cities, Lecce boasts numerous forms of evening entertainment, from music to theatre, enlivened by a rich social life above all frequented by young people attending the well-known University.
Matera is famous for its exceptional historic centre and particularly for its most distinctive districts, Sasso "Caveoso" and Sasso "Barisano", today referred to as the Sassi of Matera, included by UNESCO in its list of World Heritage Sites. Over the centuries, the houses of Sasso Caveoso on the extreme southern edge of the town have been used more and more as cellars for producing and storing wine. In the Civita, the oldest part of the town, Piazza Duomo and the buildings looking out onto Piazza Duomo, including Palazzo Gattini and Palazzo della Curia are worth visiting.