Monopoli sits tranquilly overlooking the Med much as it must have done when it was part of the Marine Republics of Amalfi and Venice between the 11th and 15th centuries. It is not diifficukt at all to imagine how it must have been 500 years ago.
Head straight to the small port, or Molo Vecchio, where the traditional fishing boats still shore up for the night and marvel at the recently restored 'golden' walls of the castle which contrast spectacularly with the blues of the of the sea and sky. This and the surrounding fortifications date from 1552.
Orignally part of ancient Peucezia, Monopoli enjoyed important influence over the territory south of Bari following the destruction of Egnazia. Also worth a visit is the Abbey Castle of Santo Stefano three kilometers south east of Monopoli. Here the Vie Traiana and Minucia arrived at ancient Diria. Do take time to see the Museum of 'Vases from Egnazia'.
In antiquity, Monopoli was known as the City of Dens or 'tana' due to the many grottoes in the zone. Traces of prehistoric and even earlier man can be found in the sea grottoes of Cala Camcia and Cala Corvino.
The city's coat of arms was donated by Frederick II of Svevia. It consists of three white roses in a red 'field'. The former represent fidelity to the Emperor while the red symbolizes the blood spilled by the inhabitants in the defense of their city during the siege of 1207 by Gualtiero di Brienne.
But Frederick and his troops were just one in along line of people who have passed by. These include the original Greek settlers, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Angioins, Spanish, Austrians and Bourbons.
Perhaps the greatest date in the city's history was 16 December 1117. It was during the night that an image of the Madonna della Madia floated into the port together with sturdy beams which were subsequently used by the then Vescovo Romualdo to repair the sorry roof of the Cathderal. Look inside for a painting of the event by Giovanni Bernardo Lama. Every year the miracle is re-enacted by the townsfolk to demonstrate their devotion.