The region of Puglia can be neatly split into three zones; the flat north plain and Gargano, the heel known as Salento, and the iconic central zones of Bari and Brindisi.
Mottola is situated on a hill spectacularly facing the south west Murgia of Puglia towards the Gulf of Taranto (see image below) and the mountains of Alta Sila inland.
For this reason it is known as the 'Spy of the Ionio'.
The soft rock permitted the first inhabitants of the zone to hollow out caves or dwellings in the ravines; they were inhabited up to the Middle Ages.
These Rupestrian villages were where ancient man lived frugally in contact with others, their animals and nature.
Some of the best are just outside the city and are called Pteruscio e Casalrotto.
The Rupestrian churches are especially interesting and many are full of priceless early Christian frescoes. The Church of San Nicola can boast its own “Cappella Sistina”.
The APT Bari has produced a set of 5 colourful pamphlets called 'Flashtours' of the city of Bari and province.
Subtitled 'A Land to Discover, history, culture and beauty of', the tourist itineraries in the range are 'The City of Bari', 'The Sea and the Caves', 'A Land of History', 'The Trulli Road' and 'The Land of Altamurgia. Keep the following in mind when you next go.
The old town of Bari has the longest sea front in Italy which is an impressive claim. Along the way admire the Liberty style Kursaal Santalucia Theatre and the fascist architecture of the Albergo delle Nazione.
The APT also states that the Arabs also left their mark on the city.
The 'Capa du Turk' is a bas-relief of the head of a Moor who was decapitated because he ventured out during a witch's night having been advised to stay indoors.
The new part of Bari was founded in 1813 and in the Carassi District is the Russian Orthodox Church with its green domes dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the city's patron saint.
The Monti Dauni is the hilly zone of Puglia in the province of Foggia which borders three other Italian regions; Abruzzo Molise and Campania. Notable international newspapers and magazines are always looking for the last 'undiscovered' part of Italy, but this zone might just be it.
I was invited there as a guest of the Chamber of Commerce of Foggia as part of the SIAFT (Southern Italy Agrifood and Tourism) opinion leader trip. Not only did we go, we did the whole trip by 4x4 off road vehicles, such is the terrain which remains off limits to the casual tourist.
After taking the provincial road from central Foggia and passing Lucera, first stop was Pietra Montecorvino (pictured above) to pick up the Mayor. But more about the majestic castle and tower later. We then proceeded to Celenza Valfortore.
This year's carnival is something like number 630 and the comune of Putignano in Bari are proud to claim that theirs is one of the oldest and certainly the longest in Italy, if not the world.
Experts have pinpointed the date of the first carnival to the 26 December 1394 and, while it finishes as many others do on 'martedì grasso', the celebrations start on this same day with the tradition of 'Propaggine'.
The protagonist of the carnival is 'Farinella' who first appeared on the scene in his current form in only 1953.
He wears a green and white suit with a three pointed hat and the obligatory mask, along with bells on the end of his shoes. The colors represent those of the town and refer to a cat and a dog at peace, for at least one part of the year.
Italian Traditional carnival biscuits recipe from Putignano in Puglia.
The symbol of the Carnevale di Putignano is the mask of Farinella. The name derives from a dish called 'farinella' or 'povele' in local vernacular.
This ancient food from peasant tradition is made with chick pea flour and roasted barley and enjoyed with sauces or fresh figs.
550g of butter, 350g of sugar, 500g of chick pea flour, 500g of barley flour, 4 eggs, 2 egg yolks, grated lemon and orange peel, cinnamon, milk.
The Appian Way of Wine or 'L'Appia dei Vini' is the name of a wine route or 'strada del vino' which passes through the province of Brindisi in Puglia.
It departs from the countryside around Ostuni and takes in the comune of Latiano, Mesagne, S.Vito dei Normanni and ends in the city of Brindisi.
This is in effect the ancient wine producing zone of Enotria which literally means 'land of wine' although the name was used by the Greeks to refer to all of today's Apulia.
THe Appian Way, of course, started in Rome and ended in Brindisi.
Gallipoli is located in the province of Lecce on the west coast of Salento.
It is known as the queen of the 'Basso Ionio', mainly because of the fabulous setting of the old city nestled on a small island just off the coast, closed and defended from the elements and much more.
Some say the island was built by the Venetians properly for this purpose, but even the Romans had built a perimeter fortification.
Today, the island is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
The whitewashed conical shaped homes or trulli of Alberobello have become the symbol of the region of Puglia in a way the famous cypress tree road in the Orcia Valley has become the symbol of Tuscany.
So much so when we saw them for first time, they seemed like old friends. Yet, there are literally thousands of trulli in and around the Itria Valley.
Alberobello may be the iconic city, but the trulli were essentially temporary countryside accommodation.
They could be dismantled and the roof elements built elsewhere in no time at all, often to beat the local taxman in times past.
Drive through such towns as Castellana Grotte and you stumble upon them incorporated into all sorts of modern buildings as the towns expanded after the second world war.