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.

Guide to Baroque Lecce

Published in Puglia Itineraries

Fans of the baroque should beat a path to Lecce, the capital of the territory known as Salento at the most south eastern of Italy's boot or heel.

Inside the 16th century walls of the old city the Piazza del Duomo is the place to discover the so called 'Barocco Leccese' and, according to the tourism authorities, the most dramatic point of contact between faith and art.

The cathedral dates from Norman times but the present building took its form around 1670. It really dominates the square and positively invites the visitor to enter its doors with its enticing promise of unknown riches inside.

The power of the church is symbolized in the pulpit made from Lecce stone and carved with scenes from the Apocalypse.

At the heart of the city is Piazza S.Oronzo. This ancient square dates from medieval times and was for a thousand years covered a Roman ampitheater.

It was only unearthed in 1901 when the foundations for the Banca d'Italia were being laid.

If you are visiting Lecce, the top ten places to see of historical and urban interest are the following, in no special order of preference:

Last modified on 18 October 2013

National Park of the Alta Murgia

Published in Puglia Itineraries

There seems to be a few 'Murgia' in this part of Italy.

From the Murgia Materana around Matera and the west Murgia towards Taranto, it is essentially a continuous territory formed by thousands of years of erosion and running from Bari in Puglia across to Basilicata.

It's absolutely worth discovering, but here we look at the zone which includes the comune of Altamura, Andria, Ruvo di Puglia, Gravina in Puglia, Minervino Murge, Corato, Spinazzola, Cassano delle Murge, Bitonto, Toritto, Santeramo in Colle, Grumo Appula and Poggiorsini.

They can all be found in the territory of the Parco Nazionale dell'Alta Murgia where the canyon di Gravina in Puglia stretching towards Matera marks the south west border of the protected area.

The countryside of the park we see today has been modified over the centuries by the people who lived and worked there.

Nevertheless, the 'Alta Murgia retains a rich fauna and flora.

Around Altamura you can see the impressive 'doline carsiche' of Pulicchio and Pulo which are 100 and 70 meters deep.

It is possible to visit the park all the year round and excursions can be made on foot, bike or even in a methane driven coach operated by the Park authorities. Try this one for yourself.

Last modified on 02 October 2013

Guide to Mottola, Taranto

Published in Puglia Itineraries

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'.

Due to certain geological features, the countryside around the town is characterized by ravines and numerous canyons which stretch from Matera in Basilicata to Grottaglie in Puglia.

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”.

Last modified on 28 May 2013

Guide to Bari and Festival of St.Nicholas

Published in Puglia Itineraries

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.

Last modified on 26 May 2013

Monti Dauni near Gargano

Published in Puglia Itineraries

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.

Last modified on 10 April 2013

Apulian Liqueurs

Published in Puglia Food

There are many fine liqueurs from southern Italy. Below is a list of some traditional liqueurs from Puglia all with striking colors.

Last modified on 19 December 2012

The Appian Way of Wine

Published in Puglia Itineraries

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.

Last modified on 04 December 2012

Guide to Gallipoli

Published in Puglia Itineraries

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.

Last modified on 25 October 2012

Alberobello and the Trulli

Published in Puglia Itineraries

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.

Last modified on 31 August 2012

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