It is one of the richest lands in history, beauty and tradition. Particularly developed is the handicraft with its works in ceramics, papier-mâché, wrought iron, embroidery. Folk is manifested in processions, costumed dances, performances. From the Camping dei Trulli and the Raggio di Sole Agriturismo Village you can easily reach, by bus or by car, nearby places of historical remains, museums and characteristic villages.
Alberobello represents the heart of the Valley of the Trulli. Alberobello was founded in the 15th century by the Acquaviva counts. Alberobello is a picturesque agricultural and tourist center formed largely by trulli which give it, in addition to a vague fairytale air, considerable architectural interest recognized in 1996 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In Alberobello alone there are about 1,500 trulli of various types. Alberobello, the city of trulli, occupies a land rich in stratified limestone rocks, which offer the construction material that makes unique not only the image of Alberobello itself but the whole territory adjacent to Alberobello. The historical reasons for the trullo of Alberobello as a dry construction can be traced back to the abuse of power of the feudal lords. If you think that at the beginning of the seventeenth century the different families that had settled in the territory of Alberobello – also attracted by the allowances granted by the Counts of Conversano – were in effect inhabitants of nearby Noci, we understand very well the problem present at the time in the today fantastic Alberobello. The image of the trullo of Alberobello has always been associated with Puglia, where Alberobello has its roots, as one of the most typical expressions of the area. Presenting themselves in the provinces of Bari, Brindisi and Taranto, the trulli find their absolute and monumental consecration in the city of Alberobello. Today the trulli of Alberobello are about a thousand, presenting the important definition of a national monument since 1930 and recently become part of the UNESCO world heritage. Seeing them from afar, the trulli of Alberobello appear large piles of stones, but grouped in some areas, such as the historic center of Alberobello, you are immersed in a fantastic and unique vision. From the Greek “tholos”, the trullo is a construction with a central circular or square plan made of dry stone. At its top there is a cone-shaped dome made of “chiancarelle”, calcareous stones also dry laid in concentric circles and blocked at the apex by a stone (serraglia) and a pinnacle. The spread of the trullo in the territory of Alberobello dates back to the seventeenth century, during the dominion of the Count of Conversano Giangirolamo II Acquaviva d’Aragona, known as the “Guercio di Puglia”, who aimed to develop an independent fief from the Court of Naples without asking for the authorization to the King. For this purpose, in addition to erecting a dwelling which still exists in Alberobello in 1635, he had a group of settlers transferred who were allowed to cultivate the land and build a house, provided it was built dry and not with lime, so that it can be quickly demolished in the event of a direct inspection. In 1779 the Selva freed itself from the feudal vassalage and became a Regio municipality. Thus the constraint of building only trullo houses fell away. The village took the name of Alberobello, a toponym deriving from “Sylva Arboris Belli” (forest of the war tree), from an oak wood that once covered the area. The first construction that differs from the trulli (Alberobello) can be admired in Piazza Plebiscito: it is the Casa D’Amore, built with mortar and bricks and even equipped with a balcony, right in front of the Counts’ residence. The destinations to visit in Alberobello are numerous: the streets of the Rioni Monti and Aia Piccola branch out among a multitude of trulli that enhance the splendor of simplicity. The largest trullo is the Trullo Sovrano, built in the second half of the 18th century, the only one with a raised floor. The Sanctuary of SS. Medici built at the end of the 19th century. Also in the shape of a trullo is the Romanesque-Apulian church of S. Antonio built in 1926. There are several panoramic areas ready to amaze visitors, inviting them to breathe deeply the healthy and dry air of the hill wind. Events: National and international folklore festival “Città dei Trulli” (first week of August); Feast of Santi Medici Cosma e Damiano (25-28 September).
Martina Franca is a recommended destination for all lovers of baroque and noble palaces. The city, which stands on a hill overlooking the Valle d’Itria, 431 meters above sea level, is one of the major centers of the province of Taranto, with about 45,000 inhabitants. Founded in 1300 by the Prince of Taranto Filippo d’Angiò, in 1507 it became a fief of the Caracciolos, who transformed it into a capital of the Apulian Baroque: a sober and graceful “baroque”, customized by local workers. In 1668, Duke Petracone V Caracciolo had the Palazzo Ducale built there (the work of Giovanni Andrea Carducci from Bergamo), a marvelous structure that recalls the style of sumptuous Roman palaces. Of extraordinary beauty the basilica of S. Martino and S.ta Comasia, with portal and friezes that enhance the magnificence of the Baroque. The narrow streets of the historic center are enchanting, where you can breathe a patinated air of nobility, in the presence of an artistic-cultural heritage well preserved over the years.In addition to its architectural beauties, the town is known for the breeding of the Murgese horse, its first inhabitants, Provençal knights, and the Catalan donkey, imported to Puglia during the Spanish domination. Every year, in summer, Martina Franca hosts the Itria Valley Festival, one of the most prestigious national opera festivals, since 1975. The fairs and religious festivals of the summer period are characteristic. San Martino is celebrated twice a year: on 11 November and the first Sunday after 4 July.
Locorotondo from the Latin locus rotundus, is a manifestly medieval toponym to indicate the roundness of the hill where the town would later rise. The first human settlements in Locorotondo date back to the time of the Byzantine domination which ended in the 11th century with the arrival of the conquering Normans. Locorotondo was first a fief of the Benedictine monastery of Monopoli, then of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and finally of the Aragonese. The territory of Locorotondo has a circular plan, 410 meters above sea level, and is characterized by rectangular houses with sloping roofs called “cummerse” made of chiancarelle, of which the subsoil is rich. The narrow streets of the historic center of Locorotondo are wonderful and enchanting, with whitewashed walls and wrought iron balconies filled with cascades of colorfully colored geraniums; all in a romantic and suggestive setting. The one hundred and thirty districts that make up the countryside of Locorotondo, animated by olive groves and vineyards arranged with geometric precision, are to be explored by bicycle. From these fine vineyards (Verdeca and Bianco d’Alessano) the Bianco Locorotondo DOC is born, well-known far beyond the regional borders, which combines culture and peasant tradition. a national monument, and the Matrice church dedicated to the cult of St. George the martyr, built in 1578. Locorotondo is one of the “most beautiful villages in Italy”. The important recognition for the historic center of Locorotondo, which has become part of an important group of the most beautiful villages throughout the country, represents yet another confirmation of the natural wonders of Locorotondo and of the whole valley of the trulli in Puglia. circular shape and grouped around the Mother Church, the historic center of Locorotondo presents itself with a particular charm, thanks to the use of white lime that surrounds every ancient building and small road in the town of Locorotondo. Thanks to the administration and the inhabitants, Locorotondo shows no signs of abandonment or decay. The historic center of Locorotondo does not offer great artistic or architectural magnificence, but strikes for its set of graceful and intimate settings. Out of the Apulian tradition, the houses of Locorotondo end with unusual pointed roofs called cummerse. In particular, flying over Locorotondo, you can see how the roofs are made up of limestone slabs (chiancarelle) which hide a rather raised barrel vault in the underlying part. This particular type of coverage of the urban center of Locorotondo is found only in some of the countryside of the Locorotondo district. The panorama of old Locorotondo, uniformly characterized by cummerse, suggests the image of some Nordic town. According to some unfounded testimonies, in Locorotondo in past times there would have been influences from builders from beyond the Alps who would have transplanted this building style to Locorotondo.From the old Porta Napoli, one of the two main entrances of Locorotondo, you can see an ancient a lunate arch whose ashlars are decorated with late medieval motifs; its original location is unknown, it probably constituted the present door of Locorotondo. The ancient seat of the Municipality of Locorotondo consisted of the Sala, a no longer existing building, located in front of the castle. The current building, used as a Civic Library, is the coordination center for other cultural initiatives that take place during the year in Locorotondo. On the occasion of its construction in Locorotondo, the ancient Via Maggiore was altered, which was developing from piazza castello, now piazza Vittorio Emanuele II of Locorotondo, up to the Mother Church. The squat turret was erected in 1819 to place the clock coming from the bell tower of the ancient Mother Church, making its chimes heard throughout Locorotondo. In 1870 the original building was renovated in some parts, softening it with the superimposition of a circular aedicule, which once constituted one of the two minor bell towers flanking the dome of the current Mother Church of Locorotondo. Attached to the latter, the magnificent Morelli palace stands out in Locorotondo. This only stately home in Locorotondo has preserved the Baroque architectural layout of the early eighteenth century intact. In Locorotondo, an appointment not to be missed in August is the feast in honor of the patron saint S. Rocco (16 August), which includes, in addition to the various religious moments, a “festival of suffocated rolls” (gnumeredde suffuchete, a feather in the cap of the excellent local gastronomy with a simple and genuine flavor) and the fireworks competition that marks the end of the celebrations.
Cisternino, an important center of Messapian origin, overlooks the Itria Valley on one side and the coast on the other. The Messapi were an ancient people who lived in Salento even before the Greeks and Romans. In the Middle Ages Cisternino was inhabited by Basilian monks refugee from the East following persecutions, and still retains the “specchie” (funeral monuments) and “dolmens” (tombs and altars) of the pre-Roman village. It was later a fief of Monopoli. The houses in its historic center have a typically oriental aspect, with hidden courtyards and external stairs to connect the floors. The panorama offered by the rural scenery of the large valley dotted with trulli is incomparable, also appreciated by oriental religious movements who have made it the destination of their communities. To visit: the mother church of S. Nicola di Patara of Romanesque origin which stands on the remains of a primitive Basilian crypt, the sanctuary of the Madonna d’Ibernia and the tower of Porta Grande of Norman origin which represented the main gateway to the old village. On July 15 there is the Hague and S.Quirico Fair. Interesting are the musical and cultural events on the occasion of “Pietre che cantano”, in the main square of the town.
Ostuni Built on Messapian settlements, Ostuni has an ancient nucleus with narrow streets, squares and alleys that in the past belonged to the five gates equipped with towers. The most important monument of Ostuni is the cathedral, one of the best known sacred buildings of regional importance, especially for the characteristics of the façade with three portals surmounted by rose windows in concentric circles. Ostuni, with its 33,000 inhabitants, is one of the unmistakable towns in the south-eastern area of the Apulian Murgia, better known as “Murgia dei trulli”. Thanks to the evident white color that distinguishes the buildings, Ostuni boasts the nickname of “White City”. Positioned on the top of a hill, Ostuni dominates the entire landscape below characterized by plains of olive groves, in fact Ostuni marks the boundary between the plain of olive trees and the internal hilly area characterized by trulli and dry stone walls. To highlight the coast of Ostuni which has a series of bays with jagged coasts and beaches with fine white sand. Accompanied by an evident Mediterranean scrub, the coast of Ostuni is one of the most important in Puglia. Adjacent to the coast of Ostuni is the Torre Guaceto State Nature Reserve, a naturalistic area of about 1,100 hectares, declared of international interest. In the Ostuni reserve, the splendid swamp hosts marshes and dunes with Mediterranean scrub and welcomes a very rich fauna, in particular migratory aquatic birds. To visit the naturalistic area of Lamacornola, about 5 km from Ostuni. The so-called “blade” of Ostuni, represents a karst phenomenon typical of the Murge landscape, also having historical value, hosting numerous rock settlements used as houses, as well as places of cult in medieval times. Particularly is the “ride in costume of the devotees” of Sant’Oronzo, protector of Ostuni, where, in correspondence with the procession, it is possible to observe the accompaniment on horseback with the devotees of Ostuni in characteristic costumes. worth noting, in addition to the characteristic places where you can taste delicious local dishes, are the “Marine di Ostuni”, such as Villanova, embellished with a wonderful castle of the sixteenth century, Marina di Ostuni and Monticelli, where still today remain the remains of an ancient village dating back at the Bronze Age. Also of great interest is the Crypt of San Biagio, built in 1148 near the church of the same name, which has the remains of frescoes and Latin inscriptions.
Castel del Monte stands on a 540 meter high ground, surrounded by woods, from which it dominates the vast surrounding plain towards the Adriatic. This majestic castle, built in 1240, is a tangible sign of the greatness of Frederick II of Swabia, the Germanic emperor.It has an octagonal plan marked by eight 29-meter high towers, a gable portal, narrow windows and large fireplaces. The castle, in which the Gothic architecture blends through the Romanesque tradition of the region with the Roman classicism, was stripped of the variety of its marbles in the eighteenth century. At the behest of Frederick II, the position of the elegant mullioned windows of the building was studied according to the symbolic and astrological value of the lights and shadows they project on the walls. The castle was built on a hill so that it was also visible from the distant seas of the Adriatic. From its windows the gaze sweeps over most of the Murge and the Tavoliere. Known for its octagonal shape, Castel del Monte is a medieval castle, with multipurpose functions within the organic castle system built by Frederick II of Swabia to govern the territory, and to be analyzed in its relations with the main castles in the area. On 29 January 1240, Emperor Frederick II signed a decree in which he ordered to prepare the material necessary for the construction of a castle located near the church (now disappeared) of Sancta Maria de Monte. Castel del Monte was built between 1240 and 1246, and documents attest that the Emperor took great care but it seems that he never lived, in fact, according to many, the residential function of Castel del Monte is somewhat doubtful. Castel del Monte has the uniqueness of the octagonal plant in the center of which there is an octagonal courtyard, it is thought, originally occupied by a swimming pool. At the corners of the polygon there are eight structures, also octagonal, which have the appearance of towers but whose height does not exceed that of the body of the castle. Structured on two floors, in each of them Castel del Monte comprises eight trapezoidal rooms all of similar size, but characterized by a subtle hierarchy depending on the way in which they communicate with each other or with the internal courtyard. There is no moat or other defensive work: in fact Castel del Monte was not designed to defend a territory, but was wanted by the Emperor to celebrate himself and his temporal power, which can be denied in the distance with its appearance of a crown overlooking the valley. The materials used in the construction of Castel del Monte include local limestone, white or pink, marble, white or slightly veined, and coral breccia, which play an important role in chromatic perception. Except for short periods of holidays, the Castel del Monte remained mostly used as a prison. In 1495 Ferdinand of Aragon stayed there, before being crowned king of the two Sicilies in Barletta. The current name of the castle appears a little later in a decree of the same king, issued by Altamura. Castel del Monte was a refuge for many noble families during the plague of 1656. Since the eighteenth century, left unattended, it was systematically devastated, stripped of marble and furnishings, and became a shelter for shepherds, brigands, political refugees. In 1876 Castel del Monte was purchased by the Italian state and restored up to the very recent last interventions of the Eighties, until it became a world heritage site. Castel del Monte has been the subject of studies that have created different theories and thoughts, in fact, many see Castel del Monte as a masterpiece of style, while others consider it a temple of high spirituality and mystery. This is also due to the fact that Castel del Monte is affected by the mysticism brought about by the strong personality of Frederick II.
Castellana Grotte, a town with an ancient and singular flavor (whose first documents date back to the 10th century) belonged to the abbesses of the monastery of Conversano, has a historic center full of churches and splendid 18th century noble palaces. Just two kilometers from the town, among the treasures that Puglia holds, there are the Caves of Castellana, the most famous karst complex in Italy, a must for those who want to experience the thrill of mystery and adventure. Discovered on 23 January 1938 by the speleologist Franco Anelli, with a 3 km route, they present an underground environment of particular charm and suggestion. In the secret cavities of the subsoil, tens of meters deep, it will not take long to feel the protagonists of an exciting journey through time, among alabaster draperies, stalagmites and stalactites of a thousand colors, underground lakes and beautiful caves, testimony of prehistoric civilizations . During the journey, lasting about three hours, you can admire the Black Grotto, the Cavernone dei Monumenti, the Cavernone della Civetta, the Cavernetta del Presepe and the last wonderful discovery: the White Grotto, defined as the most beautiful in the world.
Fasano Continuing for another 20 km along a panoramic road you can reach the Selva di Fasano, which for twenty-five years has hosted the Zoo-safari and the Fasanolandia park. The park can be visited by car and extends over a reserve of 80 hectares, where it is possible to spend an entire day admiring the fairs and the many exotic animals (Sala Tropicale) in an evocative space full of attractions. The sea lions and dolphins invariably amaze visitors with their jokes and extraordinary displays. There is no shortage of thrilling emotions, offered by the roller coaster, the Ferris wheel, the giant slalom, the Mississippi boat and other rides.A few kilometers away is Fasano, born around the 10th century after the destruction of Egnazia. Having survived the fall of the Roman Empire, it became a bishopric in the early Christian era. The countryside surrounding Fasano is full of farms, immersed in the green of oaks, pines, olive groves and vineyards, and gently caressed by the sea breeze (Torre Canne, Savelletri). The subsoil also hosts some natural caves. Continuing for another 11 km in the direction of Monopoli, you reach the Adriatic coast, along which alternate beaches and cliffs lapped by emerald green waters. On the way we meet the ancient Roman city of Egnazia, founded in the 13th century BC and immortalized in the verses of Horace. Today it is an archaeological site of great historical and artistic value. The first human settlements date back to the Bronze Age, in the sixth century. B.C. it became a Messapian residence until, in 266, the Romans imposed their domination. It was then Octavian Augustus who transformed Egnazia into a port that flanked that of Brindisi. To visit: the Museum, with a marble head of the god Attis and a mosaic of the Three Graces; Roman and Paleochristian monuments and the acropolises (visiting hours: 08.30 – 13.30; 14.30 – 19.30). Not far away, in the Capitolo locality, several beaches enliven the summer with their nightclubs (bars, discos, disco-pubs). Continuing north, you reach Monopoli, a port city with a maritime tradition since the time of the Byzantines and Normans.
Polignano a Mare is a picturesque town of Greek origin that stands on a tuff cliff, overlooking the sea and carved out of various karst caves, inhabited in prehistoric times. After the Byzantine and Longobard domination, in the 16th century, Polignano belonged to Venice. The many terraces overlooking the sea offer a suggestive panoramic view, an unrepeatable spectacle. Diving competitions are held every year from the cliffs, very high, involving athletes from all over the world. The ancient part can be reached through the door set in the Doge’s Palace. Walking through the medieval alleys of the historic center you reach the Mother Church, with a beautiful Renaissance portal. In Polignano there are many craft shops, bars (it is the home of artisanal ice cream) and restaurants (some of which are carved directly into the rock). The characteristic lanes of the historic center are animated, particularly in summer, by various events. The depth and clarity of the sea, the grandeur of the cliffs and the many points of aggregation make Polignano a perfect meeting point between history and modernity. To visit: the Grotta Palazzese, known for its intense green-blue color; the Masseria Lamafico, on the road that connects Monopoli to Conversano, a clear example of a fortified farmhouse without a tower, with gardens and an oriental-style well. Polignano is 31 Km from Alberobello.
Monopoli from the Greek Monos-polis, which means unique, singular city, was a village that, like so many in Puglia Peucezia, was to crown Gnatia, emporium of the Adriatic. The etymology of Monopoli, in its literal meaning of a single city, was probably coined after the confluence, towards the north, of the inhabitants of Gnatia, destroyed by Totila – King of the Goths – in 545 AD. In the following centuries, as much of the Southern Italy was ruled by Normans, Byzantines and Swabians. In 1484, with the arrival of the Venetians, a period of considerable economic growth began, due in particular to the development of the activities of its port, located in a strategic position and considered the only refuge. safe and equipped between Bari and Brindisi, as well as an outlet for a vast hinterland, rich in products required on foreign markets (oil, almonds, carob, wine) and an importing center for many other goods. It dates back to 1530, with the end of the Venetian domination , the attempt to transform Monopoli into a Barony or Marquisate; an attempt frustrated by the strong opposition of the monopoly people who wanted to redeem themselves, paying the Emperor 51,000 gold ducats. Once again a free city under the Spanish government, in 1545, again with public money, Monopoli expanded its surrounding walls and in 1552 the ancient Castle of Henry IV and Frederick II was enlarged and restored, by the Marquis Don Ferrante LOFFREDO on order of Charles V. The Spanish domination which ended in 1713 was replaced by the Austrian one which ended in 1734, when the Bourbons settled in Naples to surround the southern crown. Subsequently the city followed all the vicissitudes that affected the Kingdom of Naples, until in 1860 it was annexed to the kingdom of Italy, following the fate of the whole nation.The coast, about 13 km long, is low and jagged, with over 25 beautiful coves and inlets, wide sandy expanses and many stretches of free beach, makes it particularly suitable for bathing.There are numerous bathing establishments including: S. Stefano (S. Stefano district, adjacent to the Abbey of S. Stefano), Lido Pantano, Lido Sabbia d’Oro , Torre Cintola, Porto Giardino, Porto Ghiacciolo, Torre Egnatia, Le Macchie, Baia del Sol … Many of these establishments are located in the now famous seaside resort “Capitolo”, famous for its sparkling nightlife, about 6 km from the city center. Among the main monuments: the Charles V Castle (16th century), the Gerosolomitano Hospital (founded in 1350 by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta as a Commenda of San Giovanni di Monopoli, located in the historic center in Largo San Giovanni with church of the same name.), Palazzo Palmieri (sec. XVIII), the municipal library “Prospero Rendella”, the Abbey of Santo Stefano, the remains of the walls, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele (19th century), the Villa Comunale. Do not forget the numerous crypts and churches in the historic center, the museums (Meo-Evoli museum, Egnazia museum, diocesan museum) and the numerous fortified farms and patrician villas in the Monopoli countryside.
Matera, with one of the most fascinating historical centers in the world, represents one of the most particular forms of adaptation by man; in fact, with a living substratum consisting of caves dug into the tufa rock, Matera has one of the oldest centers in the world dating back to the Paleolithic. Its ancient districts, called Sassi di Matera, are a gigantic sculpture, an urban miracle in which it is possible to denote many elements that refer to the various historical events that have occurred over the centuries. Today almost totally uninhabited, the Sassi di Matera housed about 15,000 people until 1952, the year in which the state decreed their displacement for health and hygiene reasons. The urban structure, dug into the tuff of the Gravina di Matera, is unique in its kind, with an intricate system of alleys, stairs, caves, arches, gardens, terraces and chimneys. Particular is also the management of the hydraulic system and the construction of tanks completely dug into the ground that allowed the inhabitants of Matera to conserve fresh water. Here we understand how the inhabitants of Matera have gradually risen from the cave-refuge by placing facades above them, building roofs that they organized into small hanging gardens; a historical and artistic condensation of spaces obtained in limestone, or in the stone called tuff by the inhabitants of Matera. At the end of 1993 the Sassi di Matera were declared by UNESCO “a world heritage site to be handed down to future generations” and listed among the 395 wonders of the world. In 1994 Matera was awarded the European Union Prize for the best territorial urban planning. Thanks to these peculiarities, the historic center of Matera is also defined as an “underground city”. There are many churches in Matera built from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, mostly in the Baroque style, demonstrating how, parallel to the laurels and the caves, an already urban life developed. In Matera (55,000 inhabitants), today you can observe both the various historical influences, that the new creations in the “new” Matera. Leaving the Sassi di Matera area, you look into the hinterland with contrasting and surprising characteristics with small country houses, large farms, and small inhabited centers located on the tops of the mountains. , with over 8,000 hectares of surface, which hides naturalistic riches and unexpected historical testimonies, where you can observe bare and barren rocks with low vegetation and deep and irregular engravings of the territory, the so-called “ravines” of Matera, where you can find shapes of exploitation of the limestone rock by the inhabitants of Matera.