1. Polignano a mare: in the blue, painted blue
Blue Flag 2013, Polignano is called “Pearl of the Adriatic” for the twelve kilometers of coastline characterized by a crystalline sea and by the succession of caves dug by the action of the sea.
Birthplace of the singer Domenico Modugno, is located about thirty kilometers south of the Apulian capital.
A meeting point of different cultures, Polignano a Mare preserves an evocative historical center full of Arab, Byzantine, Spanish and Norman traces like the remains of the four defense towers that encircled the village. Of particular interest are the 1295 Matrice church dedicated to the Assunta and the arch of the Porta, once the only access road to the town.
Important in Polignano is the work of the artist Pino Pascali, guarded and promoted by the Pino Pascali Museum Foundation, an evocative exhibition space dedicated to contemporary art and designed to host exhibitions, seminars and art events, in addition to the prestigious Pino Pascali Award.
2. Castellana Grotte: Italy’s most spectacular caves
The Caves of Castellana are a complex of underground cavities of karst origin, of considerable tourist interest, among the most beautiful and spectacular in Italy and are located in the Municipality of Castellana Grotte.
They develop for a length of 3348 meters and reach a maximum depth of 122 meters from the surface. The indoor temperature is around 16.5° C.
The Caves of Castellana open in the south-eastern Murge – 330 m a.s.l. – on the calcareous plateau formed in the Upper Cretaceous, about ninety-one hundred million years ago.
The beauty of the Castellana Caves attracts visitors from all over the world, and since the day they were opened to the public, more than 15 million people have traveled their underground. The visit to the Caves runs along a 3 km route: an extraordinary guided excursion, about 70 meters deep.
3. Alberobello:The show, of the trulli
In the heart of the Murgia is Alberobello with its characteristic historic center a World Heritage Site. Orange Flag by the Italian Touring Club, has a historic core composed entirely of trulli, houses built with dry stone, base painted in quicklime and a cone-shaped roof made up of stone. Often the top of these particular buildings are adorned with decorations and pinnacles of various shapes drawn with milk of lime and depicting zodiac symbols or religious.
4. Castel del Monte: Imperial Apulia
The great emperor Federico II is the “father” of Castel del Monte, since 1996 registered in the list of UNESCO World Heritage monuments. The extraordinary fortress is today lying on a gentle green hill 20 kilometers from Andria set in the Alta Murgia Park.
The mysterious octagonal plan of the manor, perhaps used as an astronomical observatory or an impressive hunting lodge, differs significantly in the structure from all the other castles of Puglia.
Castel del Monte holds splendid mythological creatures such as decorations in the keystone of the interior rooms and rich porphyry frames in the doors.
Trani is a beautiful town overlooking the sea with a characteristic harbor and a swarming historical center made up of artisan shops.
On the seashore there is the Cathedral of San Nicola Pellegrino and, not far away, the Castello Svevo strategically placed to watch over and defend the town and the port. The particular location, the moored boats and the signal lights make the port and its bastions a unique destination for relaxing walks.
The urban area is characterized by the delightful Villa Comunale, located on a large stretch of the ancient city walls. Near the center stands the Church of Santa Maria di Colonna, a typical monument of Romanesque architecture built between the eleventh and twelfth centuries by Goffredo di Siniscalco.
The legend attributes the foundation of the city to Tirreno, son of Diomedes. With the Bourbon domain, Trani became the most important center of southern Italy, so as to take the title of capital of this region, a title that lost in the Murate period in favor of Bari.
Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the “Sassi di Matera” (meaning “stones of Matera”), reason enough for a visit to Basilicata.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993, the Sassi are houses stacked one on top of the other (similarly to terraced vineyards, for example) and linked by tiny, narrow streets and wide stairways. Inhabited since Antiquity and up until the last century, they feature brickwork facades, while the interiors are entirely dug into the rock.
The word Sassi refers to, in this case, “inhabited rock districts,” used since the Middle Ages to indicate the two districts that rose up around the original ancient city, the Civita. It occupies the two karstic basins that overlook the precipices of the Gravina Valley: the Sasso Barisano and the Sasso Caveoso.
Ostuni, perched on three hills, is located inside the Itria Valley, 218 meters above sea level. It is 42 km north-west of Brindisi, 8 km from the Adriatic coast and it was awarded the Blue Flag.
Ostuni, the White Town, is magic thanks to the characteristic whitewashed houses of its historic center, a tradition the inhabitants still keep on. The Fifteenth century Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral dominates mid town, with a façade sporting a 24-rays rose window of rare beauty.
Along the Via Cattedrale, which divides into two parts the medieval heart of town, there is the former Carmelite Monastery, nowadays seat of the Museum of pre-classical civilization of Southern Murgia, which contains the calque of Delia, a pregnant woman who lived 25,000 years ago.
In Piazza Beato Giovanni Paolo II (the Cathedral little square), eighteenth century buildings like the Palazzo Vescovile and the old Seminario are connected by the fascinating Scoppa arch. At the ground floor of Palazzo Episcopio, the Diocesan Museum holds and exhibits the extraordinary historic-artistic heritage of the Ostuni church, with internationally renowned masterpieces.
A series of churches and elegant houses embellish the old town, surrounded by Aragonese walls, where there are the two ancient town gates, Porta Nova and Porta San Demetrio.
The outline of a castle and ancient walls announce the beautiful town of Monopoli, which overlooks the Adriatic Sea 40 km (25 miles) from Bari.
The town’s 99 contrade (districts) stretch out flatly, allowing you to admire them entirely with a single glance from the splendid belvedere of Loggia del Pilato. This natural terrace, on the road to Selva di Fasano, overlooks a countryside characterized by masserie (farmsteads), churches, rupestrian settlements, and villas.
The symbol of the town is the Castello Carlo V (Castle of Charles V), which stands on the promontory of Punta Penna, and today hosts exhibitions and conferences. You’ll find well conserved and carefully restored masserie in the heart of the marina, as well as in the low-lying hills and flat interior. Also in the countryside is the Lama degli Ulivi Botanical Garden with its caves, rupestrian churches, and more than 2,000 species of Mediterranean flora.
Local celebrations include the festivities held to honour the patron saints Cosmas and Damian on the first weekend in June, and the re-enactment of the landing of the raft carrying the statue of the Madonna della Madia, on August 14th and December 16th.
Quote. Picture of Polignano a Mare: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-w/12/86/41/1f/incredibile.jpg Picture of Castellana Grotte: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-w/14/67/ee/17/photo0jpg.jpg Picture of Alberobello: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-o/01/9d/79/5b/simboli-cupole.jpg Picture of Castel del Monte: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-w/15/a6/d6/a1/si-erge-su-di-una-collina.jpg Picture of Trani: https://www.tripadvisor.it/Attraction_Review-g608901-d2310364-Reviews-Cattedrale_di_Trani-Trani_Province_of_Barletta_Andria_Trani_Puglia.html#photos;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=322796302 Picture of Matera: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-w/16/0d/c2/74/matera-en Picture of Ostuni: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-w/15/4d/3e/13/ostuni-overview.jpg -el-sur-italia.jpg Picture of Monopoli: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-w/15/f2/bc/86/porto-antico-di-monopoli.jpg