Giovinazzo and its charming fishing port

Hi, I’m Viviana and this is my hometown | #PugliaByMe

If you are planning to spend some time in Puglia, my hometown Giovinazzo could be a nice stop to add to your list, while visiting the Bari Land. Located few kilometres North from Bari, Giovinazzo is a charming peninsula surrounded by the blue Adriatic sea, with the characteristic old town set within sturdy walls, which enclose a number of architectural beauties.

Alberobello

Alberobello is a small yet characteristic town located South East of Puglia in the province of Bari, (in the middle of The Itria Valley) with a population of about 10,000 people.

Alberobello is situated on two hills; the new town is located on the eastern hill and is characterized by a modern architecture. The western part is occupied by the old town (trulli) and the whole area is divided into two districts: Monti and Aia Piccola, both National Monuments. Alberobello is without question one of the most characteristic towns in Italy and is famous for its traditionally built ancient stone houses called trulli, (which since 1996 have been named a UNESCO World Heritage site).

Alberobello_beautifulpuglia

The origin of this type of construction is uncertain; many historians argue that its origins are linked to religious beliefs. Historically they made their first appearance in the 17th century when the Earls of Conversano (the Earls Acquaviva), at the time feudatories of the area, decided to extend their domain by building a new village. They would have to pay a tribute to the King of Naples (Aragonese family) in order to build new villages so they decided to build houses, that could be quickly destroyed in the case of royal inspection, by using only dry stones without the use of mortar.

Originally used by peasants, the trulli have in recent years become more and more one of the top major tourist attractions in Puglia, and is must see for all tourists visiting Southern Italy.

Alberobello_beautifulpuglia

The architecture of trulli is very simple. They are built entirely of dry stones (which is characteristic of the area) using a simple technique: the main part of the trullo is built in a circular shape and is topped by a cupola roof, which allows for the room to remain cool in summer yet is easy to heat in the winter. The walls are always white washed with white lime. The internal conical structure is made up an inner layer of limestone boulders, capped by a keystone and an outer layer of limestone slabs ensuring that the structure is watertight. The roofs are also often decorated with religious or astrological symbols; sometimes they may represent signs of the zodiac, but may also include planetary symbols or a cross among others.

The biggest trullo in the town called Sovereign Trullo and was built in 18th century. The Sovereign Trullo is different from other trulli because the building has two floors and now also hosts a museum. During the summer months it also doubles up as a theater hosting many events such as plays, musical performances, culture evenings and poetry readings.

Alberobello_beautifulpuglia

The landscape around Alberobello is charming and magical; it makes the town one of the most popular attractions in the region. Local handicrafts can be purchased around the old town, which include: local art, hand woven baskets, stone sculptures, ornaments made from local iron and handmade textiles. Alberobello has also a fantastic production of local wines and olive oils, and typical local dishes: the sweet almonds, and macaroons pasta among others.

Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare is a town in the province of Bari. Its origins date back to the Neolithic period (5th millennium BC), it was known as Neapolis during ancient Greek times and became an important trading center and seaport under the Romans.

Polignano_A_MarePolignano a Mare is a pearl on the Adriatic Sea, the oldest part of the town lies on limestone cliffs and overlooks the sea. Of particular interest are his natural caves scattered around its territory where several remains of prehistoric human settlement have been found.

But most important and characteristic are the caves along its coast. Dug by the force of the sea which has shaped the rocks over the millennium, some of them are so deep that they extend right under the city center  Among these, the Palazzese cave which gives the water a spectacular green-blue color.

Polignano a Mare has often received the Blue Flag (from the Foundation for Environmental Education) for its clean bathing water and beaches.

Wandering around the old town and getting lost among its narrow streets and white stone paved alleys is probably the best way to discover this little pearl. You will get lost into this labyrinth and most of the time the alleys will lead you to small terraces at the edge of the cliffs for a spectacular view point.

polignano a marePhoto Credits: Stefano Ciccocioppo

The architecture of the historic old town is very simple and typical of Mediterranean villages with numerous outside stairways, nice arches decorated with colorful flowers.

Several monuments and buildings of historic interest are well kept in the old town. The Marchesale Arch between the Lama Monachile bridge and the Garibaldi square was the original ancient gateway to the town. The bridge of the Traiana Road, still opened which crosses Lama Monachile, the deep inlet just north of the center. Mother Church, located in the main square, it was consecrated in 1295. The ancient Judea road (the Jewish Ghetto).

Domenico Modugno, an unforgettable master of popular Italian music, was born here, and as a tribute to this great artist, a statue has been opened in his honor along the seafront.

Locorotondo

Locorotondo is a village in the province of Bari with a population of about 14,000 people, well connected by public transports and easily accessible by car, Locorotondo is certainly worth a visit while in Southern Italy.

locorotondo puglia

Its name derives from the Latin Locus Rotundus meaning round place to prove the fact that the village had a circular shape which still remains today.

Built on top of a hill and surrounded by a wall Locorotondo is certainly the most beautiful natural balcony over the Valle d’Itria. From its panoramic viewpoint, you can see thousands of trulli, a typical Mediterranean scrub forest, olive groves and vineyards that surround the Masserie.

locorotondo pugliaThe the foundation of the town dates back to around 1000 AD: the old town is made up of beautiful tiny streets and houses painted in white and built in a Baroque style and when walking through its streets you’ll see that everything is very nice and tidy and the atmosphere is almost unreal.

The Mother Church of ‘St. George the Martyr’, built between 1769 and 1821 and including 14th century bas-reliefs; the church of ‘San Rocco’, the Romanesque church of ‘Our Lady of Greece’ are a must see for visitors to the area.

locorotondo puglia

Finally, to remind that Locorotondo is famous for the production of wine, particularly white and sparkling wine which takes the name from the village and it has been officially elected from “I borghi piu’ belli d’Italia” as one of the most beautiful old villages in Italy.

Castellana Caves

Castellana Caves (Castellana Grotte) is a small town in the province of Bari. The town bases its economy mainly on agriculture and tourism. It has a very nice historic center with many ancient buildings dating back to the 17th century.

castellana_caves_beautifulpuglia

grotte_di_castellana1The town links its name primarily to the enchanting beauty of its caves, the largest and most picturesque complex of caves in Italy and one of the main tourist destination in Puglia. The formation of these karst caves dates back about as far as 90 million years ago. The presence of the caves had been known since the 18th century as people used to tell stories about monsters and ghosts living inside the big chasm (called La Grave) just outside the town.

However it was only in 1938 when the speleologist Franco Anelli descended to the floor of the chasm and started to explore it. As of today this big caves complex is one of the world’s largest karst complex that has ever been explored by man. Since its discovery millions of tourists have been able to admire this wonder of nature.

The whole karst complex is a mix of white stalactites and stalagmites. Their formation started 90M years ago and the process is still ongoing. The process of formation starts with the action of rainwater that is absorbed by the calcareous soil . The water dissolves the calcium carbonate present in the soil, the water then evaporates when it comes into the cave, the calcium carbonate settles to the ground and forms the stalactites and stalagmites . Later on they get covered by crystals.

castellana_caves_beautifulpuglia

Some details relating the caves: 2 km long route, 70 meters deep, temperature ranging between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius, humidity is extremely high with peaks of 90%.

The tour starts from the main hall where grotte_di_castellana2there is a bust of Franco Anelli. This is called La Grave and is the main entrance to the karst complex. Here you can admire the 50m wide and 60m deep group of stalagmites.

Two different tours can then be taken inside: the classic tour (the shortest one) lasts 50 minutes and is 1Km long. The second one lasts 2 hours and is 2Km long. It leads to the White Cave (Grotta Bianca) which for the whiteness of its alabaster has been defined by cavers as the most gleaming in the world. Here you can truly see the most unspoiled nature as you’ll admire this lunar landscape.

Many caves are scattered along the 2Km path, among the others: the black caves, big caves of monuments, cave of altar, cave of Milan. Names are usually given because of the shape of rocks inside them.

For further information please visit the website: www.grottedicastellana.it

Bari

Bari is the capital of its province and of the Puglia region, it is also in the middle of the so called Bari Land. Third largest city in Southern Italy, its metropolitan area has about one million inhabitants. The city overlooks the Adriatic Sea and due to its favorable location and its port (the largest passenger port in the Adriatic Sea) has become over the time one of the largest malls in Southern Italy and a strategic point in the Mediterranean for international trade and politic-cultural contacts with Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Since 1930 the Fiera del Levante has been held in Bari, it is the largest fair in Southern Italy and it’s the second one after Milan’s. It is attended by exhibitors from all over the world and it’s mainly focused on industry and agriculture.

The city of Bari consists of three parts: Bari Vecchia, the old city, the 19th century district called Murattiano and the new city. Its origins are very uncertain, and its development has been marked by the frequent changes of power that the city experienced having being ruled by different domains. It is certainly known that it was invaded and occupied by the Romans in the 3rd century BC. It was during this period that it became an important seaport and road junction thanks to the construction of the Traiana Road linking Benevento to Brindisi which was a variant of the Appia Road. After the fall of the Roman Empire it was repeatedly invaded and conquered by the Lombards, Saracens and Byzantines.

In 1071 a rebellion against the Byzantines marked the rise to the power of the Normans which in 1087 brought the stolen relics of St. Nicholas of Myra (Turkey). The construction of a temple in honor of the saint was immediately ordered, the Basilica of St. Nicholas, which with its imposing facade is one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in Puglia. Together with the square, the Basilica is definitely the heart of the old town. The remains of the Saint are still contained in the beautiful crypt under the central altar; St. Nicholas is one of the most venerated Saints among Orthodox Christians. The Basilica is therefore one of the few places frequented by believers belonging to various Christian denominations. It is a tourist destination for religious pilgrimage and represents the meeting point of two Churches: Roman Catholic and Greek-Orthodox. The city grew a lot under the Norman rule and intensified trade relations with the East.

At the end of 1100 the Cathedral of Saint Sabino was built, another wonderful example of Romanesque architecture. After the fall of the Normans Empire, Frederick II took the power and in 1233 ordered the construction of the Swabian Castle. One of the symbols of the city, the castle has a trapezoidal central nucleus with four corner-towers and it’s surrounded by the ancient moat. Very suggestive is the inner courtyard decorated in Renaissance style by Bona Sforza and the entrance hall with cross vaults. The castle is open to the public and hosts permanent exhibitions and cultural events.

In 1813, during the Napoleonic domain, Joachim Murat ordered the construction of the new district (“Murat district”) which with its grid-like streets is absolutely a must see area. Main buildings of this district are: Government House, Margherita Theater built on the sea in Liberty style, and the great Petruzzelli Theatre. Sparano St., the luxury shopping street ending in Umberto the 1st Square with the great fountain that was opened on completion of the Apulian aqueduct.

Another interesting itinerary is the old town with its narrow streets and rich in buildings and baroque and Renaissance churches. Among the others we recommend Saint Marco, Saint Gregorio, and Christ Church. Finally, the promenade (Lungomare) of Bari, opened in 1927 to connect the “Fiera del Levante”. Long 15 Km, it is a great place to get away from the busy city center  go for a quiet walk and watch the huge cruise ships and ferries go past as they leave the port. Here you can admire lovely and elegant buildings which were built during the fascist era.