Discovering Monopoli with our local Mary | #PugliaByMe
If you decide to come in Puglia, I would highly recommend it! It is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy and you cannot miss the opportunity to visit and spend a few days in the beautiful Monopoli… I’m sure you’ll love it! Monopoli is a small town about 43 Km south-east of Bari, easily accessible by car and by train, and is one of the most beautiful cities of the Bari’s coast. It is also known as the “city of a hundred lands”. The countryside, in fact, is divided into districts where fortified farms, country houses and stone churches prevail, and you can immerse yourself in nature surrounded by beautiful olive trees.
After reaching Monopoli’s city centre, you can park your car and begin to walk toward the main square, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele (commonly called “Borgo” by the locals), where they recently inaugurated a subterranean entrance that leads into the underground air-raid shelters of the World War II.
You can then head to the historic city center, with its narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses. A few yards and you are already on the sea, where you can admire beautiful views of the city. Still walking through these streets, you will reach the Castle of Charles V, built along the shore during the Spanish rule (XVI-XVII century), to protect the entrance of the old port.
Along the city walls, through the narrow streets of the old town, you will come across various churches and historic buildings such as the Church of San Salvatore, recently reopened and finely painted; the Church of Santa Teresa with the adjoining Palazzo Palmieri of the XVII century, reopened for the day of the FAI (Italian Environment Fund) together with Palazzo Martinelli, also from the XVII century. Continuing your walk, you will see in the distance the majestic bell tower of the Cathedral Basilica of the Madonna della Madia, which was rebuilt in Baroque style: the interior has the shape of a Latin cross and floor and columns are covered by marble.
Annexed to the Mother Church, the Diocesan Museum and the Crypt, archaeological site of the Cathedral. But that’s not all because Monopoli has much more to do and see! The thing I love the most of my Monopoli is the crystal clear sea and its green and blue colors. It is very easy to fall in love with it and I would stay for hours admiring it! It’s my “special” place: just walking along the marina and watching the fishermen weave their nets or walking along the quays and admiring the blue sea crossed by our local small fishing boats, the “gozzi”, which come back after a day of fishing … how exciting!
For those who wish to spend the day enjoying the sun and the sea, good news, there are 25 beautiful bays along the coast! From North to South, starting from Cala Corvino, Cala Susca, passing through Cala Porta Vecchia, Porto Rosso, Porto Verde, Cala Paradiso, Porto Ghiacciolo, Santo Stefano with its Abbey, you will find along you path several sandy coves and cliff until you reach the seaside area of Capitolo, where long sandy beaches prevail.
Many foreigners, including Italians coming from other regions, are attracted by such beauty to experience moments of pure relax! In addition, this year, Monopoli has been awarded the Blue Flag by FEE 2014.
But Monopoly is also a city full of entertainment and culinary delights: walking through the narrow streets of the old town, you will encounter a number of cafes, local pubs to grab a fresh beer with friends, lounge bars to spend the evening with good music, pizzerias, trattorias and restaurants where you can taste our local cuisine and enjoy fresh fish, the typical orecchiette pasta or, why not, also the “incrapiata” of fava beans and chicory. It is a classic for those who come to visit Monopoli to taste the typical “Barese” focaccia or the Panzerotti. Many visitors would also appreciate and bring back to their countries huge bags of taralli!
Typical treats of the Christmas period are the Cartellate, made of fried crispy dough and served with honey or cooked wine, the so called “vin cotto”; the Pettole, made from a very soft dough, fried and served with hot with sugar or again vin cotto; the Boconotti, sweet pastry filled with jam and almond paste.
Yummy, what a delicious thing! The area of Capitolo is also well known for its nightlife given the high number of bars and nightclubs. Many locals from the nearby towns use to come to enjoy Monopoli’s atmosphere and nightlife! The patronal feast of the Madonna della Madia takes officially place on the 16th December, but it is done again on the 14th August so that tourists and locals living abroad can still enjoy it. Typical of this feast is the landing of the raft with the Byzantine icon (whose shape resembles the “madia”, local name of the wooden board used to knead the bread, hence its name).
On both dates, locals and visitors stand in the front row at the port for the suggestive and evocative religious event. Throughout the year there are many events and festivals in the city centre as well as in the nearby countryside, in particular traditional festivals, called “sagra”, which celebrate our gastronomy such as orecchiette, pettole, panzerotti, along with music and dances.
In recent years Monopoli has also become often the set of numerous films and television dramas, which fills us with enormous pride. I love my city and my sea and even more I love picturing them in my photo shots! I would not change them for anything in the world!
Testo e foto a cura di Mary Romagno