Puglia is the large region in southern Italy with a beautiful coastline and white villages as Alberobello and Cisternino
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Puglia in 20 seconds
Puglia is quite a long region! The distance exceeds 400 kilometers from up on the Gargano peninsula, the so-called spur on the Italian heel, and down to Otranto in Salento which lies south of Lecce. Therefore it can be a great idea to make sure you have plenty of time to explore the region, because it offers everything you want from Italy.
The landscape of northern Puglia is dominated by vast plains, with the only real mountains clustered around the Gargano promontory, a peninsula that cuts out into the Adriatic Sea. Down the coastal road past Bari and Brindisi, everything changes to the flattest landscape, with magnificent architecture and beautiful sights to keep you interested wherever you are going.
The well populated region has a number of major cities, such as Bari, Taranto and Foggia where the population density is high. Except for Bari, the capital of the region, it is actually not these larger cities that are overrun by tourists. Instead it is the much smaller towns that attract tourists in droves.
Alberobello with its famous Trulli houses, Lecce with its world-famous Baroque style architecture, the white town of Ostuni, the popular coastal town of Vieste, beautifully perched on the Gargano peninsula, and many, many other towns in Puglia.
Martina Franca is an elegant architectural town. Though it is not elegant in the same way we know it from Milan or Rome for instance. Martina Franca is elegant due to the feel of the renaissance, in a way that we pretty much only see in Italy and perhaps mostly in the south of Italy. If we were to compare it to another city it might well be that of Lecce, which is south of the city.
Alberobello is a curious destination in Puglia, which has received a lot of attention from tourists historically.
It is also a UNESCO world heritage site, due to its distinctive Trulli houses, and the small town is an ideal candidate for a one-day trip in Puglia. Especially if you’re staying in a Trulli yourself!
Monopoli is a fishing village that exists both in the sea as well as on the sea, with the white limestone houses located close to the small town south of Bari.
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When moving around Puglia, Locorotondo is a must-see location with its circular center and characteristic white houses.
Now we have made our way inland, and in bird’s eye view we are a good 20 kilometers from the coast. It takes about an hour’s drive from the airport at Bari, and about the same time from the airport at Brindisi, which is located to the south of Locorotondo.
Alberobello is one of the two most famous towns here, and is just 9 kilometers away from Locorotondo. So if you are in the middle of Puglia, it would be obvious to go there as well.
We find these green plains and in the heart of Valle D’Itria, crammed in between the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea, where Locorotondo has placed itself perched on a plateau that rises just as quietly and beautifully on the horizon. It is with good reason the town is among the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Locorotondo is included in the “Borghi più belli d’Italia”, an Italian ranking system of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It has also been awarded the Bandiera Arancione, which is an orange flag that is handed out by the Touring Club Italiano to small municipalities with a maximum of 15,000 inhabitants. This is to mark their excellent service and high quality of hospitality.
The town made the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy in 2001, and the Bandiera Arancione was awarded to them in 2010. Locorotondo is among the 10 most beautiful villages in Southern Italy and Puglia.
THE CHURCHES IN TOWN
The white houses are easy to notice as you approach the town, but the bell towers also rise up and make themselves visible in the distance, and indeed the town boasts many churches. Below are a few examples:
This church has a beautiful neoclassical facade, built between 1790 and 1825 on the site of two older religious buildings. Among other things, here you can see an old relief of San Giorgio with a dragon. And next to it stands the beautiful bell tower, along with four stone statues. The entrance here is free.
This church is located in the heart of the old town, and is adorned first and foremost by its beautiful rose window. Here you can experience a work of modern art by Domenico Rosato, as well as a fresco of Madonna and Child. The church was built in the 15th century and houses the Madonna delle Rose. The entrance is free.
The white town of Ostuni is picturesquely famous for being popular with tourists, who come to see the whitewashed houses of the old medieval village and enjoy the atmosphere.
Ostuni is situated on three hills in the Valle d’Itria, and rises 218 meters above sea level.
Ostuni is about 100 kilometers south of Bari and the airport in Puglia’s capital. Brindisi airport is closer, as it is only 40 kilometers away. From the city and out towards the coast, the distance is not greater than 9-10 kilometers in a straight line.
Here you will find a mixture of ultra-narrow streets, that mostly resemble a tiny market and where space is very tight, but at the same time also provide a cozy and warm atmosphere. Which makes good sense, as the temperature easily climbs to 40 degrees on the hottest summer days here.
The streets are laid out in an almost labyrinthine pattern, and you will also encounter steep stairs as well. You can also find many craftsmen, restaurants, shops and lots of beautiful geraniums.
The magic of the White City comes from the whitewash paint that has been used on the houses, and it is still a practice that is highly respected by the inhabitants to this day.
Altamura Cathedral stands in the middle of the historic center, where it has been since the 15th century. It is named after Santa Maria dell’Assunzione, and the cathedral has been classified as a national monument since 1902. It was renovated at the end of the 15th century, in the aftermath of a strong earthquake. It presents itself majestically with the figure of Christ at the center of the 24 columns
We recommend that you try to plan your trip so you can experience Ostuni at the end of August. Here there is an annual historical festival, held in tribute to the town’s saint as well as to show gratitude, as it is said that the saint saved Ostuni from the plague.
The festival takes place over 3 days, with knights marching their way through the town, accompanied by music, and of course good local food.
Cavalcata di Sant’Oronzo takes place on the 25th, 26th and 27th of August.
You simply have to experience Ostuni in every way, and luckily the lovely climate means you can do just that.
You will find the eight-sided fortress of Castel del Monte, dating back to 1240, on a plateau in the Murgia valley in Apulia.
THE WAY TO CASTEL DEL MONTE
Baris airport is the closest to the site, and it is from here that you should take the exit for Andria. After some bends and roundabouts north of Bari, you should then take the exit and follow the SP231 road. The journey is a manageable journey, taking just 45 minutes from Bari to Castel del Monte.
The wonder has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1996, and was built by Federico II in 1240.
The location of the castle contributes to the special light and shadow effects that make your visit to Castel del Monte even more special and pleasant. This is particularly noticeable on sunny days, and it seems as if the whole thing was done on purpose, back when it was built.
The entrance portal contains an Arabic arch, a Greco-Roman tympanum, and has Gothic windows. It is evidently compact when looking at the solid limestone facade. The interior is decorated with items from the past, and testifies to the use of marble and mosaics. However, the interior has suffered from neglect and looting in the past centuries.
The number eight appears as an obsession of Federico II. The structure itself is based on an eight sided blueprint, the rooms on the ground floor are eight-sided, the first floor is eight-sided, and of course, there are eight towers that characterize the fortress. It is believed that the courtyard was once an octagonal basin.
As this headline reads, it is a fascinating place, which at the same time is marked by the mystery that surrounds Federico II. His imperial power was beyond doubt, and Castel del Monte with all its 8 edges, is truly stunning and certainly worth a trip to this part of Puglia.
The advantage of Puglia is that there are so many beautiful towns and places, and which are located within a short driving distance of each other. As an example, let’s look at the coastline north of Bari. Here you’ll find towns like Trani, Bisceglie, Molfetta and Giovinazzo, all facing the Adriatic Sea and with the SS16 highway following the towns along the coa
I first drove into Trani during my trip south. And whenever you are in a car in Italy parking spaces are sometimes a nightmare to find. I did however manage to find a free space inside the city center. And speaking of parking spaces, there really are no free parking spaces in Italy. Just a heads up.
You will get an amazing view of the sea when you are in Trani, as the ocean feels like a giant and elegant amphitheater that surrounds the town. At first you will probably venture there to see the city’s famous cathedral, San Nicola Pellegrino, with its impressive bell tower that completely dominates the city.
Trani is also home to Moscato wine, so you simply must taste it when visiting, because I didn’t get around to it when I was here.
Bari is located in the central part of Puglia, making it an attractive base for exploring Puglia.
But the lively city has plenty to offer tourists as well in its own right. And once you’ve turned onto the Italian heel, there’s nothing better to do than explore the capital.
The old part of Lecce has been influenced and dominated by the Baroque period, and in recent years the district has also received great international acclaim.
In 2009, the UNESCO World Heritage List nominated Lecce for inclusion on its coveted list, as the Baroque period here is unparalleled anywhere else on earth.