The history of a place is intertwined to its traditions.
Puglia is full of traditions, folklore, religious rituals and ancient superstitions, which in the years have made up its history. Sacred and profane are often two sides of the same coin and they create fascinating and mysterious suggestions.
Living in Puglia is a blessing. Those who were lucky enough to be born here, often forget it. First time travellers are just left with wonder and surprise. Beauty is hidden everywhere: in the colour of our sea, in the warm temperature, in the blazing sun. But what truly makes this region a longed for destination is the warmth of its people, its genuine food, its religious traditions and the simple and relaxed lifestyle. A mix of ingredients is the secret of the success Puglia is having lately. Puglia is a true treasure to be cherished and discovered.
Murge, a precious geologic testament.
Murge is a sub-region in Puglia, with its own characteristics. It is a very composite area made up of three different parts: Murge Salentine, the central part of Salento, Murge Tarantine, last layer of the South Appenines, and Murge Baresi, divided in "high murgia" at N/W and "low murgia" at S/E. The National Park of Alta Murgia is located at North of Bari. This is an untouched area where nature can express itself wildly and where a new idea of eco-friendly tourism is promoted. The protected area presents many different habitats, from coppice to evergreen bushes. Worth mentioning the many archaeological sites and the karstic formations: Pulo in Altamura, a huge karstic plateau, numerous caves and many other interesting rock formations. This upland is a huge "lime scale plateau", which has given origin in the years to caves, holes, ponds and many other fascinating formations. In other words, a precious geologic testament to fiercely preserve and protect.
The Emperor's abode
Castel del Monte, a majestic building located on the hills of Murgia Andreana, is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1996. Its octagonal shape is a must-see architectural masterpiece. Built in obedience to Frederick II will, it lets in the sun's rays from each corner to create a stunning spectacle of lights.
Standing on a hill at 540 meters above sea level, about 20 kilometres away from Andria (BA), this majestic fortress made it to the World Heritage List of UNESCO. This is the main castle built and commissioned by Frederick II. He is an extraordinary, multifaceted and fascinating character, around which many myths and legends have been constructed. The origin of the building is officially dated back on January 29, 1240, when Frederick II Hohenstaufen ordered to Riccardo Montefuscolo, Chief of Captains, to prepare all the materials needed to build a castle next to the church of S. Maria del Monte (which went lost). This date, however, is not widely accepted, as according to some historicists, the construction of the castle on that date had already reached the roofs. Also uncertain is the attribution to one architect: some historicists attribute the work to Richard da Lentini, but many others argue that it was Frederick II in person to design the building. It seems that it was built on the ruins of an earlier Lombard and Norman fortress. Probably, at the death of Frederick II (in 1250) the building was not yet finished. The castle rarely hosted ceremonies, but in 1246 the wedding of Violante, Frederick and Bianca Lancia's daughter with the Count of Caserta Riccardo Sanseverino, took place in this charming location.
Placed on top of a hill, the castle was visible from a distance and it was source of admiration and amazement (and perhaps fear) for Frederick's subjects, allies and enemies. Due to its position and shape, sunrays lighted up the entire hill at all hours of the day, enhancing the uniform and yet changing shapes and colours of the castle. The presence of fireplaces and bathrooms on both floors, the rich refinements, and the impressive sculptural repertoire suggest a residential use.
With its octagonal shape, its sixteen rooms and a widely interesting sculptural repertoire, Castel del Monte is a masterpiece of medieval architecture, which expresses the complex personality of Frederick II, a man of education, full of energy, with a spirit of tolerance and a strong sense of justice.
La Valle d'Itria is a portion of the central region of Puglia, at the crossroad between Bari, Brindisi and Taranto.
It corresponds to the South part of Murge. The most peculiar feature of this region are the "trulli", typical local stone buildings with a conic shape. Also known as "Valle dei Trulli", it is delimited South from Monte Fellone and Monte Castello, it extends in the territory of Bari, Brindisi and Taranto and it includes many towns, such as Alberobello, Noci, Cisternino, Villa Castelli, Ceglie Messapica (BR), Locorotondo (BA) and Martina Franca (TA) and many others. It presents many caves formations, such as Castellana Caves, and underground caves ("gravine") in Villa Castelli and Castellaneta. In this area there is rich vegetation with extended areas of Mediterranean Maquis, vineyards and olive groves. Worth mentioning, this area is well known for its wines, such as Locorotondo DOC and Martina Franca DOC and olive oils, such as Villa Castelli EVO DOC. Fauna is also very rich with hares, foxes, hedgehogs, robins, hawks and different kinds of owls (horned owl, barn owl, and so on).
A worldwide renowed attraction, the Caves in Castellana are worth a visit in every period of the year. About one kilometer and half from the town, these mysterious caves are 3.348 meters long and 122 meters deep and are definitely one of the most famous Italian karstic formations. Located in the South-West Murge, they are a few kilometers away from Valle D'Itria and Alberobello. Guided visits bring travellers down to a 3 kilometres path, 70 meters underground, in a breathtaking spectacle with incredible colours, shapes and lights. Stalactites, stalagmites, abysses, fossils, caves and then columns, pillars and crystals make this natural landscape a constant surprise. These Caves never cease revealing their secrets: recent explorations and researches make us believe that there are still new branches and cavities to be discovered, new corners of mystery ready to make us keep dreaming.
Alberobello is the ideal destination for a day trip in Puglia on summer sunny weekends, when all you want is to relax and rest. Alberobello has a unique old town with its trulli, which have become UNESCO Heritage for their stunning beauty. In addition to its typical houses, Alberobello has several natural areas where to rest and to enjoy the day having fun. Trully were first built in the prehistoric age. The oldest trulli still in place date back to the 14th century. Trully were built dry stone, with no cement. Limestones were carved out of rocks and then they were laid one on top of the other to create concentric rings, which will become narrower and narrower until they created the conical sum. Pinnacles on the top have several different shapes: crosses, stars, spheres, and many other Christian or propitiatory symbols. The pavement was made of thin skilfully polished limestones, named "chianche".
Torre Guaceto Reserve
Located on the adriatic coastline in Salento, a few kilometers away from Carovigno and San Vito dei Normanni, the wonderful natural reserve named Torre Guaceto is a real oasis in between sea and land. This trait of the coastline, 6 kilometers long, includes a rich Mediterranean landscape which starts with sandy beaches and dunes and then it extends to the Mediterranean Maquis with its secular olive groves. With a fresh and clean air, this place inspires calm and inner peace. An enchanting place to enjoy a sunny day on the beach and to be in contact with wild nature.