Marcus Travel Journal
2023 - Puglia
Returning to Puglia
Our last visit to Puglia was in 2015. We had a wonderful time and it is good to return to this region again. Puglia (Italian) or Apulia, borders the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Seas.
Puglia - Monopoli
The region starts from the health of Italy's "boot" and is known for its attractive whitewashed hill towns. The are what seems to be endless beaches. Pictured above is the coastal town of Monopoli.
Ficoi d'India is the name of our agriturismo located near Monopoli. The name translates to prickly pear, so we are anticipating seem many of these colourful plants in the area. Our masseia, is a luxurious country home that provides us our own private salt water pool in addition to a very attractive ground level apartment.
Contrada San Vincenzo
Here you get an authentic Italian feel. A very scenic inner harbour, a maze of interesting streets to explore, and a swimming area just outside the walls. The builds are a beautiful range of colours. Wander the narrow streets, find a scenic little piazza. Have a bite to eat and a drink. This is life.
The inside of the Basilica of the Madonna della Madia is very impressive - far more than the exterior of the church. The Palmiera Palace is an 18th C Barogue palace. The Chiesa di San Salvatore is the oldest of the churches in Monopoli. Walk about and make your way to the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi - this is the central piazza of the city.
The Piazzella 10 Piazzeria & Restaurant in the Piazza Garibaldi is noted for its drinks and pizza and for gelato I read about the Gelateria Caruso as being very good.
We will most likely drive down to the beautiful town of Lecce which is is known for its baroque architecture and is referred to as the “Florence of the South”.
The Piazza del Duomo is the main square, surrounded by beautiful baroque buildings, that include the Duomo, the Bell tower, the Bishop's Palace and the Seminary Palace.
In the Piazza Sant'Oronzo is the main area for shopping and the 2 AD Roman Amphitheatre. It was completely buried until 1901 when construction works discovered the structure.
Basilica of Santa Croce is considered an important example of baroque architecture.
Castle of Charles V is located close to the Piazza Sant'Oronzo.
Three gatges: Porta Napoli, Porta San Biagio and Porta Rudiae still stand.
This is the second largest city in Southern Italy, after Naples, and one that is often by passed. Yes there is a busy port but the old city is very charming. We spent a short time in Bari on previous trips and it is time to return. Articles on the city note the absolute need eat Bari's famous Focaccia Barese.
Two areas of Bari are noted.
The medieval old town sits on the peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic Sea. It seems the best way to approach the area is to just walk the maze of narrow streets, get lost and explore. Bari Vecchia is built between the modern and old ports. The old port has the iconic blue wooden fishing boats. Narrow streets with countless shrines on the walls. Visitors note the authentic ambiance.
Basilica di San Nicola, 1087-1197, with impressive interior and exterior. There is a large tomb for the saint of Bari, San Nicola. Advice seems to be to ensure you look up and take in the impressive ceiling.
Bari Cathedral, Cathedral of Saint Sabinus, rebuilt in the 12th C after being destroyed in 1156, while not as ornate as San Nicola, impressive architecture. Photos of the crypt make this as must on visit.
Across from the entrance to Bari Castle is the Strada delle Orrechiette, also known as Arco Basso (due to the low arch that marks the entrance to the alley - it is one of fifty medieval passageways in the old town - the little ears and here between 10 and 5 tables are set up and residents sell their pasta, formed in the shape of little ears - orecchiette. But, two other famous pasta from Bari will also be found: cavaletti and tarallini.
The Murat Quarter, built in the 1800s is the centre of modern Bari and the city's main shopping district and includes the main railway station. Via Sparano is the main shopping street and even if shopping is not the main goal, it is lined with impressive architecture. Palazzo Mincuzzi is also known for its architecture.
Not far from Bari are the impressive Castellana Caves. Entry is by guided tour with a short version covering about 1 km (50 minutes) and the longer tour covering 3 km, lasting two hours. The saves were discovered in 1938. Inside the temperature is 14C and the floor is known to be slippery. Appropriate dress needed. We know from other cave visits that it just does not work to walk from the outside with temperatures in the 30s to a cave at half the temperature without additional clothing.
Tickets are purchased on-line one day prior to the visit - you can purchase same-day tickets on site, subject the availability.