Valle d’Itria Tour

Itria Valley, the “trulli” area par excellence, is indeed a wonderful karsic basin (because of the limestone of which rocks are made in this area), on the lower part of the south-east Murgia upland, which spreads over three of Apulia’s provinces: Bari, Taranto and Brindisi.

The Itria Valley place-name is probably derived from Basilian Fathers oriental cult of the Madonna Odegitria (i.e. the one who shows the way), patron of wayfarers.

In particular, according to history the medieval monastic site of Saint Mary of Itria or Idria rose on the edges of Monopoli’s territory and it was one of the Casole Basilian Fathers’ possessions (or Saint Nicholas of Casole’s monastery, founded in 1099 by the Greek monk Joseph, under Saint Basil’s rule, in Otranto land).

The Basilian settlement of Saint Mary d’Itria occupied a small area and consisted in a rupestrian church (1200), in a few rooms which served as a barn and in a rupestrian chapel nearby, named Saint Mary of Itria, in which the Madonna Odegitria, portrayed in a late Byzantine fresco, was worshipped.

This is the cradle of all the stories and traditions concerning ancient Apulian peasants and lords.

The historical authenticity of this place can be found both in the man-made constructions and in the centuries-old olive trees, real sculptures bestowed by nature.

Looking at the Itria Valley from above you will be delighted by the play of light, the red soil, the green blooming vegetation, the white rock. The vegetation is luxuriant, mostly characterized by olive trees, cultivated in ancient fortified farms, which symbolize the landowner middle class. One of the most peculiar characteristics of these immense expanses of land is the big variety of dry- stone walls which surround evergreen valleys and small vineyards, which have always represented prestige and wealth for our Region.

Along the coasts there are many traces of ancient Messapic civilization, of their stone villages, castles and, last but not least, the ever alive and famous trulli.

In the Itria Valley there are several natural places where it is possible to rediscover a peaceful and harmonic way of life. Towns such as Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Cisternino and Ceglie Messapica have been acknowledged among the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (that is “most beautiful villages in Italy”).

History reminds us that the economy of this territory was based on animal breeding and farming and used to orbit around small castles, fortified farms and villages which rose on the ways of transhumance (an important phenomena that has to do with the moving of the flocks from Abruzzo to Salento, across the Murge area). This activity took place during autumn, along ancient communication lines, the so called “tratturi” or “carrari” and on this occasion villages fairs were organised in order to develop a network of profitable economical and cultural exchanges.

The territory of the Itria Valley is characterised by the presence of trulli, typical and exclusive cone shaped lodgings made of stone. Vineyards from which a very high quality wine is obtained, e.g. Locorotondo DOC, and olive groves from which extra virgin olive oil is produced are important too.

Alberobello, a village in the province of Bari, has the highest number of trulli; in Alberobello there is an entire area, the old town, built with this kind of construction.

Alberobello is to all intents and purposes the “Capital of Trulli”. Trulli can be found even in near towns and villages: Locorotondo, Noci and Putignano in the Province of Bari, Martina Franca in the Province of Taranto, Cisternino, Fasano, Ceglie Messapica in the Province of Brindisi.

During the last decades of the 20th century, in the countryside near these villages reclaiming and reusing old trulli (which represent this area) has become a widespread habit, in order to make them attractive for high level tourism, thus inducing foreigner investors, mostly British and German, to purchase houses of considerable size and often move to these houses during the year.

Buildings similar to trulli
Buildings similar to trulli can be also found in the coast area of the Apulian Murgia upland, from the territories of Monopoli and Polignano a Mare almost up to Barletta (in the coast area) and the inland parts of north-west Murgia villages (Bari). These buildings are nearer to the sea and are used for different purposes, they have peculiar architectonic features different from those visible in the original trulli (most important, the vault of these buildings is supported by a central mainstay, while the vault of the trulli is a self-bearing conoid structure).

Moving to the north of the Province of Bari, more precisely to the north-west Murgia area, many buildings shaped as trulli can be found. Shepherds used trulli as temporary shelters, whereas farmers used them as tools depots and as a shelter from sudden meteorological phenomena. Some of these buildings are of fine make; it is possible that in the past they were employed as a defence against Saracens’ raids while others were used for much simpler purposes.

Itria Valley Districts
Not far away from Alberobello, Contrada (quarter) Monte del Sale can be found: a trulli village no longer inhabited, immersed in an enchanting landscape. Only a few kilometres away Contrada Marziolla, in Locorotondo, with dry-stone walls delimiting small woods, specchie (megalithic monuments built with dry stone blocks) and stone cottages, with a lone trullo, almost five hundred years-old. Contrada Figazzaro occupies a central position in the Itria Valley and it hosts a typical Living Crib during Christmas holidays. The last is Contrada Pascarosa, not far away from Ostuni, where there is a small church.

Alberobello

The toponym of the town of Alberobello derives from the Sylva Arboris Belli (“forest of the war tree”), that is an oak forest that once covered this area of ​​the Region.

It is said that the origins of Alberobello date back to the fifteenth century under the dominion of the Acquaviva, Counts of Conversano, but the urban development began in 1635 by the famous Count Giangirolamo II known as the “Guercio di Puglia”.

The history of the trulli and their capital is linked to an edict of the 15th century Kingdom of Naples. Under the rule of Andrea Matteo d’Acquaviva, the town of Alberobello began to populate, but in an atmosphere of mystery and concealment, given that the count, in reality, contravened the “Pragmatica de baronibus”, a decree that established the obligatory nature of the royal permit for the creation of each new urban settlement. The inhabited center developed starting from 1635 thanks to Count Giangirolamo, called the Guercio di Puglia, who encouraged the increase of the population to create a fiefdom independent of the Aragonese court of Naples. Moreover, in order not to pay the necessary royalties for the construction of new houses, he ordered that these be built dry, using only lime-free stone or other binding materials.
In the case of a royal inspection, the buildings would have been so that they could be configured as precarious buildings, and could be demolished, dismantling the dome and then rebuilding it after inspection.
The condition of total enslavement to the count, which even exercised the power of life and death over the people, ended only in 1797 when a group of brave and tired Alberobellesi went to Taranto to demand the release of King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon; just after attentive listening to the requests of the Alberobellesi, on May 27 of the same year, the king issued a decree with which the small village of Alberobello finally became a royal city with a city government proper, free from the abuses of the accounts of Living Water.

In the following centuries the Alberobellesi carried on the construction of the trulli, not only to save costs, using the local stone, but also for the comfort deriving from the particular architectural technique that makes them warm in winter and cool in summer. In 1797 the coat of arms of the municipality of Alberobello was created, which depicts a centuries-old oak tree under which a knight with armor and spear and a lion fight, a metaphor of feudalism. Two doves are flying over the foliage of the oak, symbols of peace and love. The capital of the trulli, and renowned for the historic center declared “national monument” by UNESCO on December 5, 1996, entering this city in the list of World Heritage List (World Heritage List) and is an important tourist destination for visitors from around the world . The main districts in which it is divided are Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola, composed entirely of trulli; Alberobello is the most representative and picturesque example of the “culture of the trullo”: only here, in fact, the trulli find themselves grouped together to form a real country. The panorama is wonderful, unique, and makes Alberobello one of the most evocative and fascinating towns of our country.

To visit

The sovereign trullo
The largest trullo in the country is called Trullo Sovrano. Built by the Perta family in the mid-eighteenth century, this two-storey building is used as a museum and it is possible to visit the interior, furnished according to period taste, rebuilt through the testimonies of the oldest inhabitants of Alberobello. During the summer, the Trullo Sovrano hosts events such as theater performances, concerts by small orchestras or Jazz formations, evenings of culture and poetry.

The Church of Sant’Antonio
On the top of the Monti district is the church of Sant’Antonio, defined as “a trullo” because it was obtained by overlapping and joining the architectural features of the trullo. It was built by one of the last trullari masters still active in the town. It was built between 1926 and 1927 on land donated by a small town of Alberobello to the Guanellian priests. The dome is trullo-shaped and fits perfectly with the surrounding buildings complex. The frontispiece is crowned with three wings, embellished with a rose window and two round windows like the entrance door. The church is a Greek cross, has a 19,80 meter high dome and the bell tower surmounted by a small dome of 18.90 m. The church underwent a complete restoration in 2004 which brought it back to its former glory.

The Museum of the Territory of Alberobello
It consists of an agglomeration of continuous and communicating trulli, the oldest of which date back to the century. XVIII, located between Piazza XXVII Maggio, Piazza Mario Pagano and Via Lamarmora, in a central area of ​​the town that acts as a link between the monumental historical center of Aia Piccola and the historical environmental center of Piazza del Popolo.

The museum center
The Museum Center intends to preserve and describe the history of the area of ​​the Trulli district, recognized by UNESCO in 1996 as an artistic heritage of worldwide interest. The Museum of the Territory, which is located in the housing complex of particular historical and artistic interest, called “Casa Pezzolla”, rethinks and reconstructs the socio-cultural system in which it is located. Pay particular attention to dry stone architecture, letting you know the methods and techniques for maintenance and restoration. The central core of the exhibition is made up of the essential elements that pertain to the working of the stone and the trullo: tools, chiancarelle, pinnacles.

Sanctuary of the Saints Medici

Craftsmanship and gastronomy
Traveling among the products and works of local craftsmanship, it ranges from the processing of iron to the bill of olive wood baskets; from the processing of stone to the production of the typical new wine and oil. Even gastronomic art is a milestone of Alberobellese culture. The typical local specialties produced are: almond sweets, pettole, cartellate and amaretti. In addition, the locals are known for their skill in textile art, and it is still possible to buy linen garments in the shops located between the trulli.

Festivals and Events

  • Particularly interesting is the party at the end of September in honor of the
  • Medici Saints in Alberobello
  • Last Saturday of July: “Festa sullaaia”
  • Last fifteen days of August: “Città dei Trulli” folkloristic international festival
    October 21st, the “Sagra dei Legumi”
Locorotondo

Locorotondo, from the Latin locus rotundus, is a toponym of typically medieval origin that suggests the roundness of the hill where it would then rise this place that stands at the center of the Valle d’Itria, a singular and very fertile karstic depression densely populated and punctuated by the characteristic “trulli”.

The village, perched on a hill, has a circular plan, 410 meters above sea level, with marvelous and enchanting concentric and radial streets on which the bright terraced houses, rectangular, with sloping roofs called “cummerse” rise, made with chiancarelle, of which the subsoil is rich.

The historic center of Locorotondo, from the streets and the whitewashed walls, from the wrought iron balconies filled with colorful flowered cascades of flowers, represents a romantic and enchanting scenery, so fascinating to get an important recognition and to become part of of the exclusive association “The most beautiful villages in Italy” which brings together the most beautiful countries of the national territory.

The farmers built on the plateau the first huts of the ancient village of Locorotondo, leaning against each other, according to a circular arrangement, as if to crown the earth torn from woods of oaks and fragments to make it cultivable and fertile.

History
Locorotondo was founded by the will of Goffredo I, Count of Conversano, who around 1100 wanted to aggregate some churches and several farmhouses to the Abbey of Santo Stefano di Monopoli, including that of San Giorgio. On the historical background of this country, two local scholars, Father Serafino Tamborrini of Ostuni (1784 – 1869) and the local doctor Angelo Convertini (1771 – 1831), gave historical reconstructions sometimes rich in fantastic elaborations, perhaps not coherent with the reality of facts.
Both, in fact, date the foundation several centuries before Christ, by a colony of Greeks Locresi. The first, based on the correspondence between the words Locorotondo and Locros-Tonos, or “strong cresi”, states that a group of these, returning from the Trojan war, has established itself after having landed on the coast of Puglia because of a shipwreck . The other calls into question Periandro Locrese, founder of the city of Locreuse, or Locorotondo.
In fact, the first human settlements in Locorotondo date back to the time of the Byzantine domination ceased in the eleventh century with the arrival of the conquering Normans. Locorotondo was initially a fief of the Benedictine monastery of Monopoli, later the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and finally the Aragonese.

The historic center
The historic center, walled up to the middle of the 19th century and of an approximate circular layout, tightens around the Chiesa Matrice di S. Giorgio built between 1970 and 1825; the other Church, of which we must mention the beauty, and that of the Madonna della Greca, erected in gothic forms by the Prince of Taranto.

There is a curiosity to remember: LOCOROTONDO and in the Guinness Book of Records, being the only country in the world whose name is composed of 5 letters O.

The districts
The Municipality of Locorotondo includes about 143 districts each with characteristics that enhance the history, culture and traditions of the area.
In reality, the “district” is a territorial demographic unit and represents, in concrete, a grouping of casedde (trullo) operating around common areas.
The etymology of the name of many districts is still unknown, but in general, we tried to unite them in groups of similar meanings, and today as in the past, there are some that manage to evoke with their toponyms, the charm – by now far – of the past time.

Agriculture and gastronomy
Locorotondo, as an agricultural and commercial center, characteristic for the area dotted with trulli and vineyards, dominates the Valle d’Itria with its 4700 hectares of land.
Locorotondo entrusts agriculture with a good portion of its economic policy.
The Locorotondo countryside is full of olive groves and vineyards arranged in an absolutely orderly manner, with geometric precision. Among these precious vineyards (Verdeca and Bianco d’Alessano) comes the Bianco Locorotondo D.O.C., well known beyond the regional borders, which brings with it the culture and the local peasant tradition.
First of all, among the main crops, we find viticulture. In fact, from ancient documents dating back to the XI-XII century, it is clear that both the vine and the olive tree were cultivated in these lands and how these two crops were important for the economy of the area.
Among other tree crops, the olive tree has always been present in our history, since the classical antiquity, as a source of wealth for our lands.
Particularly in the territory of Locorotondo, discrete quantities of excellent olives which, in perfect condition, are milled in the local trappeti offer us an excellent extra virgin olive oil which has always been the pride of Locorotondo cuisine.
However, high-quality olive oil production is insufficient for local needs, so Locorotondo has always sold wine to buy oil.

As far as cereal crops are concerned, prevail that of soft wheat followed by durum wheat (more suitable for pasta), as well as barley, oats and fodder.
Among the local legume crops, we remember the beans consumed fresh, but especially dried; on the other hand, the production of beans, chickpeas, peas and even lupins is lower.
In the countryside of Locorotondo, moreover, some examples of wood species are also found among which: almond, cherry, walnut, apple and peach orchards.

Locorotondo is famous for its excellent wines and this has given it over the centuries certainly a lot of luster, as well as, of course, help implement the promotion of all other wines from Puglia in Italy and abroad.

Festivals and Events

In the Municipality of Locorotondo:

  • February 22/23: Locorotondo: fair market in honor of the patron saint San
  • Giorgio martyr and traditional gift ceremony
  • April 23: the patronal feast of St. George
  • August 6: Feast of struffoli and zeppole
  • August 16: the patronal feast of San Rocco and the pyrotechnic competition
  • August 27th: Lamb Festival
  • The New Wine Festival, usually on the second Sunday of November.

The most beautiful villages in Italy
The club “The most beautiful villages in Italy”, born in 2001 on the initiative of the Tourism Council of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI), aims to enhance the historical, artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of small Italian centers with promotional initiatives of the territory, opportunities to commercialize the local tourism offer, typical agricultural and handicraft productions.

Noci

Noci: “A simple and tidy city, attractive, friendly and hospitable, a warm sun and a healthy air among the sweetest of Puglia … linde houses and palaces, with simple and sober colors not very high and, above all, without skyscrapers that cut the breath and ruby ​​oxygen to the lungs “. This is how Giuseppe Poggi describes the village of Noci in one of his stories, painting it with beatifying and romantically picturesque adjectives.
Destination for tourists and holiday makers for the beauty of the landscape, in which fragances and Mediterranean scrub dominate and the airiness of the air (located at 420 meters above sea level and with very mild temperature, being relatively short distance from the Adriatic sea and the Ionian coast), Noci is a city that is certainly active and turistically proactive with various attractions for foreigners.
The Municipality of Noci is part Murgia Barese (located south-west from Bari) and has about 19,500 inhabitants. Its name originates from the presence on site of a forest with walnut trees and just between the extensive woods and green pastures the characteristic houses appear from the roof covered by “chiancarelle” and the endless dry walls, the so-called “parieti”, which mark the boundaries of the funds.

History
Even today, the news about its historical origins are not very precise, either for lack of documents or reliable sources, but it seems that its origins and its development date back to the time when farmers from the Casaboli and Barsento farmhouses they settled around a Byzantine military settlement of the end of the 500 called Castellum Nucum. To this population was added, in 1100, a part of that of Mottola (Ta).
Noci, however, acquired importance from the XIV century, when it was part of the Principality of Taranto and when, under the Angevins, it became Universitas Regia.
Later it was under the rule of Giulio Antonio Acquaviva and was part of the county of Conversano. Under the Acquaviva d’Aragona it was elevated to the Duchy and followed the vicissitudes of the Kingdom of Naples up to the Unification of Italy.

The historic center
Among narrow streets and typical gnostre, almost cloisters inside which the ancient people grew and told, you can admire the intact wealth of the spontaneous architecture of this historic center, unique for the structures of old houses, especially those owned of peasants. Imaginative stone chimneys give us archaic atmospheres and scents, while here and there, almost in a single, you can see the typical niches, dedicated above all to S. Rocco protector and to the madonnas of Noci.

To visit
Among the oldest buildings in the heart of the city, in Piazza Plebiscito, the Mother Church, with very ancient origins, shows its linear Romanesque Gothic façade. Dedicated to Santa Maria della Natività and commissioned by Filippo I d’Angiò (14th century, with subsequent interventions from the 15th to 19th centuries), over the centuries it has undergone considerable restorations and preserves numerous works of art inside it. Note the beautiful portal and the rose window on the façade; inside, the monumental polychrome in polychrome stone, work of the local school of Nuzzo Barba di Galatina (XV century) and the Madonna enthroned with Child, by Stefano da Putignano (XVI century).
Opposite, the high Tower of the clock, with its 30 meters of height and the elegant crowning of neoclassical taste (XIX century), to which the sixteenth century Palazzo della Corte and of the theater is inserted. Churches and chapels embellish the entire country, moreover noble palazzotti with elegant portals surmounted by noble coats of arms and churches scattered throughout the territory, enrich the city.
In addition, the Church of S. Stefano (XV century, with a bell tower and a chiancarelle roof) and the Church of the Carpione, elegant in its Baroque style (XVII century), are of considerable importance. A little outside the historic center is the monumental complex of S. Domenico (do not miss the porch and cloister of the convents, 16th-18th centuries) and the Church of S. Maria degli Angeli, unique for the bell tower and the trullo structure, with a typical conical roof and chiancarelle (XVI century)
The Sanctuary of the Madonna della Croce (1483), patron saint of the city and destination for centuries of a felt pilgrimage on foot, is located about one km from the town and was built in the fifteenth century in the place where it was discovered, in mysterious circumstances, a fresco depicting the Virgin Mary.

The Barsento
In the oasis of Barsento (6 km), where traces of an ancient Messapian settlement have been found, together with others that attest to the Roman age of the site, the Church of Barsento has great historical-artistic importance. This particularly suggestive church is an ancient dependence of the Benedictine abbey of Banzi (PZ), and very recent studies, with the help of the results from the restoration work, placed this church between the eleventh and twelfth centuries in the framework of architecture medieval Apulian, characterized by sloping roofs with chiancarelle.
The beautiful historic center of the Barsento is characterized by small streets and typical gnostre, where you can admire the beauties and architecture of old houses, especially peasants.
Here, in fact, you can admire the typical niches, dedicated above all to S. Rocco protector and the madonnas of Noci. In this area of ​​Noci also centers the center of the historic noble palaces: austere and elegant architecture, where the stone of the Murgia also meets the iron of artistic balconies and windows.
Finally, you can not forget the wonderful farms in the city, which make it even more welcoming and pleasantly surprising the stay in the area.
A few miles. from Noci, on the way to Gioia del Colle, stands the modern Benedictine abbey of the Madonna delle Scala, with a Romanesque church of the twelfth century, where Benedictine monks are dedicated to the restoration of the ancient book, the Gregorian chant and the processing of products of the earth .

Gastronomy
Nowadays, Noci is also known as the “City of Food and Wine”. The abundant dairy production and the rediscovery of ancient recipes, wisely re-proposed by local restaurateurs, have given new vitality to the tourist attraction of the country that can also count on modern industrialization.
The culture of good food and good food can be seen in numerous gastronomic delicacies: excellent dairy products (the “treccina”) of local master cheesemakers, among the best in Puglia; the cattle breeding, which favored the production of sausages (“coppa della Murgia”), and of very good chocolate, made with the good milk of the Murgia.
Among the most famous dishes of the Nocese cuisine are: the cicorielle in timballo, the soup of “lambascioni”, the orecchiette or frusciddi homemade with sauce of meat sauce of veal or rabbit chops, the farin of barley and roasted chickpeas and dishes of roast lamb, delicious sweets and homemade rosolio.

Festivals and Events
The patrons of Noci are the Madonna della Croce (3 May) and San Rocco (first Sunday in September).

Festivals

  • “Sagra dei funghi” (October)
  • “Bacchus in gnostre and new wine in the festival” (mid-November)
  • “Pettole” in gnostre and chocolate in the festival (mid-December)

Events

  • Good Friday: procession of Christ Casaboli and of the Mysteries
  • 2/3/4 May: Patronal feast of Maria SS. of the Cross
  • May 31st: Country festival at the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Croce
  • 23/24 June: Night of serenades and the feast of Saint John
  • First Sunday of September: Patronal feast of St. Rocco
  • Second Sunday of October: Feast of the Madonna del Rosario and the Saints Medici

 

Ceglie Messapica

This is Ceglie Messapica, located in the province of Brindisi, whose etymological origins can be found in the Greek word Kalos (beautiful), so as to be identified as “beautiful place”, which in the choice made by the Romans, who called it Caelia (eyelash) ) to be on the last hills of the Murge, where the Valle d’Itria flows gently into the Salento plain.

The pretty town of Ceglie Messapica is located at 310 meters above sea level (the old town at 303 meters) and has 21,000 inhabitants. The town enjoys an excellent climatic position, so much so that since the beginning of the last century the inhabitants of nearby cities (in particular Taranto), had chosen it as a summer resort for its healthy and bubbling air, and its undulating views and relaxing.

The Cegliese territory, which is 130.33 square kilometers wide, with an altitude ranging from 133 meters to 382 meters above sea level, presents itself with rolling hills and terracing with dry stone walls, and with the numerous trulli that are here called ” casedde “. Part of the municipal territory is located in the Valle d’Itria, the valley of the trulli par excellence, and just the splendid Ceglie Messapica marks the outlet of the valley in the upper part of the Salento plateau Altosalento. The territory presents numerous karstic cavities with splendid concretions, like the caves of Montevicoli.

Since the 1990s, the Messapian city has boasted the name of “city of art, land of gastronomy” for the many testimonies of its millennial history and for its typical gastronomy, appreciated and recognized throughout Italy. The typical gastronomic productions are ancient culinary traditions that represent the expression of the relationship between nature and popular culture.

History
The origins of the city are lost in the mists of time: the historical University hypothesizes that in the seventeenth century. B.C. the first Greek settlers found themselves facing imposing ruins that testified to a vanished civilization; some scholars argue that Ceglie was founded by Diomedes, returning from the Trojan war.

The certain news, however, date back to thirteen centuries BC, as handed down by Herodotus, a Greek historian of the fifth century BC. In the fourth and fifth century. B.C. Ceglie (Kailia) was the military capital of Messapia and was surrounded by four circles of walls. The city supported tough wars with Taranto, which for commercial reasons and prestige sought an outlet on the Adriatic. 473 BC was the decisive year that saw Taranto conquer and destroy Carovigno (Karpina), but the decisive battle was lost by the tarantini on the hills of Ceglie where the cavalry tarantina was pulverized by an inexorable slaughter, as Herodotus says, “never seen before”. The road of the Adriatic was definitively blocked in Taranto, which since then has not waged war against the Messapians. Of that victory the Messapians did not want to take advantage, it would have been easy to get down the plain and conquer Taranto.

Of that time there are archaeological remains including the messapic walls and the mirrors. Of the civilization ‘messapica there are many archaeological finds such as vases, oil lamps, coins, small statues and many inscriptions preserved in various Italian and foreign museums (Berlin, Brindisi, Taranto, Egnazia, private collections and a small part in the local Messapian museum).

The city declined after the Roman conquest, which called it Caelia or Caelium (eyelash), being located on the last high hill before the Salento plain.

In the Middle Ages the city assumed the name of Celie de Gualdo (Ceglie del bosco), becoming a duchy with the Sanseverino, a powerful Neapolitan family who fostered the economic and cultural growth of the city with the construction of palaces, the castle and churches.

Traces of the different population and of the attendance of the territory remain in various caves whose rooms have been partly modified and used by man: Grotta S. Pietro has provided artefacts certainly related to a lithic industry of the Mousterian type; the Grotta Abate Nicola has an access dromos dug into the rock and has returned votive material characteristic of the sacred areas; the Grotta S. Michele still preserves traces of frescoes of the Redeemer, of S. Michele and of the Madonna Orante; the Grotta di Madonna della Grotta is a cavity underneath the fourteenth-century church built by Domenico de Juliano with pale traces of Basilian frescoes inside; the Grotta del Trappeto is in the center of the town, used until a few years ago as a mill, has a series of branches never fully explored; the Cave of Monte Vicoli, explored in its main cavity 58 meters long, presents branches that are impracticable for the moment, suggesting that it is possible to continue.

Old Town
In the historical centers the discovery is in every corner, in every alley; white houses around the castles, and sumptuous noble palaces with large portals surmounted by family crests.

The historical hill centers of Altosalento (Ceglie, Cisternino, Carovigno, Ostuni) are characterized by the alleys of chianche, the arches in stone, the succession of courtyards and squares; all wrapped in the whiteness of whitewashed white houses. That white that led Ostuni (which is only 11 kilometers away) to be known worldwide as the “white city”.

Similar to the historical center of Ostuni, but less known by tourism, and therefore more authentic, is the Messapian and medieval historical center of Ceglie Messapica: the messapica kailia. A walk through the alleys of the historic center immerses in an ancient and surreal atmosphere that ranges from the time of the Messapi to the medieval era.

The Messapian hill-acropolis was accessed by a steep staircase, still existing even if modified in the Middle Ages, “the hundred steps”. At the top of the hill, where the castle is located, were the public offices and the temples of the most important deities; the agora has been identified in the current Piazzetta Ognissanti in the center of the ancient village. Today the historic Messapico-medieval center is dominated by the fifteenth-century “Castello Ducale”, notable the crenellated square tower symbol of the city. Opposite is the 16th century Collegiate Church, not far from the baroque church of San Domenico of the Bernini school. The central Piazza Plebiscito, with the characteristic “Clock Tower” closes the medieval old town and opens to the nineteenth century.

Gastronomy
Gastronomy is an element of strong tourist attraction. The cuisine of the Altosalento is homemade and genuine, over time it has not undergone substantial alterations; the recipes have been handed down from generation to generation, up to the present day. It is a popular cuisine, whose characteristics are far from those of fast food and food globalization. It is no coincidence that there is a slow food association Alto Salento, which offers “slow eating” to enjoy the pleasures of good food. Ours is a land to be tasted, where the beauty of the territory is combined with the taste of life, a “slow life” that brings back the meaning of life.

The town is the undisputed capital of the gastronomy of the Altosalento with numerous awards already in the 50s and more recently with various prizes awarded to “artisans of taste and good food”. Many restaurants are listed in the main food and wine guides, the wood-fired ovens produce traditional pastry and bakery products distributed throughout Italy, the Cegliese ice cream conquest, in a past edition, the absolute second place at the Rimini fair in the Salone International Ice Cream Shop.

Typical dish par excellence is the homemade pasta, “stacchiodde” and “strascinati” (orecchiette and macaroni of durum wheat semolina), seasoned with tomato sauce, basil leaves and ‘cacioricotta’ grated. Of this dish there are variations with meat chops and grated pecorino cheese, or with cooked vegetables (turnip tops).

Our cuisine is deeply linked to the products of the earth, and follows the rhythm of the seasons; it is extremely varied due to the influences that Altosalento has received during its long history: Messapi, Greeks, Romans, Normans, Arabs, Saracens, French and Spaniards have succeeded each other over the centuries. Here are some examples: the “frize” have Greek origins, the “gnummarieddi” are Roman, the “ragù” is Norman, the “cupeta” and the “dried figs” are of Arab origin. The frize (link with baked products), prepared with mixed flour of hard wheat and soft wheat, are presented as donuts of toasted bread and are stored for weeks; to taste them you have to dip them in water, to make them soft-crisp, and season them with tomatoes, oil, salt and oregano. The gnummarrieddi are grilled lamb rolls. The cupeta, similar to nougat, is made with almonds and sugar. The sweet symbol, based on local almonds (a variety of almonds called cegliese is used which is characterized by late flowering that escapes from the cold winter), is a brownish-shaped cube-shaped pastry filled with jam: the “cegliese biscuit” “, whose original recipe with the right dosages and cooking times is jealously guarded by a select few. The figs, divided in half, are dried in the sun above characteristic hedges, then they are joined in pairs, depositing inside each part a peeled and toasted dried almond, seeds of wild fennel and lemon zest, then they are baked: here the “marinated figs” (almond figs).

Among the cheeses stands out the “cacioricotta”, it is a tender and tasty cheese produced in the hot season and obtained from the processing of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk; it is used grated to season any kind of pasta with sauce.

Legumes, vegetables, vegetables and fruit are local productions used for simple and nutritious dishes respecting the healthy Mediterranean diet. Fava bean puree is an ancient dish, typical food of the farmers, rich in protein; dried unshelled beans are cooked and mashed like pasta, eaten with a drizzle of raw olive oil or accompanied by wild vegetables. For cooking, pottery vessels were used made in the nearby Grottaglie, like a “a pignata”, shaped like a pitcher.

The Altosalento is the geographical area not only to the north, but also to higher altitudes of Salento (high-Salento precisely) and has similar physical, cultural, social and economic characteristics, but at the same time different from Salento and Lecce. Murge of the Bari and Taranto hinterland. Ours is a territory that over the centuries has consolidated its identity, made unique by the clearly visible traces of our peasant civilization based on the “stone” and which has produced a unique rural architecture. Altosalento is the result of an organizational evolution of the territory, whose central fulcrum is represented by the five municipalities dealt with on this site, already already united in an inter-municipal consortium.

To visit
The Ducal Castle is the symbol of the city. Opposite is the sixteenth-century Collegiate Church of the Assumption with its majolica dome and, inside, a unique 18th century fresco depicting a biblical scene with a perspective view of Ceglie as it was in 700 .

Not far from the baroque church of San Domenico, of the Bernini school, which preserves some valuable works of sacred art. In the historic center there are numerous noble palaces, in particular near the fourteenth-century “old square”, the ancient city center in medieval times. In the ancient historical center, Messapico-mediaeval, it is possible to enter from the nineteenth-century village and from the gates of Giuso and Monterrone with pointed arches.

Center of the city of Ceglie is Piazza Plebiscito with the nineteenth-century clock tower that represents a unique part of the civic towers of Southern Italy, as it is formed by four quadrants; artistically it refers to the neoclassical style interpreted in a particular way by the local masters who carried out the works.

Worth noting is the ancient basilica church of Sant’Anna with a large 16th century fresco of the saint’s death, the church of San Rocco built on the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo and the church of San Gioacchino with its large dome.

In the territory churches Basilian crypts, remains of the Messapian civilization and numerous examples of rural architecture.

There are, therefore, many and many testimonies of art so much to deserve the city the nickname of “city of art and land of gastronomy”.

Ducal Castle
The Ducal Castle of Ceglie Messapica is the symbol of the city. It is a castle that dates back, the oldest tower, 1000 years, but the construction, as we see it today, dates back to the fifteenth century by the Sanseverino family.

The access is characterized by a large portal with a round arch and an entrance with an ogival vault that leads into a large atrium; from here striking staircases lead to the halls embellished with 16th-century frescoes. In the atrium, particular, the well with two Corinthian style columns.

The ducal apartments overlook the internal park which, protected and enclosed between the wings of the castle, preserves the originality of the medieval gardens.

A distinctive feature of the castle is the crenellated tower, which stands out on top of the hill; it is 34 meters high and was built in 1492.

The photo, taken in the fifties, shows a view of the most classic monumental Ceglie with the clock tower of Piazza Plebiscito, the eighteenth-century white Palazzo Lamarina with the balcony in stone, the dome of the mother church and the ducal castle that dominates its impressive size.

Behind the manor is the Messapico-medieval historical center, still authentic and enjoyable, with its narrow alleys and white houses, in the reassuring shade of the castle, as in medieval times.

TYPICAL PRODUCTS OF MESSAPIC CHECKS

Cegliese biscuit
it is a pastry made in Ceglie Messapica of brown color made from toasted almonds, with cherry jam and, just, lemon fragrances; they are covered with an icing made of sugar and cocoa. The almonds used are exclusively produced by almond groves of the Altosalento, they are a particular variety called “cegliese” that stands out for its semi-hard shell.
The Cegliesi biscuits were produced by our farming families on the occasion of important feasts and wedding banquets. They are sold, in particular, in all the ovens, bars and confectioneries in Ceglie, as well as being offered in all the Cegliesi restaurants. The Cegliese biscuit is a candidate for the recognition of a typical DOP product.

Cartiddate
similar to tapered frisoles are seasoned with honey, sugar or cooked wine (must concentrate obtained by cooking). Cardiddate means twisted, are in fact strips of pasta obtained from the mixture of flour, oil and white wine, a couple of centimeters wide, curved and rounded for the length of 15-20 cm. They are sweets typical of Christmas.

cacioricotta
obtained from the processing of sheep’s and goat’s milk, it is produced in the summer. It is a soft, white cheese, produced in molds of about 200 grams. It is grated to flavor the dishes of orecchiette (it is an essential element to enjoy this typical Pugliese dish), however, it is good for every type of pasta.

Cupeta
minced almonds and kneaded with caramelized sugar and honey.

Frize
they are particular donuts of bread, hard and dry, they are kept for weeks. To eat them, they get wet with water to make them soft and they are seasoned with tomatoes, oregano, oil and salt. On sale in all the ovens, delicatessens and supermarkets of Salento.

Almond figs
called marictic figs (married figs) in dialect jargon. These are fruits cut in half and left to dry in the sun on reeds (sciaje); then they are joined in pairs to form an eight (they marry) by inserting inside a toasted dried almond and fennel seeds then they are baked. The almond figs were the candy of today for the children of yesterday highs.

frisedde
classic baked goods, are taralli with wild fennel seeds.

Green olives with lime
They have a slightly salty olive flavor, with a faint taste of fennel, myrtle and bay leaves.

Extra virgin olive oil “hill of Brindisi”
our green gold, known throughout Italy, does not need presentation.

Peaty wheat
grain crushed in a mortar to eliminate the outer part more fibrous, the grain of wheat must still appear whole for the preparation of particularly tasty dishes.

Homemade bread
characteristic of this bread is the use of mixed flour of soft and hard wheat with the addition of natural yeast. Cooking takes place in stone-fired ovens. The brown loaves can be kept even for a week, keeping the original fragrance.

Pecorino of masseria
sheep’s milk cheese with an intense and spicy flavor, aged cheese, with a delicate taste of fresh pecorino cheese.

pettole
similar to meatballs, they are obtained with a mixture of durum wheat flour and boiled potatoes to be fried in boiling oil. They are typical of the winter period (Christmas in particular).

Piddica
in dialect jargon, it stands for focaccia, excellent as soon as it is baked in a wood oven. Among the ingredients in addition to soft wheat flour and our extra virgin olive oil DOC hill Brindisi, essential black olives, strong ricotta (Asckuante) and onions.

Piddichedda
large Easter tarallo covered with melted sugar (typical of Ceglie)

Pennum pummori
local cherry tomatoes preserved in bunches for winter use (excellent for seasoning the frize). The tomatoes are picked still green, and a bunch of 50-70 cm is joined together by twine in the characteristic pennula.

Asckuante Ricotta
in the dialectal dialectal jargon it stands for spicy; the taste is spicy but at the same time delicate, excellent to spread on bread or on frize.

Rosoli
home-made liqueurs in a simple and ancient way, particularly the strawberry tree rosolio.

stacchiodde
they are local orecchiette, prepared with the “maccaruni” (macaroni). The orecchiette can be found all over Europe, but pay attention to the numerous imitations and industrial productions that have nothing in common with the traditional Pugliese or Altosalentine orecchiette in particular.

strascinati
It is a fresh pasta that uses raw flour with bran (whole wheat flour to translate, but not exactly exact). They are sticks 4-5 cm long.

Cisternino

This charming center is set on a hill interrupting, with the whiteness of its whitewashed houses, the intense green of the fertile countryside dotted with trulli. The beautiful town, in fact, occupies a central position with respect to the centers of Bari (Km. 80), Brindisi (Km. 50) and Taranto (Km. 40) and is an integral part of the enchanting “Valle d’Itria”, together with other Municipalities, among which: Ostuni, Ceglie Messapica, Martina Franca and Locorotondo. Of Messapian origin, Cisternino was a Roman municipality with the name of Sturnium, while in the Middle Ages it became the possession of Basilian monks. The historic center is characterized by the typically oriental appearance of houses with hidden courtyards and external stairways connecting the floors.

To visit:
You can admire the Tower of Porta Grande quadrangular and of the Norman-Swabian age, which was the main entrance to the city, and at the top of the hill there is a small statue of Saint Nicholas. Over the centuries it has been subjected to various readjustments, the last of which in 1995. The Mother Church of S. Nicolacostruita in the fourteenth century on an ancient paleochristian church of Basilian monks, has been remodeled several times. Inside there is a sculpture of Madonna with Child signed in 1517 by “Stephanus Abulie Poteniani” (Stefano da Putignano) and better known as “Madonna del Cardellino”. The Sanctuary of the Madonna d’Ibernia (Madonna de Bernis) is also worth mentioning: three kilometers from the town. This sanctuary is linked to a legend: it would have been the Virgin, in fact, with an apparition, to indicate the exact place where the sanctuary dedicated to her would rise. The land around is rich in pottery and finds dating back to Roman and medieval times. In the countryside of Cisternino, near the Masseria Ottava, there is an interesting Dolmen of great proportions. Some corners of the village offer evocative glimpses to which the gentle panorama of the valley lurks. Despite being immersed in the hinterland, Cisternino is only a few kilometers from the Adriatic Sea (Km. 10); from the top of its hills it is possible to dominate the coastal plain dotted with ancient olive groves and ancient fortified farmhouses that reach the sea, while the view extends to the heights of Albania.

Gastronomy
In line with the traditional and good cuisine of Puglia, Cisternino offers quality gourmet products. Among the traditional dishes emerge the classic and now famous orecchiette with sauce or accompanied with turnip tops; the beans cooked in mashed potatoes and served with chicory; the “gnummeredd” (roulades of lamb roasted on the coals); pecorino cheese, ricotta cheese, fresh ricotta cheese and caciocavallo cheese. It is advisable to always accompany the tasting with some good local wine.

Fasano

Fasano arose around the tenth century following the destruction of Egnazia and the exodus of the population in the countryside.
It exploits a favorable geographical position, being not far from the sea and at the foot of the ridge which is the first step of the Murge of the Southeast. Beyond this opens the vast Canale di Pirro, a delightful valley that is one of the largest depressions of karstic origin in the region.
Over the centuries, the territory of Fasano has undergone an intense anthropization that has partly changed the environmental characteristics, while respecting its fundamental components.
We find fields planted with olive groves, orchards and vineyards, but also stretches of Mediterranean bush concentrated above all on the terraces of the blades, while at the top of the ridge the oak and the pine still survive. These ideal environmental and climatic conditions are an unparalleled appeal for tourists.
The proximity of the sea, with the highly receptive beaches of Savelletri and Torre Canne, is a further stimulus for those who want to spend a holiday full of joy and in harmony with nature.
If this were not enough, the territory of Fasano is able to offer further stimuli consisting of the imposing and numerous “signs” left by man in different historical periods.
On the coast proceeding from Monopoli and following the coastal road to Savelletri, it is possible to visit the ruins of Egnazia.
Numerous archaeological campaigns have unearthed the remains of the abandoned city and recently an antiquarium was set up near the necropolis, containing educational material and valuable artifacts found during excavation work.

Another testimony of the intense anthropization of the territory of Fasano is constituted by the rock settlements scattered almost everywhere in the countryside, where the geology of the ground easily allowed to operate the excavations. These caves are therefore almost always dug on the steps of the blades that still cut the countryside to witness the erosion caused by the waters of the glaciers dissolved following the last glaciation. The most important settlements of the area are: the church-crypt of S. Lorenzo, located about 4 km from the inhabited center of the road to Savelletri; the other of S. Virgilia, the crypt of S. Marco and that of S. Giovanni.

Fasano for its streets and whitewashed houses presents the typical features of the southern centers. The churches also contribute to the scenography: the small chapel of Santa Maria della Grazia, the late-Renaissance Matrice church dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the churches of San Nicola, SS.Maria del Rosario, SS.Maria Assunta, Souls purgative, S. Antonio Abate with his ancient Franciscan cloister, San Francesco d’Assisi and San Francesco da Paola. The pride of the center is the white Piazza Ciaia with the two main courses covered in local chianca, the Clock and the sumptuous palaces, true architectural treasures, the Palazzo del Balì (now the town hall), the Arco del Balì and the Portici delle Teresiane (a 16th century convent adjacent to the church of S. Maria del Rosario, which has now become an evocative shopping mall and a meeting place for all young and old). Fasano also preserves the remains of the small temple of Seppannibale (you can reach it by following the road to Monopoli, about 7 km), a quadrangular church with three naves, the largest of which is turned by small domes on plumes. Dating back to the 10th century is the first example of an Apulian church built with this particular construction technique.

At about 2 km from Fasano you can experience the thrill of exploration with an “African” flavor: the grandiose Zoo-Safari which houses a huge quantity and variety of animals that live in the unusual scenario offered by olive trees and Mediterranean plants.

To visit:

EGNAZIA
The archaeological site of Egnazia, inserted in a perfect naturalistic-environmental context, is one of the most interesting in Puglia.
Quoted by authors such as Pliny, Strabo, Horace, the city was of great importance in the ancient world for its geographical position; thanks to the presence of the very important port (on the border between the Messapia and the Peucetia) and to the Via Traiana, in fact, it was active center of traffics and trade since it crossed Egnazia to continue towards Brindisi.
The history of ancient GNATHIA has unfolded over many centuries. The first settlement, consisting of a village of huts, was built in the fifteenth century. to. C. (bronze age). In the eleventh century to. C. (Iron Age) there is an invasion of populations coming from the Balkan area, the Ipigi, while with the VIII century BC to. C. begins the messapic phase that for Egnazia, as for all the Salento, it will cease with the Roman occupation happened from the III sec. to. C. The city will therefore become part first of the republic and then of the Roman empire.
It definitively decayed and was abandoned around the tenth century for reasons that are still partly unknown.
Of the epigraphic stage of Egnazia remain the mighty defense walls (7 m high, 2 km long, delimit an urban area of ​​about 40 hectares) and the necropolis, where in addition to pit graves and semi-arc, there are monumental tombs room decorated with refined frescoes.
The vestiges dating back to the Roman phase are preserved in the city, which is only partially excavated. Remarkable are the remains of the Via Traiana, of the Civil Basilica with the Hall of the Three Graces, of the Sacello of the oriental divinities, of the amphitheater, of the forum. The cryptoporticus is well preserved. There are also two paleochristian basilicas, originally with mosaic floors.
How to get
The MUSEUM and the archaeological park of EGNAZIA are reachable from the State Road 379 exit Fasano-Savelletri, in the province of Brindisi.
The entrance is on the coastal Monopoli-Savelletri.

Opening time
MUSEUM
8.30-19.30 (Ticket office 8.30-19.00)

ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK
March: 8.30-17.30 (Ticket office 8.30-16.30)
April-September: 8.30-19.15 (Ticket office 8.30-18.15)
October: 8.30-18.00 (Ticket office 8.30-17.00)
Nov.-Febbr.:8.30-16.30 (Ticket office 8.30-15.30)

For information
For booking guides: Tel / Fax 080 4827895
E-mail: parcoarch.egnatia@novamusa.it
Teaching service: for schools of all levels, it carries out in-depth programs with the theme of archeology and related disciplines and holds stages on specific topics.
Library: open to the public during office hours.
Assistance to students and scholars.
The Museum is equipped with access ramps for the disabled.
Tel. MUSEUM: 080 4829056

SELVA DI FASANO
It rises 396 meters above sea level and is accessed by a scenic road that starts from Fasano (on the Bari-Brindisi state road) and develops on a winding road of about seven kilometers.
The path, which from 118 meters above sea level reaches almost 400 in the heart of the Selva, is pleasant for the underlying landscape of ancient olive trees, low vineyards and almond trees.
La Selva is scattered with trulli classic expressions of rural architecture, and has a vegetation of oaks, holm oaks, strawberry trees and mastic trees. The leafy carobs with their gnarled trunks also dominate.
There is also some natural cave; one of these – Sant’Elia – presents numerous stalactites.
From the top, the view allows the view of the Adriatic in all its vastness: you can see in the north Monopoli, lying on the coast, south Ostuni and then Fasano, lying in the valley bottom with its white houses.

ZOO-SAFARI
The Zoosafari di Fasano is the largest wildlife park in Italy and one of the largest in Europe and houses about 1,700 specimens of 200 different animal species. It covers an area of ​​over 140 hectares, of which a large part is covered by Mediterranean scrub with carob trees and ancient olive trees. Here the animals live in absolute freedom in vast natural spaces, where they can approach the public only if and when they wish.

How to get:
By plane:
Bari Airport about 70 km from the Zoosafari
Brindisi Airport about 55 km from the Zoosafari.

On the train:
Fasano train station on the Bari-Lecce route (use the bus to get to the center of the town: please note that the park is about 2 km from the town center and that you need to take a taxi from the central square of the town or walk the route).

By car:

for those coming from the north Motorway A14 (Adriatica), for those coming from Naples Autostrada A16, exit at the toll booths of Bari and take the S.S. 16 going south to Fasano;
for those coming from the south (Lecce-Brindisi), take the S.S. 379 in a northerly direction up to Fasano;
for those coming from Calabria or Sicily, follow the S.S. 106 (Jonica) towards Taranto proceeding for Martina Franca, Locorotondo and Fasano.
ZOOSAFARI
Via dello Zoosafari – Fasano (BR)
Telephone: 080-4414455 or 080-4413055

SAVELLETRI and TORRE CANNE
Savelletri and Torre Canne are two small fishing centers that come alive in summer to become equipment and populated seaside resorts, to offer excellent hospitality, magnificent pristine sea, tranquility and proximity to beautiful places to visit.
Torre Canne is also a renowned spa with the Torricella and Antesana springs whose waters are used for the treatment of liver, biliary and uricemic diseases.

Ostuni

Ostuni, renowned tourist destination in the province of Brindisi, is located on three hills at 229 meters above sea level and has 33,000 inhabitants. City of Messapian origin (the ancient Stultium remembered by Pliny and Ptolemy), today it develops on three hills in an exceptional panoramic position, distinguishing itself among the green of the countryside due to the whiteness of the whitewashed houses and the contrast of the brownish-pink stone used to raise the most significant monuments. You can thus admire the landscape in line with the typical characteristics of the Apulian settlements: harmony with the landscape content; stratification of different historical periods that is easily readable by the urban analysis that shows the primitive acropolis messapica enclosed by walls later redesigned in the Aragonese period; the white terraced houses, with internal courtyards and narrow alleys on the outside, of a declared tradition and oriental inspiration.
The historic center, gathered on top of a hill, is visible in the distance from the coast, the coastal plain and the nearby hills, giving the town a striking appearance.
The municipal territory is very vast with 223.77 square kilometers an altitude from 0 to 380 meters above sea level. It is divided into two well-defined areas: the hill, which goes up to the Valle d’Itria (10 km), and the plain of olive trees downstream of the city. The green of the olive trees ends and merges with the blue sea of ​​the Ostuni marina, which stretches for 20 kilometers from the Pilone to Lamaforca, with a succession of enchanting places and marvelous beaches.
Ostuni, thanks to its countless historical and artistic resources, is included in many tourist itineraries and is the city known throughout the world as the “white city” for the fairytale charm of both its historic center, with the houses painted in white (a lime), that of the narrow paved alleys of “chianche”, or white “tiles” of local limestone polished to cover the bottom of the streets.
Ostuni is 11 km from Ceglie Messapica, 15 km from San Vito dei Normanni, 12 km from San Michele Salentino, 8 km from Carovigno and 6 km from the sea. Brindisi with its airport is 35 km, Taranto 55 km, Lecce 75 km and Bari 80 km.

Old Town
In the historical center we remember: the Cathedral, closed and protected between the houses of the ancient village, built between 1435 and 1495 in late Gothic forms, inside the church is in eighteenth-century style with a flat ceiling and baroque side chapels; the square in front of the Cathedral welcomes the Bishop’s Palace, which harmonizes well, together with an elegant arcade loggia (1750) with the scenery offered by the church. Not far away, incorporated in the Episcopio, there are the remains of the Castle built in 1198 and demolished in 1559. Also worth visiting is the Museum of Preclassical Civilizations of the Southern Murge, housed in the church, closed to worship, of San Vito Martire.
Worth noting is the small, lovely church of Santa Maria della Stella from the 15th century, restored in the 19th century, situated along the walls with a panoramic view of the plain of olive groves and the sea.
In the old village there are numerous souvenir shops, restaurants, bars and pubs that are concentrated in via Cattedrale and in the adjacent alleys; notable tourist inflow in the central months of the summer.
This is Ostuni: an environment with an ancient flavor with a series of steps, arches and small squares, in a maze of alleyways to make everything magical and fairytale, with the sunlight reflecting the white of the houses and peeping into the alleys more hidden.

Gatronomy
The gastronomy of Ostuni reflects the style of the typical Pugliese cuisine, rich in ancient flavors that intertwine with new trends, but always respecting the typically Mediterranean food culture.
In fact, olive oil is undoubtedly the typical product par excellence of the area. The reasons that enhance the quality are attributed to the cultivated varieties (Ogliarola Salentina and Cellina di Nardo), to the ideal climate, to the nature of the soil, which allow to obtain a sweet product on the palate and with a very low degree of acidity. The entire territory falls into the D.O.P – extra virgin olive oil “Collina di Brindisi” – an important recognition obtained by the European Commission in 1996.
Even the wine boasts long-lasting traditions: appreciated are the white wines DOC such as Ostuni and Martina and the red DOC Ottavianello. Other tired productions are represented by the fig and almond, now in the phase of gastronomic revival. In the more flat areas of the coast, tomatoes, artichokes and vegetables with a strong Mediterranean flavor are grown.

Ostuni also owes its favorable geographical position to the characteristics of its gastronomy, the result of the distant traditions of peasant cuisine. It is a vigorous cuisine that draws from the products of the sea and the countryside. Olive oil is given the role of a fundamental condiment for the preparation of dishes based on legumes, vegetables and homemade pasta.
The typical dish par excellence is represented by orecchiette, the “stacchiodde” with tomato sauce, seasoned with basil leaves and grated ricotta cheese.
Vegetables and vegetables are the absolute protagonists of local gastronomy, consumed cooked, fresh or preserved in oil. The vegetable crops, available all year round in great variety, stimulate the creativity of the chefs who are exalted in the preparation of minestrone, soups, fries and side dishes. Among the many tasty dishes we recommend: orecchiette with turnip tops; broad beans and wild chicory; stuffed aubergines; fried, curled, boiled, stuffed artichokes; lettuce salads, tomatoes and onion, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil.

Even the pastry is very popular with the various confectionery products based on honey, almonds, ricotta and jams; add to this the dried fruit of almonds, walnuts and figs “maritati” with baked almonds.

The Adriatic Sea, generous with seafood and blue fish, makes the rich and varied fish cuisine based on the elaboration of simple products: sea urchins, clams, walnuts, mussels, octopus, cuttlefish, anchovies, sardines, mullets, cod, mackerel. You get tasty dishes such as marinated anchovies, fried fish and soups, linguine with seafood, grilled mullet, octopus in broth with onion and other delicacies.

In the masserias of the inner hilly area, on the other hand, valuable farms are widespread, where a large part of the livestock of the entire province is kept. The meat obtained is lamb, goat, horse, rabbit and chicken: with these we make excellent meat sauce, baked dishes and roasts on the spit.
From cattle, goat and sheep farms, you get not only delicious meat, but also excellent cheeses, both fresh and seasoned.
Particularly typical are the cheeses obtained with sheep and goat’s milk, such as canestrate, cacioricotta, and strong ricotta, which accompany many traditional dishes.
In some companies you can still admire superb animals belonging to ancient breeds such as the Murgese horse and the donkey of Martina Franca, the Apulian podolico cattle, bred in the wild in the woods of oaks and Mediterranean scrub.

The local gastronomy has reached today very high levels of fame both nationally and internationally.
The restaurateurs have been protagonists in enhancing the best products typical, obtained from simple and genuine ingredients, based on flour, oil, legumes, vegetables, mushrooms, wild herbs, lambs, kids, seafood, blue fish. The restorative offer that is widespread in the area – from the historical centers to the inland hilly areas, from the coast to the agritouristic farms – has skilfully innovated the gastronomic traditions of the ancient refreshment points of a land of transhumance and the classic cellars.

Mottola

It is called the “Spia dello Jonio” and also the “Balcony of southern Puglia”. It has a circular shape and develops by steps towards the center of the village.
About the interpretation of the toponym, some scholars believe that the current town of Mottola derives from “height” or “rock mass”.
The hill on which the town stands (m 387) dominates the plain, once malarial, where the defeat of Pyrrhus in 272 BC was consummated. by the Roman consul Curio Dentato; around the elevation the steps are arranged, which form a circular system. The ancient origins are testified by the megalithic walls discovered in the Orto del Vescovo district, and the town was always a stronghold, first of the tarantini against bruzi and messapi, then by the Normans in 1102 and rebuilt by them, was angioina and from 1653 belonged for two centuries to the Caracciolo family.
The old center, dominated by the fourteenth-century bell tower of the Matrice Church, founded in the thirteenth century with a nave and two aisles and remodeled in the ‘500, has a circular shape and develops in steps towards the center of the village.
Outside the gate are the authentic poles of interest for tourists, just think of the numerous rock testimonies that indicate Mottola as one of the first agglomerations of prehistoric Puglia.
The territory of this municipality, as well as the majority of those belonging to the Province of Taranto, is littered with caves and caves used both as houses and as places of asceticism by the Basilian monks.
Particularly interesting is the ravine of Petruscio, south-east of the town, rich in terraces once used for the cultivation of the land facing the ravine and, in the most southern part, immersed in a dense pine forest. Aleppo; in this scenario we find the rock village of “Petruscio”, documented since the IX century and rich in caves.

Traditions:
Throughout its history Mottola has enriched itself with a conspicuous patrimony of traditions, customs, beliefs, parties. Among the religious traditions of Mottola very suggestive is the Holy Week (animated by the so-called paranze, barefoot and hooded confreres), in which there is a large participation of the faithful and visitors.
Other local traditions are “The Seven Saturdays” that take place at the chapel-crypt of the Madonna del Carmine and end at the Easter octave with the outdoor dining of typical dishes of the local gastronomy; the novena that precedes September 14th at the crypt of the Madonna delle Sette Lampade. Among the religious and civil celebrations we mention those in honor of St. Joseph, St. Anthony, the Madonna del Monte Carmelo, the Madonna del Rosario and the patron saint Tommaso Becket.

Events:
August: Meat festival

Martina Franca

Elegant town located at 431 m. high above sea level, lying on one of the last southern hills of the south-eastern Murgia, Martina Franca dominates the enchanting Valle d’Itria, a splendid green expanse with white ditrulli, right at the intersection of Taranto, Bari, and Brindisi. The main attraction of the city is undoubtedly constituted by the characteristic historical center, splendid example of Baroque art, with its narrow streets, its white alleys, the palaces and the majestic and monumental churches. In addition to a rich landscape dotted with the ancient “casedde”, the famous trulli, and the typical buildings of the farms, precious evidence of industrial archeology, Martina Franca enjoys a vast territory.

History
The historical origins of Martina Franca date back to the 10th century when a village was built on Mount S. Martino by refugees from Taranto, who fled the city due to the devastation of the Saracens. In 1300 the village was enlarged by the Prince of Taranto Filippo I d’Angiò, who granted rights and exemptions to those who had come to live there; from this derives the name “Franca” of the primitive nucleus. In 1506 it became the Duchy of the Caracciolos and in 1529 it suffered and rejected the siege of the French.
In 1646 the inhabitants, led by a smith called “Capo di ferro”, rebelled to preserve their fief until the extinction of the family (1827).
In the Republican movements of 1799, Martina welcomed the liberal ideas that led to the Unification of Italy in 1861.
Martina Franca is the triumph of the Baroque, which dominates in every place characterizing the sacred and the civil architecture, with characteristics that are quite special and different from the prototype of Lecce; above all, it is famous for its historical center where there are testimonies of Baroque art of considerable workmanship and beauty.

The historic center
The historic center of Martina Franca presents a singular urbanism, the houses were built vertically. The typical dwelling is formed from the ground floor where there were craft shops, or wine cellars, often equipped with stairs that descend one or more meters below street level. The peculiarity of the houses in Puglia, unlike the rest of the Italian peninsula, lies in the fact that the roofs are in the Greek-Arabian style, ie flat and not sloping. This is because the Apulian climate is very mild, cool, without particular precipitation (it is rare to see high snow, as happened in 1985). The few spiovenze serve to channel rainwater into the cisterns located in the subsoil.
An important feature of the historic center are the narrow streets full of “corners”, blind alleys and hidden streets: a real urban labyrinth. This arrangement, in ancient times, had a double advantage: in the case of an enemy invasion, in fact it was a means to gain time during a possible escape, or to stretch ambushes to enemies exploiting blind alleys and “hidden” or not very visible ways. The streets of Martina Franca have a particular depression in the middle of the road, unlike the other modern roads that have the “donkey back” road surface: when it rains, rainwater flows in the middle of the road leaving the sides dry, without reaching the cellars located in the subsoil. From an architectural point of view, the historical center is mostly in Baroque style, clearly visible in the churches (for example the Collegiate, now Basilica, of San Martino).

To be seen:
Of particular interest are the Collegiata di S. Martino (1747-1775), with a sumptuous Baroque façade and a portal on which, in high relief, are represented S. Martino and the poor; the Church of S. Domenico (1760), with a typically Baroque façade, which houses in its interior a valuable canvas, the “Madonna del Rosario”, by Domenico Carella (1776); the baroque palaces (Fanelli, Blasi, Motolese) with characteristic loggias adorned with artistic wrought iron bars.
In the triangular Piazza Roma, embellished with gardens and the fountain of the dolphins, stands the majestic Palazzo Ducale. In the Palazzo there are now the Town Hall and the “Isidoro Chirulli” Municipal Library. In the grand rooms inside, first of all the “Sala dell’Arcadia”, where you can admire imaginative paintings by Domenico Carella.

THE DUCAL PALACE, seat of the Town Hall
Built on the ruins of the ancient castle of Raimondello del Balzo Orsini of 1338, the Palazzo Ducale di Martina Franca was built in 1668 by the eighth Duke of Martina Petracone V Caracciolo, as can be seen from the engraving of the architrave of the portal, symbol of the power of the family. A grandiose, impressive and expensive project (only the first lot of the works cost 60,000 ducats), which was based on that of the sumptuous Roman palaces, so much so as to consist of 300 rooms, chapels, stalls, courtyards, theater and guest rooms. At first the palace was considered the work of Gianlorenzo Bernini, but recent historical studies assign the paternity to a Bergamasco, Giovanni Andrea Carducci, who would work on a design approved by Bernini, using the art of local masons, called the white powder . The building was never completed, as it was originally designed, due to the huge expenses; it was only partially completed in the eastern wing by the work of Duke Francesco III in 1773. The façade is divided horizontally by a wrought iron balcony, the work of local masters, and vertically by the pilasters. The portal, broad with an ogival arch, contained by two Tuscan-style semi-columns, presents a lapidary epigraph Petraconus V – fundamentis erexit / year DNI MDCLXVIII, military decorations and apotropaic masks on the upper wall. A wide staircase leads to the Baroque portal, of late Renaissance style, which leads to the premises of the royal apartment. The golden rococo walls, shaped by ear, arranged along the same axis, introduce in the precious rooms among which some excellently decorated in tempera by Domenico Carella in 1776: the Chapel of the Dukes, the Hall of Arcadia, the Hall of the Myth and the Hall of the Bible.

Gastronomy and traditions
A significant, however brief, overview of the Apulian gastronomic tradition, and in particular of the martinis of the Murgia dei Trulli, can not ignore a fundamental fact: this is a poor cuisine, even if, on the way, we will see that it is so poor it is not.
This cuisine is the result of an intelligent compromise between the inalienable right to one’s own dignity and the equally imperious need to survive by making the most of the most humble – but not necessarily less tasty – products that the land offered to people. . Other times, other conditions of life, other consistency and viscosity of social classes, other tenacity, other patience. What once was “kitchen of necessity”, today has become a luxury, a fashion, a paradigm of modernity, an almost therapeutic or at least healthy salutist. In fact, the Murgese cuisine is a triumph of vegetables, legumes and pasta; not much fish, little meat, essential condiments among which our justifiably famous olive oil and the homestyle cheeses stand out. Frugal and repetitive, the ingredients of the Martian cuisine give rise to numerous recipes with extraordinary flavors.
At the base of the typical dishes there are the most classic products of the earth: aubergines, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, beans, broad beans, artichokes, peppers, turnips, cabbage, wild chicory, sevoni, mustard, wild asparagus (which grow by clinging to the trunks of the olive trees or in the thickest of the spots or even in the interstices of the dry stone walls).
Famous fairs and religious festivals are numerous, especially during the summer, among which the feast in honor of the SS is very particular. patrons Martino and Comasia, which takes place twice a year: 11 November and 4 July.
From a cultural point of view, the most important event is the “Festival of Valle d’Itria”.
Besides its architectural style, Martina is also a country with strong folk and gastronomic traditions.

Castellaneta

The ancient settlement is located at the edge of a “gravina”, 145 meters deep and 350 meters wide, the largest in the province of Taranto, as well as one of the most extensive in Puglia.
It is one of the largest pugliese erosion valleys, formed by the flow of torrential waters coming from the Murge. Its landscape has a “Dantesque” imprint, due to the winding of the breathtaking paths on the abyss and the sudden opening of the earth’s crack.
This characteristic confirms how the “gravina” has been, in the past, a natural defense, in order to explain the perils of the citizens in this area to feel sure of the advance of the enemies of the ancient times.
The natural cavities, used both for civil uses and as churches-crypts, which open in the walls of the erosion valley refer to the very origins of the town, probably in the tenth century when the peasants of the nearby hamlets sheltered in the caves to escape to pirate raids.
The medieval Castellanetum was conquered by Roberto I il Guiscardo in 1081 (since then it is a bishop’s seat) and later became the Duchy of Caracciolo.
The Sacco and Muriello districts make up a historical center of medieval and baroque style.

To be seen:
Valuable is the Cathedral which, built in 1220 (it is reminiscent of the late-Romanesque bell tower), was completely rebuilt in the 18th century in Baroque style. In the Chapel of the Sacrament there is an imposing marble altar and there are also beautiful paintings by the Apulian painter Domenico Carella.
Finally, there are still remains of the fourteenth century building: you can visit them through a spiral staircase, located behind the organ.
In the suburban area of ​​the city, there is a convent built in 1471 dedicated to St. Francis. Of particular interest is the cloister with an ancient well surmounted by a Romanesque iron arch.
Castellaneta gave birth to Rodolfo Valentino, the stage name of Rodolfo Guglielmi, the unforgettable star of the screen, who was born here at the end of the 19th century.

Events:
August: Festival of ‘Far’ nedd ‘and the flavors of Puglia

Rodolfo Valentino Museum
The public and private life of Rodolfo Valentino is told in the “Rudolph Valentino” Museum.
Open on the centenary of his birth, as a sort of recognition for the fame brought to the town: ample space is dedicated to the film career and the myth that for five years hovered around the actor Pugliese, illustrated through movie posters, photographs, Italian magazines and foreign, records and the “mythical” “Rudolph Valentino” cigarettes marketed in the 1920s in the United States; less known to the public is the private life, narrated here, for example, through the poems he composed and the moving obituary read by Charlie Chaplin at the time of the premature death – only thirty-one years – of the beloved actor.

How to reach Castellaneta:
former Convent of S. Domenico – Via Municipio, 19
tel. 099/8492398 – 74011 Castellaneta (Ta)
Free entry.

Visiting hours:
Winter: 10.00-13.00 / 16.00-19.00
Summer: 10.00-13.00 / 17.00-20.00