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Castles and challengesPUGLIA


Castles and challenges

Article published in Speciali di Motociclismo magazine in 2002.

Seafood at will in the land of trulli. Mostly flat roads for fast and relaxed driving in safety. Don't miss the Castellana caves.

Read the story published in the magazine.

The itinerary begins a little before Barletta.

Canne della Battaglia is the historic place where Hannibal's troops, inferior in number to the Roman ones, achieved an unexpected success, certainly one of the greatest defeats in their war history. In Barletta, famous for the challenge of the same name, we allow ourselves a snack based on sea urchins, the right prelude to the evening that will await us.

Quick visit and then off to Trani, also off the itinerary but essential for its cathedral, certainly among the most significant examples of the Apulian Romanesque.

Heading towards Andria we notice that the landscape is now typical of Bari's Premurgia: olive trees as far as the eye can see alternating with almond trees and vines.

But proceeding towards the interior, in addition to the sudden change of the surrounding landscape, the gaze is immediately captured, and the guide mesmerized, by the amazing regular octagon of Castel del Monte, which placed on a conical hill at only 541 m of altitude, it can be identified from a very great distance.

Wanted by Frederick II and erected in 1229-49, already in its function it introduces some mysteries: hunting manor, and in particular the one with the falcon, of which the emperor was a fan, or construction symbol of the power of the same, which he wanted so to point out its political and cultural role? There are ideas to defend all 2 theses and many more.

Even moving away, the castle, an octagon of octagonal towers, forms an integral and dominant part of the landscape.

The road, now avoiding the centers of Corato and Ruvo di Puglia, runs solitary surrounded by farms and roadside houses.

Another stop is certainly Gravina di Puglia, a city of art built in the rock on the edge of a precipice from which it also takes its name.

Its history dates back to the 7th century BC. with the name of Silvium and its fortune was represented, in more recent times, by the choice to let the Appia pass in its vicinity, then cracked by the opening of the Traiana and by the barbarian raids of the fifth century.

We are crossing a part of the innermost area of ​​the so-called Land of Bari, the ancient Peucezia, and precisely the Murge plateau that extends to the border with Basilicata.

Here the human presence in the countryside is sparse, traffic is scarce.

By secondary roads, we arrive at Gioia del Colle, famous for its castle, one of the most famous in Puglia, built exactly on the border that acts as a conventional limit between the high Murge and the Murgia dei Trulli.

Everyone surely knows those of Alberobello, these false vaulted constructions of limestone slabs that characterize the entire area.

What may at first glance represent a building curiosity with an architectural vocation, is actually the summary of the ancient relationship with the environment: in fact, the material used, the white limestone, comes out very abundant, tilling the soil and brings us back over time, to the efforts of the fields cleared inch by inch of these rocks to make them arable.

Once you arrive in Putignano, it will be up to you to visit the caves of Castellana, which are in the immediate vicinity, considering however that returning from Alberobello and Locorotondo, however, we will still pass through here.

The caves, whose visits start at 9 in the morning and whose closure depends on the time of year, constitute the largest speleological complex existing in Italy today.

The visits are naturally guided and there are 2 possible itineraries: one of about 1 kilometer, the second of almost 3.

The itinerary goes even further south-east, into the Itria valley, where the density of the trulli reaches its peak.

The centers of greatest attraction are certainly the aforementioned Alberobello and Locorotondo.

The first certainly holds the record in terms of the number of these strange structures: there are more than 1000, including the Trullo sovereign, the only two-storey one.

At the second one we allow ourselves a stop for its splendid dominant position over the valley, and for its characteristic circular layout of its narrow streets that concentrically hide among its typical low whitewashed houses.

Take via Nardelli which, starting from Villa Garibaldi, turns externally around the town allowing you to admire the valley below, with very panoramic views.

Now all that remains is to go back through Fasano to get to Castellana following scenic roads.

Polignano is just about fifteen kilometers away.

The town of Greek origins, was built on a rocky plateau overlooking the sea very rich in caves.

The oldest nucleus overlooks the sea with a continuous front of houses,

which hides behind it a dense web of suggestive narrow streets between whitewashed buildings, often ending in terraces overlooking the rocks.

Take a walk early in the morning, when the village is almost deserted, with the blinding sun reflecting on the white walls.

And the evening? Of course fish, of course seafood, obviously raw.

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