Barletta-Andria-Trani is a newly established province in Apulia, located between the Gulf of Manfredonia and the Territory of Bari. Barletta and Trani face the limpid waters of the Adriatic sea, while Andria is located further inland, very close to the Alta Murgia that occupies most of the area of the Province.
Remains of ancient civilizations, Medieval fortresses, enchanting architecture, and an exceptional nature are what this corner of Apulia has to offer. An heterogeneous landscape, it extends from the deep blue sea that reflects the characteristic green of the maquis, to the wide open spaces of the Murge Plateau, a land where time seems to stand still.
Expanses of grassy terrain is broken up by the whiteness of the rocks, while a dense woodland changes color according to the seasons, and a network of canals through which creeks once ran are today marked by expansive, cultivated fields: this is what meets one’s eyes when traveling inland, where the silence is contrasted only by the sounds of nature, and where one’s gaze knows no boundaries.
With Margherita di Savoia in the north and Bisceglie in the south to mark the borders along the coastal strip, lovely sandy shores run into the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. Genuine flavors and ancient crafts complete the narrative of these remarkable places' history and traditions.
Among hills, pastures, olive trees and vineyards, on a hill of the Murge Plateau, a few miles from Andria the most important example of Swabian architecture is located: Castel del Monte.
The perfection of the forms, the harmony between elements originating from different cultures, the aura of mystery surrounding it, make of this imposing fortress a unique masterpiece, the reason why it was declared World Heritage Site. It was built by Frederick II of Swabia, versatile and ingenious personality, who followed the planning phase in all its details. Cathedrals and castles are jewels of architecture, symbols of the territory of Apulia, and some very interesting ones are in this province.
Trani Cathedral, dedicated to San Nicola Pellegrino (Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim) and an example of Apulian Romanesque architecture, combines, with harmony and elegance, elements of styles from different periods and cultures. Regarded by some as the “Queen of cathedrals in Puglia”, it exhibits a finely decorated portal with a marvellous bronze door work of Barisano da Trani, comprising of 32 panels each portraying a biblical character. The 59-metre high bell tower, built in different periods, is adorned with a series of double, triple and quintuple lancet windows and an octagonal cusp at the top. The construction of elegant mansion houses, such as the Palazzo Caccetta with a Late Gothic façade, dates back to the Renaissance.
Barletta, famous for the celebrated challenge, features medieval traits, such as the white 12thcentury Castle, premises of the Museo Civico where important works dating back to ancient periods are exhibited. Some of the interesting monuments that can be admired during a walk in the streets of Barletta are the Cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major) and built on an ancient Romanesque framework, the Colosso, imposing 4th century bronze statue and the Chiesa del Santo Sepolcro (Saint Sepulchre Church), a balanced stratification of different styles.
Not far away, Canne della Battaglia has been the scene of the battle between the Roman and Carthaginian armies, a history book under the open sky where the narrative starts with prehistory, continues with the Roman age and ends with the Medieval age.
A travel back in time is offered by Canosa, a place that speaks volumes about the ancient origins of this land. In the surrounding area remains of a necropolis have been found, underground rooms used for various functions (hypogeum), mausoleums and numerous artefacts that have made this city one of the most important archaeological sites in Apulia.
Also interesting is the Early Christian Basilica di San Leucio, brought to light after several excavation works, and the Museo Civico which displays a collection of bas-reliefs, inscriptions, sculptures, marbles, jewellery and ceramics dating back to distant times.
Sea, sun, entertainment and nightlife! So the coast of Barletta and Trani has everything for the visitors who can choose to relax on the white beaches or dive into the blue sea, a beautiful natural arena for practicing numerous sports, from diving to snorkelling, surfing and windsurfing. And in the evening, the landscape brightens with life, lights and sounds, offering a thousand ways of having fun, meeting people and staying up late in the many places open till the early hours.
Food and wine lovers will find in the province of Barletta-Andria-Trani many ideas to satisfy their desire for traditional flavours. The route of the extra-vergine oil from Castel del Monte, dedicated to the promotion of one of the most precious products of Apulia, is an attractive route due to the beauty of landscapes and historical evidence - chief among them the Castle of Frederick II - and the chance to watch up close, the various stages of oil production.
In the autumn the "Qoco Competition for Young Chefs in the Mediterranean" takes place, now in its third edition, comparing young talents from different countries, and an extensive program of tastings for the public. If you feel like some "sweetness," do not miss the Museo del Confetto (Sweet Museum) in Andria where, in addition to exhibit an interesting collection of antique tools, a video is projected showing important phases of the preparation of these sweet pralines.
The evocative celebrations related to the famous Disfida di Barletta (Challenge of Barletta) see the re-enactment of the famous duel between the Italian army led by Ettore Fieramosca, and the French led by La Motte.
Simple and genuine ingredients, offered from the earth and the sea and dressed with extra virgin olive oil are the characteristic features of the good flavours of this province.
Boiled and seasoned Cicorielle with a little oil, thin and deliciously bitter asparagus, wild rocket with slightly spicy aroma and the famous turnip greens make tasty dishes based on vegetables, also used for tasty sauces for pasta, which is strictly handmade.
Lampascioni, a great match for the tender meat of local lambs, cardoncello mushrooms, tasty baked or used as seasoning for other dishes, and the soft burrata, a blend of cream and shredded mozzarella, are the jewels of the typical local production. The wealth of the sea is the reason for the intense flavour of second courses based on blue fish and shellfish, some traditionally eaten raw.
As for the confectionery, deserving of a mention are the sweet taralli coated in sugar, almond cakes and the famous candies crafted in many different shapes and colours: with toasted almonds and hazelnuts coated in pure chocolate, fruit-shaped and filled with marzipan, made of chocolate filled with liquor, candied fruits or coffee. Rosso Barletta, Castel del Monte and Moscato di Trani are the DOC wines that guarantee the "hearty eaters" that they are going to pair food with wines of excellent quality.