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Apulia: the sunny region between two seas and warm hospitality in places rich in history

Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, it is a magical combination of artefacts, history, art and unspoilt nature, amidst beautiful coastlines and picture-postcard landscapes. This is Puglia, a region of golden beaches and crystal-clear waters, intense flavours and fascinating destinations: Castel del Monte, the trulli, the islands passing through towns kissed by a unique and unforgettable light.

  • Highlights
  • Cities
  • Villages
  • Nature
  • Art & Culture
City

Brindisi

The wonders of the Gateway to the East Brindisi is the perfect combination of remnants of Ancient Rome, evidence of later dominations, and modern spaces with clubs and restaurants offering the best Apulian specialities. As you admire views of the sea and the magnificent city harbour, you can walk around the historic centre to enjoy the city’s most striking features. Crossing Piazza Duomo, the city’s oldest square, don’t miss the Cathedral and the Archaeological Museum. Nearby, in the former Scuole Pie complex, is the Pinacoteca Comunale museum, home to the Nuovo Teatro Verdi theatre foundation and the Brindisi Tourism Department. You are sure to enjoy exploring the maze of narrow streets and alleyways, such as those in the San Pietro degli Schiavoni district. The three most popular shopping streets start from Piazza della Vittoria. Near the harbour, surmounted by the Roman Columns, you will find the famous, monumental Virgil’s Staircase, where up to 900 people flock to sit during events and celebrations: you can climb it while counting the steps one by one, as long as you are not in a hurry. By taking a motorboat, you can reach Casale, the residential district of the city, on the opposite bank, with views of the Monumento al Marinaio memorial. On the terrace – accessible via a lift, followed by a stretch of about ten steps – you can admire the enchanting panorama that embraces the harbour and the whole of Brindisi. For children, there is a historic playground near the memorial.
Nature
Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare, white cliffs of Puglia Perched on the edge of a high cliff rising from the Adriatic Sea, Polignano a Mare is one of the most spectacular and popular locations on the Apulian coast. The historic centre of this seaside village is a maze of narrow streets that slope down towards a tiny beach, the Lama Monachile, which cuts the cliff in two. Underneath the town, a tangle of caves invites you to discover a crystal-clear sea. Polignano is also the birthplace of Domenico Modugno, the singer-songwriter of “Volare”, the most famous Italian song in the world. All lanes lead to the sea The historic core of Polignano a Mare, an inhabited centre since Neolithic times, is an expanse of white houses of medieval origin clustered on the cliffs. The village is entered by passing under the 16th-century Arco Marchesale, also known as Porta Grande, which until 1780 was the only point of access to the village that was surrounded by a moat, now hidden by Piazza Garibaldi, with its drawbridge. You can get lost in the narrow streets of Polignano, sooner or later you will land at an overlook to the sea and the surprise effect will be even greater. A selfie at Lama Monachile, a small beach with turquoise water You will undoubtedly find the 13th century Chiesa Matrice, the Marchesale palace, home of the feudal lords, the Orologio palace and the 4 defensive towers. The most photographed place in Polignano a Mare is its turquoise-water beach, Lama Monachile, always very crowded in the summer months: the bridge behind it is built over a Roman bridge of the Via Traiana, the Rome-Brindisi road of antiquity, which passed right through here. Next door, on the promenade, you will see the statue dedicated to the world's most famous Polignanese, singer Domenico Modugno. On the opposite side of town, again with a spectacular sea view, is the beautiful museum of the Pino Pascali Foundation an artist from Polignano who died in the 1960s, which displays contemporary art exhibitions. What to see around Polignano a Mare The ambience of Polignano a Mare can be relished as you stroll along the cliffs and down to the shoreline from which the view of the white city is spectacular. A forty-minute walk in the direction of Nola, between the delightful bays of Ponte dei Lapilli and Porto Cavallo, both ideal for bathing, will take you to the village of San Vito, unmistakable because of the remains of the abbey of the same name dating back to the 9th century, to the time of the Basilian monks who took refuge in these lands to escape the iconoclastic struggles of the Byzantine Empire. A little further on is the quadrangular tower of San Vito in front of a stretch of sea that looks like a natural swimming pool. During the day as well as in the evening, in this idyllic place, which is also full of clubs and restaurants, you will never be alone: Polignano's nightlife reaches here. Caves and cliff diving There are about twenty caves that the sea has created with the force of its waves on the cliff on which Polignano stands: the largest is the Palazzese cave, so called because it is located under a noble palace from which it could be accessed. Today, the palace has been transformed into a five-star hotel that has created restaurant rooms in the natural recesses of the cliff and the cave remains accessible by sea. Some other caves have the most unthinkable names, mostly related to their use over time: that of the Archbishop's Palace is said to have been connected through tunnels to the bishop's palace, that of the Nuns was used by the religious sisters of the hospital. The most striking one is the Ardito, named after its owners, which has a natural column inside that fishermen used to climb up to the village. What to eat in Polignano al mare On one of the many terraces overlooking the reef, in Polignano's many restaurants, you can enjoy year-round dishes of seafood crudités, a mixture of cuttlefish, prawns, scampi and many other fish depending on the season and the catch. For those who prefer their fish well cooked, then the dish to try is rice, potatoes and mussels. Another local speciality is the sweet Polignano carrot, grown right in the area of San Vito Abbey, recognised as a Slow Food presidium. One coffee, but special: with lemon peel and cream If you prefer street food, so you don't miss a minute of the beach, then try the fish sandwich, with tuna tartare, burrata and tomatoes, or the fried octopus and turnip tops, a real treat. At the end of a meal, treat yourself to Caffè Speciale, according to a recipe developed right here in Polignano: it is a sweetened coffee with added lemon peel, cream and amaretto, always served in a small glass.
Art & Culture

The Swabian castle of Bari

The Swabian castle of Bari, the court of two enlightened sovereigns You can't say you know Bari if you don't visit its castle, the city's landmark building, close to the old town, between the old dockyard and the cathedral. Commissioned by Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century on what remained of a Norman fortification, it was transformed several times, until in its golden age it became the seat of a refined Renaissance court ruled by two women. Today it is home to a museum and the city's cultural centre. A millennium-long walk A visit to the impressive fortress surrounded by the moat that dominates the historic centre of Bari is a millennium-long walk in the company of great emperors and queens. The central part is of Byzantine-Norman origin, but was completely transformed by Frederick II between 1233 and 1240, then restored by Charles of Anjou in the following century, while the sloping balustrades with corner towers were added in the Aragonese period during the 16th century. When the Aragonese donated it to the Sforza ducal family, the fortress was enlarged and embellished by the intervention of two women, mother and daughter: Isabella of Aragon, widow of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duchess of Bari and Bona Sforza. The castle became the seat of a court that had nothing to envy from the Lords of the North. We owe them the scenic double flight of stairs connecting the ground floor to the halls of the piano nobile. During Bourbon rule, the castle began a long period of decay and abandonment, during which it was used as a prison and barracks. Only recently, in 2017, after extensive restoration and enhancement work, was the castle opened to the public as a museum. On the main floor, exhibitions and permanent displays The main floor of the castle is divided into various halls that are used for temporary exhibitions, cultural events and for permanent displays: the Aragonese Hall houses a photographic exhibition on the history of the restoration of the castle; the Angevin wing houses the archaeological collection of tableware ceramics (15th-18th century) from the excavations of the "butto" (today we would call it a rubbish tip) that testify to an area of court life, while the so-called Torre dei Minorenni displays a collection of precious materials and jewellery from various places in Apulia. The Gipsoteca of the Castle of Bari The ground floor of the Castle, in the beautiful rooms with ogival arches, houses the Gipsoteca, an interesting collection of plaster reproductions of sculptures of some Apulian monuments made in 1911 by artists Pasquale Duretti and Mario Sabatelli for the Apulian pavilion at the Ethnographic Exhibition organised in Rome on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Unification of Italy.
Region

Pulsing heart of the Mediterranean, cradle of ancient civilisations and with a spectacular sea

Apulia: the sunny region between two seas and warm hospitality in places rich in history. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, it is a magical combination of artefacts, history, art and unspoilt nature, amidst beautiful coastlines and picture-postcard landscapes. This is Puglia, a region of golden beaches and crystal-clear waters, intense flavours and fascinating destinations: Castel del Monte, the trulli, the islands passing through towns kissed by a unique and unforgettable light.

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