Discover Apulia with us
The Apulia is the easterner region of the Italy and borders with the Molise to the north, with the Campania and the Basilicata to the west, while it is washed by the Adriatic Sea to the east and by the Ionian Sea to the south.
Its coasts extend for 800 kilometres and alternate mainly rock segments, like in the Gargano, and those sandier, like the zone of Taranto. The only mountainous areas of the Apulia are the Gargano and the Sub-Apennine Dauno, whereas the rest of the region is constituted chiefly by flat and hilly zones: the Tavoliere of the Puglie, one of the widest plain of Italy; the Murge, an upland of calcareous nature, the Terra of Bari, the Valle of Itria, famous for the high concentration of trulli; the Ionian tarantine arc.
For years now, the Gargano has been a tourist destination really desired: Vieste, with its miles long beaches and the crystalline sea; Peschici, known as the “pearl of the Gargano”, with its historic centre and its bays; the Island of Tremiti.
The Tremiti, the “pearl of the Adriatic”, are an archipelago composed of five islands: San Dominio is the biggest one and hosts numerous accommodation facilities. The most part of the territory is covered with a thick pine forest that leads to the Colle dell’Eremita, from which is possible to enjoy a wonderful view; besides, the coast is characterized by a myriad of inlets and by its famous grottos (Viole, Rondinelle and the Grotto of the Bue Marino). The only sandy beaches are Cala Delle Arene, Pagliai and Cala Matano.
San Nicola is the historic island, seat of the administration, and it is characterized by a notable past. The abbey testifies not only the millennial presence of the monks on the island, but also the richness that the island has enjoyed in the years thanks to its strategic position. Although it offers few accommodation facilities, the sites to visit are many: the Castle of the Badiali; the abbey of S. Maria a Mare, the Libyan cemetery.
Capraia and Cretaccio instead are uninhabited and visitable only by sea. They are known not only for the presence on the territory of rabbits and capers, but also for the several inlets along the coast: Cala del Diavolo, Pietra di Fucile and the Scoglietti di Capraia; near to the old abandoned lighthouse. Finally, Pianosa, for years has been an integral natural reserve and it is characterized by a low and plane form.
The Riviera of the Trulli
The Riviera of the Trulli from a territorial point of view corresponds to the Altosalento, that is the border zone between the Salento and the Murge, that includes the province of Brindisi and part of the valley of Itria and that over the years has developed a really strong identity, closely related to the rural culture with its rural architecture represented by the trulli and manors.
The trullo is the symbol of a past where the human being and the environment lived in prefect harmony: built with local stone and a cone shaped roof, it is characterized by a central room, two lateral alcoves and the total absence of interior doors. Frequently, during the summer, the trulli were utilized as vacation destinations by the artisans of the village, who need to rest after a year of labour, and still today are little oasis of peace, immersed in the vegetation and sheltered from the hot.
The other symbols of the Rivera of the Trulli are the manors: some of them date back to the Middle Ages and are little fortified villages; others were built between the seventeenth and the eighteenth century and boast wide staircase, galleries and the crests of the ancient bourgeoisie. The manors still today represent the economic, social and cultural nucleus of the territory since they are not only farms but also agritourisms that allow reviving the sounds and scents of the rural life.
In the Territory of the Altosalento have been found several archaeological remains, at the moment the most of them are preserved in the museum of the “Centre of the Archaeological Records”, nevertheless, while strolling around the streets of the historic centres of Ceglie, Carovigno or Ostuni, you will bump at every corner into a castle, a church or a sumptuous palace.
Particularly, Ostuni is renowned all over the world as the “white city”, characterized by its tortuous streets and by the dazzling white of its calcimine houses. Unmissable is the visit to: the cathedral in gothic-romanesque style; the church of San Vito Martire, which hosts the museum of the pre-classic cultures of the Murge; the ancient noble palaces and the old burg.
However, the Rivera of the Trulli is not only history but also sea: actually its coasts alternate long beaches covered with Mediterranean scrub, like those that go from Torre Palme to Pilone, and little inlets delimited by low cliffs and surrounded by a crystalline sea. Therefore, it is a varied coast suitable for any tourist needs.
Garagano and Tremiti Islands
The Gargano occupies the northerner zone of the Apulia and it is called the Spur of Italy. It is a mountainous promontory created in the Jurassic period, born from the meeting of rocks of sedimentation with those formed in marine environment and then moulded by the action of the atmospheric agents. Therefore, the Gargano is a mainly mountainous zone, almost for 20% covered by woods and Mediterranean scrub.
The high presence of the human being on the territory since the Palaeolithic is testified by the Grotto Tegliacantoni, the Grotto Spagnoli and the Grotto Pagliacci, particularly important not only from an archaeological point of view, but also for the presence of one of the oldest cave paintings of Italy.
During the Neolithic and in the following centuries the local populations had a thick net of commercial relations with Aegean world and dealt with an important process of civilization, attested by the discovery of the archaeological site of Coppa Nevigata in Manfredonia and of the entrenched villages of the Gargano.
The necropolis of the Mount Saraceno, with more than 400 graves, shows the presence of the Daunian culture in the Gargano until the IV century B.C., when the territory became part of the roman culture: in this period were born a lot of cities, which became an important reference point for the economic and cultural development and sets themselves at the centre of the commercial routes between west and east.
Between the IX and the X century B.C. the Gargano returned under the domain of the Byzantine Empire and coped with the constant incursions of the Saracens and of the Slavs, built several villages becoming so a real rock culture. Peschici, Vico del Gargano and Monte Sant’Angelo are the symbols of the architectural, spiritual and economic evolution of the Gargano of the XI century, that inaugurates under the Normans the “culture of the cathedral”, characterized by an high number of church in Romanesque style (the cathedrals of Vieste, the Abbey of Santa Maria di Tremiti or the Abbey of Calena a Peschici) and then was replaced by the culture of the castles with the arrival of the Suevi.
The Salento, the “heel of Italy”, occupies the southern part of the Apulia, from which is separated by an imaginary line that goes from the Gulf of Taranto to the Adriatic, in correspondence with the zone of Fasano: hence, since the ancient times has occupied a strategic position from a commercial point of view, because it is inside the route between the Orient and the Greece.
Initially, the peninsula of Salento was populated by a population of Illyrian origin, the Messepi, till when, since cannot defend anymore its autonomy, were conquered by the city of Taranto that here set several military outpost, like the one of Pezza Petrosa in Villa Castelli.
From the beginning of the IX century to the XVI century, in Salento have taken place constant incursions and turkish and barbarian assaults for the predominance of the territory, so it has been isolated from the rest of the Apulia; it is only from the XVII century that it faced an outstanding economic and artistic development.
Therefore, the peninsula of Salento has developed an own strong identity, which is different from the rest of the region as much as it is related to: the dialect, belonging to the category of the southernmost dialect, and it is a variation of the Sicilian languages; the architectonic style, which from one side remembers the Greek cities with its white houses without roof, from the other side it really looks alike the baroque of Lecce; the folklore, which founds its greatest expression in the Pizzica, a form of hysteria with a strong scenic impact and marked by a beating traditional music. Nowadays, the Pizzica has been emptied of its anthropologic connotation to become a cultural phenomenon thanks to the meeting of the traditional music with the more modern one and it has contributed to make Salento one of the most desired tourist destinations.
The Salento, actually, in the last years has known an intense economic development thanks to the increase of the tourism not only due to the beauty of the sea and the beaches, but also to the uniqueness of the historic century, characterized by a strong compactness caused by the lack of the separation between the houses, by a thick net of white alleys, by calcimine houses with high colour windows and doors fixtures which alternates to the noble palaces and the baroque churches.
Particularly, Lecce, the so-called “city of the Baroque”, boasts a huge architectonic, cultural and artistic value. Actually, it is in this city that the baroque art has reached its biggest development and has found expression in its most renowned monuments: the Basilica of Santa Croce, emblem of the regality with its balcony and the fine rose window; the Palace of the Celestini; ex convent famous for its windows and the splendid capitals; Square S.Oronzo, heart of the social life and of the
commercial city, hosts numerous pieces of art (like the roman amphitheatre and the ex renaissance church of San Marco); Corso Vittorio Emanuele with its noble palaces.
Lecce is an ideal destination in every respect thanks to the proximity to the six seashores: San Cataldo, famous for the Natural Reserve of the Cesine; Frigole; Torre Chianca, which names comes from the tower presents on the coast built to defend against the Saracen incursion; Spiaggiabella; Torre Rinalda; Casalbate.
Of notable importance is also the city of Taranto; established in the 706 B.C. and ancient colony of the Magna Gracie.
The city overlooks the namesake gulf and it is called “the city of the two seas”, since it is washed by both the Mar Grande and the Mar Piccolo. The Mar Grande forms a gulf linked to the land by the bridge of Porta Napoli and the bridge Girevole, since the 1897 symbol of the city, separated by the Ionian Sea by Cape San Vito and the Islands Cheradi (San Pietro, San Paolo e San Nicolicchio). The Mar Piccolo, besides, is divided into two basins by the Bridge of Punta Penna Pizzone.The historic and cultural importance of the city of Taranto is attested by the quantity of the archaeological monuments spread over the territory: the Doric Temple, the oldest of the Magna Gracie and the only place of worship left; the remains of the greek and roman necropolises; the crypt of the Madonna della Grotta, an ancient burial chamber of the roman period, called of the Redeemer. Moreover, the several existing churches are the symbol of the great devotion and religiosity that all along have associated the inhabitants of the territory. The most popular for their architectonic beauty are the Cathedral of San Cataldo situated in the historic centre and characterized by an imposing baroque faça
de and the Church of San Domenico Maggiore.
Because of the strategic position of the city and of the constant struggles for the power that have characterized it, during the century were built several buildings aimed to the military defence of the zone and that nowadays are still existing, like the Aragonese Castle and the Fortress de Laclos.
After all, it is just thanks to its position that Taranto boasts a breathtaking landscape; among the most renowned: Baia Smeralda, Lido Azzurro and Marechiaro.
Furthermore, several islands belong to the region: Tremiti, Cheradi, the island of Sant’Andrea.
In recent years, numerous prehistoric relics have been discovered like the fossil remains of the so-called “Uomo di Altamura” and the dolmen of the Chianca, one of the most important of Europe not only for the dimensions, but also for the importance of the remains discovered. In the I millennium B.C. in Apulia were instituted several settlements by the Illyrians population and then numerous colonies of the Magna Graecia, among which the future city of Taranto.
During the imperial period, thanks to the building of the Via Appia, the region achieved a supremacy position in the production and exportation of olive oil in the East. In the 1200, Federico II drives the Apulia towards a big cultural and economic development, symbolized by the construction of many high artistic level buildings like Castel del Monte: situated in Andria and part of the UNESCO heritage, not only has a role of observation and control of the territory, but also it is inside a system of visual communication.
Moreover, the region also hosts other UNESCO’s sites: the town of Alberobello, land of the mythical trulli, stone residences with the characteristic cone shaped roof and built without the use of any glue; the Cathedral of San Nicola il Pellegrino, emblem of the Romanesque architecture of the Apulia built with calcareous tuff typical of the zone.
The two seas of the Apulia renowned for theirs crystalline waters, are surrounded by a breathtaking landscape and are rich of vegetation, characterized by infinity of little bay, grottos and particularly deep sea bottom. Besides, the region proposes several activities in close contact with the nature: windsurfing, kitesurfing, bicycle tours in the Park of Gargano and in the one of the Murge.
Finally, there are many parties and festivals organized in Apulia all over the year: the Carnival of Putignano, the Disfida of Baratte, the Festival of San Nicola in Bari and the Night of the Taranta in Malpignano.
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