Stones of Puglia: caves, cathedrals by the sea...
Bari is a good starting point for this itinerary, well connected as it is to Rome and Naples.
The tour will also include the most impressive examples of religious and civil architecture of the middle ages such as Bitonto cathedral; Ruvo di Puglia cathedral; Castel del Monte; Trani with its Cathedral on the sea.
All built between the 11th and 13th centuries, mainly in local stone, with complex and exquisite decorations which contrast the sobriety of the bare walls, they are generally oriented, and often connected, with other important monuments of a religious nature.
The tour will continue to Matera and its incredible Sassi, houses dug into the rock on the side of a canyon, one of the first human settlements in Italy that dates back to the Paleolythic. Because of the ancient and primitive scenery in and around the Sassi, it has been used by filmmakers as the setting for ancient Jerusalem. The following famous biblical period motion pictures were filmed in Matera: among them, Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ
The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1993
Martina Franca, a town settled 431 metres above sea level, lying over one of the last southern hills in the south-east of the Murgia area, will also be on our way. It overlooks the charming Valle d’Itria, a beautiful region with trees and white houses called “trulli”.
Not to be forgotten, the wonderful CastellanaCaves deserve an unforgettable visit, the most important speleological environment in Italy and Europe: their wide range of crystal concretions, their size and amazing variety of natural galleries are responsible for the role played by the caves of Puglia. They are the result of the eroding action of an ancient underground river which for centuries dug and shaped the calcareous rocks composing the murgia in the Bari area.
Nearby Alberobello, founded in the 15th century on land that was originally an oak forest. A typical feature of Alberobello are the trulli, white dry-stone houses with conical roofs made of lapidary stones. Inside, the trulli have a square central room communicating with the other rooms of the house via arches.
In 1996 the city of Alberobello, the heart of the Murgia dei Trulli, was declared a Heritage of Humanity site by UNESCO.
Our last destination in this tour will be Lecce, the Baroque masterpiece of southern Italy. Lecce's history goes back a long way - you can still see ruins of a Roman theatre and amphitheatre - but the period which led to town's current fame was the 17th century. A period of prosperity led to grand developments and the wholesale construction of palaces and churches. These buildings adapted the fashionable Baroque style to the soft local stone, with decorations and cherubs extravagantly covering facades and doorways. This local style is known as barocco Leccese ('Lecce Baroque').
Overnight stays wil be arranged in traditional masseria, once the traditional farm and now resorts withe large parks and swimming pools.