Southern Italy – September 2013 (Part 3)

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Read part one of my vacation journal HERE and part two HERE

Part 3:

Adventures in Trani, Andria, Alberobello, Martina Franca….

Peter and I had a special day planned, which included a lunch to celebrate our anniversary (a month late but who cares!).  Our first stop was in Trani, also known as the Pearl of Puglia.  We absolutely loved this town, with its soft white stone everywhere.  The cathedral on the water (and just behind the harbor) was a showstopper. Starkly simple and wonderful contrast with the blue water.

Trani-20130910-00156

Trani

We wanted to go see the famous Castel Sant’Angelo, but we couldn’t get up the hill close to it,  without paying. We only had a few minutes, so we decided it wasn’t worth it.  The castle is only really worth seeing from the outside. It was never occupied, doesn’t have kitchens, and nobody knows why it was built. It’s completely empty on the inside. Since it doesn’t defend anything and is in the countryside, nobody really knows why Frederic II built it in the first place.

Our anniversary lunch at Antichi Sapori was one of the food the highlights of the trip. The place is very small, a dozen tables, and reservations a must. http://www.pietrozito.it/  The owner, Pietro Zito,  has created a pretty amazing business in a tiny town that has 2 streets.  Everything he serves is grown locally or made on the premises.  We bought some liqueur and some taralli (typical Puglian crackers) to bring home. After a wonderful 2.5 hour affair, we were ready to return ‘home’ and crash, but it was memorable.

That evening we spent a few hours with our new Dutch neighbors but we weren’t too ambitious beyond that.

The next day we visited Martina Franca and the market – Another wonderful hill town, more baroque in feel and a good bit larger.  The market is very big so parking presented a bit of a challenge. After a little cursing and fussing we managed to find parking (and this, despite our GPS).  We strolled the market and wandered the small streets… just really tried to enjoy the sun and take in all the sights.  We didn’t do much else that day.

Alberobello (4)

Alberobello (10)Alberobello

 

On our last day in the Valle d’Itria (as this part of Puglia is called,) we visited Alberobello and the famous cluster of over 1,400 trulli.  Totally touristy (it’s been called the Disneyland of Puglia for a reason) but well worth seeing.  Those little houses are fascinating, especially since nobody really knows why they originated or how.  The thick stone walls do keep things cool in summer and presumably keep the worst of the winter cold out as well.  They can be quite dark too, since windows are tiny.  One legend has it that they could be dismantled by removing one key stone, thus avoiding the tax man.  Who knows?

On our last evening in the area, Peter and I enjoyed a lovely meal at a Michelin starred place in Ceglie Messapica. It came highly recommended by Antonella (our innkeeper) and was called Il Fornello da Ricci. It was an absolutely beautiful place and the food was great.

Next stop, Matera….

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