We had visited many areas around Puglia last year when we were storm bound in Otranto and Brindisi as well as when we brought Nimmie back to Bari for the winter. However, there were a few places we hadn’t managed to see so with a few days to kill, off we travelled.
After picking up the hire car from the airport and paying nearly as much again for insurance and additional driver, we headed to Castel del Monte. It was built in the 13th century by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily. No one really knows why it was built but most people assume that it was as a hunting lodge. It is an extraordinary, white octagonal castle sitting on a hilltop.
Next stop, Trani. A pretty little port on the coast just north of Bari. This fortified town sits on a promontory and was an island at one time. It rivalled Bari in its heyday. Whilst we were there the fishing boats came in after their evening catch so supper was sorted!
It also had an amazing cathedral that is three churches on top of each other with even a Roman hypogeum underground. Sadly, photos weren’t allowed inside but it was very impressive with medieval paintings on the wall. There was a wedding about to take place in the main duomo and instead of a photographer capturing the entrance of the bride, they had a drone!
Next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed inland to the Grotte di Castellana. This is an amazing labyrinth of caves following an expedition in 1938 through the sinkhole that had been there for centuries. Indeed, the locals though that it was haunted as bats would come flying out of the mist to feed. The caves go some 70m down for several kilometres. It was fascinating to see. Of course, as we had a car we also took the opportunity to go shopping and pick up all the heavy or bulky essentials like wine, olive oil and loo roll!
On Sunday, we decided to go down to Gallipoli on the instep of the ‘boot’. This is not the same Gallipoli as the WWI battle in the Dardanelles but a very old city in the very south of Puglia. It was a charming place with lots of alleyways, restaurants and bars.
The Gallipoli area is also renowned for its beaches. The town beach was okay but surely there were better ones nearby. Do not worry, dear reader, Liz was able to sniff out a decent beach at fifty paces so off we went in search. True enough, we found not one but three!
Monday was a boat job day and on Tuesday we found a local golf course to try out. The weather in the morning had been atrocious with continuing gales and storms but the afternoon was very pleasant – overcast but warm. Today we needed to return the car so early start for Jo to take it back whilst Liz waited on the delivery of the batteries. They didn’t turn up but hopefully tomorrow…..