You can't see it in this picture, but when we were driving out of Bari, we drove around a huge sports stadium. The stadium is nicknamed "Bambino Stadium," which had been built by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as a reward to the citizens for producing the most babies in a specified period of time.
I wonder if the Italian men knew beforehand that they would be rewarded with a new sports stadium if Bari produced the most babies? If they did, I can only imagine what Bari must have been like during this "specified period of time."
The Norman-Swabian Castle
With Norman origins,the Castle,that dominates the Old Town,after the distruction by Guglielmo il Malo in 1156,was rebuilt in 1233 by Federico II,who,according the legend,empted here San Francesco.Its structure,characterized by a trapezoidal central nucleus,was modified during the XVI century by Isabella d'Aragona and Bona Sforza,that transformed it in a cultural center,adding imposing defensive bastions on 3 sides.
Now,after a decadence period,it is the seat of the Gallery of plaster casts and of temporary exhibitions.
- Price: 2 euro
- Opening time: tue-sun 8.30-19.30
I came to no harm in Bari
I arrived in Bari from Lecce by train at about 1pm and my ferry left at about 7 pm - but I have heard such stories about Bari that I was feeling quite intimidated by it. I found it to be a bit scruffy, but the people who I stopped to ask the way were most obliging - especially the 2 police who were watching some sort of demonstration of exciteable youths in a shop front - don't know what that was about - the police went out of their way with charming smiles to put me on the right track.
So my first impression was excellent.
It would be interesting to explore this place. Find out why people tell stories about it.
The pic is of an old fort that I passed once I had got out of the business district and onto the waterfront.
TRULLI HOUSES IN ITRIA VALLEY
Locorotondo - Valle d'Itria - Alberobello - Noci - Bassa Murgia (Total about km.45)
From Locorotondo take the provincial highway NE to Alberobello. Then continue NE to Noci and from there to the Alberobey called Madonna della Scala. The farmhouse named "Murgia Albanese" is situated on the SS.377 linking Noci and Mottola. Follow the minor road that goes SE for five km. and then go another two km. down a track.
In the Murgia the trullis are concentrated in and around Alberobello, Locorotondo, Martina Franca and Selva di Fasano, which happens to fall into a bordering area of the Province of Bari that separates the Murgia from the Provinces of Brindisi and Taranto. In the heart of this country region lies the Itria valley, which is seething with Trullis (those extraordinary architectural phenomena best visited at Alberobello).
Trullis are quadrangular constructions with ancient roots. A particular feature of theirs is the conic roof made up tiles of calcareous rock packed "dry" i.e. by using mortar or other binding materials.
The thin tiles stack upwards and downwards in a degrading progression that eventually cones off in the whitest of pinnacles. The grey rooves' striking combinations of complex graphic symbology adds a final mysterious touch to these monuments that are said to have derived from the Greek "tholos" (a round, dome-shaped construction perhaps used to house kitchen utensils).
The interior of the trullo is typically whitewashed, whereas the trullo itself is often interlinked with others in order to create an articulated mini-residence.
Locorotondo, is like a panoramic balcony looking out into the Itria Valley. Note this pretty town's circular structure, which is brought out by the high sloping rooves of its white houses (know as "cummerse"). The "mother" church has a neo-classical style, but is outshone by the St. Mary la Greca. The latter, situated in the old town, is a three-aisled Gothic Church with ribbed cross-vaults. It was built on the orders of the Prince of Taranto (Pirro del Balzo).
Alberobello is the land of the trulli. It's worth entering the town from the North as do those arriving from the coast. Then let yourself get slowly absorded as you gradually discover the realm of secular grey rooves. Records of ancient tradition date the birth of Alberobello and the spread of trulli locally to the time when a measure was passed by Girolamo II of Acquaviva (better know as the "Apulian squinter"), the XVIII-Century Count of Conversano.
In order to avoid paying taxes due to the crown he forced peasant farmers to build their own houses with stone rooves without any binding material.
This probably happened because such dry-walled costructions were supposed to be tax-exempt, or because they could be dismantled relatively easily in the event of periodical visits by the tax commissaries sent from Naples.
At this point we shall outline one possible route within the town.
Coming into Alberobello from the North we get on to the road named "viale Bari". Where this intersects "Viale Margherita" the SE-Region Railway Station comes into view. Turning right we leave it behind as we go down "Viale Margherita", which becomes "Via Trieste e Trento". Where it crosses with "Corso V. Emanuele", we turn right and - after a few metres - come to the "Santuario dei SS. Medici Cosma e Damiano". This sanctuary goes back to 1609 and was erected on an already-existing rural church dedicated to the Madonna of the Graces. Since 1970 much work has been done on the temple, such as the interior decor of finest gold and the remarkable bronze portal (known as the "Portale delle Beatitudini").
Inside the remains of St. Cosmo's arm and St. Damiano's skull are kept. The respective statues of these two saints (finished at the end of the year '700) are set in relief.
Carrying on down this same street (at the back of the sanctuary) we get to "Piazza Sacramento". Here we can admire the so-called "Trullo Sovrano", which is the tallest, most spacious trullo in Alberobello at about 14 metres in height. It is also unique in that it has two floors. It was built in the XVIII Century. On the entrance arch is a lunette with a representation of a scene from Calvary. On the right of the main entrance is a second curve-shaped means of access to the other rooms and the stables.
Going back down the road named "Corso V. Emanuele" we get to "Piazza del Popolo", where the Town Hall is situated. On the left, in the adjoining "Piazza Ferdinando IV", we can see the "Casa d'Amore", which respresents a transition phase from a trullo to a villa. The building was constructed after King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon passed a bill in 1797 that made it possible for mortar to be used in construction work. The building material is the same as for the trulli, but the style and shape are different.
Going beyond the "Piazza del Popolo" South takes us towards the Palazzo dei Conti di Conversano". Beyond the latter we get to "Largo G. Martellotta", where the plethora of around 1,000 cupolas give the impression of something climbing along the streets of note (such as those of "Monti e Aia Piccola") that have acquired the status of National Monuments. Walking through the streets we can visit these typical forms of dwelling or buy a range of souvenirs and locally-made kinds of handicraft.
Going up "Via Monte S. Michele" - one of the main streets of the Rione Monti district - we get to St. Anthony's Church at its top (erected in 1926). Its 21.5-metre high cupola was built in conformance with traditional trullo design. We get the impression of an attempt to preserve some degree of historical continuity between the present and the past in terms of the purely-local quality of the building and its coherence in terms of planning and materials with the surrounding environment.