Italy is abundant in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with 46 culturally significant attractions and four naturally occurring wonders situated on its shores.
While the archaeological areas of Pompeii, the splendour of Rome and the allure of Venice are all incredible, southern Italy’s sites are just as impressive and are another good reason to visit Italy. Here are some of our “not to be missed” picks from Puglia, Italy.
1. The Trulli Of Alberobello: A Fairy-Tale Village Built To Avoid Taxation
A trullo (plural, trulli) is a traditional dry stone hut building with a conical roof. This quirky type of construction is unique to the Itria Valley in the centre of Puglia, Italy.
With their spherical footprints, whitewashed stone walls, miniature windows and unique conical roofs, the limestone trullo houses are reminiscent of a bygone Italian era. People of Valle D’Itria started to build their trullo in the mid-14th century and the building technique is still used in Puglia.
While trulli are peppered across the whole Italian region, the small village of Alberobello, located just 55 km south from Bari, is the most impressive agglomeration of the perfectly preserved structures.
Today, the majority of the 1500 distinctive buildings function as charming shops, luxurious villas for Puglia holidays, restaurants and houses. Having a stroll in Alberobello trullo village is an absolute must during your visit to Puglia.
Wondering why trullo were so popular in this area of Italy? One of the most credited theories is that, due to high taxation on properties in that area, people created dry wall constructions so they were easy to dismantle in case of inspections.
2. Del Monte Castle: A Mysterious Fortress Overlooking The Valley
Listed in 1996, this towering 13th century castle is located in the Communes of Andria and Corato, just 60 km west from Bari.
The perfectly preserved fortress was commissioned by Emperor Frederick II and is considered an enduring symbol of Italy’s medieval military architecture.
Castel del Monte is probably the most enigmatic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Italy. It has a unique octagonal shape and eight octagonal towers are located at the eight corners.
The two floors are linked up by three staircases inserted in three towers. There are 16 halls, eight on each floor, which have a trapezoidal shape. In fact, numerology seems to be one of the main sciences applied while building this world heritage site.
Eight windows open on the lower floor, seven mullioned windows and only one three mullioned window, facing the city of Andria, on the upper one.
According to UNESCO, the castle “is a successful blend of elements from classical antiquity, the Islamic Orient and north European Cistercian Gothic.”
3. The Shrine Of San Michele Arcangelo: Towards The Holy Land
Listed in 2011, the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo is surely the least famous place among the UNESCO world heritage sites of Puglia.
Nevertheless, this fascinating complex of holy buildings dating back to different historical ages, is well worth the visit. The original sanctuary was erected in the cave where, in 490 A.D., San Michele Arcangelo was said to be appeared to a shepherd.
From 650 A.D., the area fell under the dominion of the Lombards and this shrine was included in the holy path of Longobards, a road travelled by pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land.
An obligatory stop was the cave of San Michele Arcangelo at Monte as the Archangel Michele embodied martial and religious virtues.
Once there, walk through the district of Junno, pass the bronze door dating back 1076 and take the steps leading down to the cave, where the Archangel Michael was said to be appeared. The shrine has mystic halo that will fascinate you.
Did you like learning more about these historic places? Check Puglia’s very own history and find out why it is so diverse.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
And… The Sassi of Matera: a Palaeolithic Village Carved In The Stones
The old city centre of Matera, appointed European Cultural Capital for 2019, is a UNESCO world heritage site. Matera isn’t technically located in Puglia but it’s just a stone’s throw away from Bari, the region’s picturesque capital.
The rock cut ‘troglodyte settlement’ is renowned as the finest in the Mediterranean and offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the hidden lives of the ancient pastoral communities that lived over two millennia ago.
The incredible manmade feat is an amazing example of how Palaeolithic civilisations managed to exist in harmony with the natural environment.
A trip to Matera is the perfect way to explore the historic significance of Italy’s Basilicata Region, as well as visit other attractions such as Potenza, one of the country’s highest provincial capitals.
The seaside commune of Maratea has long been referred to as “the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian” while history buffs will jump at the chance to traverse the winding Norman city wall of inland Melfi.
With 3 UNESCO world heritage sites plus the Matera one, Puglia is brimming with culture! Speak to us today to start your plans on soaking it all up.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia