Puglia and Basilicata
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Puglia and Basilicata
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This tour is available from Naples, Sorrento or the Amalfi coast, is two-days tour with overnight in Alberobello, it gives the opportunity (to those who are interested), to visit the highlight of Puglia. Italy is a long peninsula shaped like a boot and Puglia is considered the heel of the boot. The promontory of Gargano on the north is the spur of the boot and the Plain of Salento on the south is the heel of the boot.
Listed in this page are some of the most important sites in Puglia, in two days will be impossible to visit all, but the tour can be customized ed extended to three or four days, including other towns not listed in the page such as: Fasano, Martina Franca, Manduria, Taranto, Trani, and San Giovanni Rotondo. If you are interested, for further detailes and informations regarding this tour, please contact us.

STONES OF MATERA
Matera has gained international fame for its "Sassi". The Sassi originate from a prehistoric (troglodyte) settlement, and are suspected to be some of the first human settlements in Italy.
The Sassi are houses dug into the calcarenitic rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata and Puglia, and is locally called "tufo" though it should not be confused with the volcanic tuff nor with tufa. Many of these "houses" are really only caverns, and the streets in some parts of the Sassi often are located on the rooftops of other houses. The ancient town grew in height on one slope of the ravine created by a river that is now a small stream. The ravine is known locally as "la Gravina".
In the 1950s, the government of Italy forcefully relocated most of the population of the Sassi to areas of the developing modern city. Riddled with malaria the unsanitary conditions were considered an affront to the new Italian Republic of Alcide De Gasperi. However, people continued to live in the Sassi, and according to the English Fodor's guide: Matera is the only place in the world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses of their ancestors of 9,000 years ago. Until the late 1980s this was considered an area of poverty, since these houses were, and in most areas still are, mostly unlivable. Current local administration, however, has become more tourism-oriented, and has promoted the re-generation of the Sassi with the aid of the European Union, the government, UNESCO, and Hollywood. Today there are many thriving businesses, pubs, and hotels.

OSTUNI THE WHITE CITY
The region around Ostuni has been inhabited since the Stone age. The town is reputed to have been originally established by the>Messapii, a pre-classic tribe, and destroyed byHannibal during the Punic Wars. It was then re-built by the Greeks, the name Ostuni deriving from the Greek Astu on("new town"). Sacked after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, in 996 AD the town became part of the Norman County of Lecce. In this period started the development of medieval town around the summit of the 229 m high hill, there was built a castle (now only parts of the original castle remain) and city wallswith four gates. From 1300 to 1463 it was part of the Principality of Taranto and from 1507 (together with Villanova and Grottaglie) passed to Isabella, Duchess of Bari, wife of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan. Under the influence of Isabella, Ostuni enjoyed a golden-age within the wider panorama of the Italian Renaissance. In this period Isabella gave protection to humanists and people of art and letters, including bishop Giovanni Bovio. Isabella died in 1524 and Ostuni passed as dowry to her daughter Bona Sforza, wife-to-be of Sigismund I of Poland, King of Poland. During Bona Sforza's government, Ostuni continued to enjoyed a liberal and magnanimous regime. In 1539 she had towers built along all the shoreline, as protection against anticipated attacks from the Turks who controlled the Balkans. These towers (still existing, including Pozzella Tower, the Pylon, Villanova and others), were permanently garrisoned and communicated through fire beacons.
 
ALBEROBELLO
Alberobello is a small town in the province of Bari. It has about 11,000 inhabitants and is famous for its trulli constructions. The Trulli are unique architectural structures, with conical roofs made made of local limestone slabs. Many of these trulli homes are still private and people lives inside, but some have been converted to restaurants, shops or hotels. The trulli zone of Alberobello is one of the World Heritage Sites.

POLIGNANO A MARE
Polignano a Mare is a town that rises where the land meets the sea and, given its strategic position, it has always been considered the gateway to the Mediterranean and the East, as well as being an important crossroads and meeting point for different cultures. Today, its coastline is characterised by a crystal clear sea of various shades, its twelve kilometre coastline and the many caves dug into the rock: for these reasons tourists call this town the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. The cliff in Polignano a Mare is full of natural bays, a winter hideout for the fishing boats that each summer is besieged with many tourists.The following beaches are much loved for their clear sea: Cala Incina, Cala Sala, Cala Porto, Cala Paguro, Cala Ponte, Cala Paura and San Vito beach, in the namesake fishing village.You really must visit Grotta delle Rondinelle and the famous Grotta Palazzese dug into the limestone rock due to marine erosion. You can visit the grotto by boat. There is a terrace above the grotto that offers an amazing panoramic view.The marine landscape around the town is characterised by inlets and little grottos reachable by boats that are often joined to the cellars of the houses above them. Of particular interest, the seabed of an unpolluted sea that extends in front of the town that has become the destination of divers and diving enthusiasts.

CASTELLANA GROTTE
The caves of Castellana are one of the major attractions of Puglia and naturalistic heritage of inestimable value. Located a few kilometres from enchanting towns such as Alberobello and Polignano a Mare, the Grotte di Castellana began to form about 90 million years ago .
The beauty of the caves of Castellana draws tourists from all over the world, visiting the public winds along a 3 Km path, an exciting guided tour of the caves more than 60 feet deep in one amazing scenario of stalactites, stalagmites, incredible forms concretions, fossils, canyons, caves, fantastic names; calcifications from the amazing colors and shapes stimulate the imagination of children and adults.

PUTIGNANO
Beautiful town situated among the Murge Hills, known for it famous historical center, and ancient traditions as the Carnival, which starts alredy on 26th december.
In the old part of the town there is the Church of San Pietro built in the Romanesque - Gothic style in the 12th century, hosting statues by Stefano from Putignano.

LECCE:
Ancient origins, located at foot of SALENTO peninsula and called the Florence of the south because is filled of monuments with typical Baroque architecture from the 17th century. The historic center is very compact and make it a great place for walking.
The history of the city experienced two different periods of prosperity:
1)   During the Roman Time  
2)  Under the Kingdom of Naples.
In both periods construction of buildings and monuments increased heavely .
A visit to the city begins in Piazza Duomo, once used as a fortress and today considered the most elegant square in the city. The Duomo, The palace of the Bishop’s and Palace of Seminary mark the perimeter of the square that best rappresents the magnificence of Barocco Leccese.
Not far si Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the Roman period is visible in the ruins of the Amphitheatre (I° century A.C.) it is used in summer for theatrical performances.
Not to be missed is The Basilica di Santa Croce (Church of the Holy Cross) dated 1600 that best rappresent what si called the Barocco Leccese.

SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA
Santa Maria di Leuca is at the extreme tip of Puglia, where the Ionian Sea joins the Adriatic, in fact looking out from the headland of the sanctuary there is a privileged observatory of an extraordinary spectacle: you have only the infinite sea, teeming with boats under the Sun.
Visit Santa Maria di Leuca means first of all follow a long history where every era has left tangible traces: dwellings, tombs, caves, Crypts, churches, castles, palaces, Art Nouveau villas, observe a pristine land with olive trees, twisted, rocks, bays, and discover a crystal clear blue sea.

THE CASTLE OF BARI
Barivecchia, or Old Bari, is a sprawl of streets and passageways making up the section of the city to the north of the modern Murat area. Barivecchia was until fairly recently considered a no-go area by many of Bari's residents due to the high levels of petty crime. A large-scale redevelopment plan beginning with a new sewerage system and followed by the development of the two main squares, Piazza Mercantile and Piazza Ferrarese has seen the opening of many pubs and other venues. This has been welcomed by many who claim that the social life of the city, and in particular the experience for tourists in Bari, has been improved and that jobs and revenue have been created. Others point out the effects of late-night noise in the enclosed squares and criticise development based mainly on pubs and other such premises. "Se Parigi avesse il mare, sarebbe una piccola Bari" (If Paris had the sea, it would be a little Bari). This popular saying tells you more about the local sense of humor than it does about the city, but Bari has a surprising amount of charm, particularly Barivecchia, its increasingly chic medieval old town.

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