Five days at the heel of Italy
Puglia, the region in the heel of Italy’s boot, offers you to escape from the crowds, but still enjoy authentic Italian cuisine (it doesn’t get any better than that!) and historic buildings. My recommendation would be to book your accommodation in Bari, the capital city of the region, because it has great national and international connections.
We landed at Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport late afternoon and took a local bus to the city (the bus tickets can be bought at the book store on the first floor of the airport, and yes, you must buy them in advance). After a long unplanned walk around the city, we found our way to the hotel we booked. It was a short walk away from the bus and train station, so the location was perfect. Same foes for the price; I usually pay as much for 3 nights at hostels in 10-bed dorm. Free breakfast, which was served every day, was another wonderful addition.
On our first full day there, we did some sightseeing and enjoyed the sun. Luck was on our side; the weather was absolutely beautiful the whole time. The path also led us to Swabian Castle. The Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle, widely known as the Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle), was built by Roger II of Sicily around 1131. Destroyed in 1156, it was rebuilt by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. The castle now serves as a gallery for a variety of temporary exhibitions in the city. It was a big disappointment, though. Half of the area was closed due to building work, which is something nobody tells you when you pay for your ticket. Apart from a short film and a small museum, you couldn’t see much. Make sure you walk through the old part of the city, it’s magnificent! If you’re looking for a list of attractions – visit one of the tourist offices (one is on Piazza Moro, in front of the railway station, and the other in the city at Via Giuseppe Sangiorgi) and take a lovely free map, which is very helpful, when wandering around.
The following day we took a train to Alberobello. I fell in love with that city when planning the whole trip (as much as it was planned). It’s a small town, about one hour away (by train) from Bari. Alberobello has only about 11 000 inhabitants and is famous for its unique prehistoric trulli buildings. The trulli are made of roughly worked limestone boulders collected from neighbouring fields. Characteristically, they feature pyramidal, domed or conical roofs built up of corbelled limestone slabs. You can read more about that on Unesco website or watch a very short documentary here.
The center of Alberobello is very attractive with many terraces. That’s where the biggest and the main square and the town hall are. Not that far from the square, there’s the Basilica. This beautiful church was designed by the architect Antonio Curri.