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To plan itineraries of art winding up throughout Apulia is not particularly easy, that is why we thought it was better to classify itineraries of art in five macro-categories that provide a detailed list of the places worth visiting and give indications on specific details.

Foreign rule in Italy dates from the 8th century BC, when the Greeks landed on these shores and settled, thus giving birth to the well-known Magna Grecia. The cities of Taranto, Gallipoli and Otranto still bear today visible marks of said rule. The National Archaeological Museum of Taranto gives you an idea of the cultural wealth of our predecessors. The decline of the Greek power in Apulia almost coincided with the advent of the Romans, who had ruled this land since the 3rd century BC. The road that runs along the Adriatic Sea, at the border with ancient Peucetia and Messapia, the present provinces of Bari and Brindisi, leads to a clearing looking down to the sea where you may find the ruins of the ancient and rich city of EGNATIA. The most ancient evidence of human settlements dates back to the late Bronze age (15th-12th century BC); some pottery, bronze, and stony finds date from this period. Around the 5th century BC, the city, now sprawling across the hinterland, had the first and greatest circle of walls ever built stretching over some 40 hectares. Beautiful Messapian tombs with remnants of ancient paintings are still visible. There is no doubt that said area was not fully built-up, cultivated fields and grasslands were also typical of this region with a view to helping peasants and farmers find shelter in the event of danger. At that time, the centre was already characterised by a clear-cut division between the "hill looking down to the sea", and the interior: Egnatia, in fact, was cut in two by a coastal road that in the 2nd century AD became part of the Trajan way connecting Rome to Brindisi, and thus to the East. On the hill, the acropolis with a great temple dating from 4th century BC dominated the city. The Roman rule turned Egnatia into a provincial and less lively and independent city, but the port was very active and a new circle of walls was built. Besides, during the Dark Ages, a stronghold was erected to reinforce the defences of the city. Today, the remains of the ancient port and the walls eroded by the sea are still visible. Diving into the waters surrounded by ancient ruins is very picturesque.

Southernmost gateway to the East and open to trade with trans-Adriatic countries, Apulia suffered many attacks and plundering by pirates, thus raising the need to built strongholds and watch-towers to defend the coast. Most Apulian castles have Norman-Swabian origins, even though the Angevins and the Aragonese had many others built and old ones refurbished with clear Baroque influences. The most beautiful castles, however, were built at the request of Frederick II. Starting from Castel Fiorentino, where apparently the "Stupor Mundi" died, to Castel del Monte, near Andria, maybe the most controversial work ordered by the emperor, whose purpose is still unclear and from which the emperor watched the land, and finally the Swabian Castles in Bari, Gioia del Colle, Trani, Brindisi and Oria. Worth mentioning for their architectural peculiarity are also the sixteenth-century castles of Lecce, Acaja and Otranto.

Religious feelings have always been deeply rooted in these people and religious building trade has always been a breeding round of grand ideas to worship God and to celebrate those who commissioned the works. The extraordinary mix of styles and cultures varies according to the place you are visiting.
Romanesque style reigns in almost all coastal settlements north of Bari, like Trani with its wonderful Cathedral a few metres from the sea, Molfetta and Barletta, the famous city of the Disfida, until the very city of Bari that with its maze of alleys and paths and the grand Basilica of S. Nicola offers an eye-catching sight to the visitor. Besides, the Romanesque-Baroque façade of Ostuni Cathedral is marked by a spectacular mix of styles, to end with the Baroque churches of Lecce, the Cathedral and the Chiesa di Santa Croce.

Caves have always been an ideal place where men and animals have found shelter since prehistory, but in this area caves are attached even more importance for along Monopoli and Fasano coasts, many Brazilian crypts may be found; in Fasano there are 4 different examples of these settlements: the crypt-church of San Francesco da Paola, the crypt of San Basilio, Lama D'Antico with the most important rupestrian church of Fasano and finally the rupestrian church of San Lorenzo. Though rupestrian churches and ancient pilgrim houses, we get to Massafra where you may admire the rupestrian church of Madonna della Scala the Farmacia del Mago Greguro e Mottola, where the monks found shelter when fleeing from Saracen persecutions, thus founding real communities devoted to the Byzantine cult whose traces are still visible today in the karstic caves and the rupestrian churches scattered throughout this area. Not far from here is the city of caves: Matera, included in Unesco heritage, where in two separate ravines you may observe countless caves where farmers and peasants used to live.

Baroque in Apulia is synonymous with Salento and in particular the city of Lecce with the Basilica di Santa Croce and the Palazzo del Seminario a few metres from the grand Piazza Sant'Oronzo. Besides, it is worth mentioning the Dome and Bishop's Palace that look down Piazza Duomo, one of the most beautiful squares in the world. This form of art is very lively and exuberant, very different from the canonical style of Rome and Naples, and this was mainly owing to the pliability of local stones. From palaces to churches, Baroque permeates the city of Gallipoli and Nardò until reaching Francavilla Fontana and Martina Franca near Taranto.

Apulia has been for centuries invaded by far-off peoples who left their mark on this land, thus creating a pathway going through history whereby we may re-live prehistoric settlements and Brazilian blades, Greek and Roman civilizations, Frederick II with his fortified castles, the Mystery of the Trulli, the Romanic style of the Cathedrals north of Bari, the Baroque style whose ultimate expression can be found in Lecce and the Salento. The pathway winds up from the walls of Lucera Castles, to the City of Romanic style, Trani, passing through Valle d’itria dei Trulli and Gravine delle Murge. Finally, we can admire the Baroque style in Lecce to end up with the farthest outpost of Italy: Otranto.

-Castel del monte
-Polignano a mare
-Martina franca