Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Olives, Poppies, and Trulli

On Sunday we got back from a four day trip to Puglia, a region in southern Italy on the Adriatic coast. We spent three nights in Locorotondo, a beautiful baroque town overlooking the Valley of Itria. Puglia is a land of roads lined with rock walls, fields of poppies and acres and acres of olive trees.

One of our first excursions took us to the Castel del Monte, an interesting octagonal stone prisim built by the Emperor Frederick II in the 13th Century. There are several theories about the construction of the castle. Is the plan mathematical or magical? One can see Romanesque, Gothic, and Arabian influences in its design. All in all, it seems to be more of a monument to the emperor than a structure for defense. It sits atop a hill like a permanent crown for the Holy Roman Emperor who built it.

Locorotondo is a hill top town, surrounded by farm lands, built on a plan of narrow circular streets with white washed houses, staircases and arches. Our bed and breakfast was in the shadow of the bell tower of the 18th Century of San Georgio. We enjoyed quiet evenings walking through the white stone streets to go to dinner or to the bar/gelateria for a dessert.

Close to Locorotondo is the city of Alberobello, which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of the many Trulli in the city. Trulli (singular=Trullo) are unusual rounded structures made from grey stone with cone-shaped roofs. The hilltop that makes up Alberobello's center is made up of over a hundred Trulli, some 5 centuries old.

Trulli Saints!

The origin of this stone teepee design is unknown. Some theories date the Trulli back 5000 years. One story of their origin claims that they were first constructed during the Middle Ages to avoid paying dwelling taxes. If the occupants heard that the tax man was coming, the Trulli were rapidly dismantled and moved out of sight. After the tax collector's visit was over, the homes were re-erected. Today you see Trulli that are firmly "planted and buttressed" with stucco and connecting walls. Three or four Trulli are often united by walls to form larger homes.

We also visited the towns of Ostuni, San Vito dei Normanni and Martina Franca.
Women of Ostuni.
Cleaning time in Marina Franca
Men of San Vito dei Normanni
Wedding in Martina Franca

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