Pilgrims have long been partial to this stretch of the Adriatic coast and you understand why as you weave your way from the Promontorio del Gargano to fertile inland plains. All the way to the dramatic sun kissed beaches, you’ll see splendid evidence of Puglia’s medieval golden age with castles and distinctive Romanesque churches. To our right, towering hills and mountains that St Michael the Archangel is said to have appeared in a grotto. Yet, despite being one of Italy’s most important pilgrim points, the place is near empty. Holiday season is clearly beach time for everyone in Italy.
As we turn off the spur we find a lovely sosta right on the beach. At €10 per night it will do us fine. Mac n Tosh were playing in the grass when we heard a little yelp. We are not sure what insect bit him but we think it was a horse fly. Anyway within minutes he had a lump on his back the size of a golf ball. We have an emergency pack of antihistamine’s so we gave him a tablet and a big cuddle. Poor little Mac.
Our Bumble paid motorhome sosta at Margherita di Savoia GPS position: for N041.420555, E016.039470
Our planned one night sleepy spot turned in to two nights due to bad storm. For several hours the torrential wind shook the east coast causing massive damage and destruction. Thankfully, our sosta was a big open field, so we had no flying objects to contend with. Vin kept his tyres on the deck and rode the storm. We were lucky but plenty around weren’t as the fire brigade zoomed back and forth along the coast road. Our beach bar being one of the unlucky one’s to loose its roof.
Once the storm settled we tootled down the coast to the salt plains. Less than 800 yards inland, the salt flats produce a beautiful, sweet white salt that is hand raked and evaporated in the full sun of the summer. From June to September, water from the sea is fed by canals into large, shallow flats, and allowed to concentrate until it is more than 75% saltier than seawater. Only one of the original 150 salt flats holds to the traditional methods and it is still possible to see the locals raking and drying the salt in the sun.
Onwards to Trani, a delightful fishing port with a charming marina which attracts a stylish crowd to its waterfront bars and restaurants. Behind the cathedral it also has a picturesque historic old town with medieval buildings and palazzi. We wander through the limestone paved streets and squares and enjoy the quiet. Shabby but pleasantly interesting buildings line our path.
The large cathedral dominates the seafront and early afternoon light makes most of the intricate detail. Its here we got a strange feeling that this place is a hive for theft. With young kids begging but in a cheeky and dominating manner (click to enlarge photos).
We carried on following the Italian holiday makers along the promenade and harbour front admiring the yachts and fishing boats as well as the elegant seaside buildings. About mid way, another motorhome drove passed us with two young lads. Five minutes later we looked back and watched them park right next to us. Good we thought, we have company. We carried on walking. As we reached the end of the marina we heard our alarm. We looked over and could see Vin’s indicators flashing. Our hearts sunk. We dashed back as quick as we could through all the crowds.
We arrived back to find Vin’s garage door locks bust. The other motorhome had clearly tried to break in and steal the contents of the garage. Thankfully, the alarm stopped them in their tracks, so nothing stolen. Needless to say we felt a mixture of emotions from annoyed to vulnerable. We just could not believe the cheek of it in broad day light and in the middle of a marina that is in full site of all the crowds. Over the following days we did hear of more and more break in’s of very similar style involving another motorhome. I guess most people wouldn’t suspect (us included) another motorhome of theft. Until now of course!
Needless to sat we moved from Trani and drove until we found a ‘feel’ safer spot just outside Palese.
Our Bumble paid motorhome sosta at Palese GPS position: for N041.162665, E016.760721
Despite the break in we had a great nights sleep. Fortunately we bought two extra barrels/locks in Germany after our attempted break in in St Tropez, France. In the light of day Craig managed to change the barrels and secure Vin.
I was really quiet, the break in has unnerved me more than usual. I guess its because its another motorhome. Freaks me out to think that people you ‘normally’ trust and want to trust could actually be thieves. Craig did everything to lighten the mood, bless him. But today, we had another problem to sort, our iphone. Its only 4 months old and not holding its charge, so we phoned Apple who provided us with 2 Apple Resellers stores in Bari.
In Bari, we pulled up at the first store but it was closed for 3 weeks. The second store was closed for 3 more days. Sigh, sigh and triple sigh. What now we thought? The holiday season means everything is shut for another week or two, the crowds are making it hard to park and the attempted break in has left us uneasy. Its here we started to think about the rest of our time in Italy. Do we stay, head to Sicily, sail to Sardinia, nip over to Croatia or back to Greece? Decisions, decisions.
Our gut reaction was to hop on the ferry from Bari to Croatia but it just felt wrong. It didn’t feel right to just leave. With that we decided to head to Alberobello, see the trulli houses and talk about best options. We talked a lot and a few hours later and we were parked up in Alberobello on the main sosta.
Our Bumble paid motorhome sosta at Alberobello GPS position: for N040.783052, E017.233703
The small little white structures dot the hillside, their conical stone roofs rising up above them. From a distance, looking across to the communityof buildings, they seem like a mountain range spotted from the air. Rising ragged with like little meerkats.
The oldest trulli known are at Alberobello, dating back to the 14th Century. It was during this period that what seemed but an uninhabited land was assigned to the ownership of the first Count of Conversano. The tract of land was given as a reward to the young Anjou noble for his service during the Crusades. Soon after, the area was repopulated with entire feudal settlements, transferred from nearby.
There are two main communities in Alberobello where you can see trulli and they are both in the same village. The first is called Monti and this is the larger of the two and also the more picturesque. This means it is the most popular with tourists and it’s where most of the organised groups are taken. On another hill on the other side of the main road, is Aja Piccola. The area is slightly smaller but very few of the structures have been turned into shops or restaurants. Walking through this area, you’ll hardly see any tourists and you’ll be able to get a much better feel for what this kind of community feels like for the locals.
Small baroque church with some rather interesting modern paintings in Aja Piccola.
The trullo’s dry-wall construction, without mortar, was imposed on new settlers so that they could dismantle their shelters in a hurry: an efficient means to evade taxes on new settlements under the Kingdom of Naples, and certainly a good way to deter unruly lords. Yet most historians agree that this building technique came about due to the area’s geographical conditions, abundant with the limestone we now see in these constructions.
The narrow paths between the houses are full of visitors either walking with camera in hand or posing in a doorway. Many of the residents along the most popular paths have turned the buildings into shops or restaurants. Thankfully most of the offerings in the craft shops are quite nice and tasteful and the restaurants mainly offer reasonably priced meals and snacks. Quite a few of the houses have symbols on their roofs…see how many you can spot.
And if you fancy grabbing yourself a Trulli House or wondered how much they sell for then take a look at Prestige Property. . eek.
See you next time when we decide on what and where next!