I am just back from a trip with my family in Apulia, with the main purpose of scouting new locations for my photo tours and photo walks. It was a nice week, blessed with beautiful warm weather, great light and some rest we all (my wife, our little daughter and myself) needed. We set our base close to the sea in a former animals and shepherd shelter converted into a nice, quiet and comfortable hotel. There, among old and beautiful olive trees, we could rest, our daughter Livia met new friends and from there I started for my daily scouting. The countryside is full of photographic opportunities: a flat plain between the sea and the hills, completely covered by twisted, aged, olive trees. And in springtime these scenic trees are surrounded by multi colored flowers.
Not far from our hotel, there is a dolmen, a prehistoric funerary monument made by three huge stones in a shape of a rectangle: two vertical stones with one laying horizontally over them. As I said, the sea is nearby, with beautiful sandy beaches and dunes. Among these dunes there are also good locations for bird watching. Within 25 kilometres from our base you can visit many beautiful towns and the distinctive karst landscape of the “Murgia”.
So here are the five cities of the area I really think you should visit if you happen to be in Apulia!
1) Alberobello is famous for its Trulli, conic shaped shelters made of bricks. Crowds of tourists visit daily Alberobello, but you can try to avoid the biggest part of the huddle. For example, don’t limit your visit to “Rione Monti” that’s the most spectacular and touristic part of the town, obviously the most crowded: just walk in the opposite direction, towards the church and you’ll get into a quieter part of the town, still with beautiful whitewashed Trulli, less cool, but alive, lived, inhabited.
2) Cisternino has a very small yet beautiful old town: narrow lanes flanked by whitewashed buildings, corners that conceal intimate visions, arches and porticos, as in a small labyrinth. It’s so tiny that you can walk and get lost and will eventually end your tour in the central square, opposite the town hall with the clock tower and the umbrellas of bars dehors that quiver gently in the late afternoon breeze; here you can comfortably sit and have a rest.
3) Martina Franca is a beautiful Baroque old town. It’s almost like being in Spain, with big churches, baroque buildings, the sun beats the white stones and creates glares and heat blazes; plenty of photographic opportunities among the narrow lanes and the large squares of this enchanting town.
4) Locorotondo is pure charm. A fascinating silent town not yet crowded by the big tourism. The historic part has whitewashed buildings with arches and baroque balconies, a beautiful cathedral, and not far away another amazing Romanesque church that pitifully sits surrounded by grey tarmac.
5) Ostuni is called The white town: you can see it from far away, sitting atop a hill with all its whitwashed houses hit by the sunlight. Together with Alberobello, Ostuni is the most renowned and touristic spot of the area. Choose the right time for visiting it: early spring or late fall, low tourist season, when temperatures are more pleasant and there is a better light; perhaps early in the morning, when the sun rises from the sea: even Ostuni can offer silence and solitude, which is what a photographer needs to get into the spirit of the place. At the real summit of the hill stands the beautiful gothic cathedral that at sunset shines with golden light. All around it, the old town is another labyrinth of narrow lanes that descends the hill. On the opposite side, a vast panoramic terrace offers a spectacular view over the olive trees on the plain and the sea.
Exiting the old town, in the middle of a vast square, a baroque column pushes the local saint skywards to the point from where he would take care of everybody. Open air coffee bars are all around in a mix of sacred and profane that’s typical of Southern Italy.
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