The Itria Valley preserves intact its rural tradition, especially the one related to wine. Here Locorotondo PDO and Martina Franca PDO are produced from vineyards cultivated between Bari, Brindisi and Taranto. A unique scenery with trulli, traditional dry stone houses with conical roof, and dry-stone walls, described by many famous names, such as the Italian writer and poet Gabriele D’Annunzio who wrote during his trip to Apulia: “I wake up and see a country of dreams, as if I were still asleep”.
Locorotondo, included among the Borghi Più Belli d’Italia, the network of the most beautiful villages in Italy, stays true to its name, with its particular urban structure. The medieval village is intact with the Church of San Giorgio Martire that stands out on the white crown of houses “a cummersa”, with a pitched stone roof, and via Nardelli, called “lungomare” because, like a seafront promenade, it overlooks the Itria Valley and the terraced vineyards.
Fasano looks like an old lady lying between the woods of the Selva and the sea of Savelletri, between rocks and sandy coves, and Torre Canne with its dunes and wetlands included in the Regional Natural Park Dune Costiere. Interesting is the Zoosafari, the second largest wildlife park in Europe, with over 200 species of animals from the five continents.
The atmosphere in Cisternino is more rural, almost an oriental village with whitewashed houses, hidden courtyards and a labyrinth of narrow streets animated by artisan shops, shops selling typical products, trattorias and butchers’ shops with the stove ready for tasting meat.
Splendid Martina Franca, a triumph of the Baroque, with its wrought iron loggias on the buildings that crowd the historic centre where the Ducal Palace stands out with its frescoed reception rooms. In the inner courtyard, every year in summer, the Festival of the Itria Valley is held, aimed at lovers of opera and symphonic music. In the surrounding area there is the green Bosco delle Pianelle, the Pianelle Wood and, before leaving, a taste of Capocollo di Martina Franca, a pork cold cut from dry cured meat, with a unique flavour thanks to its smoking with Macedonian oak bark.
From Martina to Ceglie Messapica with a stop in the beautiful old town dominated by the massive Norman tower that smells of the history of Apulia, that of the ancient Messapian people, and tastes of delicious surprises in the capital of Apulian gastronomy: pork rolls, called bombette, fresh pasta, the sagne and the Biscotto di Ceglie, a Slow Food presidium biscuit.
Ostuni, the white city, stands out white on the horizon. Among the stairs, lanes and shops, the 15th century cathedral stands out and, as evidence of its ancient origins, in the Museum of Preclassic Civilizations of the Southern Murgia there is the skeleton of a pregnant woman from 25,000 years ago. The coastline has something for everyone: fine sand at Rosamarina and Monticelli and high, jagged rocks at Costa Merlata.
Trulli are everywhere here, but the capital is Alberobello, which between rione Monti and Aia Piccola has almost 1500 of them. These cones, recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, are the pride of the town, boasting as many as twelve types of pinnacle on the domes covered in chiancarelle, small limestone slabs. A must see is the Trullo Sovrano, built on two floors, and Casa D’Amore, the first example of housing with the use of mortar.
This tour dedicated to the wine of the Itria Valley ends with Crispiano, the village of the “Cento Masserie”,examples of rural life in important historical-artistic complexes with numerous itineraries for visiting and tasting wine and oil. The historic centre, carved out of the tufa of the ravine, hosts an annual summer carnival dedicated to liver, a tasty local product.