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Showing posts with the label Italia

Waiting for the bus in Ostuni

Ostuni is a whitewashed hill town in Puglia in Southern Italy. It is referred to as La Citta Bianca or the White Town. It has narrow, often steep alleys that challenge both legs and knees. But the rewards are pure delight for the resolute traveler. Imagine door frames that seem to have time traveled to the 21st century, mesmerizing views of the sea and olive groves which produce some of the finest olive oil in Italy!
The Aragonese defensive walls in the photo above are remnants from the reign  of Isabella of Aragon, the Duchess of Bari and her daughter, Bona Maria Sforza (Queen Consort of Poland) who succeeded her. 

Getting to Ostuni was as simple as taking the train from Bari, the capital of Puglia, for the two-hour ride that provided glimpses of the Adriatic Sea. I found no taxis nor buses outside the station when I arrived in Ostuni. I asked an elderly gentleman standing around if a bus would be passing by and he kindly informed me that there would be one shortly and that it would go…

Finding the relics of St. Nick in Bari

While searching for the best base for travels in Puglia, I came across Bari, a major city bordering the Adriatic Sea with convenient train connections to Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Ostuni and Matera in Basilicata. I was pleasantly surprised when I got there to learn that Bari is a destination on its own, with its fortified old town, a Norman castle, a promenade by the sea, a bustling shopping and business district and a variety of restaurants. Bari has also been a pilgrimage destination since the 11th century when the relics of St. Nicholas were brought to Bari from Myra, an ancient Greek town in Lycia (now Antalya Province of Turkey). St. Nick was known for his generosity and gift giving. Sinterklaas or St. Nicholas evolved into Santa Claus. His feast day is celebrated on December 6th. 

Cobble stone passages with religious shrines on every corner greet visitors to the old town.


The narrow alleys of the old historic center are for motorbikes and walking to better appreciate the wrou…

Alberobello - Trulli Unique

The main reason for my trip to Puglia in early January was to see the strange, cone-shaped roofs of trulli dwellings. There are over a thousand trulli in Alberobello and to my delight, I saw many rural trulli along the way to this Unesco World Heritage Site.

A trullo is built of dry stone which is an age old construction technique practiced in the Mediterranean region. It is an example of "vernacular" architecture, where materials are sourced locally and traditional building methods are used. The conical roof is made from limestone slabs and many are marked in white ash with religious or mythological symbols. A pinnacolo sits atop the cone, like a chess piece. This could be a cross or a ball or a disk or some other design and are supposed to ward off evil spirits.


It was interesting to see many doors hidden behind a mesh curtain.


The Church of Saint Anthony of Padua blends in with its surroundings.


Red and white cyclamen brighten the whitewashed walls of these trulli houses.


Here…

Matera, 2019 European Capital of Culture

"The Sassi and Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera represent an outstanding example of a rock-cut settlement, adapted perfectly to its geomorphological setting and ecosystem and exhibiting continuity over more than two millenia." UNESCO World Heritage Site Criterion (iii)
Matera was once called "the shame of Italy". This city in the Basilicata region in Southern Italy is one of the oldest inhabited settlements in the world. It was depopulated in the 1950s due to the wretched and unhealthy living conditions of its residents. It continues to be rehabilitated today and has been named one of two European Capital of Culture for 2019, an honor it received over other finalists like Perugia, Ravenna and Siena. 
San Pietro Barisano is the largest rupestrian church in Matera. It's possible to see the 12-13th century rupestrian structure under the church floor where the extensive passageways are extremely narrow and feels claustrophobic. 
The altars above ground were s…

Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

"My past, O Lord, to Your mercy; my present, to Your love; my future, to Your providence." Padre Pio

Padre Pio entered the Capuchin Order in 1903 and was ordained in 1910. He was assigned to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916 where he remained until his death in 1968 when he was 81 years of age. In 1918, Padre Pio received the grace of the stigmata (wounds of Christ) which remained with him for fifty years. His bleeding hands were kept bandaged and covered with mittens. Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio in 2002. 

Padre Pio initiated the construction of the hospital, Home for the Relief of Suffering, in San Giovanni Rotondo. The hospital has over 1,000 inpatient beds and is widely respected in Italy and around the world for its modern and state-of-the-art facility, medical services and clinical research in genetics and hereditary and familial diseases.

*The Sanctuary was designed by Renzo Piano, the foremost Italian architect. It seats 6,500 people and has standing room for 30,000…

Highlights of Puglia and Basilicata

Basilica di San Nicola Bari was my base of exploration for Puglia and Basilicata. Trains to all the places I wanted to explore departed from Bari several times a day. But Bari has also many attractions including the Basilica of San Nicola from the 12th century and is a place of pilgrimage for the relics of Saint Nicholas.

Ostuni This white washed, hilltop village was a bit of a challenge to photograph in its entirety but many surprises are to be found within its walls, like the door above. Knock, knock.