A journey is the people you meet, the places you see and the emotions you feel. When you do it alone, everything is amplified, because you are called to come out of your own comfort zoneawakening the desire for discovery. A single trip, however, is a godsend to get rid of dusty thoughts, recover the desire to open up to the world, immerse yourself in beauty and, upon returning, discover yourself – perhaps – different. A real catharsis, which fills the baggage with awareness and the eyes with images. Even if the weather is running out, the weather does not support and everything is against us (work, family, friends) therefore it is forbidden to give up, because even a weekend can be enough to get back to breathing. The only precautions concern the destination – better to focus on unknown destinations that arouse curiosity – and what to pack: a few interchangeable clothes of different weights, 2 pairs of shoes and a costume can be enough for 3 days as a globetrotter. Where to go? Just close your eyes, point your finger on the map of Italy and choose. Our index fell on Puglia with Bari, Conversano and Polignano a Mare as stages.
First day: Bari the beautiful
To be seen: the Basilica of San Nicola in the heart of the old city, with the relics of the Saint and the Miraculous Column in the Crypt, is the first stop because it is a symbol of Apulian-Romanesque architecture and integration, coexisting within the Christian and Orthodox religion. The itinerary continues in the alleys of Bari Vecchia to breathe in the folklore of the city: via Arcobasso is not to be missed because, every day, women prepare “strascinet” (orecchiette), “fascinet” (smooth fusilli), cavatelli or hats of the priest. The mini-tour then stops at the Cathedral of San Sabino, the Petruzzelli Theater and the Niccolò Piccinini Theater, the oldest in the city. And then? If your feet hold up you will reach the Fort of Sant’Antonio Abbate, the Clock Tower of the Palazzo della Provincia, Palazzo del Sedile and the column of justice, which the people of Bari call infamous column because pillory for debtors, insolvent and bankrupt. The circuit cannot exclude the Murat district, a modern area of the city between Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the Central Station dotted with fine late 18th / 19th century buildings.
Not to be missed: the exhibitions scheduled at the Margherita Theater: until June 12 “Capitalist Realism” by Banksy with some of his most famous works (above all The girl with the balloon) and to follow “Obey make art not war”, both organized by the Cultural Association Metamorphosis.
Where to buy: if via Sparano is the stage for super brands, Corso Cavour is the youngest shopping mecca. For those who love collecting, the appointment is at the market held every third Sunday of the month at the Catapano Fair, while vintage connoisseurs can be found at the Used Market in via Amendola. Creations only “Made in Puglia” at the Puglia Design Store concept (www.pugliadesignstore.com) hosted in the Murat space with over 50 brands of local artists / designers / artisans on display.
Where to sleep: ideal for strategic locations are the “IH Hotel Bari Oriente” (https://ih-hotels.com) in a fine Art Nouveau building and with a small rooftop for a panoramic aperitif, “Martini Suite” (martinisuitebari.it) and “La Dimora Arco Basso – Old Town” (https://dimora-arco-basso-old-town-bari.hotelmix.it/) with a single executive suite.
What to eat: not only orecchiette with turnip tops (the best from Osteria Villari), but also panzerotti, broad bean purée, raw fish from Bari (diced with oil, salt and pepper), rice, potatoes and mussels, arraganate mussels (stuffed with bread, eggs, parsley, garlic, pepper and caciocavallo), cialdèdde from Bari (salad with seasonal tomatoes, carousels, red onion, potatoes, oregano, extra virgin olive oil, stale bread and water) and spaghetti with sea urchins. As a snack, La Pupetta’s focaccia from Bari, Panificio Santa Rita and El focacciaro, le sgagliozze (quadrangular slices of yellow polenta fried in boiling oil and served with a sprinkling of salt) and Maria delle sgagliozze’s popizze (soft spherical pancakes inside and crunchy outside), according to Newsweek among the 101 best places in the world for street food.
Second day: Conversano la magica
To be seen: Conversano is made up of 3 historic centers – the medieval core, Casalvecchio and Casalnuovo – whose streets intersect alternating with large squares overlooked by jewels of Baroque art. The “voyage of discovery” cannot ignore the Acquaviva D’Aragona Castle, which with 5 different types of towers is one of the most complex forts in Puglia, and, inside, the MUSeCO Museum Complex with the Paolo Domenico Finoglio picture gallery and the section dedicated to Francesco Netti with late 19th century canvases and tapestries. The tour continues to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, with its Romanesque-Gothic forms and the valuable entrance portal, and to the Monastery of San Benedetto whose church, built on an early Christian crypt, shows a remarkable Romanesque architecture enriched with Baroque decorations. The adjoining Monastery (Monstrum Apuliae) with the artistic Romanesque cloister with rare capitals with allegorical representations is a jewel.
Not to be missed: Santa Cosma and Damiano, an unexpected precious casket which can also be accessed through the local nursery school, Santa Chiara, San Rocco, the Passione, San Leonardo and Il Purgatorio, custodians of rare canvases.
Where to buy: with the permanent project “Vie d’arti” (www.fondazionedarti.it) the artisanal production entrusted to workshops and creative laboratories scattered between Largo Cattedrale and Via Martucci, Corso Umberto and Via San Domenico is enhanced. Adhering to the initiative are 16 activities in which terracotta, ceramics, metals, fabrics and yarns give life to unique products, such as those of “Bottega di Corte”, “Forme d’Arte”, “Casaquilone”, “Ecofriendly works”, “Art in court” and “The island that is not there”.
Where to sleep: charm and romance at the “Corte Altavilla” Hotel (www.cortealtavilla.it) with rooms scattered in renovated stone buildings but with a charm of yesteryear, a spa with Roman baths and a restaurant – “Goffredo” – on the roofs, among the most acclaimed. The 3 suites “Dei balzi” (www.deibalzi.it) with refined linen, exposed stones and works that tell the Apulian surrealism.
What to eat: in addition to the typical “Ferrovia” cherry, the protagonist of a festival in mid-June that colors Conversano red, the palate surrenders to the traditional Apulian cuisine of “Vita Pugliese”, “O ‘Reng” and “Il Giullare”. Gourmet reinterpretations by the Michelin-starred “Pashà-casa ristorante”, in which local products are king. For the snack, the destinations are 2: “La focaccina”, an Apulian fast food version where you can customize your greedy break, and “Rampavilla”: its pancakes with cheeses, seasonal vegetables and cold cuts are true icons, so it’s better to book .
Third day: Romantic Polignano
To be seen: with little time it is better to concentrate on the oldest nucleus which is accessed through the Marchesale Arch. The village is a tangle of stone-paved alleys, white houses of light with stairs that become “pages” for poems written on the steps, airy loggias and terraces overlooking the sea. The fulcrum of life moves around Piazza Aldo Moro and Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, protected by the severe Palazzo Marchesale and the Clock Tower, in whose niche stands the statue of San Vito (patron saint of Polignano), blessed by the Church of Santa Maria Assumed and made lively by restaurants and clubs. The cathedral deserves a pit stop which, externally humble and bare but rich in works in its interior (polyptych of the Madonna and Child attributed to Vivarini, an inlaid wooden pulpit from the 16th century, a baptismal font with a polychrome marble pyramid from the 18th century ), it holds the remains of the patron. Before leaving, a necessary stop in some of the 70 sea caves that dot the coast such as those of San Lorenzo, delle Rondinelle, del Guardiano, the Blue Grotto, the Chiangella and the Palazzese.
Not to be missed: the beach of Lama Monachile, the bed of a stream that in the past flowed into the waters of the Adriatic. It’s not just one of the most instagramed places dAndl town, but also the most picturesque thanks to the two high rocks that frame the famous inlet.
Where to buy: via Roma is par excellence the shopping street with clothing and fashion accessories shops alternating with cafes between street food and tradition. In the center of the village there are instead the triumph craft shops of “made in Puglia” such as “Aguamarina” (earrings, bracelets and anklets), “I Pescatori di Perle by Alessandro Muscatelli” for clothes and accessories in Polignano style but gipsy and “Le things of No ‘”for one-of-a-kind garments and bijoux. From “Dream” and “Ceramiche Melangolo”, on the other hand, furnishing objects and precious accessories for the home can be found. To pack is the fragrance “Acqua di Polignano” to be purchased from “Arti & Profumi”.
Where to sleep: The “Covo dei Saraceni” (www.covodeisaraceni.com ) with its panoramic view of the cliffs and the restaurant “Il bastione” with its “Terrace of desires” is among the best known, but the San Michele Suite (www.sanmichelesuite.it), a jewel of refinement and style. The 7 suites, refined in every detail, all consist of a living space and a sleeping area, where a good rest is guaranteed by personalized essences for the environments. To reserve: the “Suite on the sea with private terrace” overlooking Lama Monachile and the aperitif on the rooftop.
What to eat: to be “light” a focaccia with dough with potatoes and cherry tomatoes from “Focacceria De Corso”, a seafood sandwich from “Pescaria” or an ice cream from “Gusto Caruso”, mecca of ice cream with unique flavors such as lemon and basil, mango and cucumber and the evocative “the hidden sweetness of women”. At the end of the lunch a “special” tazzuriella from “Super Mago del Gelo” made with coffee, amaretto, cream and lemon zest. And for dinner? Better to book if you choose “Da Tuccino”, king of raw fish with a 5-star card for oysters and carpaccio, and from “Osteria di Chichibio” which, recommended by the Michelin Guide, convinces with its raw seafood, the sashimi of fresh fish and spaghetti with sea urchins. And then “Grotta Palazzese”, one of the most famous restaurants in the world, especially for the setting.
Source: Vanity Fair