Visit To Puglia: Day 4 – Castel Del Monte and Trani

TODAY was a distinct change of pace after the bustling cities of Lecce, Bari and Matera on our first three days.

COUNTRY ROADS: the journey from Matera to Castel Del Monte took us into a different landscape
COUNTRY ROADS: the journey from Matera to Castel Del Monte took us into a different landscape

The journey from Matera to Castel Del Monte took us through a different landscape. We had become used to driving past row upon row upon row of olive trees. Apparently, there are more than 30 million of them in Puglia. I wouldn’t like to have the job of counting them. Imagine losing count and having to start again.

Now we drove along quiet country roads that climbed up into rough hill country. After an hour we spied Castel Del Monte on the horizon. It glowed warmly in the morning sun.

CASTEL DEL MONTE: a 13th Century designer's dream.
CASTEL DEL MONTE: a 13th Century designer’s dream.

We are used to the sight of castles in Wales; they’re almost as plentiful as Puglian olive groves. But Welsh castles look menacing and formidable war machines; battleships of the crag and cliff.

By contrast, Castel Del Monte looked like a 1930s Hollywood set designer’s idea of a castle. I could imagine any self-respecting invader having a quiet chuckle before firing off his first siege engine. I mean, it doesn’t even have a moat or drawbridge. They may as well have put out the Welcome mat and had done with it.

Another of Emperor Frederick II’s efforts, Castel Del Monte has a unique octagonal lay-out, with an octagonal tower at each corner. Despite my reservations about its effectiveness as a citadel, it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1996.

ON THE WATERFRONT: looking back towards the cathedral and the old fort at Trani
ON THE WATERFRONT: looking back towards the cathedral and the old fort at Trani

We moved on to the seaport of Trani, which is about 40 kilometres north-west of Bari.

The main focal point is the cathedral, which is dedicated to St Nicholas, but not in this case the St Nick of Santa Claus fame, but another Nicholas, the Pilgrim. The cathedral has a commanding position on a raised, open site near the sea.

WASHING UP: cleaning the quayside after landing this morning's catch
WASHING UP: cleaning the quayside after landing the morning’s catch
PRODUCTION LINE: mending the nets before setting out in search of the next catch.
PRODUCTION LINE: mending the nets before setting out in search of the next catch.

But we found the life of the sea port the most interesting part of our visit. While tourism is obviously important, this was clearly still a working port which provided a living for many of the men of the town.

FEEDING TIME: seagulls wait for the return of the fishing boats
FEEDING TIME: seagulls wait for the return of the fishing boats
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2 thoughts on “Visit To Puglia: Day 4 – Castel Del Monte and Trani

    1. We were very lucky with the weather. We had some sunshine every day, despite the fact that all of southern Italy was very stormy in the week we were there. We did have one humdinger of a thunderstorm the night before we left Puglia. One thunderclap directly overhead was so loud that I jumped out of bed asleep! Mrs F found this so amusing that she also fell out of bed, laughing.

      Liked by 1 person

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