Friday, 29 August 2014

Umbra forest, kingdom of biodiversity

This time I want to go trekking in that marvelous place which is the Umbra forest.

Carlo, a friend of mine, want to join me. The day before we deal to meet up at 9:00.

I pick him up and head straight to the Umbra forest, which is located in Gargano, north of Apulia.

The forest is roughly 40 miles from Manfredonia, where I am temporarily based.

The scenarios changes very quick. The landscape is beautiful.

So, we get close and close to the forest.

We are entering a new dimension.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, Gargano was an island, fully covered by forest.

Indeed, Gargano is pretty much different from the rest of Apulia.

Once in the forest, I have the feeling that I am at different latitude. 

We have left behind a valley of prickly pears (Manfredonia) to enter a dark forest, where trees are huge and moss covers anything.

I come across a family from Bergamo while trekking. The man proudly shows us a porcine mushroom he collected earlier.

I hear some German tourists trekking.

Germans have always been fond of Gargano.

Two German botanists have recently discovered a plant which was supposed to be extinct for more than one hundred years.

The forest offers a wide range of nature trails for those who wishe to go both trekking and biking.

Nevertheless, If you want to take it easy and simply contemplate, bird watching may be the best activity to do here.

Centuries-old beeches trees are very common here. Additionally, I find around maples, ashes and linden trees.

In terms of plants, I see hollies, anemones and mezereons.

The main animals who populate the Umbra forest are local roe deers, wild cats, boars and stone martens.

In terms of birds, the main ones are woodcocks and wood-pigeons.

At 5 pm I am exhausted. Therefore, I end up on a wooden bench.

I feel high though. it is like to smoke a dope. What a wired sensation.

It must be the reinvigorating influence of mother earth...

Post Scriptum
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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ruvo di Puglia and the Jatta museum

Ruvo di Puglia is a town located in the province of Bari.

I want to go there mainly to see two things.

First of all, I want to see the Jatta National Musuem of Archeology which I have been told is outstanding.

Secondly, I wish to visit the Cathedral, one of the most remarkable example of Romanico-Pugliese.

I park the car in the inner city, then, I walk toward the Musuem.

The entry is free, so I appreciate it very much.

The Jatta Museum is accommodated in a 19th century palace bearing the same name.

Jatta was an aristocratic family from Ruvo.

Giovanni  and Giulio Jatta were two brothers, who in the first half of 19th century begun to collect the precious objects discovered in Ruvo.

The goal was to avoid the scattering of the artefacts, after inordinate or illegal excavations carried out in Ruvo.

The Museum hosts a permanent exhibition of more than 2000 items such as kraters, amphorae, plates, helmets and so on…

The exhibition is still exposed according to the arrangement thought of by Giovanni Jatta.

The main trait of the exhibition is represented by the red shaped ceramics dating between the 5th and the 4th century BC, both of local production, and of Greek importation.

The most interesting object is the Attican krater ascribed to the so called “painter of Talos”. 

It is a wonderful example of Greek art.

Another interesting item is a Daunian helmet.

After having visited the Museum I feel very satisfied.

Now, I head to the cathedral.

Unfortunately, it is 1.30 pm and the church is closed. 

However, I walk around the cathedral, captured bt the amazing elements which enrich the church.

The rose window (rosone) is fantastic as well as the gate.

There is a wide range of grapes cultivated in Ruvo such as the white Bombino Bianco, Malvasia Bianca, Greco and Minutolo. 

Concerning the red grapes, there are Montepulciano, Negramaro and Aleatico.

The most popular dish in Ruvo is “tiell”, a maccheroni pie in terra cotta pot cooked in the oven.

buon appetito

Post Scriptum
If you wish to view more pics, please click here

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Trulli, the creation of peasant civilization

Lucia and I have hosted in Brindisi Paola and Manuela, two friends of us, who come from Milan.

Paola has never been in Alberobello. So, she has never seen Trulli.

We leave Brindisi after lunch, heading to Valle d’Itria, where Alberobello is located.

Literally, Alberobello is compounded by two words: Albero (tree), bello (beautiful).

Now, let me try to explain you why and when Trulli have been created.

The Acquaviva family, Counts of Conversano, incentivized peasants family to populate a land which will then be called Alberobello.

Therefore, Trulli begun to be built up in the second half of the 16th century.

Trulli are a kind of construction stable and precarious at the same time.

The Counts authorized the peasants to build dry dwellings, in order to get them easily pulled down in case of royal inspection.

From this perspective, the reason of building up precarious constructions was due to the fact that the Counts of Conversano did not want to pay tax on properties, imposed by the Neapolitan Reign.

We say In Italy: contadino, scarpe grosse e cervello fino, which means that peasants do not look great, however the are very smart.

What makes Trulli even more interesting is not just the way they are built up.

On top of the roof, there are specific symbols which can be categorized as follow: Magic, Christian and Primordial.

Therefore, each category counts six symbols.

I enquiry with a local gentleman about the most favorite dishes in Alberobello.

He replies that handmade orecchiette is the favorite pasta there.

Additionally, a very popular dish is fava bean with chicory, a bitter vegetable. On top of it, two spoons of extra virgin olive oil.

 In terms of wine, the local variety includes: Primitivo, Negroamaro, Locorotondo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Montepulciano.

Trulli of Alberobello have been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.

If you wish to view more pics, please click here

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tremiti islands, the "Paradise garden"

The Tremiti islands are the only islands in the Adriatic sea.

It is an archipelago compounded by five islands: San Nicola, San Domino, Capraia, Cretaccio and Pianosa.

Just San Nicola and San Domino are inhabitated.

The first island hosts a magnificent abbey.

The second one is bigger and hosts hotels, discos and restaurants.

Around 2/300 people live there during the winter.

We get the ferry in Vieste.

It takes around 2 hours to reach the Tremiti islands, which are roughly 10 miles from Vieste.

Once reached the archipelago, I am hit by the clear sea.

The archipelago is included within the Gargano National Park.

Illyrians moved from the Balkans to inhabitate Tremiti, like the entire Apulia.

The Benedictines named the San Domino island the "Paradise garden" because of the richness of soil.

Every kind of flower flourishes here.

On the top of San Nicola, there is the majestic abbey of Santa Maria a Mare, wonderful example of Romanico-Pugliese.

The Benedictines begun to build up the abbey since the IX century.

However, the abbey became powerful and rich since the XI century.

Charles of Anjou fortified the abbey, which in the 13th century was ruled by the Cistercian order.

The abbey was conquered in 1334 by Dalamatian pirates.

Nowdays, the Tremiti islands are visited by almost 100.000 tourists every year.

Lucio Dalla, a popular Italian artist, who died in 2012, loved the Tremiti islands so much.

Lucio Dalla owned a villa there, where he used to record his songs.

Tremiti hosts a fantastic marine reserve, ideal for those fond of diving

When I was 18, I moved to Tremiti to work as waiter for a restaurant.

I remember that I was so happy because that was the first time I left home for quite a long time.

I was amazed by the fact that people in Tremiti spoke a kind of Neapolitan dialect.

The reason was that the Neapolitan kingdom used to segregate unwanted people there.

Even Sandro Pertini, the most beloved President of the Italian Republic, was segregate there.

He was a socialist, inflexible opponent to the Italian fascist regime.

I dedicate this post to both Lucio Dalla and Sandro Pertini


If you wish to view more pics, please click here

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Brindisi, the door to the Orient

Yesterday night, at 10 pm, I went to the concert of Beppe Barra, a Neapolitan artist.

The concert was held in Brindisi, in front of the scalinata virgiliana, where the Roman poet Virgilio is said to have spent his last days.

Bethween one song and another, the artist said: “When I talk with my students about the difficult times we are currently living, I always tell them that the only thing which can preserve us is culture”.

I fully agree with him.

Before the concert, I visited the Archeological Museum “F. Ribezzoof Brindisi.

The guides explained with passion the very long history of Brindisi.

On Saturday night, the entry is free to most of the Apulian musuems and historical buildings.

Thank to the project discovering Puglia, the Apulian region welcomes turisists by offering them a wide range of initiatives in fields such as:
  • art and culture
  • nature and sport
  • rituals and traditions
  • countryside and fine foods.

The word “Brindisi” comes from the messapic (pre-roman) word brunda, which means “stag head”. 

Therefore, its name comes from its topographical shape.

Brindisi was part of the Messapic civilization, which included the entire Salento. 

The Messapics were part of the Iapyges, a population which came from the western part of Balkans.

The Archeological Museum hosts a very interesting exhibition.

Particularly, it shows the biggest trozzella ever discovered so far.

Moreover, there is an entire section dedicated to awesome bronze statues found in the sea around Brindisi.

Yesterday, the guide said something which astonished me. 

In other words, the oldest homo sapiens discovered so far in Europe has been found in Apulia.

Brindisi has amazing monuments and buildings which prove the key role it has played in the past.

Close to the airport, there a fantastic example of Gothic-Angevin, represented by the S. Maria del Casale church. 

The frescos painted inside the church are breathless.

In the inner city there is an amazing Templar church, San Giovanni al Sepolcro.

The knights templar used to sail for the Holy land from the port of Brindisi.

The church has circular shape.

It a faithful copy of the Rotunda or Anastasis in Jerusalem.

The gate is rich of symbolic elements.

Brindisi is easly reached thank to its international airport, and high speed train lines.

I dedicate this post to Gianna, a friend of mine, a pride brindisina who today celebrates her birthday