Puglia Italy’s exuberant architecture
Puglia, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” is known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. Capital Bari is a vibrant port and university town, while Lecce is known as “Florence of the South” for its baroque architecture. Alberobello and the Itria Valley are home to “trulli,” stone huts with distinctive conical roofs.
Puglia is Italy’s ascendant region, a place where savvy travellers bored or worn down by the crowds of Campania and Tuscany escape for something a bit less frenetic and manicured. Top of the list for prospective newcomers is the food. Puglia’s cucina povera is about as earthy as Italian cuisine gets without eating it straight out of the soil. Then there’s the exuberant architecture, best summarised by the word..baroque’ and exhibited in all its finery in the glittering ‘Florence of the South’, Lecce, and its smaller sibling, Gallipoli.
With the longest coastline of any region in mainland Italy, Puglia is larger than many people realise. In the north, the spur of land sticking out into the Adriatic is occupied by the balmy microclimates of the Gargano peninsula, a kind of miniature Amalfi with fewer poseurs. The Italian boot’s ‘stiletto’ hosts the land of Salento, a dry scrubby region famous for its wines, and bloodthirsty Greek and Turkish history. In between lies the Valle d’Itria, a karstic depression populated by vastly contrasting medieval towns that have little in common apart from their haunting beauty.
Of the larger cities, Brindisi, an erstwhile Roman settlement, is one of the major departure points for Greece (by ferry), while Puglia’s largest metropolis, Bari has a university and trendier inclinations.
This brings us to Terlizzi
Terlizzi is a town and comune of the region of Apulia in southern Italy, in the province of Bari, lying to the west of the seaport of Bari on the Adriatic Sea, in the midst of a fertile plain. As of 2008, its population was some 27,400.
It had a castle which at one time was very strong, and occasionally resorted to by the Emperor Frederick II, and later by the Aragonese sovereigns of Naples. Its remains include a 31-metre (102 ft) high clock tower in the center of town that was built by the Norman conquerors in the 12th century AD. The back-lit clock on that tower is the second largest in Europe after Big Ben.
The Co-Cathedral of San Michle Arcangelo was built in Neo-Classicist style in the 18th and 19th centuries, replacing the old RomanesqueDuomo of the 13th century. It houses several canvasses and a notable collection of wooden statues.
The walls and towers of the town remain, but the fosse has been turned into boulevards.
Terlizzi has some trade in the wine and fruit of the region. In 1745, a fine Greek-made inkstand inlaid in silver was found in a nearby, ancient cove, in Suberito (at now, Sovereto). Starting from that date, was built a 22-metre (72 ft) tall triumphal wagon to keep the picture in Terlizzi’s streets.
One of the last remaining stretches of the Appian Way that is still unpaved runs through the outskirts of Terlizzi. This stretch of the Appian Way is part of the Via Appia Traiana, built by Emperor Trajan sometime around 115 AD. Just off this road, 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) out of the town, is the church of Santa Maria di Cesano, built in 1055 AD. It houses a precious Byzantine fresco of Christ Pantocrator. In the centre of the city is notable the big Palace built by the Barons de Gemmis, with the annexed church of Santa Maria La Nova. It is from the 18th century and was designed by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli.