I ended my three weeks of summer traveling by meeting up with my family in Sestri Levante for a night or two before returning to the city. There is not much to do in Milano in August because many businesses close for the month and people take the time to travel. When the weekend came around, my family flew down to Bari, a city in the south, close to the “heel” of Italy, along the Adriatic Sea. I met up with them as well after taking a short trip down to Napoli (three times the charm) to meet up with a friend.
For the next week we traveled throughout the Puglia region. For most of the time we stayed in a small town called Noci. It reminded me of home in the way that we were completely surrounded by open farmland. It was in the middle of nowhere and it was beautiful. We stayed in a style of house called Trullo. It’s unique to this region, specifically from the town Alberobello, which we visited the next day after I arrived.
A trullo, made from traditional Apulian dry stone, is a type of hut originally made for shelters in fields. The Trullo evolved to a more permanent type of housing and now fills the small town of Alberobello. In 1996, the Trullo was officially named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We spent the afternoon walking through the town, admiring the abnormal design.
After a lunch break and a few hours of relaxation, we headed to our next city of the day: Matera, which can be found in the southern part of Italy, in the Basilicata region. Another World Heritage Site, Matera is often known for it’s cave houses in the city center (The Sassi) and for it’s role in the Passion of the Christ (the crucifixion scene).
The Sassi of Matera (“stones of Matera”) is the city center that was carved into the Gravina ravine, during the third century BC. It started out with people who dug into the rock, creating small cave houses for themselves. The town started along a slope of a ravine, created by a river. The river is now nothing more than a small stream. The town of Matera has been designated as Europe’s Capital of Culture for 2019.
What I found most interesting about this town is that people actually lived here up until the 1950s. The government then forced people out of their “houses” and into more modern parts of the city. They did this firstly because the caves were unlivable. It was a small, poor community of people stuck in time. There were no advancements. Entire families were living in small spaces along with their livestock. The government also wanted to restore and renovate the ancient area. People have since returned, with much more sanitary conditions. It’s a beautiful place to visit filled with little shops, caves you can walk into, hotels, and more. We caught the sunset over the hill, had dinner with friends, drove to the top to see the town lit up at night, and by the end I was exhausted and absolutely in awe of Italy.
The next day, we had a more relaxing start to the day at the request of me and the other ladies who were voting for the pool. After lunch we drove to our next destination: The Grottoes of Castellana. The caves of Castellana are located in the providence of Bari. They were only discovered in 1938, but are said to have been around for 90 million years. The caves in their entirety, are 3348 meters (2.080 miles) in length and up to 122 meters (0.075 miles) in depth. Because we were visiting with kids, we only did the 1 km tour, lasting about 50 minutes. But there is another option for visitors that is 3 km long and lasts about two hours. My family took an Italian tour, but thankfully I was able to sneak onto an English one behind us. The caves were incredible, and learning how they are created over time is astounding.
Post cave exploring we headed back home for dinner. Had a relaxing morning the next day and then headed to the SEASIDE (this girl was HAPPY). Anyway, that’ll be part II.
Also, apologies for the fact that you’re reading about my August adventures in December. But better late than never, right?