Michael and Pam's Travels Our European Motorhome Adventures and other Travels

Valle dโ€™Itria, Italy 2018 ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Date:  23-24th August 2018

Travelled:  Around Cisternino, Italy.

Visited:  Cisternino, Alberobello, Grotte di Castellana, Locorotondo, Martina Franka all in Puglia.

Stayed:  Cisternino municipal sosta, free with services.  N40.74423, E17.42740

Budget:  82 days @ โ‚ฌ99 per day.

After our late move to Cisternino yesterday evening we enjoyed a good sleep other than 10 minutes of load music at 2.30am, such are the joys of wildcamping in a free sosta.  Whilst we look over the road atlas and the Lonely Planet this morning we decide Cisiternino will make a good base for a few days.  This area of Puglia is known as the Valle dโ€™Itria.  Set between the Adriatic and Ionian coasts the Valle is a great limestone plateau riddled with ridges, holes and ravines.  It is also trulli country, a trulli is the traditional circular stone house with a cone shaped roof also made of stone.

The guide recommends a visit to the four larger towns, Cisternino, Alberobello, Locorontondo and Martina Franka.  It states the cave at Grotte di Catellana are worth visiting if you are in the area.

So we start our first adventure on the hill above the sosta in Cisternino.

At the top of the hill a small park circles a war memorial. The Church of Santa Nicholas of Patara in the background.
The view from the park across the valley, note the many trulli houses below.

Inside the church, the main alter and choir is simple but elegant.
A small chapel off one side of the naive. The painted panels depicting saint whoever getting the chop, stare down at you.
The maze of laneways…
The covered walkways…
The whitewashed houses…
Walked over to chat to these guys saying we are from Australia, they laughed saying weโ€™d rather have Sylvio Berlusconi than Malcolm !

We found the old centro of Cisternino one of the most beautiful we have seen to date.  Anyway we get the Hymer going for Alberobello (20 klms away) and our next hill top town.

On the SS172 in trulli country.

We arrive in Alberobello to find it only has one dedicated motorhome parking place a sosta for โ‚ฌ10 for 24 hours, but as we only plan a couple of hours itโ€™s a bit rich for our blood.  So we drive over to the industrial area, park for free and walk back the 3-400 metres.

There are some 1,500 trulli houses in the old quarter of Alberobello and itโ€™s a wonderful place to explore.
We visit a small museum, just to have a look at how all these circular building come together.
This is how if your wondering.

On the corner of a small piazza overlooking the trulli houses.

We found the trulli houses of Alberobello to be very interesting but the area is very touristy as well. Lots of people, lots of little shops selling tat and market stalls selling shoes and cloths around every corner.

So we drive on to Grotte di Castellana, about another 20 klms north-west.  We arrive to find a car-park as big as Disney Land and its full !  Itโ€™s still school holidays so families are out looking for stuff to do.

We pay the princely some of โ‚ฌ12 each for the short tour in English.  The long tour wasnโ€™t much more expensive but would have meant another 90 minutes wait.  Pam and I prefer the abridged version of most things anyway.  So down we go.
Lots of coloured lighting and imagination is required but the tour is interesting enough.  We walk the caves various chambers for around a klm, before catching an elevator back to the surface.  Yes an elevator !

We return to the Hymer to the sosta in Cisternino as the sun settles.  Other than Pam insisting on a gelato after dinner it was a very quiet evening after a long day in the Valle dโ€™Itria.

Tomorrow is another day and our planned visits to Locorotondo and Martina Franca are much closer at about 10 klms away, so we unload the scooter and take to the road.

Itโ€™s so much easier on the scooter. We ride right up to the centre of the old town of Locorotondo, parking behind the Church of Santa Maria della Graecia.
The alter of St George, the main alter of the church of Santa Maria.
Typical of the back streets of Locorotondo. Other than Pam sitting on your bottom step, of course.  Whitewashed walls. small terraces, lots of flower boxes.
Another view along the laneways of Locorotondo.
Pam and the boys from the local book club on the piazza.
Looking across the valley from the Villa Comunale, a public garden. More trulli houses.
Looking across the roof tops to the church.
A last interesting gate as we walk back to the scooter.

We scooter out of Locorotondo for Martina Franka less than 8 klms away.  Martina Franka is a larger town than the others we have visited.  Similarly though, it has a historic centre on top of the hill.

Again the scooter makes it easy, it delivers us to the centre of Martina Franca at the Piazza Ducale.
We notice a Picasso exhibition is in town, so thatโ€™s an idea for later.  We start our walk through the laneways of Martina Franca.  Much less whitewash here.
The Church of St Martin of Tours. Circa 1740, but replacing a much older medieval church that stood on the same site.
The alter of this church has an unusual chior, forming a semi-circle behind.
Another interesting building overlooking a small piazza.
We pass the Church of St Domenico which was closed, but the gate to the adjoining cloisters was open.  Beautifully restored the cream stone columns and whitwashed walls and ceiling provide a stricking contrast to the remaining frescos segments.
Another fresco.

So we walk back up to our starting point and the Picasso Exhibition, which is only small, but it was only โ‚ฌ5pp.  No photos, but I snuck a couple.

Nice plate…

Thatโ€™s Martina Franca, we lunch in a little cafe on the Piazza Ducale before taking the scooter back to Cisternino.  Back safely we pack the scooter away for an early departure.  We are joined by several more motorhomes by dinner time, which is 9pm for Italians.

Just a passing comment.  We were chatting today about the restuarant and cafe food in Italy.  Since returning from Malta we have seen nothing on offer but panini, pizza and pasta thatโ€™s it.  Not a single place offering some foreign influence in their food.  Mind you the gelato is good.

Michael and Pam

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