Category: Travel

Biking Puglia

Coastline to Monopoli (click on photo to enlarge)

Coastline to Monopoli
(click on photo to enlarge)

For us, the big selling point of our trip to Italy was a 10 day biking tour of Puglia. Puglia is a region located along the southeastern side of Italy and bordering the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. As predicted, the weather was warm and dry, perfect biking weather. Darcy and I were in a group of 18 great people, organized by Vermont Biking Tours (VBT). VBT arranged everything, plane reservations, transfers, our pre-trip in Matera, bikes, helmets, hotels and restaurants. Pretty much all we had to do was show up ready for a good time.

 

 

 

 

Darcy's Bike Tatto (click on photo to enlarge)

Darcy’s Bike Tatto
(click on photo to enlarge)

Our first day of biking was a warmup ride of only 6 miles, riding from our masseria (think hotel) to the ancient ruins of Roman Egnazia and back. Right off the bat, Darcy was able to show off her bicycle “tatoo”, otherwise know as chain grease, on her leg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cart ruts in the Via Traiana (click on photo to enlarge)

Cart ruts in the Via Traiana
(click on photo to enlarge)

As for the ruins themselves, it’s hard to describe how much manpower was involved in creating this place. That remained a strong theme in my mind throughout the tour as the manual labor involved in all the buildings was just mind-boggling. The major transportation road from Brindisi to Rome was the Via Traiana, comprising the coastal spur of the Appian Way. This road ran right through the center of Egnazia for so many years that the carts cut deep and obvious ruts into the roadbed of solid stones.

 

 

 

 

Main Plaza at Egnazia (click on photo to enlarge)

Main Plaza at Egnazia
(click on photo to enlarge)

Walking around we could see locations for the central plaza, the baths, and the many homes of this town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruins of Egnazia near Savelletri (click on photo to enlarge)

Ruins of Egnazia near Savelletri
(click on photo to enlarge)

Egnazia remains an important, ongoing archeological site that is still worked daily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monopoli, aproaching the old City (click on photo to enlarge)

Monopoli, aproaching the old City
(click on photo to enlarge)

Day 2 was a daylong 25 mile bike up the coast to Monopoli, a beautiful fortified town on the Adriatic coast.

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Market Visit (click on photo to enlarge)

Fish Market Visit
(click on photo to enlarge)

Stops along the way included a fish market,and then further along a stop for snacks. Each day, we were supported by a van traveling along with us to provide water, snacks, and even a ride for anyone who got tired of biking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Streets of Monopoli (click on photo to enlarge)

Streets of Monopoli
(click on photo to enlarge)

We had ample time to explore the old town with its narrow streets and beautiful shoreline, followed by lunch on our own at one of the many small cafes in the old town.

Monopoli Harbor (click on photo to enlarge)

Monopoli Harbor
(click on photo to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm with Olive Trees (click on photo to enlarge)

Farm with Olive Trees
(click on photo to enlarge)

After lunch, a ride back to our masseria offered many opportunities to view the great landscapes and fields full of vegetables and olive trees. We ended our day about 4:30 at the poolside with a couple glasses of wine, before showering and a relaxed dinner at the masseria.

 

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Matera – Italy’s Cave Town

Puglia, 5 image panorama

Matera, 5 image panorama (click on image to enlarge)

The first stop on our recent trip to Italy was Matera, a town that has been continuously inhabited for 150,000 years. In this first photo, a panorama of five images stitched together, you can just make out some early caves on the opposite side of the 600 foot deep canyon. The Sassi itself is comprised of thousands of caves, all hand carved out of the rock, and later added on to with “fronts” added on using stone from the excavations.  Historically, Matera was a very poor town, and as recently as the 1950’s, the Italian government actually made everyone move from the Sassi due to the very poor living conditions. Since then, many of the caves have been renovated and are again being inhabited.

 

Puglia Hotel Room (click on image to enlarge)

Matera Hotel Room (click on image to enlarge)

 

We stayed in a hotel that has completely upgraded several of the caves with modern plumbing and electricity, providing for a unique experience for tourists like us.

 

 

 

 

 

Stairs are everywhere

Stairs are everywhere

 

You might call Matera the town of 100,000 steps, as everything is up or down no matter where you walk. It is such a period piece that several movies have been made here. The most recent was Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ”. We spent a great couple of days in Matera, enjoying an excellent tour as well as the food and local wine. Following are a few images I shot while walking around this fascinating town.

More stairs in Puglia

More stairs in Matera (click on image to enlarge)

 

 

Trip to Puglia, Italy

Entrances to Cave Apartments (click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trip to Puglia, Italy

Doorway at an elevated entrance (click on image to enlarge)

 

I always like to get a few shots of local doorways when traveling. Here are just a couple.

Cave Entrance Door

Cave Entrance Door (click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from a Patio (click on image to enlarge)

View from a Patio (click on image to enlarge)

 

Wherever you look, there are caves everywhere. And at night, the illuminated views make a great presentation.

 

Puglia perched on a cliff's edge (click on image to enlarge)

Matera perched on a cliff’s edge (click on image to enlarge)

 

 

Puglia Churches at Night (click on image to enlarge)

Matera Churches at Night (click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the photos from our trip were taken with a pocket size Sony RX100 III. This is a really nifty little camera. It shoots 20 MB RAW files and has many of the same controls found only on larger DSLR cameras. I think it does a great job, and is certainly much easier to tote around than any of my Nikon gear. As mentioned earlier in this post, the first image is a five frame panorama. If printed at full size, it would measure over 6 feet long and 2 feet high. I haven’t printed it that large, but a 19″x 7″ print looks very good and even that is reduced from the original full frame size. Hope that you enjoy these photos.

 

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