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An image, a sound, a flavour. An instant can evoke a range of experiences, feelings and traditions - like in the famous recherche du temps perdu. All it takes is the outline of a trullo, the heady beat of the tarantella, or a glass full of Fiano, to evoke the vast historical, artistic and anthropological heritage of the so-called Lower Murgia and the Itria Valley.

A tour of Bari Province’s authentic flavours takes you via Gravina in Puglia - near the border with neighbouring Basilicata Region - down towards the Gulf of Taranto, passing through places well-known for their wines, their bread and pastries, and their excellent meats. There are fascinating cave-settlements along the sides of the area’s gravine or rocky gorges, carved over the millennia by the River Gravina. Many towns deserve a visit: Altamura is justly famous for its Dop bread; Santeramo in Colle produces wine and oil, and is also a must for meat-lovers with its traditional grill-houses; Gioia del Colle has an imposing castle and is home to the Primitivo Doc wine. On the Adriatic coast there is delightful Polignano a Mare, an old town which is the ideal place to gaze at a romantic sunset over the sea and to try some excellent traditional ice-cream in one of the many ice-cream parlours.

The Itria Valley is renowned for its white wines, and no one should miss Alberobello with its world-famous trulli, and its two districts - Monti and Aia Piccola. The town was designated a national monument in 1910 and is a Unesco World Heritage site. The other jewel of the Itria Valley and the area’s wine-making centre is Locorotondo: generations of small farmers have worked the soil for centuries, and nowadays thousands of wine-growers combine traditional techniques with the new trends of the international wine scene.

Further along the white wine route is Martina Franca, the “salon of the Itria Valley” and venue for one of Italy’s most important opera festivals. There is plenty to see in this charming old town, ornate balconies, royal apartments with vast rooms and paintings by Carella, and also the Collegiate Church of St. Martin (San Martino), an excellent example of baroque architecture from the 1700s.

 

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