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Bordered by Molise, Campania and Basilicata Regions, this northernmost area of Puglia has a vast array of colours and flavours, and extends from the Sub-Appennine hills and the Gargano promontory right down into the heart of Frederick II’s territories. The sea-side resorts are bustling and lively, while the almost unreal peace in the countryside conveys the real character of this area. Wine-growing here is an ancient tradition, and the legend surrounding the origins of wine-growing here is that the king of Daunia invited the mythical Greek hero Diomedes to settle down; he had wandered around the Mediterranean after discovering that his wife was unfaithful and was seeking a new homeland. Diomedes planted the first vines, so that to this day, the vineyards are known as the "fields of Diomedes" and the typical Tremiti Island seagulls are also called "diomedee", almost as if their sing-song calls tell the story of the hero’s wanderings.

Some vines which have found their ideal habitat in this corner of Puglia are Montepulciano, Bombino (bianco and nero) and the increasingly well-known and appreciated Nero di Troia - the powerful and unmistakable variety common to both Daunia and the Murgia.

Daunia has two cities well worth visiting: Lucera, with its beautiful Piazza Duomo and its gothic-byzantine Cathedral built on the remains of a Saracen mosque, the courtyards of the aristocrats’ palaces, the Civic Museum and the Amphitheatre; San Severo has given its name to the area’s symbolic Doc wine and its old city has some interesting art and historical remains in the Civic Museum, the ex-Monastery of the Holy Trinity (SS. Trinità) belonging to the Celestine monks (now the Town Hall), and the Cavaliere and Carafa family residences.

Still on the subject of artistic and historical treasures, there is Castel del Monte, built by the Swabian emperor Frederick II in the 12th century; inside this imposing hill-top structure there are some interesting references to the area’s millennial wine-making traditions. Besides wine, olive oil is another symbol of this area of Puglia: the precious “green gold” is mostly identified with the cities of Andria and Corato, and some of the region’s most important olive oil-producing companies are in the surrounding countryside. Finally there is the delightful city of Trani, with its magnificent Cathedral, its Frederician Castle and its delightful sea-front. A glass of Trani’s delicious sweet wine - Moscato di Trani - is the perfect way to end the trip.

 

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