Dear friends, here is the second page of our diary. Yesterday morning we left Ruvo di Puglia and reached an area full of standing stones, between Sovereto and Palombaio. We visited five of them: they are simply called standing stone no.1, no.2, no.3, no.4 and Palombaio. It was pretty hard to find them because you have to follow small country roads in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by olive trees, dogs and magpies - how many of them down here!. And (unfortunately) tons of rubbish. It is a pity, but it seems that here in Puglia it is all right to dump everything from plastic bags to fridges along the roads.Thinking of bloody stupid humanoids:do you remember the little puppy abandoned at Chianca dolmen? We phoned to a certain Mrs Emma in bari and told her about it. She is the local president of the national association for the rescue of dogs. We are confident that the little puppy is well now.
After this long series of standing stones, we drove to Castel del Monte, one the Apulian wonders. Built by emperor Federico II between 1240 and 1250, is a breathtaking octagonal fortress, with eight octagonal towers and an octagonal inner courtyard. Situated in splendid isolation on a hill in the middle of nowhere, Castel del Monte is still a mistery: it wasn't a military fortress (no ditch, no drawbridge, etc.) and it wasn't a luxury palace for parties & C.. And are lots of numerical and astronomical combinations within the site. Inside the fortress there are some splendid decorations, survived to a series of robberies during the centuries. We can only say it is a wonderful place, eerie, puzzling and peaceful at the same time: a must for every visitor of Apulia.
After Castel del Monte we drove to San Silvestro, a well preserved dolmen near Giovinazzo. The site is fenced and closed to the public in this period, so we had to climb and cross the fence (yes, we know that this was forbidden, but we didn't touch a single stone and we think that the information we are providing on these sites will be useful to let people become aware of their importance). The dolmen, once a single long gallery divided into several compartments by upright slabs, was cut into two parts when - in the past - the diggers dug its covering mound. Now, the two parts are 6m and 7.5m long.
We slept in a farm accommodation centre (basic but clean) and this morning we had our breakfast in Bitonto, a little town a few kilometres west of Bari. In Bitonto we spent some time visiting the beautiful Romanesque cathedral, admiring its sculptures, an ancient mosaic representing a griffin and the delicate frescoes in the crypt.
Driving eastwards, we met one of the most peculiar standing stones of Apulia: Il Monaco (The Monk), so called because it seems a thin human figure wearing a hood (Paola says it is more similar to Nessie, the Loch ness "monster" of Scotland). Then we drove to a horrible industrial estate, where poor Macchia Belladonna stone stands alone in a field, surrounded by rubbish and factories. Afterwards we tried to locate a standing stone in Modugno, alittle town south of Bari. After hours spent driving around in traffic jams we gave up. We also asked for information to local people: nobody knew anything about that stone and an arrogant politician of the local town hall (he was from Alleanza Nazionale, Italy's right-wing party) even denied its existence, claiming that the monument wasn't a real prehistoric one, but simply a cast made some time before for a fair.
Other two standing stones along the road (Mercadante and Sammichele di Bari) and we arrived in Alberobello, where there is the highest concentration of trulli, old buildings with a typical conical roof, sometimes decorated with a Christian or esoteric symbol for keeping the bad luck or the "evil spirits" away from the house. The last monument of the day - before reaching our lovely hotel in Ostuni - was Montalbano, another dolmen hidden among olive trees. We also made a panoramic view of this great-looking dolmen. And after a delicious dinner in a local osteria and a romantic walk through the narrow streets of the town, here we are, writing our diary. Now it's 3:00 AM, so goodnight to everybody and see you soon in the Lecce area.
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