…is an Italian association specialized in the management of European projects concerning mobility of the Erasmus + programme. It organizes professional formation activities for students and teachers/educators from all over Europe.

Cultura e Dintorni has been working for years together with partners involved in the management of formation programmes, with European partnerships and with public and private Apulian bodies, which host young people and educators from all over Europe.

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Cultura e Dintorni

Corso Messapia, 167 - 74015 Martina Franca (TA) - Italy

Tel. +39 080 523 4467 - Mobile: +39 355 135 9701

info@culturaedintorni.org

Apulia

Apulia is a magic mix of art, history and nature

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Apulia is a magic mix of art, history and nature. It is land of sun and hospitality, located in the heart of Mediterranean Sea. Centuries of history and enchantment landscapes make this place unique for living unforgettable experiences.

Two dreamy seas, Ionian and Adriatic, embrace Apulia drawing a varied coastline, with steep cliffs on multicolour seabed and gold coloured beaches degrading on crystal-clear water.

Many cultures have approached to Apulia, as ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians and Angevins. Precious historical and different cultures evidence are exhibits of inestimable value: menhir, cave churches, medieval castles, Baroque and Romanesque cathedrals, noble palaces and historic residences, enchanted hamlets and cities of art, manor farms and farmhouses.

Martina Franca

Martina Franca is located on a hill at 431 m above sea level and is the second biggest city of the province of Taranto, after the provincial capital. Back in 1260 stands the existence of Martina Franca, but only in 1305 a real urban village was created, built by Filippo d’Angiò, prince of Taranto. It was afterwards ruled by different families of the Kingdom of Naples. From 1507 to 1806, Martina Franca became dukedom of the Caracciolo family, which gave the city the ducal palace as a dowry, one of the first baroque works, built in 1668 and designed by Giovanni Andrea Carducci, architect from Bergamo.

In a hypothetical itinerary, the first stop is Piazza XX Settembre, called “lo Stradone” (the Big Street), which was anciently the marketplace. It was built at the end of the XIX century on the request of mayor Fighera and reaches St. Stephen’s Arch and the city park. On each side it is adorned with 30s buildings, where it is found the “Cinema Verdi”.

It is impossible not to be caught by the baroque beauty of St. Stephen’s Arch, also called St. Antonio’s Arch, built during the XIV century, then destroyed and rebuilt in 1764. The Arch, which reminds the Arc de Triomphe, recalls St. Martin’s miracle during the siege of the city of Cappelletti (1529)

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Martina Franca - Arch of Santo Stefano

Martina Franca’s cuisine is the result of a perfect balance between the agricultural cooking tradition and the historic memory of a culture, which has made oil and wine the fundamental components of the “eating art”. The agricultural field represents one of the most important productive sectors of the economy of the city. Recently, the township of Martina Franca became member of the network “Slow City” founded by “Slow Food”, association involved in the valorization of typical agricultural products. Among the local  culinary specialities rewarded by “Slow Food”, ‘capocollo’ and spicy ricotta play an important role and will soon become holder of an own safeguard protection.

Martina Franca offers a huge range of traditional sweets made during Christmas (carteddete, purcidde, pettule, entreme de vicchie) or Easter (pucciatidde, cavaddistre, fecazzedde) period.Regarding landscapes, Martina Franca is a discovery: Wood of Pianelle and the karstic caves are perfect stops for those who love the nature. The donkey of Martina Franca is very famous for producing milk for paediatric use and for the cosmetic industry, and meat for fresh consumption and for charcuterie. Among the events organized by the city, the International Festival of Valle d’Itria, a music festival, plays an important role: not to be missed if you like symphonic music and opera. Meetings to never forget, from half July to the beginning of August with unedited opera, concerts and nights dedicated to XX century, auteur films and sacred music. In the last few years, many masterpieces were rediscovered and several young talents succeeded.

Martina Franca
Martina Franca - Piazza Maria Immacolata

XVIII century Palazzo Martucci stands around the square, symbol of the local baroque. On the opposite side is located the Ducal Palace, current seat of the City Hall and of the Museum of Pianelle. 

Finally, it leads to Piazza Plebiscito, also named “Piazza di San Martino”, which benefits of the majestic Collegiata di San Martino and of the University palace. In addition, Martina Franca is enriched by noble palaces and churches of different styles. Palazzo Motolese, built in 1775 in a monumental and flamboyant style, is a building of particular interest. All it takes is a walk through the small alleys to notice that Martina Franca is the second baroque capital of Apulian baroque. This can be noticed by looking at the noble palaces with balconies in wrought iron or at the rich gates with apostolic crests and masks or at the monumental churches. Every corner is pure history and art and amazes with elegant details, arches, secret gardens and squares with spectacular perspectives. Piazza Plebiscito, for example, is featured by the façade of St. Martin’s Cathedral with the high relief of the poor. The internal space, of remarkable workmanship, hosts a polychrome marble altar and the elegant SS. Sacramento chapel in late baroque style.

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Focaccia and Orecchiette

Apulia had a rapid tourism development in the last few years. The keys of this success are the long Apulian coastline with its beaches and its cliffs, the art cities, the archaeological exhibits of cultures which occupied the region anciently, the charm of its gastronomic products and the tourism business, due to the “Levante Fairy” in Bari and many other fairies following during the year.

There are many and various places to visit:

Il Gargano

The amazing promontory of Gargano is one of the most flourishing and surprising natural areas in Apulia: it consists of a mountainous msanguinara_viesteassif called “the spur of Italy”, which stretches in the Adriatic Sea for 70 km. A consistent part of the promontory’s hinterland is covered by the Umbra forest; along the coastline, there are golden coloured sandy beaches and small historic hamlets instead.

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Gargano

Tremiti Islands (also known as Diomedee)

It is a small archipelago of rare beauty, surrounded by the Adriatic Sea and a renowned tourist destination for those who love sea and diving. Despite being the smallest Apulian Township, it is one of the most important tourism centres of the whole region. For its bathing water quality, it has been repeatedly declared “Blue Flag”, prestigious accreditation of the “Foundation for Environmental Education”.

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Tremiti Islands

Castellana Caves

At the bottom Valle d’Itria there is a magic place: a 30 km long maze made up of caves and chasms 70 metres underground. It is the most beautiful Italian speleological complex and a visit lasts 2 hours. Walk down the stairs up until the “Grave”, with the Cyclops’ stalagmite in the middle, pass through the Desert Hallway, which leads to the Great Curtains Room, with red alabaster drapes, and through the White Cave, the most shining cave of the world. Castellana caves are an underground caves complex of karstic origin of great interest, both from touristic and speleological view. The complex is located in the township of Castellana Grotte, about 2 km far from the populated area. The White Cave and the “Milan Cathedral cave”, so named for its stalagmites’ particular shape similar to spires, are the most interesting ones.

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The Castellana Caves

Ostuni

Ostuni is located in Brindisi province and is called the “White City” for its typical little houses made of limestone, which spread in the narrow streets of the centre. Its hamlet is one of the most beautiful in Italy, with alleys which pass through the typical white limestone houses. The illusory distribution mess of the houses around the cathedral gives the historic centre a unique shape. This tradition has also played an important role concerning history. In fact, since the XVII century the houses were painted with limestone because people thought this would have been the only way to avoid plague spreading and the increase of the contamination, which would have destroyed the city.

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Ostuni

Alberobello and its “trulli”

UNESCO heritage in Apulia…

Trulli are ancient conical building in dry stone of prehistoric origin. Alberobello, architecture gem, became part of UNESCO heritage in 1996 for its monumental hamlet made up of 1400 trulli. However, there are not extremely ancient trulli, despite the discovery of prehistoric archaeological exhibits or Bronze Age dated huts in the trulli area. A trullo was originally a typical farming building, where a “cozzaro” (who cultivated the proprietor land) could sleep and store his work tools. Alberobello can count on the highest number of trulli, but they are typical of entire Valle d’Itria. They can also be found in Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Cisternino and Fasano. In Casa Pezzolla, made up of 15 communicating trulli, the “Museo del Territorio” is set up with exhibits, tools, records of the traditions of these places and with the Museum of Wine and Oil.

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Trulli di Alberobello

Castel del Monte

Castel del Monte is one of the most mysterious places in Italy and a destination which is absolutely worth to visit when in Apulia. Awarding the building to a precise architect would be uncertain: some attribute it to Riccardo da Lentini, but others claim it was Frederick II to create it. The castle is located in Andria, on the top of an isolated hill, which dominates the valley of Murgia on one side and offers an amazing view on the Adriatic Sea on the other. It is featured by an uncommon shape with an octagonal map and octagonal towers in each corner. In 1996, UNESCO included Castel del Monte in the World Heritage for its universal and extraordinary value, both for its architectural beauty and for the mystery which surrounds it.

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Castel del Monte

Salento

Salento is found in the most southern part of Apulia and hosts small and fascinating towns as Gallipoli, Otranto, Lecce and Santa Maria di Leuca. Its coasts are wide and sandy, especially the Ionian ones, whose water is featured by rare clearness and colours; the cliffs, especially the Adriatic ones, deserve a visit too. Among the most famous beaches, the most popular are the sandy ones of Porto Cesareo di Gallipoli, Santa Maria di Leuca, Otranto and Ostuni. Regarding stony beaches, the most famous are the ones of Castro, Santa Cesarea Terme and Porto Badisco. There are many fortified manor farms dating back to XVI, XVII and XVIII century. The small towns, generally sparsely populated, have an oriental-looking appearance and are featured by intense white coloured buildings, which make them dashing on sunny days.

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Salento

Lecce e il barocco leccese

Baroque architecture is flourishing in Lecce and in all the townships of the province, in the Salento-Greece and among the big cities of low Salento as Gallipoli, Maglie, Nardò, Galatina, Galatone e Lequile. The structured decorations of churches and palaces facades create flamboyant sets of a unique visual vitality. This has been possible thanks to architects’ and master sculptors’ great skills and to the extreme malleability of the warm and pliable local stone, the tuff. Lecce, abundant in baroque monuments, stores many popular masterpieces, as Santa Croce Cathedral, joined to the monumental complex of Celestini, and the Cathedral Place, considered one of the most beautiful squares of Italy. Little far from Piazza S. Oronzo and from the Cathedral, you will bump into the MUST, a new 3000 square metres museum complex, hosted in the ancient Santa Chiara monastery. Lecce is also an undisputed tourist destination for “holiday gourmet” and for tasting delicious typical specialities, as the "rustico leccese"

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Lecce

Historical features of the Landscape

The region is abundant in sites and evidence of ancient cultures, which inhabited it in the past. Among the prehistoric exhibits, “specchie” (ancient megalithic monuments created by using biGioviTotg dry blocks of stone), dolmen (single room megalithic tombs) and menhir (monolithic megaliths generally erected during Stone Age) are remarkable. The Messapian necropolis in Manduria is noteworthy and presents interesting Messapian ruins concerning tombs of different ages, a moat, a double wall and streets ruins of the ancient city. Roca is another Messapian archaeological area, where the ancient fortified city of Roca Vecchia, built on a previous prehistoric site, was discovered. On the walls of the marine cave “Poesia” some inscriptions in Messapic and Latin and other prehistoric graffiti have been discovered.

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The golds of Taranto

The Hellenistic Age Jewels of Taranto

The Jewels of Taranto are kept in a section dedicated to the gold working art of the Hellenistic Age in the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto. They are extremely important for showing us that already in IV-I century B.C., the manufacture of precious metals, especially of gold, was one of the most common activities in this Magna Grecia colony.

Tradition and Events…

Apulia has an extremely interesting folkloristic heritage, which boasts chants, legends, novels and traditions with an own origin, given that each culture has left a particular mark on Apulian folklore history. Some of them are about miracles by Virgin Mary and Saints; others are novels about exploits and adventures, fantastic voyages and chivalric ventures. In fact, Apulia represented an unavoidable passage for the crusaders headed to Holy Land. Processions, patron fairs and village festivals are paired by light fixtures and band concerts: Apulia boasts a very ancient tradition regarding music bands, as the famous one of Acquaviva delle Fonti and Francavilla Fontana.

Pilgrimages, sea processions and rituals have their roots in paganism and magic, typical of the farming culture after all; the “Holy Week” celebration in Taranto needs to be mentioned, accompanied by the slow and exasperated rhythm of “Addolorata and Misteri” processions. The Festival of San Nicola is also very popular; Bari is scene of parades, torchlights and sea processions, which remind the venture of the seamen of 1087, who stole the Saint’s relics from Mira (sieged by infidels) to bring them to safety in their town, where they are still kept in the cathedral.

The most long-lasting carnival of Italy is celebrated in Putignano (Bari): it is an ancient origin demonstration made up of parades, costumed maidens, parade floats and “maschere di carattere”, characters created by papier-Mache artisans. “Levante Fairy” is then one of the most rich and exciting demonstrations, which takes place in September in Bari.

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Procession of the "Misteri" - Taranto

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Feast of St. Nicholas - Bari

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Putignano Carnival

Taste to eat…

Apulian wine-gastronomy must be mentioned. The major part of Apulian recipes is based on pasta, oil and wine, creating a genuine and typically Mediterranean cuisine. Fish and vegetables help consistently for creating Apulian most famous specialities, very popular all around Italy. In each of the four corners of the region, it is possible to eat exactly the same specialities, but with some little local changes in their preparation. In this way, some of the most delicious specialities of the region are born, as orecchiette with turnips and anchovies. As in all central and southern Italy regions, pasta is the main food in Apulian cuisine. Apulian orecchiette are extremely famous, this little-shell shaped pasta gathers perfectly the sauce, but also pestaluzze, chiancarelle, troccoli and fenescècchie are very common.

The most famous Apulian fish ragout “ciambotto”, which means ‘mixture’, has been invented in Bari and is made up of different fish caught in the Adriatic Sea. Pasta is many times served together with a pepper, tomatoes, parsley, onion and garlic salad, called “scattiata tarantina”. Pizza is also very popular in Apulia. The typical pizza of Salento is called “puddica” and is made up of two overlaid pizza disks, which contain an onion, tomatoes, black olives and anchovies filling. Apulians claim “calzone” as an own invention, which has an olives, onion and Pecorino cheese filling. Regarding second courses, fish is absolutely the main element.

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Orecchiette with turnip tops

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Fish "ciambotto"

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Apulian "calzone"

Sea and Relax…

The region of Apulia borders with the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. Excluding the islands, this is the region with the longest coastline, about 800 km, which offers a wide choice even in the regional context. Bathing tourism is the most developed sector, due to the coasts’ beauty and to the massive presence of hotels, camping sites and tourist villages. Gargano, also known as “the spur of Italy” or “mountain of the sun”, is a mountainous promontory, bordering with the Adriatic Sea, whose territory is widely included in the National Park of Gargano.

The area of Bari is a flat zone with both cliffs and sandy coasts, made up of a range of steps, which have created with time the Murge, and bathing sites, as Molfetta and Monopoli, together with renowned art cities, as Putignano, Conversano e Alberobello. Last but not least, the area of Salento. It is famous for its wide sandy coasts, embraced by crystal-clear and colourful water and featured by many caves of the eastern coast. This area is also important for the entertainment offered by locations as Torre dell’Orso, Ostuni, Santa Maria di Leuca and Gallipoli, a very popular destination among young people.

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Baia delle Zagare - Gargano

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Baia dei Turchi - Salento

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Torre Guaceto - Brindisi

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Taranto

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Polignano a mare - Bari

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Gallipoli - Lecce