When you’re in Puglia, for sure, you will get a very nice and unexpected surprise from a friend of yours who was a little bit cold before your arrival in the region. After a nice half-a-day trip to Locorotondo, you can be offered by this amico to visit another splendid nearby town in the evening. The traveller in you will never say “No” despite having covered a long distance and in spite of the obstacles you had during your daytime trip to the Wine Town of Puglia. When I say “obstacles” I mean the usual delays of Italian trains which are a normal phenomenon in the country. If you see the bright side of such “train adventures” you won’t complain at all. Just on the opposite. You will have fun and get lots of unforgettable memories which you will think of with a smile on your face in future. By the way, I will never forget my viaggi pugliesi (travels in Puglia) and the usual announcement on the trains “Siamo in ritardo di un’oretta. Trenitalia si scusa per il disagio.” (There will be a one-hour delay. Trenitalia apologize for the inconvenience.) 😀 But this delay will not exist if you take a trip in your friend’s car in the evening. And he, as a hospitable local, will choose one small but amazing nearby town, namely ….
C O N V E R S A N O
The town of Conversano is in the province of Bari. It’s situated on one of the hills of Murgia and very close to the Adriatic shores. The town is of ancient origin and proof for this the archeological remains and tombs dating back to 300/200 BC. In the Medieval times it was an object of battles between the Byzantines and Longobards. The settlement was fortified in 600. Later it was a an Episcopal seat and then it fell under the Acquaviva family of Aragon.
The major economic activities are related to agriculture, growing of cherries and almonds in particular. The typical landscape of Conversano and its surroundings is characterized and constituted by endless orchards. That’s why it is very often nicknamed as the cherry garden of Puglia.
When you are on a night trip there, the town is completely different (like any other place). You see it illuminated by a great number of lights as well as the natural lights of the stars and the Moon. It’s really very romantic, especially when you walk up and down the narrow and cobbled alleys or have a short rest at one of the sides of the Castle.
The Medieval Castle is from the Norman-Hohenstaufen’s rule in the Kingdom of Sicily. It possesses only one round tower that was added upon Acquaviva’s request. Another attraction of the city is the Cathedral of Conversano whicih is in Romanesque style. It was built in the 11th century, then it was redecorated two times: in the 14th century and later in the 17th century. The latter redecoration was in Baroque style. When I visited the town I was amazed with the rose-window and the three portals of the cathedral illuminated by the lights. The splendid widow was built in the 15th century. The T-shaped cathedral houses the icon of la Madonna della Fonte who is the protector of the town.
Another place of interest in Conversano is the Benedictine Monastery. The 6th century convent was one of the most important and powerful in the region of Apulia. Some significant changes occurred in 1266 when Cistercian nuns from Greece replaced the Benedictines. As a matter of fact, this was the first western monastery where nuns were allowed to wear mitre and other male religious symbols.
There is no doubt that Conversano is dotted by many other sights of interest like grotte (caves), museums, palazzo (palaces) and so on and so forth. But I am going to tell you more about them once I return to the town. 🙂