On the hills of the Murge , about 30 km south of Bari, on the highest hill in the surrounding area, stands the city of Conversano. The ancient village contains all its wonders and a relaxing walk will easily lead you to discover them.
Conversano has very ancient origins. Called Norba , which means fortified city , it was endowed, since its foundation, with mighty walls which over the centuries have come down to us. A careful observer will still be able to distinguish some parts of the ancient Megalithic Wall .
It was a powerful agricultural center in the Norman period, thanks to Goffredo d’Altavilla. At that time its name changed to Casale Cupersanum but it was only later, with the domination of the Acquaviva d'Aragona , that the various noble palaces, churches and monasteries that adorn its splendid historic center were built.
Immersing yourself in the narrow streets, it will be inevitable not to find yourself in the splendid Piazza della Conciliazione which is, in its own right, the fulcrum of the life of the city. From this elegant living room you can admire some of the most beautiful architectural works including the Norman Castle .
From the top of the hill, around the year 1000, it was Goffredo himself who wanted to erect it so that it dominated the whole territory, until he could see the sea. A fortress that time has transformed into an elegant residence which today houses the Municipal Art Gallery where you can admire the paintings of the Neapolitan painter Paolo D. Finoglia, considered one of the great masters of the Neapolitan seventeenth century.
Let yourself be amazed by the marvelous Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta , an enchanting expression of the Apulian Romanesque style. Built between the 11th and 12th centuries, it was remodeled several times. In 1911 it suffered a serious fire from which some works were saved, such as a wooden crucifix from the 15th century and the icon of the Maria Santissima della Fonte , the protector of the city. The Convent of San Benedetto di Norcia is instead a tangible example of Benedictine art.
The term Monstrum Apuliae was specially created to indicate it and refer to the amazement that came from the granting by Pope Clement IV of extraordinary power to the abbesses who lived here. Although they had been under the direct protection of the pope for some time, Clement IV conferred them with the episcopal powers of jurisdiction over the clergy of Castellana and at the same time allowed them to wear the Mitra and hold the Pastoral in the manner of the bishops. A permit that was very rare in the Christian world. Today it houses the civic museum which houses the finds of ancient Norba.
Entering the Church of San Cosma e Damiano you will be immersed in the same era in which the counts Isabella Filomarino and Giangirolamo II Acquaviva d’Aragona commissioned it. Inside, all to be discovered, you can continue to taste the paintings by Paolo Domenico Finoglia who had one of his workshops in Conversano. Worthy of note is the canvas of The Miracle of San Domenico , one of the greatest expressions of Neapolitan naturalism, a work perfectly at the turn of Mannerism and Caravaggism.
Outside the village of Conversano you can admire its countryside. A hilly area crossed by sheep tracks, olive groves, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. You cannot miss a visit to the Regional Nature Reserve of the Conversano and Gravina di Monsignore lakes. Admiring the flora and fauna around the lakes which, in the past, were the main source of water supply for the local population, could be a wonderful way to spend a beautiful day immersed in nature.
We are in the center of enchanting Puglia which offers countless destinations for your daily excursions. The sea is just a stone's throw away, as are our regional capital Bari and the other wonderful places in the surroundings of Conversano, easily reachable in a few minutes by car. Dimora Tolosa offers you itineraries, far from wanting to be exhaustive because ours is a land to be discovered in total freedom!
Bari , the east and san nicola
40 km - about 40 minutes by car
Our regional capital certainly deserves to be mentioned among the tours proposed by Dimora Tolosa . Just 40 minutes from your relaxing home, it offers an incredible variety of proposals to the visitor, which is why it attracts thousands of tourists a year, in all seasons.
Bari has always been a crossroads of peoples that since its foundation in 1550 BC. they were his luck and often his misfortune. There have been several invasions that have left indelible marks on their passage, both in the more recent Murattian center and in the ancient village of Bari Vecchia . Here, monuments such as the Cathedral of San Sabino, the imposing Swabian Castle , stand out among the countless arches, alleys, courtyards, squares and squares such as Piazza Mercantile and Piazza del Ferrarese .
The city has always had a special bond with the east. In the past it became one of the most important ports of the Empire of Constantinople and even the seat of the imperial fleet, which earned it the nickname Gateway to the East . It is said that, right from the east, in particular from the city of Myra, in Turkey, 62 sailors from Bari stole the relics of St. Nicholas , stealing them from the Venetians. Three ships transported to Bari, in 1087 AD, a part of his bones which since then have been preserved in the majestic Basilica of S. Nicola which was built on purpose. In Romanesque style, with a sober and imposing appearance, it is one of the most successful examples of Norman architecture which has certainly contributed to making the bond and devotion that the people of Bari have with the Saint even closer.
St. Nicholas has a reputation that goes beyond the borders of Southern Europe both for the episode of the translation of the remains , and for the fact that many of his miracles had children as subjects. Probably for this reason, his figure has been revered for centuries in many countries of Northern Europe, where the iconography depicts him with red clothes and a white beard.
There are many places where, on the eve of his day, on December 6th, it is customary to exchange gifts or wait for him to bring them to the children. This has definitively dissolved the doubts about the fact that the writer Clement C. Moore in America in 1822 was inspired by him to create the mythical Santa Claus.
We suggest a walk on the Ancient Walls to admire the perspectives of this promontory on the sea and arriving at the Fortino di Sant'Antonio you will be offered a remarkable glimpse of the Lungomare Nazario Sauro , the longest in Italy, which fades in perspective towards the city beaches of Pane e Pomodoro and Torre Quetta.
In the Murattian center , on the other hand, it is worth getting lost among the myriad of shops of all kinds, among which those of clothing stand out. Wide and precisely squared streets will lead you to the majestic Petruzzelli Theater , undoubtedly the most important in the city. Behind it is the Metropolitan Art Gallery Giaquinto which provides extensive documentation of Apulian art from the 11th to the 20th century and also exhibits works by the likes of De Chirico, Carrà and De Pisis.
The laid tables of restaurants and trattorias will be ready to delight you with the typical recipes of Bari in which seafood is the host. Tielle of rice, potatoes and mussels , ciambotti and raw seafood will ambush the famous orecchiette with turnip greens and the army of Apulian street food made of panzerotti , calzoni and focaccia from Bari , popizze and sgagliozze that you can taste side by side with the warm people of Bari.
Alberobello and the magical world of the Trulli
25 km - about 30 minutes by car
The town is famous all over the world for its characteristic housing units: the trulli. On its hills there is the only urban agglomeration consisting of this characteristic housing type, usually typically rural, built in stone without the use of mortar. The symbolism of its pinnacles, the legends and fairy tales connected to them will lead you to an ancient and magical world between esotericism and religion, between history and tradition.
Its fabulous Rione Monti , the most characteristic of the city, has become a Unesco World Heritage because of its architectural and historical uniqueness. More than a thousand cones rise in this district becoming, together with the fifteen streets that intersect it, a crossroads for the thousands of tourists who visit it every year, in every season. Here are the commercial activities that often offer their customers the opportunity to visit the trullo in which they operate from inside.
Each trullo has a fascinating history. The local inhabitants will be happy to tell you about it and to let you dive into a magical past that will let you understand the extraordinary strength of a centuries-old and indissoluble bond with the earth.
The Trullo Sovrano, an iconic monument of the city of Alberobello, represents the maximum expression of the construction skills of the master trullari, both for its imposing size and for the fact that it is two floors, the only one existing in the city. Over time the trullo has taken on various functions: home, apothecary, chapel for the relics of Saints Cosmo and Damiano. Today it is used as a museum for exhibitions. The Trulli Siamesi, as you can easily guess from the name, have been inseparably linked since their origin. The cones are in fact joined to each other in a continuous way in the lower part, a very rare feature to find. The legend of the two brothers will brighten the minutes spent visiting them.
In the Aia Piccola district there are the Courts , such as the Corte di Giangiacomo and Pozzo Contino, or courtyards bordered by walls on which the houses overlooked. Here it is not possible to open commercial activities, which is why it remains the most uncontaminated place in the city, an urban oasis of true relaxation where the trulli are left in their original state, giving suggestive views to lovers of photography.
Located in various parts of the town there are also several churches such as the Basilica dei Santi Medici Cosma e Damiano , the Church of Santa Lucia, the Church of Carmine and the Church of Sant'Antonio with its wonderful trullo architecture.
At the table the variety of horticultural and rural vegetables, meats, fish and cheeses will accompany you in a gastronomic dance among traditional dishes. An obligatory stop that Dimora Tolosa offers you to get to know the area and our history.
Locorotondo pearl of Puglia
40 km - about 45 minutes by car
Certainly among the pearls of the Valle d'Itria territory, Locorotondo cannot fail to be included among the stages of an unforgettable tour.
The name of the town depends on the conformation of its historic center built at the top of a hill 412 meters above sea level. Place Round precisely, given the circular shape of its splendid village built around the year one thousand around its Mother Church.
The small white houses shine like a precious stone at the slightest ray of sunlight, illuminating its narrow alleys between buildings and the typical residential houses that characterize it: le cummerse . Equipped with several floors connected by steep internal stairways, surmounted by steep roofs and capable of conveying rainwater with precision towards the side gutters, it seems that the cummerse were built even before the advent of the typical construction of the area: the trullo.
In its medieval village you cannot fail to notice how much care is dedicated to cleanliness and order by its inhabitants. Decorating the splendid balconies with plant and floral compositions seems to be an indispensable pastime for the residents who, during the Christmas period , have fun embellishing the streets and entrances of the houses with elegant decorations.
Get lost in the alleys, visiting the Mother Church, the Church of the Madonna della Greca, the Church of the Holy Spirit, waiting to admire a wonderful sunset from its seafront, a belvedere charming that overlooks, like an elegant balcony, the enchanting valley adorned with olive groves, vineyards, dry stone walls, trulli and farms, not could only be the activity suggested by us at Dimora Tolosa that we care about your senses.
Do not fail to connect to the territory, even with a sense of taste, enjoying the inevitable gastronomic specialties of the place but above all the white wines that have been produced here since time immemorial and that have achieved, thanks to the hard work of our vignerons, an enviable quality and finesse, giving always different emotions with their intoxicating bouquets in which to recognize the aromatic essences of our land.
The gastronomy of Noci
25 km - about 30 minutes by car
At Dimora Tolosa we understand taste. For this reason, we offer you a tour that will delight your palate, in the town of Noci, which in 2006 was awarded the title of City of Food and Wine.
In this sense, its long-known culture has had the opportunity to be enhanced by memorable events such as Bacco nelle Gnostre which for years has attracted visitors attentive to the dissemination of a wonderful art which, with a few bites, it transfers the essence of a place and its people. Everything happens among the gnostre, or courtyards open onto the streets of the historic center, which, together with the ancient funnels, invite you to take part in delightful banquets, declining the typical Apulian concept of hospitality in architecture.
Local women and chefs agree in proposing traditional recipes in a kaleidoscope of respectful connections, combinations and reinterpretations whose goal is your satisfaction but also the silent handing down of an ancient wisdom .
Vegetables, dairy products, legumes and local meats and fresh pasta, will be transformed, before your eyes, into a multitude of unforgettable delicacies which, at any time of the year, will celebrate the territory and your palates in front of a glass of wine.
The sea of Monopoli
20 km - about 20 minutes by car
On the way that separates Dimora Tolosa from Monopoli you will be able to stop and appreciate, walking through the dirt roads of the Monopoli countryside, places of extraordinary beauty in which to breathe Puglia.
Among the various districts you can discover old trulli, rural churches and farms often flanked by countless underground oil mills that resist the passage of time together with the ubiquitous centuries-old olive trees. Carob trees and almond trees will follow you with their eyes even during a possible cycle-walk, making the journey exciting until you reach the city.
Expert guides will be able to make you discover, with their tales full of details, a historic center of the high medieval period surrounded by mighty walls, adorned with towers, such as Torre Cintola and Torre San Giorgio, Bastioni and Castles, like that of Charles V, rather than churches like the Cathedral of the Madonna della Madia which will deserve your attention. The Diocesan Museum could conclude this cultural process before crossing the small arch that leads to the Porto Vecchio.
You will be able to observe the typical boats still used by local fishermen for small fishing near the coast, the goiters, and begin a romantic walk up to the Faro. The alternative is to contemplate the beauty of the basin on which the Palazzo Martinelli stands out, which, built on the surrounding walls, with its wonderful loggia, brings thoughts back to Venetian and oriental atmospheres.
A place of enchanting beauty that will make you feel part of that age-old embrace that Monopoli has with its sea. The sea cannot be missing in your excursions and relaxing days, you can choose from countless sandy coves set, like gems, from North to South in the rocky but low and jagged coast which reaches the desirable beaches in Capitolo.
In the evening you can wander through the streets of the center doing shopping or linger in one of the many restaurants or pubs before enjoying a well-deserved rest.
Polignano, a dip in the blue sea
10 km - about 10 minutes by car
The village of Polignano a Mare stands on a limestone spur overlooking the sea, about 10 minutes from Dimora Tolosa. The highest stretch of Adriatic coast in the area is crossed by numerous lame, coves carved into the rock created by ancient streams which today, dried up, offer the opportunity to enjoy exceptional views that nature has created in hundreds of years.
The most famous, right next to the village set in the rock, is Lama Monachile which with its pebble beach and caves carved into the rock was the favorite residence of the Monk Seal, from which it takes its name. Dominated by the Roman bridge, which is part of the route of the ancient Via Traiana , today the beach is a destination for swimmers and visitors, curious to stop and admire its wonders.
Numerous sea caves, such as Grotta Rondinelle, and coves such as Cala Paura and Cala Portalga, from which it is possible to admire the famous Scoglio dell'Eremita, still offer ideas for those who explore in detail this stretch of sea with crystal clear waters.
This small town had as its main activities small-scale fishing and the still famous vegetable crops of potatoes, tomatoes and the famous carrots, which have rightly become a Presidio Slow Food. Today it is chosen by international directors to host their movie sets and enhance their incredible beauty.
So what to do in a city that has such a close bond with the sea if you don't take part in one of the boat tours organized from June to September to discover the coast or attend the kayak mini-courses or surf .
Those who prefer cultural itineraries, even far from the summer season, can get information and participate in the exhibitions and events organized in the Palazzo Pino Pascali or visit the homonymous Museum dedicated to this extraordinary artist, Pino Pascali precisely, from many considered the most famous international artist of the entire twentieth century.
You cannot miss the Red Bull Cliff Diving, a competition of extreme diving and the review of The book, a possible literary cultural event that attracts relevant journalists, writers and actors.
Only after having tasted the fish-based recipes, proposed by the numerous restaurants in the area, you cannot fail to say goodbye to this enchanting city, visiting the historic center and walking along its winding streets that lead to loggias and terraces where the gaze plunges into a Blue painted blue , as sang Domenico Modugno who was born here.
Puglia from inside
the caves of Castellana
10 km - about 15 minutes by car
Castellana Grotte will offer you the opportunity to enter the depths of the earth of our region and see how the water has shaped the rock revealing, like a sculptor, its hidden forms that will not fail to bewitch you and transport you to a fantastic world. At 330 meters above sea level, with their length of more than 3 km, 120 meters deep and their age of approximately 100 million years, the Castellana caves, represent one of the most spectacular examples of the karst phenomenon in all of Europe, becoming the destination of millions of tourists every year who visit its depths to discover stalactites, stalagmites, cayon , fossils and the myriads of limestone formations that adorn it. Refreshment from the summer heat is ensured by a temperature that is around 16°C.
In all seasons it is also possible to participate in memorable events held within the walls of the cave itself or visit the Museum and the Astronomical Observatory, to go out, as the great poet writes, to see the stars again.
The village of Castellana with its historic center and its churches is certainly worth a visit. If you come in winter, on 11 January you could participate in an event with an ancient flavor, the lighting of the fanòve. The characteristic bonfires that are burned every year in honor of the Madonna della Vetrana, who, according to the stories, put an end to a terrible plague. The statue of the Madonna is carried in procession accompanied by popular chants, also sung around the bonfires by the locals until late at night.
Putignano and the Farinella Carnival
15 km - about 15 minutes by car
Putignano is the town that is home to the oldest carnival in Europe. Its historic center has an easily recognizable elliptical shape that corresponds exactly to that line that was once traced by the surrounding walls and which is now crossed by the extramural road that leads to the three entrance doors. Porta Grande, Porta Barsento, Porta Nuova welcome us in this delightful town of ancient origins which had considerable importance during the Middle Ages.
We can still see traces of this era and subsequent ones in the coats of arms, heralds and details made by the ancient stonemasons among Stately Palaces, their portals and churches. The Church of San Pietro Apostolo, Church of Santa Maria la Greca Church of the Monastery of S. Chiara immediately stand out among the others.
Putignano strengthened by the skill and industriousness of its inhabitants, it first developed as an artisanal and agricultural pole to become, today, an important pole for the production of wedding and ceremony dresses.
Even today, however, it is precisely their skill, passion and dedication that lead many artisans to pass on the secrets of the art of papier-mâché. A commitment that lasts a whole year, what is needed for the construction of huge floats that ends with the parade along the extra-mural streets for the celebration of the longest Carnival in Italy and the oldest in Europe . Should this happen to you in these days, it could happen that you are light-hearted by an ironic jester, a little peasant, certainly drunkard. If he had a two-pointed hat, three bells around his neck and a bag tied to his waist, then it would certainly be Farinella, the typical mask of the country.
Born recently, in 1954, from the idea of Mimmo Castellana, for the need to celebrate a national recognition of the importance of the Putignano Carnival, it embodies a simple character, a playful peasant who ties at the waist, as in the tradition of the farmers of the past, a volz , a bag that used to contain a mix of barley flour and chickpeas, a very poor but versatile food a Farnudde in fact, which in lean times was a fundamental part of the diet daily of the local population.
The White City of Ostuni
60 km - about 50 minutes by car
Ostuni is an iconic city that immediately communicates to the viewer that it is in Puglia. The colors of the surrounding countryside, scattered with olive trees, orchards and Mediterranean scrub, those colors of the sky and the sea, a few steps away, are reflected in the white of the lime with which the houses in the center are traditionally painted. In an ups and downs of alleys, streets, stairways and small squares perched on the hill and sheltered from the sun, you will explore the Earth. This is how the inhabitants of Ostuni call their ancient village.
The Aragonese walls and towers protect it in an ellipsoidal embrace cut in two by the road leading to the Cathedral. Wonderful example of Romanesque, Lombard Gothic and Venetian art stands to confine the Earth from the sky. The rose window which looks straight at the Arco degli incalzi or Arco Stoppa is worth a look. Commissioned by Frederick II of Swabia, the first wooden construction was transformed in 1700 into its current version in stone of this loggia of clear Venetian inspiration that connects the Palazzo della Curia to that of the Seminary, next to the Episcopio.
Along the same via Cattedrale, but further down, there is the Church of San Vito Martire which stands out in the sky of Ostuni, with its Rococo forms. It is impossible to mention all the beauties of this splendid town, but we invite you to walk through the shady and cool alleys and courtyards that have belonged to it for centuries, starting from the reconstruction after its destruction by Hannibal.
Matera , stone city
70 km - about 1 hour and 10 minutes by car
The proximity of Matera with the Apulian territory has allowed in recent years the Lucanian capital to become a fixed stop for those who, from the heat of the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, decide to take a walk in the shadow of stones from Matera, on the Murge plateau.
The old town rises along the rocky and very inclined walls of the ravine, transforming Matera into a suggestive and enchanting scenery at any time of the day, often worthy of film shooting. The stone is the protagonist of a film that lasts centuries, whose director was the self-sufficiency that led the population to exploit this resource that is found here in abundance. Today, after long restorations, the famous Sassi di Matera represent the main source of national and international city tourism.
Who will you choose from? Sasso Barisano or Sasso Caveoso. Each of them has unique characteristics that testify how the passage of time has changed the proportions and style of the housing modules, while maintaining its millennial trait d’union in stone.
You cannot miss the Cathedral of the Madonna della Bruna which in the first days of July is honored with a folkloristic patronal feast, the Church of San Pietro Caveoso, the Church of San Francesco d'Assisi, the House - cave of Vico Solitario, the Casa Noha, the Palombaro Lungo, the hypogea are a must on this pleasant walk.
The Parco della Murgia Materana instead offers you the possibility to go to the discovery of ancient rock churches, medieval frescoes passing through the Tibetan bridge. Mediterranean scrub and limestone rock will color your path which at sunset will give you a complete palette, shades of red and blue will be reflected on the vegetation illuminating the natural canyons created by the millennial flow of streams: the ravines.
The beauties of the Matera area will be even more visible, if in spring you feel like taking a fascinating and romantic panoramic balloon ride. There will also be typical products . Waffles, broad beans and chicory, crapiata from Matera and cruschi peppers, served alongside slices of Matera bread, will be welcome companions on your tables.