There Val d’Itria it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Italy and to prove it is the amount of tourists who flock to this region every year. Located between the provinces of Bari, Brindisi and TarantoThis famous Apulian territory coincides with the southern part of the Murge plateau and includes i.a. the cities of Alberobello, Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca.
Among the expanses of olive trees, farms and trulli, the beauties that you can fill your eyes with in these things are certainly not lacking. And if you think about the good at the table, the list goes on and on.
We have therefore written a little guide of things not to be missed when visiting Val d’Itria.
What to see in Val d’Itria: places not to be missed
Alberobello and the trulli
The visit of Val d’Itria can only start from Alberobellothe most iconic of the cities in this region, the capital of the trulli, which since 1996 has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
THAT trulli they are characteristic cone-shaped houses made of traditional limestone from central-southern Puglia. Despite their structure is reminiscent of that of the Mycenaean tombs a thòlos, of which they are an improvement, the trullis are not very old houses: the oldest ones that still exist can be dated to the end of the seventeenth century. They were generally built by peasants and shepherds with the stones collected on the site and were used as a temporary shelter or as a deposit for agricultural implements.
They are characterized by an approximately circular plant with very thick dry stone walls (from 50 cm to 2 m thick), which combined with the almost complete absence of openings except the front door, guarantee good heat retention in winter and a low temperature in summer. The second characteristic element of this architecture is the conical roof, which consists of a concentric series of self-supporting horizontal slabs.
In Alberobello there are about 1400 trulli and it is one of the few exceptions where the trulli are also found in the town. Most are found in Monti district, how many of these are home to stores. However, our advice is to prefer the quieter and less touristy ones Rione Aia Piccolawhere part of the local population still lives, the atmosphere looks like in previous centuries and from where you have a picturesque view of Rione Monti.
The cummerse of Locorotondo
We leave Alberobello and head for Martina Franca. Halfway through, however, a stop is a must Locorotondo, considered among the most beautiful villages in Italy. Its name derives from the shape of the historic center, where the houses are arranged in concentric rings. Here, too, the houses immediately attract attention. It’s no longer the trulli, but it cummerseclean white houses with a sharp shape and a sloping roof.
A quick walk through the narrow streets of the village and off to Martina Franca.
Martina Franca, a baroque show
Martina Franca is a city of the fourteenth century, founded by the prince of Taranto Philip I of Anjou. Its name derives from the fact that the primitive settlement was born on the mountain known as San Martino, while the adjective Franca was added later when it was exempt from customs duties.
Martina Franca is an open-air show by baroque art, a style prevalent in the noble palaces and churches of the center. Not to be missed are the Doge’s Palace, the Basilica of San Martino, the Chiesa del Carmine and the Church of Sant’Antonio.
Martina Franca is Capocollo’s homeland, excellent salami. The tasting is a must.
Grottaglie, ceramics city
Another recommended stop on the trip in Val d’Itria is Grottaglie, a hilly town in the province of Taranto, known worldwide for its pottery. As you walk through the city, on your way up to the fourteenth-century Episcopio Castle, you can not fail to notice the over fifty pottery shops dug into the cave, which follow one after the other.
At the Grottaglie Ceramics Museum you can admire around 400 artifacts dating back to the eighth century BC. to today. Two main styles can be identified: Caposanara pottery, which includes the popular production of all kitchen utensils (plates, glasses, jugs, terrines) and Faenzara pottery, which includes a variety of precious objects intended for the more aristocratic classes.
In the pottery district, Grottaglie hides another little gem: the Dressed housea house that hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to the grottagliese clay culture with a suggestive medieval rock church that was recently discovered, an exceptional artistic testimony dating back to the thirteenth century.
What to eat in Val d’Itria
Eating poorly in Puglia is virtually impossible: from taralli to cheeses, from fried meat to oil, from fish to vegetables to wine, typical Apulian products are so many. But let’s see what typical products from the Itria Valley which one cannot help but taste when passing by here.
Maybe you did not know, but there by Taranto is famous for the cultivation of mussels. Already in Magna Graecia and Roman times, some sources tell of the wealth and goodness of the mussels in the city with the two gardens. What makes them special is peculiarities of the waters in which they grew upthose of Mar Piccolo, characterized by the presence of freshwater underwater sources called “citri”, Which favors the development of plankton. The combination of brackish water and fresh water gives the mussels a characteristic taste.
Among the most traditional dishes there are pepper mussels, tubetti with beans and mussels and in Bari the famous rice, potatoes and mussels.
Capocollo by Martina Franca
Known and appreciated since the eighteenth century throughout the Kingdom of Naples, the Capocollo by Martina Franca it is the most representative salami in the area. It is obtained by working the part between the neck and ribs of the pig, as the name suggests. Season the meat with salt and herbs for 10 days, marinate in mulled wine for approx. 12 hours, filled manually, smoked lightly and left to mature for 150 days in dry and ventilated places.
We thus obtain one salami with an intense aroma and a delicate taste with sweet notes of mulled wine and touches of wood and smoke.
That orecchiettealso called here chiancarelleI am one of the most famous Apulian pasta forms. Based on flour, water and salt, they are prepared by pulling the dough on the cake board, with a skilful movement of the thumb, giving it the typical concave shape, smooth inside and rough on the outside.
They must be tasted with the classic turnip dressingbut also with a spice al tomato and cacioricotta or any other sauce.
The bowler hats
Typical dish in Val d’Itria, but widespread throughout Puglia, is bowler hats. No, explosives have nothing to do with it. It’s about is filled pork rolls which, when bitten, “explode” in the mouth. The most classic ones are stuffed with ham and cheese, but there are many variations: stuffed with capocollo, breaded bomblets, wrapped in bacon, with bacon and stracchino and so on. The rolls are then prepared on the grill and served with various accessories.
Mozzarella, burrata and Caciocavallo
Among the gastronomic excellence we must not miss, we can not fail to mention dairy products from the Itria Valley. From mozzarella to burrata, valley Caciocavallo with ricotta forte, apulian cheeses are valued all over the world, and to pass by without tasting at least one is a mortal sin.
The list of typical Apulian dishes to taste could last indefinitely, but we stop here. We let you discover the rest.