Puglia region

Puglia is the 'heel of Italy', an enchanting Region that has so much to offer its visitors. It will welcome you with its bright sun, crystal clear sea, spectacular coastline and the beauty of the landscape. Meet the hospitable people, enjoy the delicious food, visit the dramatic grottoes, absorb all the history. Many places are worth a visit in the area but above all, the Murgia district with its world renowned 'trulli', is a MUST. Trulli are really architectonical gems: circular, conical-roofed white-washed houses built of stone. Their roofs, topped with pinnacles, are tiled with concentric rows of gray slate. The greatest concentration of Trulli is in and around Alberobello. For this reason it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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The entire region of Puglia, land of Federico II (Frederick II), is covered with fortifications and castles, prevalently built to defend the territory. Throughout the area the Federican culture - open, tolerant, spiritual and jovial - is still felt. It is an unconfusable spirit which can be felt, above all, in castles, dwellings, fortresses and cathedrals built or altered by Federico for many purposes – from meditation to hunting, from government meetings to scientific discussions, to religious rituals. The emperor always preferred to construct or change buildings (preferably simple or military) with a greater artistic consideration than his Norman predecessors had; such castles as Gioia del Colle, Brindisi, Oria, Lucera and also Castel del Monte were born in this period.
Castel del Monte is the most famous out of a number of Federican castles in the area, both for its recurrent use of the number eight (the yard’s external perimeter and the shape and number of towers) which is full of symbolic meaning and for dubious intended purpose. Despite being commonly called “castle”, the exact function of Castel del Monte remains unclear.


In reality it probably wasn’t a fortress; from an architectural point of view it lacks some typically military elements and it is positioned rather unstrategically. Some have hypothesized that it was a hunting lodge; a sport much loved by the sovereign. Whatever it was, it can be seen to be an architecturally magnificent work of art – a refined combination of mathematics and astronomy. The few slight asymmetries in the remaining decorations and the internal doors, (when not due to alterations), have suggested to some scholars that the castle and its rooms, even though geometrically perfect, were planned with the intention of creating a sort of obligatory ‘path’, perhaps tied to astronomical criteria. In order to explain the complete lack of corridors, it has also been hypothesized that on the first floor, there was a landing made in wood on the side of the internal courtyard which would have given access to every single room. In 1996 due to its absolute uniqueness, UNESCO gave the castle 'World Heritage' status.

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