Barletta: yes or no? We were not sure to insert this town into our itinerary, if it was worth it or not. There are a lot of towns where you play safe from the beginning, but I’ve never heard so much about Barletta, so it wasn’t easy to choose. I sent thousand mails to the guides in Puglia who told me not to skip this town. After thinking about it a little while, we were sure that it could be interesting to visit a place less known to the tourism, so yes, we dedicated half day to the town of Barletta. I don’t regret it, and do you know why?
- it’s not too touristic and conserves a very good historical heritage.
- here in Barletta we’ve seen the most beautiful Swabian castle of our tour: really majestic, even only for this castle you should come here.
Our itinerary on foot in brief:
✔Basilica Santo Sepolcro with the statue of Colosso
✔Santa Maria Maggiore Cathedral and Swabian castle
✔Marra Palace, inside is the De Nittis’ picture gallery
✔Cantina della sfida (the cellar of the challenge)
As we didn’t know the town well, we’ve preferred to leave the car in the surroundings of the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, about 1 km on foot from the Colosso and about 1,5 km always on foot from Santa Maria Maggiore Cathedral and the Swabian castle.
The first attraction we’ve met was the church “Basilica del Santo Sepolcro”, one of the main churches of Barletta, so called because it recalls the link with the Holy Land and the tomb of Jesus Christ. It was built on the ancient remains of a medieval church and was a step of the Via Francigena walked by the pilgrims going towards the Holy Land. On the left side of the church there’s the Colosso, an imposing 5 metres high bronze statue. It’s said it comes from Costantinople and portrays the emperor Valentiniano, as his clothes of a high-ranking military leader show.
Going on we arrived to the heart of the town: Santa Maria Maggiore Cathedral and the Swabian castle right in front of the church. This last one is surrounded by the houses of the ancient village and has the peculiarity that its front part is in Romantic style from Puglia, while its back is in gothic style: this way it seems to be two different churches.
In front of the Church, as already said, the Swabian castle has enchanted me for its big dimensions and for the big green area all around! We haven’t visited it inside, but we’ve walked along its perimeter slowly, enjoying every corner and every view, surrounded by a pleasant morning fresh air. Then we’ve stopped to admire this beauty around us for another little while, and in the end we’ve had our packet lunch in the near gardens at the shelter of the big trees!
Full: 6 Euro
Reduced (< 18 years old): 3 Euro. Closed on Monday.
The next stop has been Palazzo della Marra in the historical centre: the open gallery is a masterpiece of the Baroque, such as the pictures in the hall and the vault of the stairs; this is the only example of Baroque of the town of Barletta. It was the residence of important aristocratic families until the last one, Marra family, from which derives the name of the palace.
At the second floor is the De Nittis Art Gallery that gathers in chronological order the works of the artist, an impressionist painter born in Barletta, who lived between London and Paris and who was one of the leading lights of the art scene in ‘800.
Full: 4 Euro
Reduced: 2 Euro
Free: the first Sunday of every month
- If you want you van buy a combined ticket for the Art gallery, the castle and the cellar of challenge that is but still free:
Full: 8 Euro
Reduced: 4 Euro
In the end Cellar of challenge: this place is a reconstruction of the cellar where took place the famous offence of the French towards the Italian who reacted; the confrontation ended with the Italian victory. Today this is one of the most visited museums of Barletta: inside there’s a peculiar medieval atmosphere and there’s an exhibition of ancient objects and historic dresses worn still today during the traditional costume parade that recalls the challenge age. A fascinating dive into the history!
Curci Theatre is the last building we’ve seen on the way to return to the car, but most of all we liked the chaotic and steep streets with huddled houses and aflutter hanging clothes that create the typical warm atmosphere of the South.
We’ve skipped it but if you want, at about 15 km by car or also by train, you can visit the archaeological park “Parco Archeologico di Canne della Battaglia”, where took place the battle between the Roman army and the Carthaginian one during the second punic war with the victory of Annibal, the leader of Carthage, and the defeat of the Romans. The archaeological area permits to locate the remains of the Roman centre, where in the medieval age was built a fortified citadel. At the entrance you’ll find the history of this area through artifacts found during excavations.
For us it was too late and in the evening we should have reached Alberobello, so we decided to go directly to the beautiful castle Castel del Monte with an octagon shape, too peculiar to skip. Moreover someone told us that during the sunset time it becomes really unmissable. So it was: the atmosphere was magic and the castle quite isolated! We needed to walk along a steep street for some minutes to see it: I know there’s also a bus that takes you to the top, but when we arrived they were making a film so non buses and no visits! We were informed by that, but we wanted to see it anyway, at least from outside: it’s worth it!
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In the last years I follow what Dalai Lama says:” At least once a year go to a place you’ve never been before”.
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