… More on Winter in Italy, Journey to Puglia

Last month, to further celebrate winter in Italy, we left our home in Rome to travel south to Puglia — an easy three-hour drive to our first destination, Ruvo.

Some essays are best said with images, and not with words. So we will say very little.

Except perhaps that Puglia is one of our single favorite regions in all of Italy, and when we are not there, we always wish that we were.

No other region of Italy holds so much interest for the historian and particularly for the architect : its Norman castles, cathedrals, trulli, masserie, dry walls.

No other region offers cuisine that is more succulent. This is principally an inland cuisine, solidly peasant-based, vegetarian-oriented, and where the profuseness of vegetables and high quality hard wheat yield Italy’s best bread and the most varied and interesting utilization of seasonal produce.

And the olives.

We dream of the olives. There are roughly 60 million olive trees in Puglia — approximately one tree for each Italian. This is the world’s oldest arboreal landscape.  About six million of the trees are considered monumentali or monumental trees and just under half a million trees are known as ulivi secolari or trees older than one century.  No one knows how many trees are between one and two thousand years old but there are many of them — certainly thousands and thousands — whose age has been established through carbon dating.


First destination, Ruvo.


Romanesque arch, Ruvo Cathedral


Cathedral tabernacle, Ruvo

Pugliese pasta and taralli

En route to our second destination,  Castel del Monte.

Castel del Monte

Overlooking the sea and the surrounding countryside, Castel del Monte was one of the most important castles built  by Frederick II and was constructed in the 1240s. Frederick II’s hunting lodge — or possibly citadel  — was a unique and innovative masterpiece of architecture and engineering.


Doorway, interior castle courtyard



Cross vaulting

Shadows and light


Our second destination, a favorite country inn near Ostuni.


A warm welcome.

Doorway from courtyard to garden

The garden

Winter in Puglia

Olive varieties, local production. Unlike Tuscan olives, Puglian olives are picked when red (and very ripe)

Drying the lavender and tomatoes

Old olive press, detail

Ancient olive press, less ancient mechanism for turning the wheels

Entrance to main house

Contentment on a cool winter’s night

Bottom of the stairs

Timeless comfort from another era

Left, wedding dress of owner’s mother. Right, festival dress from Ostuni

1949 Fiat, getting ready for a tour of the olive grove

To the ancient olives


May I have this dance?

How old are you?
1,000 to 2,000 years.  What’s 1,000 years to a tree ?

And how old are you?

Centuries old dry wall

Playing in an olive tree that is over 1000 years old.

Playing in an olive tree that is over 1000 years old.

On the road to Trani…


Long abandoned trulli compound

Cabbage patch and ancient olive grove


Our final destination, the coastal city of Trani…

Trani Cathedral


Bell tower


Trani Cathedral at dusk


2 comments to … More on Winter in Italy, Journey to Puglia

  • John B Rooney

    A friend sent this to me. He spent many years in Puglia and now can no longer go. He said when he sent this that maybe it would interest me to go.
    I found Mr. Stark’s pictures beautiful and the olive trees amazing. It’s nice to see that some things are allowed to grow old.

  • Mr. Rooney, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I’m happy that your friend enjoyed the photographs but sorry that he is no longer able to travel to Puglia. Perhaps you will give him vicarious pleasure by soon visiting the region yourself.

    As for the ancient olive trees, they are indeed much appreciated and have been across the ages, as are so many other things in Italy.

    Robert Stark

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