A view of Paris from a bit above? You can try another solution than the Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse Tower, Montmartre, Belleville… You can also get up in the sky by an air balloon (supposed to be the biggest in the world), to be found in the André Citroën Park. It brings you up some 150 m (500 ft). 

The sky was clearly blue the other day, when I tried it together with the grand-kids!    


Apulian holidays (5 - end)

A bit further away from where we stayed, Matera used to be part of the Apulian region, but is now part of the Bassilicata region. Its historical centre “Sassi” (meaning stones in Italian, a UNESCO World Heritage site) is known as “the subterranean city”. Habitations have been dug into the rock. You can find them on one slope of a ravine with a river (“La Gravina”).

Some churches and chapels are integrated into the rock, but this is not the case with the cathedral.  
 The opposite slope is full of grottos, caves…

… and from there you have a full view of the “Sassi”.

Because of the scenery the place offers, a number of movies have been shot here - by Pasolini, Rosselini, the Taviani brothers, Ferrara … and Mel Gibson.

To finish my reports from the sun-bathed region, here are some examples of flowers (and snails)…

Despite all the remarkable sites, what we especially may remember from our visit in this region of Italy will probably be the blue sky and the crystal clear waters.  


Apulian holidays (4)

One of the most popular sites to visit in the Apulia region is the little town of Ostuni, and we lived quite close to it. Ostuni is referred to as “the White Town” (La Città Bianca) and this refers to the older parts of the town, on top of a hill, overlooking the sea - only a few miles away.

Its history is of course quite long. It was rebuilt by the Greeks - the name of the town comes from the Greek “Astu neon” = the new town. Later ruled by Romans, Normans, Milan…

The cathedral (actually a co-cathedral with Brindisi and a minor basilica - Basilica concattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) has 13th century origins, but was later rebuilt in a slightly more Gothic style and then also got its rose window. As in so many churches in the region, there is a beautifully painted ceiling.  

The old city is full of charming streets, places, buildings, bars, restaurants – and people…

… including late at night.


Apulian holidays (3)

A third report from our Apulian family holidays; first some words and pictures from Lecce, a historic city, with some still visible remains from Roman times…

… but especially rich in baroque architecture.

The cathedral has origins from the 12th century, but was completely restored during the 17th century.

We also visited the Castellana Caves – Grotte di Castellana (see top picture) during a more than two hour walk – 3,3 km (2 miles).  The main enormous entrance cave, La Grave, has a hole on the top and the view from there (first picture below on the left) is impressive. The cave in its total length was discovered as late as 1938. It’s fascinating to admire all the stalactites, stalagmites… in all colours – all in a nice cool temperature. 


Apulian holidays (2)

Although the house we rented offered a very nice swimming pool, there is always a wish to find the sea. The Adriatic coast line, down in the south, offers a beautiful landscape with a mixture of cliffs and beaches… and crystal clear water. Here are some examples of what we experienced.

Polignano a Mare, situated on cliffs has, like many other cities here, a long history – Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian… and offers a lot of charm. 

The Santa Maria Assunta church has a beautiful interior behind an austere facade.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that Polignano is directly linked to the song “Volare” (through its creator and performer Domenico Modugno)… but the main attraction, at least during the warmer season, is obviously the cliff-surrounded beach, which sometimes proposes diving competitions. (We made our way through the crowd by walking.)    

Going southwards, you find a number of sometimes less populated beaches.

Another spectacular cliff diving place is Torre dell’Orso (see also top picture)...

… close to other beaches at Otranto.

Reaching the extreme southern coastline you can find miles of sand beaches, referred to as the Apulian “Maldives”. 


Apulian holidays (1)

When I have been travelling I take the liberty to “forget” about Paris for a while and make some "reporting" about the new places I have visited. For a couple of years, together with kids and grand-kids, we rent a place somewhere to spend a few summer weeks together. This year we opted for an Italian region where we had not yet been – La Puglia (Apulia), more or less the heel of the Italian boot.

The first pictures are from the city of Bari – where I landed - and spent only a few hours.

In the oldest part of the town, you find the Basilica di San Nicola, built during the 11th and 12th centuries with some Byzantine influence. As many other churches in the region, there is a fantastic ceiling, added during the 17th century in baroque style.  

The Bari Cathedral dates from the 12th and 13th centuries. The underground crypt has later been added in baroque style.

A little glimpse of the house we had rented, close to the little city of Carovigno. Surrounded by olive and almond trees – as large parts of the region - the building has been added to some old “trulli”. (One “trullo” – my sleeping room - can be seen on one of the pictures. There is another one behind a tree).

A “trullo” is a traditional dry stone hut with a conical roof, typical for the region. The highest concentration of “trulli” is to be found in the little town of Alberobello – see also top picture. There are totally some 1500 of them, the majority (including a church) can be found on one side of the main street, named “Monti”. Most of them are now shops.

On the other side of the street, named “Aia Piccola”, much less touristic, the “trulli” are still living quarters.

I will be back with more information about the other red spots on the map below.