Published on: 9 April 2013 | Last updated: 27 March 2017
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|Matera - Gravina in Puglia||25 kms|
|Gravina in Puglia - Castel del Monte||48 kms|
|Castel del Monte - Trani||33 kms|
Gravina in Puglia is overshadowed by its more famous near-neighbour but well worth a visit. It's on of a number of cities in Italy built on the tufo volcanic rock, with an underground city beneath it. Gravina Sotteranea is an example of the movement volunteer enthusiasts who have devoted their time and energy to exploring and opening up the lost cities beneath them (sometimes in the face of the opposition of the local authorities). This report from the regional television will give you a bit of a flavour of what there is to see:
The other star sight is the cripta di San Vito Vecchio possibly the most complete example of a chiesa rupestra at the Fondazione Santomasi (scroll down to the bottom of the article for the small slideshow. The frescoes have been rescued and the crypt recreated in the museum.
If that isn't enough for you, the cathedral also has a the (claimed) arm of Thomas à Beckett in the cathedral.
The tour continues from Gravina in Puglia across the Alta Murgia national park to Trani on the coast. On the way it visits another UNESCO World Heritage site - the Castel del Monte built for Federico II. The unique design of the castle makes it something of an enigma. it never had a moat, and it doesn’t seem to have been designed to be a defensive structure. The castle is an octagon with 8 octagonal towers and each floor has eight rooms around an octagonal courtyard. The repeated recurrence of the number 8 in the construction and decoration has lead to speculation that it had some sort of religious or other numerological significance.
From Castel del Monte we descend to Trani one of the most elegant cities on this stretch of the Adriatic coast.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs
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Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:
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If you use these links to book accommodation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.
I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirmation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accommodation.
I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the opportunity to let me know if there’s a problem.
Many properties offer free cancellation but it’s a good idea to check the conditions as these vary from property to property.
In Trani I stayed at the B&B Trani a charming and exceptional place (I think it was an old convent). You have breakfast around a communal table in a courtyard garden on the first floor with orange trees. The rooms were a bit small and spartan, but if it were modernised I suspect the owners could charge double what they charge now. It’s run by a charming couple who are now pretty elderly and not in the best of health, and their son was helping out. So I don’t know what it’s future will be. Update: it's still there and the website has been overhauled. Looking at the pictures, the rooms have been upgraded, but it still has the old atmosphere and charm. And the prices are still very reasonable. It’s probably a good idea to reserve.
Articles in this series
- Puglia Grand Tour – Overview
- Puglia Grand Tour – 1
- Puglia Grand Tour – 2
- Puglia Grand Tour – 3
- Puglia Grand Tour – 4
- Puglia Grand Tour – 5
- Puglia Grand Tour – 6
- Puglia Grand Tour – 7
- Puglia Grand Tour – 8
- Puglia Grand Tour – 9 – onward connections
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