What to do in Puglia, five things to do on the Dauni Mountains, from renting a car to have dinner in a bibliocafé, to admire the boundless landscapes.
There is a side of Puglia, where days are still dictated by the sound of the bells, where the sun is warm until late October, where old ladies coming out of their houses greet you with a hint of a smile, even if you are a complete stranger. There is a side of Puglia, where you can still hear children running through the streets of the village, playing with the ball at the square. Where dogs that are nobody’s, are everybody’s; where people believe that having water bottles in front of the doors keeps the cats away. This side of Puglia is not near the sea, but is in the hinterland of the Foggia area, where it is already possible to catch sight of Basilicata and Campania, between the Vulture and the wide and harmonious hills that remind of Turkey. Whilst the streets that go on towards nothing remind of the immaculate villages of the United States, if it wasn’t for the windmill blades, always present along the path.
The Dauni Mountainsare part of that less known, less frequented side of Puglia, which is still precious exactly because it keeps its soul of terra franca untouched, candid, romantic. The Dauni Mountains are not real mountains. In fact, it is a hill area, sprinkled with small villages, some of which still have their centuries-old beauty, some others more modern, but still very evocative.
The Daunia is a wide area, which takes almost a week to visit all well, not rushing it, discovering every inch of nature, history and tradition. Here then are 5 things to do if you want to discover the heart of Puglia, bound to traditions, however always unrest, looking for innovative ideas.
Via Francigena of the South
Travel a section of the Via Francigena of the South. Only a few still know that it exists, but the Francigena of the South goes from Rome to Brindisi, creating a bridge between Orient and Occident. It deviates towards the area of Foggia, to discover some of the most beautiful cities of the Daunia, such as Celle di San Vito, Troia. The signage is not very well organised and it is not so easy to find details along the path. Therefore it is advisable to prepare paper material ahead of time and, if needed, ask people you may meet, which are always very hospitable.
Travel by car
Renting a car and travelling across the provincial and state roads, losing amongst natural boundless landscapes, running towards the windmills, venturing to look for unknown, but amazing villages. For example along the state road that connects Troia to Sant’Agata di Puglia, you can directly look at the Vulture, or along the provincial road connecting San Marco la Catola with Pietramontecorvino, you can pass through thick woods, typical of the scrub.
Have dinner at the Skantinato
Have dinner at the Skantinato 58 in Troia, a bibliocafé opened in recent times by some innovative and day-dreamer young people of the city. They transformed an old abandoned basement into a wine, food and literature reference centre for the area. At the Skantinato it is possible to taste great selections of cold cuts, cheeses and local specialties, along with great local or international artisan beer.
Visit to the museum centre
A visit to the Museum Centre of Ascoli Satriano, where the precious polychrome marble griffons from the 4th century b.C. (famous worldwide) are kept. Or even a walk in the morning along the streets of the living, loud city, where you can find woven chairs and baskets full of fruits and vegetables for sale, available for the people passing by.
Stop to observe the landscape
Stop to observe the landscape sitting from the height of a bench in the park of the Castle of Sant’Agata di Puglia or from its square-balcony, where the gaze looses upon the summit of the lower hills, upon the cultivated fields, where you can see the flocks of agitated birds and a glimpse of Basilicata unveiling itself just around the corner.