Monopoli is like September sun. Warm as a sincere hug, friendly, discretely shiny, projecting a special, silent light that relaxes, brings good vibes and refresh everyday mood. Inspirational and precious.
Situated at 40 km south from Bari, along the Adriatic shore, easy to go by a 25 minute train trip (5 euro/ticket), the cozy Monopoli is representative for Puglia region, and tells a story with its fortified sea front-walls and castle or by the outstanding cathedral. To find it just look upwards and you are sure to see its elegantly conceived bell tower thrusting into the sky. Built in 1693, the tower is over 60 meters high, completely dominating the town below. Passing by the Maria della Madia cathedral, continue heading east and you will soon come to the first part of the sea-front, with its defensive walls and sandy bay, ideal for a refreshing dip. Continue down the lovely Via Papacenere, which will take you behind the walls and onto the Lungomare sea-front promenade, complete with some fine buildings, including the curvaceous Church of Santa Maria della Zaffira, a cannon-mounted bastion and the impressively robust Charles V Castle, built in 1552. The castle can be visited and the view from the top is wonderful.
The little harbor with its colorful gozzi (old fishermen boats) was a great surprise, especially by surrounding buildings very similar to Venetian ones. This was also the first stop, to enjoy the flavor of a genuine Italian coffee at Caffé del Porto. I totally adored walking aloft along the shore on Monopoli Lungomare and discovering beautiful houses embraced by the deep blue view of Adriatic Sea but this wasn’t the climax of the trip, no, not at all. At some point we took right, on via San Vito, and, oh, what a splendor found here! Beautiful old houses, in old brick or perfect white, dressed in flowers or cascade ivy, with big pots holding tall cactuses facing the wood colorful shutters, oh, genuine architectural masterpieces, so creative and inspiring!
And, since it was lunch time, we took the stairs to an inviting white rooftop and entered Don Ferrante – Dimore di Charme terrace restaurant, breathtaking view over the sea, probably one of the most beautiful places in the world. Small and cozy, it also includes a boutique hotel with an infinity pool. A true relaxation spot, offering several relaxation massages with essential oils or local olive oil. The parmigiana di melanzane proved to be delicious, the white wine enough dry and the fruit salad creative and floral, meanwhile very savory.
The small rocky beach hosted at that time a photo exhibition on the ancient walls and is perfect for a quiet siesta, funny interrupted by an intermezzo conversation between two Italian gentlemen, both locals from Monopoli, both describing recipes for homemade pasta, one proved to be a Chef and the other, a business man interested to open a restaurant.
Monopoli is usually considered as one day destination, but for me was love at first sight and I could happily live there for longtime 🙂
Photo credits: personal archive Ruxandra Chiurtu, Don Ferrante