Italy is famously a rich boot studded with marvelous treasures, and its heel hides rare and as yet undiscovered pearls.
“City of Bread,” “Lioness of Apulia” – these are just a few of the epithets for this wonderful medieval town that rises in the Apulian hinterland.
Nestled in the karst plateau of the Murge, we present Altamura, a basin filled with curiosities, attractions and architectural, archaeological and natural peculiarities.
Altamura: a bit of History
The construction of the megalithic walls (hence Alta-Mura) dates back to about the sixth century B.C., but the history of this city has much deeper roots. Some findings show the presence of humans as far back as 50,000 years ago, and before humans it was a land of passage for many species of dinosaurs.
With the arrival of Frederick II of Swabia, in the 13th century AD, the town was populated by different ethnic groups who inhabited it and modified it according to the tastes and customs of their own cultures, leaving footprints that are still visible today in the so-called “Claustri” generally called “Gnostre” by the people of Altamura.
A few centuries later, overwhelmed by the ideals of the French Revolution, it was a seat of resistance against the army of the Holy Faith, earning the nickname “Lioness of Apulia.” Its lively and free spirit has traveled through time to this day, making it an active and dynamic place to be discovered.
Altamura: the things not to be missed
All history, from its earliest origins, is visible to the naked eye embedded in the stone:
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. The Romanesque-style cathedral stands in the central square of Altamura’s old town. Legend has it that Frederick II of Swabia’s army on his way to the Crusades overwhelmed by a sudden plague epidemic was forced to stop in present-day Altamura. Upon awakening, the soldiers were miraculously healed and strong. Following this episode Frederick II decided to build a cathedral in honor of Our Lady, hiding a priceless treasure within one of the columns bordering the nave.
- I Claustri. Try to get lost in the unmissable alleys and picturesque views among the narrow streets of the old town. Not mere architectural complexes of times gone by, but true testimonies of a past that is still present. If you pay attention, it is possible to recognize some details belonging to the different cultures that have inhabited them.
- Il Pulo. Come and admire one of the largest karst sinkholes a few kilometers from the town. A fascinating and unique Apulian panorama with its green and golden hues. You can visit its interior by following the routes marked on the map. It is recommended, for the most romantic, to visit it at sunset to enjoy a wonderful natural picture.
- Dinosaur Footprints. Imagine: more than two hundred thousand footprints dating back to the Cretaceous perfectly preserved in the Pontrelli Quarry mark the path traveled by many dinosaur species during migrations.
“Ciccillo.” It may seem unusual, but this is the friendly nickname that Altamurans have given to the Neanderthal man who has been resting in Lamalunga Cave for centuries. Every attempt to move the skeleton has proved futile, since it has become one with the stone, remaining imprisoned forever in the cave. Although it is impossible to see it up close, it is possible to visit the Lamalunga Center and follow the steps of “Ciccillo” and discover other interesting curiosities.
Besides the many historical wonders, you cannot visit Altamura without being won over by its unique delicacies. Don’t miss a trip to one of the City’s ancient bakeries – where you can taste the typical Apulian focaccia or Altamura bread freshly baked – or to the pastry shop, to try the not-to-be-missed “nuns’ tits“, the typical desserts also known as the “Apulian sighs.”
Our Cheese Experience takes you to discover all this and more: an unmissable historical and taste itinerary!
Discover it here: vitodicecca.it/it/to_book/cheese-experience/