One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to go to the tourist office and look through the brochures for local sights that don’t make it into the English-language guidebooks. The Brindisi province one was quite thick, with lots of beautiful photos that corresponded to an index at the back of the book. I was able to identify three nearby sites to visit, did a bit of internet research, and threw them on my Google map.
A short drive from Ostuni is the town of Montalbano near Fasone, and the “blink and you’ll miss it” sign pointing to the Dolmen of Montalbano. The small road leads to an even smaller one, and finally you turn down a stone-walled track barely wider than a Fiat Panda. And just off the road, in an abandoned olive grove, is a bronze age dolmen. Depending on which source you read, it’s been dated between 11 and 15 B.C. Not something you see every day. http://www.visitfasano.it/en/discover/the-dolmen-of-montalbano-066.html
Next up, also in the Fasone area, was the site of a medieval village that had been built into caves, Lama D’Antico. Surrounded by fields is an overgrown area ringed by caves where people lived for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years. Archaeological finds such as Roman coins and bronze age metals and pottery found in the cisterns show that this place was inhabited for long periods of time, and was abandoned in the 15th century. There are cisterns, grain storage pits, caves used for living spaces, and even churches built into caves. It’s incredibly eerie to step into a crumbling church built into a cave, and see faded 10th century frescoes. There’s a little visitor center, and good signs around the site giving info, with some English as well. http://www.lamadantico.it/en/home/
Twisting through more small roads (turn right at the eggplant field in Egnazia) led to the excavations at Egnazia. There’s a small museum where you first go to buy your ticket, and then go across to the ruins. Near the museum is a necropolis, one part from the Messapian and the other Roman. A short drive leads to the main excavation, of a Roman settlement, Gnathia . There are helpful signs around the site, identifying the various parts of the city and explaining the history and functions of what has been found. It’s a lovely, quiet place, although I’m sure crowded in Summer from people visiting the nearby beaches and the huge water park you can glimpse. http://xoomer.virgilio.it/egnazia/index_file/Page413.htm
By now it was lunchtime. We headed over to the nearby town of Salvelletri. It’s a cute beach resort-looking town, and people seemed to be settling in for lunch at a place called La Taverna di Umberto . We started with gratineed mussles (salty to our tastes), then I got spaghetti al volgole; and Larry a sort of faro or local grain with an assortment of seafood. Both very good, especially Larry’s.
Drove the hillsides around town.
Back home, walked through the park. The old guys in the neighborhood have their benches staked out.
We met up with Jim and Anne (Alpinista from ST) and had a really enjoyable time walking them around town and sitting in the Piazza having drinks and a chat.
Salad, zucchini carpaccio, and a simple pasta for dinner at home.