Monopoli is situated between Bari (North) and Brindisi (South), app. 50 km and ½ hour by train or car from these towns which both do have an international airport. Monopoli is on the main train line from Rome and Milan to Lecce down South – and is thus easily reachable by public transport.
Monopoli is a quite normal town with app. 50.000 inhabitants. It is not fashionable and doesn’t make a lot of fuzz about itself, – this is why it is so refreshingly authentic and unaffected, the locals are kind and smiling, – and prices are low, much lower than in Rome, Florence or Milan. The old mediaeval town – Centro Storico – where our house is sitting is charming with nooks and corners, crooked alleys, narrow old houses, blue and green shutters against the white facades and laundry blowing in the wind.
The centre boasts an extraordinary number of churches and convents, nice piazzas with beautiful old buildings, a charming fishing port as well as lovely sandy beaches and cliffs that you can jump from. Lots of cafés and restaurants with good quality and very reasonable prices. A coffee (=espresso) is e.g. 1 – 1,50 €, a cappuccino or cafelatte a bit more. A kilo super fresh mussels is 2 – 3 € just like the local red wine is available from 2-3 € per litre.
If you walk through the Centro Storico you’ll be out of this old centre and end up in the next and newer part of town which dates back to the 1850’ies. Here the houses are different, larger and with more colour, the streets are like a grid – as on Manhattan – and all are one way streets. There are lots of shops for clothes, shoes etc., bakeries, butchers, green grocers, delicatessen, fish shops and tabacchis, cafés and restaurants – and lots of people, traffic and everyday life. The square Piazza Vittorio Emanuele is said to be one of Italy’s largest – and is also situated just outside the Centro Storico. On this square you’ll see the Monopolitanians take a walk – “la passeggiata” every day between 18-20h, to see and to be seen! The old men are playing cards and chess, the children play football or cycle around while the women are chatting. Various events like exhibitions, concerts, performances, beauty contests, skating rink, merry-go-round – everything can take place on this large square.
There are buses going into the countryside and trains going up and down the coast e.g. to nearby Polignano, Bari or Brindisi or to the beautiful baroque town Lecce. You can of course rent bikes and cars in town.