Some visitors never leave Monopoli because it’s so nice just to walk around the town, eat in the restaurants and osterias, do some shopping, stroll along the harbour, hang out in the cafés and watch life passing by, go to the beach or just to sit on the terrace. However, if you do want to see something else, there is plenty to see, both in the vicinity and further away.
8-10 km to the South there are large beaches with dunes and lyme grass, either for payment or free of charge. In these areas there are also holiday resorts where the Italian families take their holidays.
You can for instance visit some of the places below:
Egnazia: Interesting archaeological excavations from far before Christ, and a nice museum showing the items from the former town of Egnazia. Like Pompeij, but smaller and really nice and interesting. 7-8 km south of Monopoli, you can go by bike along the coast. Antonella from the little tourist shop in Via Porto 8 in Monopoli will make a guided tour for you if you ask her. She has a master in art and knows what she is talking about.
Alberobello (The beautiful tree): Is considered the capital of the Trulli country. A Trullo is a house with a unique stone construction built with an extremely original technique. It has a circular shape with whitewashed walls and a cone shaped grey roof. The Trullies are approximately 500 years old, and the origin of the Trulli is uncertain. Amazing houses!
As you get closer to the town there are more and more trullies in the landscape and when you reach the centre you find a whole quarter of trullies, though divided into 2 parts. The larger part near the church is more touristy with shops etc. and the smaller part is more quiet. Alberobello is a must as it is very special and trullies do apparently not exist anywhere else in the world.
Martina Franca: Has a beautiful old town rich in finely decorated Baroque buildings. And it is nice just to walk around the centre after having visited Alberobello. Locorotondo (The round place) : The other trulli town in the area, although not with a trulli quarter in the center. The town is very beautiful, circular and perched on a hill overlooking Valle d’Itria with a magnificent view. The town is nominated as one of “Borghi più belli d’Italia, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Ostuni (The white town): Perched on 3 hilltops providing extraordinary views over the landscape. Very beautiful but with many tourists. One of the first places in Apulia to be well known outside Apulia due to some wellknown person’s holiday in Ostuni. Be aware that the railway station is 3 km outside the town.
Lecce: One and a quarter hour by train from Monopoli. Has a place as one of the capitals of the Baroque and is also the main town of the Salento area. There are, among many other things to see, imposing ruins of an Amphitheatre in the town’s main square. Lecce is a little touristy and also named ‘Florence of the South’.
Bari: The capital of Apulia, half an hour by train from Monopoli. A big town with lots of shops, a long walking street, an old Centro Storico as in Monopoli, Basilica of St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture. A really big harbor with ferries to Greece, Montenegro and Chroatia.
Brindisi (in latin Brundisium): The end of Via Appia from Rome. The end is marked by 2 columns, of which most of one of them though has been given to Lecce as thanks for help during a war. Brindisi is known as the “Gate to the Orient” and has a big harbour and many ferries and many tourists. A nice town to visit.
Matera: A very beautiful town partly situated on a mountain slope. It is said that some of the world’s oldest habitations have been in mountain caves in Matera. The caves were inhabited until the beginning of the 1950ties. One habitation can be seen. Very interesting and very different from the other towns in that area.
Castel del Monte: Apparently a hunting castle built by the Emperor Frederick II around 1250, perched on a hill and visible from the distance and with a splendid view. Very special and interesting architecture. You have to park in a large parking area a few miles from the castle. The entrance ticket includes a bus ride to the castle.Gallipoli: A fine town in the Ionian Sea with the old centre situated on an island outside the new town. Very nice beaches around Gallipoli. Touristy, especially to the South.