The day after our visit to Royal Palace of Caserta we left Naples to make one of the longest movements of our road trip, the 330 km that separated us from Bari and from our next camping. During the day we would have:
- Travel along the Amalfi coast;
- Having lunch in a great restaurant in Battipaglia;
- Visited Castel del Monte;
- Reached the southern outskirts of Bari and our new campsite.
The choice of the route isn’t accidental, to reach Bari starting from Naples we could take the A16 motorway and reach Bari in the half of time, however, deviating to Positano, Amalfi and Vietri sul Mare, we could enjoy (from car) the spectacle of the Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast, known worldwide for its beauty, was declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1997. As already mentioned we couldn’t make any stops in the aforementioned cities, the strict schedule and the long road forced us to admire the beauties of landscapes from our car. However, we did a few brief breaks, to admire landscape and took some pictures.
Near Battipaglia we decided to leave the main road and look for a restaurant. Initially our intention was to eat the famous Zizzona di Battipaglia (a cheese similar to buffalo mozzarella), however, driven by extremely positive reviews, we opted for the restaurant ‘O Vicolo è L’Allería (Google Maps), one of the best decisions of the trip. In the restaurant of Giggino (the owner of ‘O Vicolo è L’Allería) we tasted the authentic cuisine of Battipaglia, in a unique and out-of-the ordinary context. The restaurant ‘O Vicolo è L’Allería is, in my opinion, an unmissable stop for those who pass near Battipaglia.
After lunch we left towards Castel del Monte, passing Potenza and immersing ourselves more and more in the countryside of Basilicata. In these boundless lands we have seen boundless and beautiful landscapes. Near Oppido Lucano (a small town in the province of Potenza), for example, we took some incredible photographs near some gigantic wind turbines.
Castel del Monte
After the brief stop under the wind turbine we traveled the remaining 60,0 km that separated us from Castel del Monte and we arrived at our destination around 6.45 pm (Google Maps). Unfortunately, although the latter closed at 7.45 pm (with last admission at 7.15 pm) we could not visit the castle because all the parkings near castle are private and closed after 7.00/7.15 pm (for some reason at the time of our visit it was not possible to approach the monument by car). The only alternative would be to park near a grocery store, about 30 minutes on foot.
For this reason we had only 30 minutes to get to the castle (from our paid parking we still had to walk for about 10 minutes), take a quick look outside, take some pictures and return to the starting point.
The construction of Castel del Monte began in 1240, when Frederick II Hohenstaufen ordered to Riccardo da Montefuscolo to prepare the materials for the construction of a castle near the church of Sancta Maria de Monte (now disappeared). Today there is no certainty about the attribution of the initial project, many attribute it to the architect Riccardo da Lentini, however, according to some theories, it is the work of Federico II himself. There is not even the certainty about the date of its construction, which probably occurred after the death of Frederick II (which took place in 1250).
In 1528 due to a French expedition in the Kingdom of Naples, Castel del Monte was devastated and bombed. On 8 September 1552 it was sold to the Count of Ruvo, Don Fabrizio Carafa, for the price of 100.000 Ducati. The Carafa appointed the castellans and established a bakery with a mill and an oven. From the 17th century, it followed a long period of abandonment, during which the castle was stripped of the furnishings and wall decorations of marble (whose traces remain visible only behind the capitals), it later became a prison, and subsequently a shelter for shepherds, brigands and political refugees.
In 1876 the castle, under extremely precarious conservation conditions, was purchased (for the sum of 25.000 lire) by the Italian State, which began its restoration in 1879. In 1996 UNESCO added it to the list of Heritage of Humanity Site for the mathematical and astronomical rigor of its forms and for the harmonious union of the cultural elements of Northern Europe, the Islamic world and classical antiquity, typical example of medieval architecture.
After leaving from Castel del Monte we drove for another hour, before reaching the camping Baia San Giorgio (Google Maps), where we would have been for the next two nights.
With our arrival in Puglia we close a chapter of our summer road trip, in the following days we would have temporarily abandoned the visit of the big cities to enjoy a little sea and relaxation. In conclusion, despite the disappointment for the visit to Castel del Monte, I was extremely happy to have gone through unique rural landscapes and to have seen really evocative landscapes.
In two weeks I will publish the sixth article about this incredible road trip. In the meantime enjoy the photos!