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Castles, forests and Turks

by Dario Morgante last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

Today's journey takes us from the ancient forests of the Gargano promontory deep into the heart of Southern Italy.

The castle Lucera is steeped in history - founded in the pre-Roman period it was then settled by the Romans in 4 BC. Perched on its hilltop surrounded by the Tavoliere plain and keeping close watch on the gulleys and rivulets of the nearby coast it is an excellent base for exploring the Gargano (the 'spur' on the boot of Italy) with its primeval forests and beautiful beaches. But first take a walk through the mediaeval streets of Lucera towards its imposing castle which completely overshadows the town. The castle, called the Palatium, was built by Frederick II in 1233, and was once the most important fortress in Apulia. Nowadays, apart from the external walls, little remains of the original structure. The castle, which extended over three storeys, had no entrance at street level and historians are still unsure how the building was accessed in the past.

Parade of the TurksIt's almost time to leave for Potenza but before you go stop for some lunch in "La taverna di Federico II" (Via Federico II, 43 - phone: +39-0881-522645).
Potenza, in the heart of the Busento valley in Basilicata, is the highest regional capital in Italy. An unusual traditional festival, the Sfilata dei Turchi (Parade of the Turks) takes place in Potenza each 29th of May - okay so you'll miss it by a week, but, who knows, maybe you'll come back again next year. The festival is so unusual that no-one knows where it comes from, why it is celebrated or when the tradition started, although there are reports of a similar festival in the 1600s.

If you plan to stay the night in Potenza you can get good value accommodation at the Albergo Europa, where prices for a double room with half-board start at LIT 60,000 (phone: +39-0971-34011). If you prefer something a little more luxurious then head for "La Primula" in the centre of town where a double room will set you back LIT 170,000 (phone: +39-0971-58310).

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