Archive for February, 2010

Historic Find in Puglia

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

The 2,000-year-old skeleton of a man believed to be of East Asian origin has been unearthed near Bari, the Italian news service ANSA reports. The discovery is significant because, if proven, would mean that Asian people visited Italy far earlier than previously believed. It also focuses even more attention on Puglia’s value in archaeological and historical research, as well as in educational tourism.
Here’s the article from ANSA:
(ANSA) ‒ Rome, Feb. 4, 2010 ‒ Archaeologists have for the first time found evidence that people from the Far East were in Italy during Ancient Roman times.
A Canadian team has dug up a 2,000-year-old male skeleton at an imperial Roman estate in Puglia whose DNA matches those of present-day East Asians. The discovery, if proven, would push back by several hundred years the date of the first direct contact between the West and the East, to more than 1,000 years before Marco Polo’s historic trip to China.
“Our data reveals that some of the inhabitants of Vagnari (near Bari) came from far outside the confines of the Roman Empire,” said team leader Tracy Prowse, professor of anthropology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “This discovery poses many questions about globalization and human mobility in Roman times,” she said in the Journal of Roman Archaeology. “The tests are only preliminary, but the results are intriguing.”
The analysis of the man’s mitochondrial DNA was unable to establish whether he himself came to ancient Puglia or was descended from Asians already living there, Prowse said. “The man probably lived between the first and second century AD, but we can’t say if he arrived on his own or was the son of people who preceded him.”
Prowse speculated the man was “probably a menial worker or a slave, because in his tomb we only found the food supposed to help him get to the afterlife and, above all, because another tomb was on top of his.”
The anthropologist will present her study, “Investigating population origins and migration on an Imperial Roman Estate at Vagnari, south Italy,” at a conference at Oxford University next month.
The Vagnari estate and necropolis, about seven miles west of Gravina di Puglia, was discovered in 2002 and has so far yielded the remains of 70 people. In Roman times, the area was known for iron-working and producing terracotta tiles, the remains of many of which were found over the tombs. The Ancient Romans are known to have traded with spice merchants from as far away as China, via intermediaries, but it was not thought that East Asians immigrated to Italy.
Copyright © ANSA

Luxury Villa Rentals in Salento

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

A London-based travel company called The Thinking Traveller Ltd. has begun offering luxury villa rentals and other services for travelers to Puglia. The new operation is an extension of its existing services in Sicily.
According to its website,, the company is offering “A rigorous selection of the very best villas on the Salento peninsula in Puglia. The villas in this Think Puglia collection are exclusive to The Thinking Traveller, finally giving our clients the opportunity to experience our award winning service in this fascinating region of Italy.”
Included in its villa program are Villa Elia in Gallipoli and Villa Blanca, La Sarica and Le Antiche Pajare, all in Santa Maria di Leuca on the Salento peninsula’s southernmost tip.