Archive for January, 2013

Castel del Monte shuttle to link Trani and Andria

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Visiting Puglia’s enigmatic Castel del Monte is about to get easier. Beginning in March, a bus service will shuttle visitors between the cities of Trani and Andria, the home of the castle, Sud Italia News reports. An onboard tour guide will provide information about the landmark, although it is uncertain at this point whether this service will be available in languages other than Italian. Also unknown for now is how often the shuttle will operate and information about fares and reservations.

The new shuttle is an initiative of Puglia Imperiale, a tourism agency devoted to preserving and promoting the heritage of Emperor Frederick II in Puglia, particularly in Andria, Barletta, Bisceglie, Canosa di Puglia, Corato, Margherita di Savoia, Minervino Murge, San Ferdinando di Puglia, Spinazzola, Trani and Trinitapoli. Frederick built the octagonal Castel del Monte in the 1240s. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A hotel boom that went bust

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Monument to Saint Pio of Pietralcina in San Giovanni Rotondo./Photo by APT Puglia

What had been expected to be a boom in hotel bookings in San Giovanni Rotondo following the canonization of Saint Pio of Pietralcina is in actuality a bust, as rooms are empty and hoteliers are in the red. La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno reports that spurred by the belief that the Jubilee Year of 2000 and elevation of Padre Pio to sainthood would result in a significant increase in overnight stays has not materialized. Yes, the shrine to the saint draws many thousands of pilgrims, but unfortunately for the hoteliers, most of them are “day trippers” who arrive by car or bus and leave the same day. La Gazzetta describes the situation as “a crisis that shows no signs of receding even an inch.”

The effort to provide 6,000 moderately priced accommodations for pilgrims was noble in two ways: it was ensure that visitors would be accommodated comfortably and relatively inexpensively; and that jobs would be created in the construction and hospitality industries. Unfortunately, the construction has ground to a halt and many of the new rooms are for the most part empty. Now there is talk of possibly converting these properties into nursing homes or apartment buildings. The next move is up to the town’s government officials.

I feel vindicated

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Fact: I’m no expert on wine. I couldn’t tell a $10 bottle from a $100 bottle unless I looked at a price tag. But for many years, I have been telling people about the fine taste of the wines I’ve sampled in Puglia and about the Pugliese wines I’ve tasted at home. I try my best to support the region’s wine industry in my own little way by buying its bottles wherever I see them and asking the proprietors of wine shops about their availability (and what they think of the wines). Sometimes I have to look a little harder, but I do find some treasures. A response I had been hearing often was that Puglia’s wines were not on par with those from other parts of Italy and certainly not comparable to wines from elsewhere in the world.

So imagine the pleasant surprise to see that Wine Enthusiast Magazine listed Puglia among its “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2013.” The article notes that “Puglia’s rapidly expanding wine scene has something for all tasting types” and “Puglia excels at warm-climate wines made with indigenous grapes.”

Other Puglia bloggers and travel experts have also picked up on this information, which can only be good news for Puglia and its wine and tourism industries. Savvy people within Puglia, particularly Movimento Turismo del Vino Puglia, have long been advocating the region’s potential as a world-class wine tourism destination. I’m happy the experts have now confirmed what I’ve been saying for years.

That’s us sampling Pugliese wines at a wine shop in Alberobello. (Photo by Thomas Granieri/Puglia Connection)