More Puglia

May 20th

As mentioned in the last diary blog, we were camped outside the Grotte di Castellana. One odd thing about this town is that they leave their dogs out at night and the darned things bark all night. So after a bad night’s sleep we visited the caves, and had a tour in English. There are hundreds of caves but the tourist route takes you on a route 1.5km long (and back again) visiting several stunning limestone formations, culminating in the ‘white cave’. Our guide was very knowledgeable and the caves were well worth a visit (and made a change from Baroque churches!)

caves.JPG
First cave. You’re only allowed to take photos in this one and not the deeper ones.

After lunch (we were starving after the caves) we headed on to Trani, a medieval port town, where we’d picked a camperstop from Google – a car park just on the edge of the town. We walked through the old town, finding everything closed including the tourist information, then discovered the more lively port area, gardens etc. A very pleasant little place. That evening there was some event on at the castle that we’d half thought we’d go to but it began to rain – heavily. Really heavily. The rain continued most of the night, and is very loud when you are essentially living in a tin box, so it was another broken night’s sleep for us.

trani.jpg
Trani port

May 21st

Last big of sightseeing in Puglia – we headed inland from Trani to Castel del Monte, the best preserved of a series of castles built in Norman times. This one is on a low hill, and has views for miles. It’s an octagonal shape and felt like somewhere you really could live. Bit of a rip-off price-wise though – you have to park some way from the castle, pay to park, then have to pay again for a shuttle bus, then pay again to enter the castle. You’d think the shuttle bus at least should be included in the parking or entrance fee. After all that rain it was cool and overcast – quite a welcome change!

castel del monte
Castel del Monte

And then we were on the motorway, heading out of Puglia and across the country towards Naples. We’d picked a camperstop from Google maps that’s near Herculaneum and near a train station to get into Naples centre. But after much driving round narrow one-way systems we had to admit the camperstop does not exist where Google had marked it – and yet it had recent (2 week old) reviews. After a bit of asking and some more Googling we drove a few km up the road, found signs for a camperstop and went in – then recognised it from photos of the one we couldn’t find! First time Google maps has got something totally wrong. Anyway this one turned out to be a good find – cheapish, included electricity and hot shower, secure, quiet – everything you want in a campsite.

I’ll do a Naples and surroundings blog in a few days when we’re done with this area! I was sad to leave Puglia – despite being mostly flat and I am a mountain-lover, I did really like it. All those acres of olive groves and beautiful beaches, far better roads and less litter than Sicily, and lots to do and see.

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