Once upon a time there was a village. Indeed there is still. The ancient heart of the village of Putignano is always there with its elliptical plan that can be seen perfectly from above. While, walking on foot, it is almost hidden by houses and churches that over time are wedged between arches, alleys and squares.
Walk to 2 and 4 legs between the ancient village and the countryside
In the walk, suitable for everyone, to do slowly to re-appreciate the pleasure of moving without haste in the company of four legs and the discovery of the most picturesque corners and historical monuments, we were accompanied by the Councilor for Tourism and Culture of Putignano, the teacher Emanuela Elba.
The starting point is Porta Grande, that led inside the city and which today no longer exists as well as the defensive walls, probably demolished during the nineteenth century and incorporated into homes.
The main road is La Chiancata, which connects the two ancient gateways to the town of which the only surviving is Porta Barsento. Wide and paved, with its sides still visible the stone shelves from which it takes its name and on which were exposed and sold meat that came from animals raised in the many farms of the countryside of Putignano.
And you can still see, entering the village between the narrow and winding streets, the alleys and courtyards typical of the Mediterranean style, with wells and closed by large wooden doors, the old shops and ovens where the bread was made.
Looking upwards you see corbels and remains of medieval walls and with imagination you can go back in time, going to the discovery of a fabric now almost completely disappeared that teacher Alba helps us to identify step by step.
The road leads to the largest square in the historic center on which stands the Mother Church of San Pietro Apostolo, located on the highest hill of the three on which the city stands. In the same square, next to the current entrance of the church, is the imposing nineteenth-century palace of Prince Guglielmo Romanazzi Carducci di Santo Mauro that from February 4, 2017 houses one of the most fascinating museums of Puglia.
Do not miss the visit: passing through the reception rooms of the main floor that still preserve the original furnishings and the countless clocks that are part of the princely collection of Prince Guglielmo, you enter the most intimate area of the house, one in which they see traces of everyday life.
And it seems almost possible to meet the prince in person looking out in the rooms where there are the most “intimate” pieces: trunks, shoes and even his toothbrushes and razor.
Very interesting is the chapel, the oldest part of the building, where the altar stands out with the eight-pointed cross of the Order of the Knights of Malta. In addition to the upper floor, the museum itinerary includes the permanent silver exhibits and the prestigious collection of weapons belonging to the Prince, under construction.
On the ground floor, with entrance from Corso Vittorio Emanuele, you can visit the civic collection Giuseppe Albano, a Putignano sculptor of the early twentieth century, active between our region and Florence.
The exhibition space not only guarantees the definitive arrangement of the artist’s works through a suggestive location in which it seems that Albano himself, taken back while he is at work on a giant wall on the back wall, sbiand the visitors entrance, but uses “Museo Facile”, an innovative system of cultural communication integrated and comprehensible by different and diversified audiences, with particular attention to people with visual and auditory disabilities.
The Chiesa Matrice, built in the twelfth century, underwent an important reconstruction in 1474, which also changed its orientation, by the will of the Balì of the Knights of Malta Giambattista Carafa. The Balì as well as being the highest banner capable of the Knights of Jerusalem, one of the three great monastic-military orders that developed in the Holy Land by lending their work to the pilgrims who went to the East to visit the holy places, was for over five centuries, starting from the year 1300, the feudatory of the Santo Stefano Baliaggio in Monopoli, to which also Fasano and Putignano belonged.
The church, which is accessed via a high staircase, has an ogival portal, a large rose window and the solemn façade of Apulian Romanesque style. Inside, it enchants the extraordinary beauty of the statues of San Sebastiano and San Pietro realized by Stefano da Putignano, the greatest sculptor of the Apulian Renaissance.
Also noteworthy are the altars in polychrome marble, the painted wooden ceiling of the mid-1700s and the imposing organ built in 1771. Interesting paintings by eighteenth-century artists, including Andrea Miglionico, and the polychrome stone crib with statues of the sixteenth century.
Continuing the walk we come across a singular construction of the last century. This is a compensation tank or tower for storage of water that was built in 1923 by the Apulian Aqueduct to distribute the water even in case of malfunctioning of the dispensing pumps.
Not far from the church of Santa Maria la Greca, rebuilt several times over the centuries. Today it has a beautiful Baroque façade and a large and bright interior with a double big chapel and the presbytery on two floors.
Its importance is due to the fact that inside it is kept the oldest and most precious artifact of the city, the silver reliquary of Santo Stefano, dated between the twelfth and thirteenth century, originally preserved in the abbey of Santo Stefano di Monopoli and brought to Putignano by the Knights of Malta in the late fourteenth century.
This episode is connected to the origin of the Carnival, the longest in the world, with the event of Propaggini on December 26, the day dedicated to the cult of the Saint. Also interesting are the nativity scene in polychrome terracotta and the flooring of the oratory in Neapolitan manufacture riggiole.
Taking advantage of the opening during mass, the visit to the church of the Discalced Carmelites, of the homonymous convent built thanks to the contribution of the notary Nicola Fanelli to accommodate the nuns belonging to the richest families in the country, to admire the vault with three bays with the splendid ceiling in decorated wooden tiles.
The surroundings are scattered with farms and boast suggestive caves. Do not miss the Grotta del Trullo, an underground masterpiece of nature. During the visit of the cave, which boasts the distinction of being the first karstic tourist site open in southern Italy, we accompany the speleologist Piero Lippolis, who since 1983 has been dealing with the exploration of the cavity. As he explains, it boasts another record: despite being a shallow cave, which opens just under 1.5m of rock, has an interesting number of concretions, but also of varieties of colorations and rarities of minerals.
It is also the only tourist cave with a vertical entrance and is accessed by a spiral staircase that offers visitors the thrill of descending from above as a speleologist and enter an extraordinary environment.
Many peculiarities, but the column must be quoted with a capital on the ceiling that supports a block of rock that looks like an angel and is in fact called the angel. Enchant the shapes of the rock but also the colors of alabaster concretions that turn from red to golden to white.
Our 4-legged friends can go down in the cave if carried in a bag or in your arms, while for the older ones it is possible to wait in the 40 minutes of the visit at the entrance hall housed in the trullo that gives its name to cave. In these environments there is also the Sandbox, an innovative and exclusive educational tool that allows you to recreate in an interactive way a natural territory and to model its characteristics with a simple hand gesture: fun and informative and we have also tried!
Last stop of our tour in Putignano is the Sanctuary of San Michele in Monte Laureto, a sacred place of amazing beauty and historical value that shows remarkable affinity with that of Monte Sant’Angelo on the Gargano. For the visit you have to contact the Pro Loco and we were accompanied by the president Giuseppe Cosacco who showed us the treasures of this majestic karst cave above which until the ’70s there was one of the most important climatic sanatorium in the South Mezzogiorno.
At the bottom there is the main altar which preserves a fresco of the 15th century Crucifixion, while on the sides there are two aedicula. On the left there is the beautiful polychrome statue of St. Michael, by Stefano da Putignano, on the right the fresco of the Madonna del Carmine between St. Angelo and St. Albert, protectors of the Putignano countryside.
Romanazzi Carducci Museum
Info and reservations: Office of the Municipality of Putignano tel. +39 080 4056298 – +39 080 4056538
From October to March: Tuesday and Friday 10: 00-13: 00 – Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10: 00-13: 00 and 16: 00-19: 00
From April to September: Tuesday and Friday 10: 00-13: 00 and 17: 00-20: 00 – Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10: 00-13: 00 and 17: 00-20: 00
Giuseppe Albano civic collection
Info Municipal Museum of Putignano: Piazza Plebiscito, 16 tel. +39 080 4056298 – +39 080 4056538 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 10: 00-13: 00; Saturday and Sunday 10: 00-13: 00 – 16: 00-19: 00
Grotta del Trullo
S.S. 172 for Turi
Info and reservations: tel. +39 080 4912113 – email@example.com
From October to May: every day 10: 00-12: 30 and 14: 30-17: 00
From June to September: 9:00 to 12:30 and 14:30 to 18:30
Sanctuary of San Michele in Monte Laureto
Info and reservations: tel. +39 338 9987334 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Every day on reservation 10: 00-13: 00 and 17: 00-20: 00
In collaboration with the Municipality of Putignano
With the support of the Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Conversano