Monopoli can be considered the emblem of the sailing tradition in the district of Bari.
Gorgeous beaches, clear sea, the marina and countless architectures rich of history and cradle of past traditions. Around this maritime settlement there was the development of a civilization that conveyed during the centuries the influence of different rulers and conferred preciousness to every single place of its territory.
The old town centre is still the vibrating heart of the city life where it is possible to experience the movida in the countless places that stud the alleys.
The Castle of Charles V dominates the seafront recently returned to the ancient magnificence with its bastions and the wonderful promenade just before the blue water.
The town of Monopoli is located on the Adriatic coast about 40 km South of Bari.
It is distant approximately 45 km from Bari Airport and 70 km from Brindisi Airport; both are connected to Monopoli by the state highway SS 16.
In this fascinating town the seafaring tradition is always alive and present in the ancient fishing vessels, in the harbor with the small fishermen’s boats. The port is a multi-purpose staging area as it is utilized both for trade and tourism. In the port basin there are also boatyards.
The city center is surrounded by a thousand-years old multitude of olive trees.
The antique populated centre stretches out on a strip of land oriented to the sea. As defense on the waterways it emerges the castle of Charles V erected in 1552. The defensive infrastructural works are integrated with the 4 fortified towers inserted in the sixteenth-century walls from which the nineteenth-century cannons hang out.
The bell towers and the baroque domes stand out on the outline of the houses dominated by the bulk of the Cathedral; this latter is emblematic of the eighteenth-century splendour that reflected the opulence of the clergy and of the leading social classes of past times.
The Cathedral safeguards an icon of the Virgin Mary called Madonna della Madia that landed, according to tradition, on a raft made up of beams in 1117.
Walking along the curvy small streets of the old town you can chance upon courtyards named ‘chiassi’ where the local houses overlook. In a prominent position it is set Piazza Palmieri with the elegant façade of the palace of the same name realized in the last years of the eighteenth-century.
The tour of the town cannot leave out of consideration cala Porta Vecchia, a crossing point for people and destination for a pleasant promenade. Soon after it is possible to walk along the city walls. Proceeding on the seafront there is the church of San Salvatore characterized by a wide front door; on the right it appears the defensive tower Santa Maria that today is renown as ‘cannone’ because it was utilized in past times as an artillery placement to defend the town from sea assaults.
Nowadays it is endowed with a stepladder that leads to a small walkway from which it is possible to admire the characteristic port of Monopoli.
At the end of the path it is located the castle of Charles V erected on the promontory called ‘Punta Penna’.
Great relevance is recognized to Palazzo Martinelli overlooking the sea that was built inside the city walls. The peculiar wide windows and the loggia with rounded arches in Venetian style refer to the period in which Venetians conquered Monopoli at the end of the XVth century.
It results really interesting the visit at Piazza Garibaldi that houses the City Library, Palazzo Cacace, and the ‘Colonna Infame’ with the clock and the crest of the town.
Proceeding on the right there is the Amalfitana Church. It is said that in 1059 some Amalfitans, survived after a storm thanks to the saving intervention of the Virgin Mary, elected a cave as a place of worship for gratitude.
The parvise of the Cathedral cannot be missed with its wide massive walls adorned with 10 statues. The Cathedral is the most important and most visited church of the town particularly famous for accommodating the painting of the Madonna della Madia patron of Monopoli.
Furthermore, Monopoli is also considered a rural district with the peculiar trulli, the ancient manor farms, the small farmhouses and the olive oil mills within the centuries-old olive tree groves. All these elements are tangible examples of an architecture of a past predominantly rural, nowadays a priceless and inestimable cultural patrimony. In the 100 contrade districts, among hundreds of years old olive tree groves, almond, cherry and carob trees, the ancient masserie (manor farms) daubed with lime stand out in all their brightness.
The proofs of the ancient history of Monopoli are present and can be appreciated in some museums such as the open air Museum of Artillery, the Diocesan Museum, the Museum of the Cathedral, the Museum of Saint Leonardo.
The coast long about 13 km presents a multitude of white beaches and small solitary bays. Water is clear and transparent.
There are lots of bays called ‘calette’, most of them of extraordinary beauty: Porto Bianco, Porto Rosso, Porto Paradiso, Porto Camicia, Porto Marzano and Cala Verde. In the south of Monopoli the extended shore is made of thin and soft golden sand; there are tracts of free access and several beach clubs. These latter are perfectly organized and equipped with kiosks, bars and restaurants, changing rooms, beach umbrellas and sun beds, pedalo rental; they offer areas reserved to sports as basket, beach volley, bocce, soccer, swimming, speedboat races and windsurf, and also entertainment for children.
‘Capitolo’, the above mentioned southern seaside of Monopoli, can be also considered one of the pulsating earths of movida in Monopoli and neighborhood. Many clubs and discos are born here in the last years even on the sand and they are always crowded especially on Friday and Saturday nights.