Thursday, March 31, 2016

Good Friday in Taranto

Taranto, not Toronto, and with accent on the first syllable, leaped onto our radar when our tentative itinerary put us in Apulia for Easter Week or Settimana di Pasqua as it's called in Italian. Taranto has one of the best Good Friday processions in southern Italy; the Procession of the Mysteries. However, the pubic transport scheme from Martina Franca to Taranto and back limited our visit to the day's earlier procession, the Adoration of Mary. The weather was good and the procession amazing. We may return...

The image of Mary is slowly carried down the people lined corso, proceeded and followed by dirge playing brass bands and men wearing white hoods and black hats slowing swaying from side to side. It will be 5 hours until she is safely returned, up the stairs and into the Church of San Dominico.
Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Some of the men walk with their families.
Taranto, Apulia, Italy

Some solitary men carry a cross and walk barefoot
Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

And finally up into San Dominico.
Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

We did not follow the entire procession, optimizing our time by visiting the very good Archaeological Museum of Taranto. The first floor was closed but we enjoyed the second floor's extensive collection of 2nd to 4th century Roman artifacts, most dug up in the streets around the museum.
Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

And by checking out the waterfront. Old Town Taranto is on a narrow peninsula.
Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

How about this muscular modern building on the waterfront.
Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

Some snacks to eat on the 5pm bus back to Martina Franca.
Taranto, Apulia, Sicily

Monday, March 28, 2016

Locorotondo and Alberobello

For three nights, we slept in Martina Franca, Apulia, a good base for exploring Locorotondo and Alberobello, and to make an excursion to Taranto for their Good Friday events. And Martina has its own treasures as I'll report in another post.

Martimna France is located on a vast, 437 meters above sea level, limestone plateau. Since prehistoric times the local have been building trulli (singular trullo) which are dry stone huts - no cement - with conical roofs.

Our first day trip would be walking to Locorotonda, a white city on a hill, then training to Alberobello, a city with over 1000 trulli, then training back to Martine.

A trulo seen on the walk to Locorotondo.
Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

The walk started out wet but the rain eventually almost stopped with many trulli to be seen on the way.
Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

And after 6 kms, we are rewarded with a view to Locorotondo.
Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

Some young folks in the Locorotondo Cathedral were preparing an image of Jesus for the Good Friday procession.
Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

It's a loved church for sure.
Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

While the back streets of Locorotondo we find a witch hanging from a wire; part of the pagan rituals of Apulia. More on that later.
Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

And on to the train for a short ride to Alberobello.
Locorotondo, Apulia, Itlay

Alberobello is truely the center of trulli tourism in Apulia, Italy. You can see why....Some of the trulli have whitewashed ancient symbols on the roofs. There is even a trulli church.
Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Alberobello, Apulia, Italy

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Apulia - Lecce

After 3 weeks in Sicily we left Catania on a long distance bus to the city of Lecce in the province of Puglia, more commonly called Apulia, the general name of the area that is the heel of Italy. Note to travelers: from Catania to Lecce, the direct bus is preferable to the train which may be many, 3 to 6, segments.

In Lecce we found a friendly B&B, tasty food, and fine Baroque city, perfect for strolling.

Since we arrived late, we did not go out our first night. The second night, we made it a point to go out after dark and enjoy some fast food and the city lights. There were loads of security folks about: Polizia, Carabinieri, and Guardia de Finaza. It was the day of the Brussels terror attacks.

We say goodbye to Mount Etna as seen from the bus window.
On the Bus to Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Sicily is of course and island; thus the bus rolls onto a ferry to cross the Straits of Messina. This is a shot of our bus waiting to roll onto the ferry.
On the Bus to Lecce, Apulia, Italy

On the Bus to Lecce, Apulia, Italy

And then it's 6 more hours until we reach Lecce as we first go along the west coast of the toe and then the east coast of the arch and finally Taranto, then Brindisi, arriving at Lecce about 7:15 pm - 10 hours total.

Vineyard as seen from the bus.
On the Bus to Lecce, Apulia, Italy

The University of Salento is in Lecce and some of its 18,000 students marched and then danced in support of "NO REFORMO".
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Nearby the demonstration, in the city center, is Lecce's Roman Amphitheater.
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

And the Roman Theater is just around the corner.
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

But Lecce is most known for its Baroque Churches with their impressive altars.
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

And facades like the Church of San Croce.
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Lecce, Apulia, Italy

The Duomo in the morning, then at night.
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Lecce, Apulia, Italy

We had some tasty vegetarian food at Zenzero, a small cafeteria across form the university.
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

And some takeout at Piadina Salentina. The young man with the yellow hat band was charming. ;-)
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

And a slice, trancio, of pizza at Pizza & Co, the number one rated restaurant in Lecce on TripAdvisor (out of 400+).
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

We did not join George Clooney for some self-service.
Lecce, Apulia, Italy

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

From Aguascalientes, there is a very convenient direct flight to Cancun.  Since the wedding is at a private beach south of Playa del Carmen,...