Monopoli – Borgo Vecchio – stuff to see
I really liked Monopoli. Everyone I met was very friendly, the old centre is lovely and it’s right by the sea. It’s just about perfect in every way.
The population is about 50,000 but this doubles in summer with the influx of tourists. You’d think they’d be a bit jaded with such a large influx of outsiders but people got to know me quickly and I was greeted on the street regularly, even though I was only there for six nights.
One theory of how Monopoli got its name was for being the ‘only city’ to give sanctuary to the survivors of the destruction of neighbouring town by the Visigoths in the 6th century.
To get to the harbour, take Via Porto out of the square and turn left down a short passageway. There are several fishing boats in the picturesque Porto Vecchio, which is definitely a good sign for what’s available in the restaurants.
Overlooking the harbour is Castello Carlo V, built in 1525. It was used as a jail until 1969 which is surprising given how small it is.
From the castle it’s a nice walk along Lungomare Santa Maria till you get to Porta Vecchia.
From here you can follow the coast and go to one of several little beaches and inlets (see separate coast post).
Or you could turn back into the old town. The cathedral is not far from here. The roman crypt was being excavated when I was there. For information on tours and events have a look at this website for the local cultural association.
It’s quite amazing just how many churches you can squeeze into such a small area.
One rather spooky one is Chiesa di Santa Maria del Suffragio also known as ‘Il Purgatorio‘, which is dedicated to the cult of death. The church is famed for having the mummies of dead monks hanging on its walls! It was being renovated when I was there so I couldn’t go in, and I’m not sure if it will go back to how it was. The church is near the cathedral, on Via Argento.
I loved just wandering around the maze of streets, stumbling across little gems at every turn.
I liked it so much that I spent a lot of time fantasising about living here. I even looked up a few places on property websites!
Now for the grub…