Discovering Mounts Dauni
The Puglia that you would never expect.
You can see the candor of cathedral that seems built on the blue Adriatic sea, the waving Board of ears, the unique in the world Trulli, the Gargano and its terraces, incredible natural belvederes above the sea and above the never-ending plains. And then down to the baroque Salento, between two crystalline seas. That’s not nothing for a single region but Puglia it’s not just this. There is a secret one, the Mounts Dauni one, at the border with Campania and Molise. Here the heights are above 100 meters until the 1500. There are dense woods that suddenly open to big valleys, where the look seems hypnotized and not able to turn around. The landscape is like this when the horizon is far and the view is changing and full of colors and shapes.
The villages are hanged on the Mounts Dauni here and there at non usual altitudes for Puglia, that is flat in everyone fantasy. Here you can breath mountain air. But this, as I said, is another Puglia that is little-known and that is waiting to be discovered from the most curious and sensible tourists. Among other the Bovino stands out, it is probably the most beautiful one. But why do we have to make charts when the most reasonable advise is to visit it as much as possible? The name has nothing to do with horse, it came from Vinibum, an ancient roman centre mentioned by Plinio but already founded in the third century a.C. from Dauni and known to Annibale that camped out there in 217 a.C. before the battle of Cannae. Roman tracks are still present in “Cennato Cellar”, an ancient cellar dig in the sand connected to the roman aqueduct. As a roman colony it was promoted as a province and was equipped with an aqueduct, an amphitheater and a forum.
The tracks stored in the Civic Museum “Carlo Gaetano Nicastro”, in Pisani Palace, are more ancient. Here, among the other artifacts of great interest, two magnificent gravestones are stored. They represent, more than a man and a woman, the idea of male and female and they are able to get deep emotions in those who stare at the archaic in the right way. The two stele remind the Great Mother but, since ancestral has no time, also Modigliani and the Art Brut. The art of those that hadn’t learn art but got it from the pain, the segregation and the mourning. The female stele is a plate with no arts and no head and only apparently flat because the relief is given by the deep symbolism: a bust with no arts and no head where you can see a necklace, a big x that separates the breast, the belly button, a belt and the pubic triangle. Equally intense is the male stele defined by a knife whose tip flows a surge.
If today Bovino is the most beautiful villages of Italy it owes it to its deep medieval, renaissance and baroque history. Langobards, Byzantines, Normans, Svevi and then Spanish came through here. All of them left tracks and, among these, the amazing portals of several houses with bas-reliefs and patches are really significant. They surprise for their quality, their conservation status and the number. A walk into the past, here, is not a figure of speech. The Ducal Castle is impressive. It dominates the “Bovino Valley”. Today it is a great view to admire, once it was a terrific place because of the amount of assaults of bandits to the convoys obliged to pass through this only route of communication between Campania and Adriatico.
The initial roman rock was bulwark of Langobards and Byzantines until, at the end of the XI century, it was destroyed by Normans that built on its ruins the core of the castle. Because of its strategic position the castle was exploited by Normans and Angevin until it became the house of the De Guevara, Spanish nobles, that here stayed with very known persons such as Bernardo and his son Torquato, Giovan Battista Marino, Benedetto XII and Maria Teresa from Austria. Since 2008 the castle is on rent by the Diocese and, with the help of European funds, every year the Sipario Cooperative Society works on the restoration of the entire structure that today contains paintings of the Caravaggio school from 1600, things of sacred art, statues from the 1500 and silverware from 1000 to 1900.
The beautiful Saint Mark Cathedral is not only an interesting romanic monument but is also a living and concrete meeting point for the little community of Bovino and I recommend you to repeat the experience that accidentally happened to me and for what I thanks the case, the saint protector of tourists. I had to make an appointment with the taxi driver that had to take me to the airport of Bari. I asked him to meet in Cattedrale plaza since I was host in an hotel where cars couldn’t get. It was the dawn of a Sunday morning and I was early as always when I have to travel. So I decided to sit on the steps of the church to enjoy the silence and the perfect scenography of those low houses, with flowers on the balconies, that seemed bent in adoration of the impressive church. This is the true measure of a men, I was thinking dipped between the greatness of the church and the perfect modesty of the plaza. At some point the ring belt and the silence was interrupted. The plaza started to be filled by the arriving of the faithful answering to this powerful loud proclamation. Everyone had his head down on his feet, they were looking so peaceful while getting closer to the Holy. That’s all? Yeah, that’s all. The case allowed me to see a community waking up the way it could happen two, three or ten centuries ago. A magic journey through time that I had to tell you and that I recommend you to repeat. The municipality of Bovino, the Pro Loco and the Gal Meridaunia are working very hard to let people know this village that, as many others little centre in south Italy, doesn’t have much to offer to young people in order to make them have fun. Let’s say it clear, coffers like this can only be saved by tourists that, on the other hand, have reason to come here. But they have to know that they exist and right now this is the most difficult and important part.
I haven’t talked about the gastronomy because I left it as the last. We feast at the end and here the feast is full of particular sensations that only the ancient and poor cook can give to you. It is made of simple plates, they are made with raw materials of absolute quality: fresh pasta made with flours of high quality grains, for example the Senatori Cappelli, the extra-virgin olive oil of Monti Dauni, the delicious cold cuts obtained from the Black Pig from Monti Dauni, an ancient indigenous breed of pig saved from the extinction that now is semi-free range with biological methods. We cannot forget the herbs: wild rocket, wild thistles, “marasciuoli”, wild mustard, dandelion, chicory, turnip greens, cress, Swiss chard, wild fennel, wild asparagus, borage and nettles. They are true gastronomic pillar of home cooking that the most cleaver caterers had the courage to offer as ancient preparation such as the “pancotto”, with pasta, on bread-dipping, sauteed, or just boiled with oil and lemon. Very delicious!
You can choose between three kind of wine for you bovinese lunch: the very famous Nero di Troia, the Tuccanese, an interesting red wine that you can taste only in this area since the vine is now rare, and last but not least the Cacc’e Mmitte, it is a red wine and it’s produced in Lucera which obtained the European label Doc for this excellent product.
You must go to Nicola Consiglio to eat, he’s a very good chef that point on the land and the tradition. He cooks good food and with him you’ll be safe, so I recommend you to go see him at La Cantina restaurant or at Piana delle Mandrie agritourism.
Another experience that you cannot lose is the tasting in “Gola D’Ercole” Cellar where Carlo di Giovanni will guide you in a 10 meters depth dungeon. Here takes place the tasting of wine, pecorino cheese and caciocavallo podolico cheese of many varieties.
You also have to see “Lo Moleno”, an ancient water windmill on the creek Cervaro built in 1810. It is managed by Grasso family that restructured it using materials of that time and took it back to its primary function. The flours obtained from valuable grains such as the Senatore Cappelli and the Bianchetta are not in commerce but they are offered to visitors after they saw the productive process explained by the miller master of the house. At the end of the visit there is the rustic refreshment prepared by Mrs Caterina and her daughters: bread-balls, pizza with zucchini or potatoes, omelettes with herbs, quiche with cheese and cold cuts, bread-dipping with bittersweet zucchini home cooked.
You can sleep in one of the many B&B because the town became a spread hotel. Pro Loco will know where to place you. I stayed in Palazzo San Procopio B&B and it was good since I enjoyed the “Le Pietre del Borgo” Spa. A stop in a Spa is always good…
Ristorante La Cantina
Via Giovanni Barone 1
71023 Bovino, Italia
Tel. 389 789 7956
Agriturismo Piana Delle Mandrie
Contrada Padula SP 121
Incrocio Accadia Panni
Tel. 0881 966406
Palazzo San Procopio e Cento Benessere Le Pietre del Borgo
Via Monte Girone, 23, 25
Cantina Gola D’Ercole Questa è la vostra struttura?
2 Recensioni ) N. 9 di 13 Ristoranti a Bovino
Via Roma, Bovino, Italia
Lo Moleno d’acqua del ponte
Bovino Scalo, 19
Visit Apulia: helpful hints
Italian name: Puglia
The Italian region Apulia is located in Southern Italy. There are four airports in there: the northern one is the Foggia airport, in the middle is the Bari airport, then going souther you can find the Brindisi airport and the Taranto airport. From all these airports you can reach several cities by bus and train or renting a car directly at the airport.
You can move around Apulia by car, buses or trains: check on the official tourism website a full list of all the options, included a useful bus & train schedule to and from the airports of Bari and Brindisi. Consider also the ferry option, to get to Tremiti Islands!
What to do
As mentioned, region Apulia is in the very South, the heel of Italy. Some places we recommend you to visit: Castel del monte, a great fortress UNESCO World Heritage site; the National Parks of Gargano and Alta Murgia; the Tremiti Island archipelago, especially San Domino Island. For a seaside holiday, plan your visit in Salento! Actually, the whole region is a great destination for sailing lovers: all along the coasts you can spot many wonderful marine caves and bays – i.e. Turkish Bay, Poetry Cave, Zinzulusa Cave, etc. Don’t miss a stop to Alberobello village, where are the famous Trulli (the traditional Apulian dry stone huts with a conical roof). Enjoy also some sightseeing around the local art cities (Lecce and Ostuni, first).
Some special tips by Italia Slow Tour: a bike tour on the bike lane of Itria valley and a visit to a typical Italian historical village – aka borgo – called Biccari. Don’t leave without a taste of some typical Apulia products like the burrata from Andria, the Altamura bread, the local taralli, the famous orecchiette fresh pasta and so on.