Castel del Monte and surroundings - Early spring in southern Italy - CycleBlaze

May 12, 2006

Castel del Monte and surroundings

We are now at the chosen spot for the start of our tour. We find an "agriturismo", sometimes called farmhouse accommodation, just south of Castel del Monte where we will also be able to leave our car while we tour. The Italian government has supported the development of this brand of farm B&B as an effort to provide additional income for the rural farming population and thus prevent the farms from being abandoned. Where we are staying some of the old farm buildings have been restored on a grand scale, using the original rough hewn stone. The dining room could accommodate busloads of tourists. Our room, with a modern bathroom, is decent enough, but it definitely smells like the stables behind it, horse manure in other words.

Our "agriturismo" near Castel del Monte
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Dining room of the B&B
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On our first evening here we cycle the few kilometers to Castel del Monte which is perhaps the best known monument in all of Apulia. This also explains why our B&B is prepared to serve busloads of tourists. This mighty castle with eight towers of the same shape was built in the 13th century by Frederick the Second of Swabia. Its architecture, a combination of classic, oriental and Gothic inspiration, is unique worldwide and is now on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Castel del Monte
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See the knee. Not quite six months ago, Janos had a total knee replacement! And he's riding his bike as if nothing happened, no, actually better and we are both elated that the operation was such a success. His cycling life has been prolonged by many years.

Total knee replacement just six months ago!
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May 13, 2006


Today blue skies. We take a little day trip from our B&B to Minvervino Murge, often called the "balcony of Apulia", as it looks over the Murgia plateau from 450 meters above sea level. The streets leading to the center of the old town are narrow and steep.

View from Minervino, the "balcony of Apulia"
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It's been a late spring - the fields are still green and dotted with wild flowers. When we return to Castel del Monte at the end of our two-week tour, the flowers will be gone and the fields brown.

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Today's ride: 46 km (29 miles)
Total: 46 km (29 miles)

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