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Puglia, a journey among nature, culture and cuisine, in the most visited region of Italy
“Italian California” amazes for landscapes and hospitality. The magical Salento

ROMA (Italy) - The region anciently known as Apulia by the Romans, even inhabited by the Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs and then by the Angevin and Bourbons is not just sea and cities to visit but also natural attractions and beautiful landscapes such as villages, sunsets, farms, castles and Salento.Into the land that arises from the embrace of two seas, the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, you may discover some of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the World with stunning vertical cliffs and long beachsurrounded by Mediterranean vegetation. Anywaythe Puglia is also revealed through the soul of their cities that preserve ancient stories and Lecce, among these cities, stands out as the ideal capital of the "magical Salento".

How to get. You may arrive by air through the airports of Bari and Brindisi or using the national railway or, alternatively, along the several roads and highways just ending in the "heel of Italy". However in Puglia you will arrive above all with “the mind of the traveler” and then leave almost "taking it into the heart."

In our view, there are two different routes to embrace the ideal Puglia mixing between them authenticity and originality: Polignano a Mare - Ostuni - Brindisi - Lecce - Otranto (200 km) or a real "tour of Salento" to better venture into the area defined by the most as "the Mecca of Italian tourism": Lecce - Gallipoli - Santa Maria di Leuca - Castro - Otranto - Torre dell'Orso - Lecce (200 km). Hereby follows the presentation of the first option:

On a rocky promontory above the sea stands Polignanoa Mare, whose old town is one of the most evocative areas of territory.The entrance is passing under an impressive marquis archway leading to the central square of the Clock which houses the Governor's Palace and the Mother Church which was the cathedral until 1818 and preserves some important works such as the nativity scene made entirely of stone. From the square many paved streets show the tourists the way forward for the terraces, loggias facing directly above the sea and offering a breathtaking view. Polignano a Mare is famous for the beauty of its unmissable caves. The most beautiful is Grotta Palazzese, so called because of the Marquis Leto who included it into the property of the "Palace." For the city is particularly significant the assignment from 2008 onwards of the Blue Flag for the naturalness of its beaches and waters.

In Puglia Romanesque and Baroque cathedrals and monuments adorn the squares, in the shade of impressive castles and palaces. From Gargano to Salento, the Puglia is a casket of priceless treasures and architectural wonders, such as the UNESCO sites, such beautiful places to be considered World Heritage Site.

Ostuni is perched on a hill overlooking the Adriatic and for the color of its whitewashed houses is also called the “White Town". It is characterized by a historical center dotted with palaces and churches and among them the Cathedral which can be reached through the characteristic paved path that leads on top of the old town. Reach the hill top is also an opportunity to get lost in the many colorful streets of pastel colors that blend together in an endless maze.For shopping lovers, it's important to know that most of the stalls and boutiques are scattered between the whitewashed narrow streets. Especially in summer, the "White Town" is overrun with tourists who keen to spend a few hours in the premises of the center, tasting the delicacies of Puglia or even just a cool ice cream. But Ostuni means also nightlife for those who love to live at any cost until dawn, offering popular nightclubs along the coast.

From Gargano to Salento, delight your palate with the genuineness of Puglia. Menu that smell like the typical homemade orecchiette pasta, grilled meat, seafood specialty, dairy products, cheese and lots of bakery products: “focaccia”, fried "pettole" and pastries. Treat yourself to the peace of mind in countryside under the shade of olive trees and vineyards that offer excellent extra virgin olive oil and delicious wines: Negroamaro, Aleatico and Primitivo.

Being located in a natural creek wedged in coastline and due to its strategic position is since antiquity one of the most important ports of the Adriatic, so that here the Romans ended the Via Appia, reginaviarium. Brindisi as a tourist destination offers some attractions that are worth visiting as well as the town center small but very lovable (see the guide dedicated to the architectural beauty). During the summer the town awakes from its winter slumber and offers a number of social events:
The Wine Fest and International Regatta Brindisi - Corfu. Much of the hinterland is occupied by the Itria Valley, known as the Land of Trulli with white and blue colored towns: Cisternino, Ceglie, Carovigno, Ostuni. Favored by a particularly mild climate even in autumn, the area also offers one of the biggest natural reserves of the region, Torre Guaceto that, along with an important thermal center, Torre Canne, and Fasano Safari Park constitute the major attractions in the north of Brindisi.

Let yourself be soothed by the crystal clear waters of golden beaches and breathtaking cliffs. Let yourself be up the sunshine on beaches of Salento. Choose a holiday of relaxation and wellness. Or a holiday dedicated to sport and leisure, surrounded by nature. Venture out into the unspoiled marine protected areas or having fun in the nightlife. If you are in the boat you havealso a wealth of harbors and mooring points.

At the center of the Salento peninsula is located Lecce, also called "Florence of the South" or "Athens of Puglia" for its wide artistic, historical and culturalheritage,: must-see for fans of the Baroque style, but equally rich in historic Roman, medieval and Renaissance monuments. Lecce has been "Italian Capital of Culture" in 2015 and houses the European Film Festival since 2000. Celebrated and precious is the ancient art of paper mache, still practiced by skilled artisans in the workshops near Piazza Sant'Oronzo, the heart of the city in which it was discovered, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Roman amphitheater of the Augustan age still partly hidden underground. Also the food lovers will not remain unsatisfied by a walk through the streets of the historic center: between the gastronomic specialties in fact, you cannot fail to mention: Rustico, Puccia and Pasticciotto.

Puglia welcomes you in every season of the year, thanks to the mild climate. If you love active tourism, you can practice your favorite sports in close contact with nature. From trekking to horse riding, from surfing to snorkeling to discover extraordinary backdrops, the choice is vast for experienced but also for newbies. Moreover, if you love health-wellness combination ask the many spas in Santa Caesarea, Torre Canneand Margherita di Savoia.

Otranto, also called "the city of the Martyrs" is the real jewel of Salento, a bridge between West and East, an area full of Caribbean beaches, a place rich in history, art, culture. Stroll the streets of Otranto is an emotion that is rarely forgotten. The narrow streets, monuments and the ancient beauty of the old town, give it a unique charm, able to catch the eye and the heart of every visitor. The historic center welcomes tourists from all over the world who like to get lost in the historical treasures offering the Cathedral with its historical riches, the Aragonese Castle, the walls ...

However Otranto is also famous for its unspoiled beaches. These include above all the beach of Alimini edged by white dunes, among the scents of the Mediterranean bush and pristine sand. The Bay of the Turks, a fascinating strip of white sand bordered by lush Mediterranean vegetation and Porto Badisco, a creek dreamlike creek where, according to legend, Aeneas landed during his escape from Troy.

Live the nights of Puglia among discos and the most popular clubs. In the old town, a crowded little square of people is perfect for a drink, while in the typical restaurants you can discover the real flavors of Puglia. Nature is your partner in every season of the year between exclusive bays and romantic getaways into the nature, you can also sunbathe undisturbed on a wild cliff or even refuge in an old farmhouse. In all of this, Puglia is your friend and certainly it will be loved. (Fonte Puglia Promozione)

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The Queen of the Ionian, between culture, historicity and relax for all
Gallipoli is the new Italian destination "trend" for young people and families

GALLIPOLI (Italy) - Overlooking the Ionian Sea, it is divided between the city and the quaint old town. The ancient village of Gallipoli - with a semi-circular shape - is surrounded by defense walls built to oppose the many conquerors that over time have sought to dominate it. The old town, in fact, is a sort of island linked to the city through a bridge. The "Angioino-Aragonese" castle and the "Sant'Agata'' cathedral are a must see. For the lovers of sea relaxation, there is the splendid ''Spiaggia della Purità'', a beach accessible through the narrow streets of the village or by "La Riviera", the panoramic road that runs through the walls throughout their length.

Gallipoli is a coastal town that is part of the province of Lecce from which is 40 km and in Puglia it is known as the "Pearl of the Ionian". The town is located along the western coast of the peninsula of Salento, and is divided into two parts: the Borgo or the new city, and the Old Town. The name of the city has Greek origins, Kallipolis which translated means "beautiful city" and is recognized for its impressive fortress of the 17th century. Another must-see is the picturesque fishing harbour visited by tourists and residents. The new city offers a rich shopping area that is located in the "continental" part of the territory. The main street, offers great shopping and numerous cafes and ice-cream shops.

The old town, however, is the real attraction for anyone venturing into these places. The historic center is located on an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. The ancient island-like village has a long history built on some legends. Messapic settlement in 265 became a Roman colony. Destroyed by vandals and goths, the city was rebuilt by the Byzantines and subsequently owned by the Roman Pontiffs. By strolling into the characteristic twist of alleys, you will find the Cathedral of Sant'Agata in pure Salento's Baroque style. Two steps from the sea there are other three jewels: the seventeenth-century church of Santa Maria della Purità and St. Francis of Assisi and the Greek fountain dating to the 16th century.

Gallipoli is also known for its two coasts. The south coast connects Gallipoli to Santa Maria di Leuca with renowned seaside resorts such as Torre San Giovanni, Torre Mozza and Pescoluse, while on the northern coast to Porto Cesareo, you reach the famous Santa Maria al Bagno and Santa Caterina. The best time to visit or take a vacation on the Gallipoli coast remains June and September, while in July and August all the resorts are attacked by tourists from all over the world. (Giorgio Esposito) (Fonti: Comune di Gallipoli)

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Polignano suspended between sea and sky with one of the most fascinating villages in Italy
The homeland of Domenico Modugno is also called "pearl of the Adriatic"

POLIGNANO A MARE (Italy) - Polignano is a beautiful resort in the province of Bari, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Over the centuries it has been inhabited by the Corinthians, Pentecostals, Byzantines, Normans and Aragonese of the Kingdom of Naples. To see the suggestive Borgo Antico whose entrance takes place under the charming "Arco Marchesale" leading to the square ''Piazza Dell'Orologio'' which is the heart of the historic center and the famous balconies that offer a breathtaking view of the Adriatic Sea. Very fascinating is the entire high and rocky coast, which includes several bays and natural caves that can be visited by boat. Polignano a Mare is a true tourist attraction and is the ideal destination for a unique holiday, to get immerse in the unspoiled nature of a place full of charm and history. Over the past five years, this important resort has been rebuilt with the Blue Flag of the League of environment for cleanliness of its Sea and the quality of tourist services.

Polignano is considered the "pearl of the Adriatic", for the mix between the crystal clear sea and the cliffs of the ancient hamlet. From 2008 to 2016 it was awarded the Blue Flag, an acknowledgment given to seaside resorts that respect certain requirements for sustainable management of the land. For this reason, one of the first places to visit is its sea caves that open into the cliff. Some of the most beautiful caves to visit are the cave of ''rondinelle''', the cave ''costa azzurra'' and the ''grotta dell'arcivescovado'' cave.

Its historic center is within high walled walls and rocks overhanging on marine waters.
To the ancient is accessible through the ''Marchesale'' arch which rises up from the square ''Piazza dell'Orologio'', for its ancient sundial. The square is surrounded by the ''Matrice'' church, the Governor's Palace, and grain and oil deposits, which have been fundamentally funded by the city economy. It overlooks the church of ''santa Maria Assunta'', dating back to 1295, already a cathedral until 1818.

But the true "must" of landscaping comes from the breathtaking views that Polignano offers to its millions of visitors and enthusiasts. In the square there are small lanes that lead the visitor to one of the most fascinating views that the Puglia coast can offer. The balconies thrive on the enchanting sea of more than 20 meters high on about forty sea caves, true pillars of the city. The "Ardito'' cave, the "Azzurra", "delle Monache", "delle Colonne", "dei Colombi" caves, the grotto of ''rondinelle" and the most famous "Palazzese'' grotto. All these caves can be visible from the sea. Exceptional is also the bridge ''Ponte della Traiana'' street built by the Romans, which beneath has the most beautiful beach town "Grottone", from which it can be admirable the overlying and beautiful ancient village.

There are 6 the most beautiful beaches of Polignano: Cala Paura, Ponte dei Lapilli, San Giovanni, San Vito, Torre Incina and Grottone, which is accessible from the promenade Domenico Modugno, where it is located the statue of the singer born in this beautiful scenery. (Giorgio Esposito) (Fonti: Comune di Polignano)

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Otranto, is the true jewel of Salento and ideal bridge between the West and the East
The lucky nature of Salento offers uncontaminated spaces and immaculate beaches

OTRANTO (Italy) - Otranto is a beautiful town in the province of Lecce located on the Adriatic coast of the peninsula of Salento and is the most easternmost municipality of Italy. The city, besides being renowned as a seaside resort, houses a historical, cultural and religious heritage rich in testimonials and tourist attractions. Its historic seacoast attracts tourists from all over the world thanks to 10 km of beaches and cliffs, recently also chosen by the "jet society" for a relaxing holiday. If you are passionate about diving or want to admire a beautiful seascape, push south to Porto Badisco another pearl of the area. In the city, the cathedral houses large mosaics dating back to the 12th century and an Aragonese Castle boasting of Puglia. The climate is rather mild during the year with precipitation and winds mostly concentrated in autumn and winter.

Otranto has one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and accessing the historical center through the "Porta Terra" with the "Torre Alfonsina", passing by Corso Garibaldi, which represents the town's street with innumerable and very nice shops open till night . The main course ends in Piazza del Popolo where the Tower of the Clock is located with the city coat of arms. The most important religious building is the Cathedral with its mix of different styles: early Christian, Byzantine and Romanesque. However, the most important feature of Otranto's cathedral is the splendid mosaic flooring on the church as well as the collection of martyrs' bones of Otranto, along with the spectacular crypt placed below the Cathedral. Another pearl of the town is represented by the Aragonese Castle made by the Spaniards, which made it a true masterpiece of military architecture.

Another scenic jewel is given by the spectacular view of the inner harbor along the city walls (via Bastione dei Pelasgi). A landscape on the blue waters surrounding it and making it the ideal setting for a city that has always been among the most loved in the world. The itinerary is then completed with a walk on the city waterfront to enjoy ice cream and "Pasticciotto" or sunbathe on the white beach frequented by tourists and citizens of Otranto.

One of the main attractions of the "city of the martyrs" is the unmatched sea and beautiful natural scenery. Towards the north, we find seaside resorts with a fantastic nature: the ''Baia dei Turchi'', with Caribbean beach and clear sea. The ''Laghi Alimini'', two beautiful basins (one of fresh water and the other salty), surrounded by a fantastic mediterranean scrub with a whitewashed sand. Or Torre Sant'Andrea and Torre dell'Orso, where the coast is frigate with remarkable stacks. To the south, however, we find Porto Badisco with its fairy-tale creeks. (Giorgio Esposito) (Fonti: Comune di Otranto)

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Puglia, a journey among nature, culture and cuisine: Ostuni, the "white city"
reveals itself in all its wonderful naturalness
Just a few kilometers from Brindisi, it boasts one of the most beautiful villages in the world

OSTUNI (Italy) - Ostuni is picturesque and all to discover, it is the White City. Renowned tourist destination, it boasts a wonderful medieval village full of streets and whitewashed houses in a mosaic that remembers an Arab casbah. A walk in the old town, known as the "land" to distinguish it from the most recent "marina", features picturesque views across alleys, steep staircases, courtyards and squares overlooking white houses embellished with geraniums, craft shops, typical restaurants and shops.

Apulia exceeds herself and wins the National Geographic Award for Best Value Travel Destination in the World: fantastic sea, fascinating and wonderful natural landscapes, antique villages rich in culture and good food. Based on these assessments, Apulia has been chosen as the "best destination in the world". According to National Geographic, "Apulia boasts the best of southern Italy, the rhythms of life, the traditions and the beauty of the places. Indomitable''.

The same kind of opinion also comes from the New York Times and Lonely Planet, which describes the region as rich in numerous small towns and villages where there is no chaos of big cities and where, in addition to Lonely Planet's words ''you can taste some quality wines at low princes, in a region that is the third wine producer and has thirty different qualities of native grapes.''

Perched on three hills, Ostuni rises in the Itria Valley at 218 m above sea level. It is 40 km from Brindisi and 8 from its Adriatic coast, which has always been awarded the Blue Flag. The magic of Ostuni is linked to the characteristic center of the ancient village on which the fifteenth-century Romanesque-Gothic cathedral stands and on which stands a large 24-rays of rare beauty. Along the Cathedral, which divides the medieval heart of the city into two, the former Carmelite Monastery is home to the Museum of Preclinical Civilizations of the Southern Murgia, where the footage of Delia, a pregnant woman lived 25,000 years ago, is exposed. In Largo Trinchera, they face the eighteenth-century buildings of the Bishop's Palace and the old Seminary, linked by the striking arch Scoppa.

Ostuni is best known as the "white city" for its lime-painted buildings, which create a splendid light effect especially in the summer months. The medieval village is very characteristic and enjoys a suggestive position on the hill. Each house is painted white with lime painting. In the 17th century the plague struck in the area, saving Ostuni, especially for the habit of whitening the lime housing that has the property of being a natural disinfectant. The historic center of Ostuni is one of the most beautiful in Italy and is known around the world for its original architecture embellished with geraniums, craft shops, typical restaurants and shops.

Ostuni, with its 33,000 inhabitants, rises on the last slopes of Southern Murgia. Its old city, called ''La Terra'' (the Land), is unmistakable by the blindingly monochrome color of its inhabited, strictly white. The painted houses of lime and the peculiar topography have earned fairytale epithets, such as ''La Città Bianca'', ''Regina degli Ulivi'', ''Città Presepe'', and ''Il nucleo antico''- probably a support for the Messapic Acropolis - it is in fact on the steep of a hill and presents an elipsoidal plant, clearly expressed by the walls reinforced by the Aragonian towers. There are eight of the original fifteen, as well as good parts of the bastions that are used to close the medieval city.

Ostuni is a fascinating tangle of winding streets, a succession of courts, squares and lanes that once led to five doors that opened into the city walls equipped with towers. The only true road that reaches the vertex of the "cone" and divides the historic center into two parts is road Cathedral, while all the others that intersect it are blind alleys or steep and steep stairways. Barrels dug into the rock, joined by strings and semi-arches supporting; as well as palaces that, for gentle coat-of-arms, portals and variety of architectural lines, with golden ocher spots shaded the blinding glow of the white labyrinth. On the summit of the hill stands the Cathedral with Romanesque, Gothic and Venetian elements. A walk in the old town features picturesque views across alleys, steep staircases, courtyards.

Housed since prehistoric times, the territory of Ostuni is occupied around 1000 B. C. from Japigi and Messapi. The city is destroyed by Annibale in the Second Punic War, rebuilt by Greek colonists and, in subsequent centuries, occupied by Ostrogoths and Longobards, Saracens and Mori, Swabians and Normans. In 1507 it was annexed to the Duchy of Bari of Isabella d'Aragona. During nearly two centuries of Spanish rule, the Ossetians attempt to oppose several times, until in 1799 they proclaim the free and republican city. The Vienna Congress marks the return of the Bourbons, but also the flowering of sections of Carboneria and then of Young Italy. On August 26, 1860, just days after the departure of Garibaldi from Messina, Ostuni - the first town in Puglia - knocks the Bourbon coats of arms and waves the tricolor flag. (Giorgio Esposito) (Fonti: Comune di Ostuni)

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The city of Alberobello, the magic of Trulli charms million of travellers
The treasure of Itria valley is a Unesco world heritage site

ALBEROBELLO (Italy) - It is one of the most beautiful village in the world, nestled in one of the most popular and always appreciated territory of the penisula. The enjoyable city, in fact, is located in Itria valley, uncontested capital of Trulli, which are about 1.000 only in the historical center. The panorama is a watercolor that attracts tourists from around the world during the entire year. This success is also due to a strict conservation of the territory. The historic center of Alberobello is easily visited on foot, strolling the charming cobblestone streets of Monti and Aia Piccola districts - which are declared a World Heritage Site - where the doors of trulli decorated with climbing plants or flower pots can be admired. A landscape that looks like a painting depicting ancient stories made of traditions and respect for their own land.

The two main areas of the city, Monti and Aia Piccola, both National Monuments and from December 1996 recognized by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, represent a site of outstanding universal value and an example of a building construction form deriving from prehistoric techniques, still intact surviving and working today, in the modern world. The atmosphere is rustic and mystical at the same time. Immersed in an old-fashioned agrarian landscape where, as far as the eye can see, vegetation of almond and olive trees are extended interspersed by typical dry stone walls, the town of Alberobello, in the province of Bari, in the Itria Valley, spread over two hills. A group of unique houses emerge and take us back in time, when the first human constructions were a natural continuation of the place where they were born.

The Trulli have in common with the dwellings of primitive peoples the outer shape, a cylinder topped by a cone, but everything else is an original construction: they are entirely made of local limestone by a ''dry'' technique. Primitive is the form, as well as the means of work, but certainly is not the wisdom with which an exceptional immobility has been reached. The roof is very particular, it consists of a pseudo-dome made up of horizontal limestone slabs positioned into smaller and smaller concentric series called ''chianche'' and ''chiancarelle''. The result is a building with an excellent fresh thermal insulation in summer and warm in winter.

The keystone, often decorated with esoteric, spiritual or propitiatory and ingenious decorations, the presence of a ledge protruding from the roof used to collect rain water in special tanks. The primitive art, already observed in the form of pinnacles, becomes more varied and complex signs, in symbolic figures, in monograms, emblems and symbols drawn with milk of lime on the back of the conical roofs. Most symbols are of religious Christian origin and range from the cross to the monogram, from symbols of passion to the pierced heart, from the radiant Sacrament to the Eucharistic Chalice.

Other symbols, such as the cock, the snake, the horseshoe, the horns of an ox or a ram and primitives symbols like circles, triangles, straight and curves lines, swastikas range as those that are found on some ancient Apulian vases. Others are inspired by the magic; among these there are astronomical, astrological and planetary signs. Or, again, simply and grotesque ornamental, as the cornucopia, the star, the initials of the owner, the scythe, the hoe, a figurehead.

According to some studies, the Trulli date back to the mid-fourteenth century. Their most widespread would be dated according to some historians in the late sixteenth century, when the drywall construction, without mortar, was authorized by the Acquaviva d'Aragona family, counts of Conversano, feudal lords of the place, to escape an edict of the Kingdom of Naples which imposed taxes on every new urban settlement. Therefore, such buildings were precarious buildings, nontaxable and easy demolition, but in the truth their internal structure, although without supporting elements and connection, in fact, has an extraordinary static capacity.

The area of Rione Monti has the most ancient Trulli. The streets of Monte San Michele, Via Monte Nero and the street of Monte Pasubio, which is hosting the Trullo Siamese from the fifteenth-century. The church of Sant'Antonio, with its particular trullo form is one of the most characteristic buildings of the place. Another fascinating are, the Aia Piccola, is the only area without commercial activities. Here the views testify to the appearance that much of the country had to have in its infancy. Today is Unesco Heritage Site and it's located on the south-east of Alberobello, separated from the Rione Monti by the Largo of Fogge, the early nineteenth century had four hundred Trulli, which looked out on eight small streets, with about 1300 in habitants. (Giorgio Esposito) (Fonti: Comune di Alberobello)

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Puglia, a journey among nature, culture and cuisine, in the most visited region of Italy
Brindisi not only sea … From the Roman Columns to suspended theatre: a trip between history and mistery

BRINDISI (Italy) - Filia Solis, Indian Mail, East's Door, door of peace: there are many terms to describe Brindisi, access point to the Salento's magnificence and silent bearer of a great legacy.
Land of Messapic civilization at first and then heart of the Roman Empire. In his harbour, that look like a deer's head, Cesare and Pompeo had fight an epical battle, and then it was an important meeting point during the Middle Age and a connection between London and Bombay during XIX century. Today the city “Filia Solis”, like Federico II di Svevia named her, is famous for people that want to spend time through Salento’s landescapes. But despite his anonymity the city, hided in its alley, conserve the signs of a glorious past. It would be a good reason to come back to Brindisi.
For this cause we greet you with a “brindisi” (in English “let’s make a toast”), the most famous greeting in Italy that was born here. During the Roman Empire period many left for Greece from Brindisi saying “May the propitious gods grand us a safety return to Brindisi”.
(clicca sulla foto per ingrandire la mappa...)

An anonymous merchant, imagining itself dead, turned to those who were passing through Brindisi saying: “Passenger, if it doesn’t bring harm to you, stop and read. I have often crossed the Ocean on sailing ships, I’ve been to many lands [...] Here I’ve placed all my troubles and my fatigues”. Today that words (conserved in the Archeological Museum) reverberate in the ears of those passengers that want to lost themselves in the twist and turns of history. This guide is dedicated to them.

Starting from the port that historian De Leo named “the most famous imaginable” it is possible to admire in the distance one of the most peculiar castle of the XV century: the castle Alfonsino. In 1481 Alfonso II of Aragon, under the orders of his father Ferdinand, built a fortress on the island of St. Andrew to defend the port and the city with fewer soldiers. The castle Alfonsino was therefore born as a simple fortress, then the old castle was enforced with a triangular bastion towards the open sea and with a circular bastion towards the inside of the port. The new fort had now a triangular shape. The particular that identify him is a following construction, the internal port that recieved the boats. Sfortunately today is closed to visit.

Looking at the dock you’ll see the “Scalinata Virgilio” (Virglio’s stairway) that gets in “Piazza Virglilio” (Virgilio’s square) in which there is the house where the great poet lived and the Roman Columns. The origin, however, shrouded in mystery. The common belief wants the columns were erected to mark the end of the Via Appia during the Roman Imperial Period (I-III sec a.D). But not everyone know that there are other assumptions, the first is that the columns were born in honor of Hercules, father of Brent (the legendary founder of the city). In witness of which, the columns in Africa and in Spain marked the end of the known world. Another myth tells that the columns being in a high place were used as a reference point for sailors entering the harbor.

Whatever the origin of this monument, the columns have always been the mark of Brindisi’s greatness and still now they characterize the city. Today there is only one left after the 1528’s crash. After that the remains has offered to the city of Lecce to ward off an epidemy.

Walking down Via Colonne you’ll pass through the bell tower’s arc, dating back to the XVIII century, and you can arrive in Piazza Duomo where, first of all people can notice the cathedral, which houses the remains of saint Theodor (San Teodoro) , patron of our town, will capture your attention. In the same square you can find on the left the Archbishop’s Palace and the seminar’s building, headquarters of the Archdiocese of Brindisi-Ostuni. On the right after the bell tower you can find the Provincial Museum established in 1956 and dedicated to Francesco Ribezzo, an academic skilled in the study of the Messapic civilization. The museum preserve a slew of evidence from the Messapic civilization to latest, signs of the city's importance.

From Piazza Duomo you can choose between two different ways: the first one through Via Duomo will lead you to the square were the Verdi theatre is, the only theatre in the world that has been built suspended on ancient archaeological remains. A giant steel pile dwelling (40thousands cubic meters of volume x 500 cubic meters of surface) it imposes itself to the outside view and gives a taste of the beauty inside. The theatre can welcome 995 spectators and the stage is one of the biggest in Italy but the greatest thing about this theatre is that it’s the only one to be suspended on a archaeological site of the ancient Roman Town: a street from the Republican age, houses and mosaic floor, ancient spa and marble sculpture. Today the Theatre has an intense activity during winter. The most famous actors, singers and dancers of all Italy come to perform in it and bring every year more and more young people to the theatre. In the same square there is Palace Granafei-Nervegna which, besides being the representative building of the city, hosts great art exhibitions and the original capital of the Roman Column.

Going back to Piazza Duomo and passing through Via Tarantini a second walk will lead you to the San Giovanni al Sepolcro’s temple that dating back to 1112 is the most faithful replica of the Anastasis of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Originally there were 3 entrances with figures carved directly into the stone building. The portal, which now houses the visitors has a marble architrave decorated with two lions facing each other, that, according to the ancient symbolism were guarding the purity of the people entering the temples. The temple was built on the ruins of a Roman house of which we can admire only part of the atrium, reflecting the past history within those walls.

A Legend tells that the Norman Bohemondo ordered the construction of the church before leaving with the Crusaders from Brindisi and that is circular like the one of Santa Maria Maggiore, Lucera and Saint Lucia in Perugia. But not everyone know that the temple is shrouded in the veil of mystery that the legendary story of the Templar brings with it. There are many Templar symbols like the cross of Lorraine or the circle with the center, the latest finding in a column is the "knot of Solomon."

From the Temple will arrive to the medieval church of Saint Benedict the oldest church of those in Brindisi, already existed in 1089 and was dedicated to Santa Maria Veterana. The first evidence dates back at the time of donation of the same by the Earl Godfrey, lord of Brindisi, who benefits the Benedictine monastery (attached to the church). When in 1866 the Benedictine nuns left the monastery, the church with the old cloister was given to the archbishop of Brindisi and became in 1877 seat of the vicar parish. Near Saint Benedict's church there is Santa Teresa’s square in which there is the War Memorial, built by the sculptor E. Simone. To the left of the square there is the Santa Teresa’s church, an example of the baroque architecture, built in the second half of the XVII century.

Evocative, overlooking the mighty walls, is the scene of the “Seno di Ponente” of the port and of the “Castello Svevo” that hosts the Department of the Navy. On the right a long downhill will lead you near the Piazza Santa Teresa’s stairs. On the left the port again! But the monuments of the town don’t finish here. A simple bus run to other two historical gigants. The first one is the Tancredi fountain. Outside the city walls and along the ancient route of the Via Appia there is the Tancredi fountain or Great fountain. The fountain was built in 1192 by the will of Tancred, the last Norman king of Sicily, for the occasion of the marriage between his son Roger and Princess daughter of the Byzantine emperor Isaac II (also known as Urania of Constantinople). The fountain was built in the lee of a hill and topped by a natural grove of pine trees and it is said that the fountain was used by the Crusaders for watering the horses.

Finally, the second stop untill the Airport is the church of Santa Maria del Casale. Some legends tells us that St. Francesco D’Assisi stopped there returning from the East; it is said that the image of the Virgin had been covered up by a spiders net and after hearing the words of the holy man he had unmade the net and the image could be seen again. We don’t know exactly the date of the construction of the church but the earliest reference to a worship place in that area dates back to 1300; some documents, however, show that in 1310 the church was used as a court in the trial of the Templars of the Kingdom of Sicily. In 1568, Giovanni Carlo Bovio, archbishop of Brindisi, sold the entire complex to the provincial father Bonaventura da Lecce who transformed the church in the first monastery of Terra d’Otranto.

From the XVII century the complex started to be neglected and defaced; during an epidemic disease in Salento, it was transformed in a hospital and the marvellous wall paintings were covered with lime and forgotten.In 1866 the Reformed Fathers left the church and the recovery of the wall paintings began; the working kept on until 1912. There would be many things more to tell about this small and centuries city.

It would be a good reason to come back to Brindisi.
For this cause we greet you with a “brindisi” (in English “let’s make a toast”), the most famous greeting in Italy that was born here. During the Roman Empire period many left for Greece from Brindisi saying “May the propitious gods grand us a safety return to Brindisi”.
(Marika Del Zotti)

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Lecce, “the town that dwells me” - a guide to get lost (to find oneself)
Gastronomic crumbs

LECCE (Italy) - What about an iced coffee with almond milk to start a great day in Lecce? Of course, but not just that: the inner town is full of interesting ideas about meals and snacks for the most curious (and gluttonous) travelers. The ones that I am proposing to you are, certainly, just some little ... tastes. Otherwise, events like the Street Food Festival which took place in mid July at Piazza Libertini, prove that even the local citizens could be gastronomically surprised by the Baroque Town.

Let's imagine, for example, that you're walking down Via Vittorio Emanuele II: you're very likely to meet exquisites ladies with a dazzling smile and some wicker basket full of taralli. "La casa del tarallino" by Giovanni DeGennaro, born about one year ago near Sant'Irene's Church, is dedicated mostly to the many variations of this southern delight. Among the salted taralli, the most requested by the foreigners are the ones flavored with black olives, "cime di rapa", onion and raisin; among the sweet taralli, greatly sought are the ones flavored with ginger, cinnamon, chocolate and almonds. Right next to "La casa del tarallino" there is "GustoLiberrima", the 'free time library', which offers readings about fashion, gardening, fishing and sport alongside a wide selection of wines and gastronomical products. The most sought product of the library, which could be a great present for friends and relatives, is the Cesto letterario: a handy and tasteful chest filled with books and delicacies shiappable all around the world.

Once you got enough supplies of taralli and wine you could move toward Piazza Sant'Oronzo and stop at one of the many bars with a wonderful sight on the Roman Amphitheater: highly loved and popular among citizens and tourists is "Alvino", this is the perfect place to choose your side in the grueling contest "rustico vs. pasticciotto" promoted by Fiorello (a great comedian an showman of Italian Television) on the web some months ago. Otherwise, if it's lunch time and your morning walk made you really hungry, consider mandatory a stop by the popular "Piadina Salentina", where, starting with a standard-menu you can choose both the ingredients and the dough of the piadina: spelt, cereals, hemp or tritordeum.

Even more unique are the products offered by "Il fornaio", worth a mention are two tipes of typical bread baked in a stone oven: "la piscialetta" (flavored with onion, tomatoes and black olives) and "il pizzo" (same flavor but drier and more rustic).

Still hungry and accompained by some young explorer craving for a dessert? If you don't want to get far from Piazza Sant'Oronzo, follow my advice and taste the Scrimieri twins' crepês at "Le Mille e una Crepês" in via Dei Mocenigo, place born four years ago when Luca e Mauro, after a testing period with friends, decided to take a challenge and offer to every client a crêpe perfectly ‘tailored’ for their tastes. My favourite one is with dark chocolate, fig jam, almond grain and Grand Marnier ... believe me, choosing just one type of topping was really hard!

The summer mugginess could induce you to choose something colder: in that case you should walk down Via Turchese, where there is such a concentration of gelaterie that me and my collegues use to celebrate there every successfull test (or if not, to comfort ourselves).

Once again I would like to direct you to the local specialities: for example at "Natale" you could pair classical flavors like chocolate or stracciatella with one of the rarest flavor in the world: "D'Enghien". It's an ice-cream version of a cake made of green almonds, lemon cream, cream and pasta choux. This cake won the "Donna Salentina" contest. The flavor unusual name was inspired by the countess Maria D'Enghien (1367-1446), great benefactress of the city and passionate about ... citrus fruits.

"Martinucci" is another gelateria which offer a wide variety of tastes: in addition to the typical southern flavors like almond and fig, "caffè leccese" and "Barocco", sometimes they introduce some flavor with a strange name ("Try me", "Flavor of the month", "Just here") and with unique flavors. If you prefer yogurt over ice-cream, you don't have to move much further: I suggest "Settimo Cielo", close to the Politeama Greco Theatre. Near Piazza Mazzini - the perfect destination for those with a desperate need for shopping - you can find "La puccia" and the graceful "300mila" Lounge Bar. The first one will allow you, all week long, to discover the typical taste of the local bread (dressed at your own taste); the latter is one of the most popular place among the citizens(especially for lunch and happy hours), it won many awards, one of them because it managed to bring in Puglia "an international and across-the-board way to make bar culture", submerged in contemporary art and jazz/lounge music.

A Closing this brief gastronomical excursus, i should give you some advice regarding a lately growing phenomenon: vegetarian and vegan diet. There are many places, of course not just in the inner city, offering some "green" variants of piadine, pucce and so on. I'll name three of them: "the vegan kebab" by "Piadina salentina" in Piazza Sant'Oronzo, made of seitan and great when mixed with some avocado cream, the vegan focaccia bread by "Sapori di Strada" in Via Palmieri and the whole menu of the restaurant "Zenzero" (in Viale dell'Università) which provides a take away service too. Every of them is suggested to omnivorous too! (Erica A. Montanaro)

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Lecce, “the town that dwells me” - a guide to get lost (to find oneself)
Crumbs of art, culture and poetry across via palmieri

LECCE (Italy) - I was just moved in Lecce about a week before and all I’ve seen was just the Obelisk from the balcony of my new home. It happens, when you’re racing against time because of the umpteenth test. Besides nowadays I’m glad that I had to wait so long for the first wandering morning through the town alleys. Perhaps, without spending all those months, studying locked in my room I would have less appreciated a lot of things: the way in which the sunlight hit the façades of the buildings, for example. The bizarre shape of the handles that soon I would have memorized. The cordiality of artisans and buskers which, thankfully, since then they have endured gladly to my indiscreet questions or simply to my gaze on their hands. And then, that wonderful square in which live together, with a disarming naturalness, the residues of epochs far distant among themselves.

Well, what I would like to tell you in this second stage of our little virtual trip is exactly about that naturalness. But for doing it, I have to move from Piazza Sant’Oronzo – of which I told you in the previous episode – to another not so far place of the old town centre,and probably you will occour you to pass through it for going to the monuments most valued from the tourists – those on Piazza Duomo, to be clear. As the Bell Tower, the Episcopio Palace, the ex-Seminary and the Duomo itself deserve to be immortalized each day from hundred of cameras, is the road that brings to them to be full of surprises, Art and Culture. This road is named Via Giuseppe Palmieri and stands for the perfect fusion between those who are the historical tradition of a town and the innovative effort of those that makes it dynamic and appealing - who from a few years or who from a few months - even makes it dynamc and appealing, even for who doesn’t seems wantings to know about History and Traditions at all.

But let’s go with order: walking through what the magistrate and writer, Michele Paone, called as a “one of the most elegant road of the Baroque Town”; an architecture lover could not to stop to admire the beautiful façades and the curious balconies of Guarini and Marrese palaces, the Paisiello Theatre – the oldest of the town – or the suggestive San Giovanni di Dio Church, periodic headquarters of numerous art exhibitions. Furthermore, although the highest concentration of shops is in the central area, it is also on Via Palmieri possible to enjoy some of notable products of the art of papier mâché: born in the XVII century in the barbers’ shops, who - for kill the time - dedicated themselves to it for kill the time between an haircut and another. For anyone wishing to learn more, I suggest a visit to the appropriate Museum situated in the Castle of Carlo V basement or, even better, a nice chat with masters of papier-mâché! More than statues or monuments, today I would like to talk about people: people of flesh and bones and, above all, most vivid and creative than ever. And this because, although their activities are very different, almost the same is the passion that drives them and that makes unmistakable the atmosphere you can breathe in the seats of these activities, hosted, in fact, on via Palmieri. Here I will mention just three of these places – the ones I know best- but I can assure you that they aren’t the only ones able to enchant you I’ll devote them much more space in the coming weeks). This time then, to the invite to get lost of the previous episode I add the one to stop yourself. We do everything in such a hurry, by now. Let’s stop to look at things and people who impress us, let’s speak with them instead of consider them just for the handful of second needed to capture with the smartphone camera. I’m not free from the hustle of my time, and yet this town helps me to knock me off from it a centimetre more every day. And so, I take photographs too, but only after having listened. And how much they have to tell us, these people and these places...

Which, for example, to the seventeenth-century history prefers that of recent decades and to the story of alleys and palaces prefers mostly that about fashion, he might be right up his street at Ivan di Paolo’s “MILE’ VINTAGE STORE”, born in Milan but resident in Lecce for 5 years.

Very fond about vintage thanks to his parents (in particular to the artisan father), for a year and an half Ivan offers to the visitors, at number 64 of Via Palmieri, a wide range of retro items, perhaps more populars in the big fashion cities like Paris or Milan itself; but starting to be known ad appreciated also in the South. And with a further touch of creativity, because along with hand-sewn hats, tailored clothes, pipe for collections and vintage postcards at cheaper prices than you can imagine, do not lack accessories made by the Store with... buttons!

The influence of someone close to her throughout the childhood has been fundamental also for Daniela, the beauty and headstrong owner of “Il ripostiglio di Atena”, but at the same time painter and restorer too. The tribute to the Arts Goddess, stressed by the owl on the sign, is not casual then and the tourists that each day enter the store, are captured by the bright colors of the shop window updated according to the seasons ( in photo the version for Valentine’s Day) and they can’t help to notice the meticulous care for details visible in every single little bell, in every single cup, in every single gift item born from Daniela’s skilled fingers. Of hers, I want to specify, impressed me especially this: not always to the Love for Beauty goes well the ability to struggle in the name of that love, but this is one of that happy cases in which this happens. More than once, coming home late at night, happened to me to see this girl still in the shop, after the umpteenth “batch” of artefact , with tired arms but always awake eyes, and always shining smile. Do visit her and you’ll see.

Have you ever walked into a bookshop and found a comics collection near a violin and a piano? This is just one of the ways in which “La bambola di Kafka”, a self-supporting bookshop specialized in thrift and out of catalog, has been able to win my heart.

Born in February 2004 thanks to the bookseller Fabio Colella, with an offer of more than 15.000 volumes, the shop aims to reach young people and not, to discover authors even forgotten by the most important publishing houses. Also in this case the owner passions, such as painting and music, find their place through periodical events and by making available the possibility to play - musical instruments, which I mentioned you before - for anyone who wants to. But “La bambola di Kafka” is special for me mostly because she gave to me a beautiful story: the story of her name; you can read it here (in italian https://labamboladikafka.wordpress.com/la-bambola-di-kafka/ in english http://lukestorms.com/2010/11/25/kafka-and-the-little-girl/ )

There would be much more to say about Via Palmieri and those living there. My hope is that these words can encourage you to make their acquaintance, to dig into the atmosphere they have been able to sketch, doesn’t matter if in a bookshop or in the living room of an ancient palace. Before ending the tour with an appendix of small (and cheap!) food tips, there is however a last one reality of Lecce to be mentioned. An atypical reality around here and in which you can come across not just on Via Palmieri, but basically for in all the town centre from about five years. In 2010 was born the movement “Poesia D’Assalto “( https://www.facebook.com/#!/Poesia-dAssalto-Lecce-320570554626913/?fref=ts/ ) thanks to the young writer Davide Casavola, author of verses that slowly he began to transcribe upon old abandoned shutters, like if they where the page of a diary. He’s not the only one doing in Italy, so much so that to inspire him has been the casual meeting with Ivan Tresoldi, in art Ivan, “the street poet par exellence” for Davide. But in what is peculiar the street poetry? “It doesn’t pretend to be cultured and refined and has no limits:neither in its potential authors, nor in its potential audience (after all, to quote Ivan, ‘The poet is you that read’). And this sense of sharing, in the case of poetic assaults of Lecce, is perhaps even stronger as Davide and colleagues operate in daylight, without hiding from the security forces. For them is essential to understand the meaning of what they are doing: a reasoned and accurate work of upgrading. Davide never chosee a wall or a shutter randomly, or write the same poetry or the same fragment if the sun and the wind erase them with the passing of time: “When I transcribe the poem from my notebook to the wall, this last becomes of all”. And with just one of these poems, inspired by a song of Georges Brassen, I myself greets you and invite you for the last time to get lost. Through the alleys. Through the stories. Through the people. (Erica A. Montanaro)

Io dedico questi miei versi, ad
ogni passante in corsa nel Corso,
per ogni istante distolto,
per tutti gl'incontri andati persi.

Per quei banchetti d'artigiani
che, all'ombra di Rudiae
ingombra di sguardi,
metton in opera le propre mani,
porgendo l'affetto per chi ne ha riguardo.

Per quei migranti dal volto inespresso,
seduti in coro a cercare ristoro, dove
una sigaretta trova uno sguardo
perplesso sciogliendo
quell'indifferente, gelato decoro.

Per quei musicisti assorti e contorti,
che donano ai vicoli motivo per
festeggiare, seppur le custodie non
sian colme di spiccioli, trovan
conforto negli sguardi intenti a sostare.

Per quei pittori dal trepiedi sempre
in mostra che non costa fatica, la matita, che si giostra, per ogni insincero, passo gelido, dell'astante dona a colori il sentiero più vero,
per tradurre, il circostante.

Per quegli acrobati, giocolieri,
senza sosta che domano il fuoco
e gli sguardi concentrati, non un gioco ed è assai dura la posta
poiché è imposta dagli sguardi sconcertati.

Per quel passante ormai troppo indipendente, che ha fatto dell'indifferenza, la differenza, più eloquente, sapersi distante da ogni istante presente per non condividere un po’ di vero con tutta la propria gente…

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Lecce, “the town that dwells me”- a guide to get lost (to find oneself)

LECCE (Italy) - I always thought myself like a not so great tourist guide: specially if, for tourist guide, you mean a person who is capable to lead you from point x to point y while showing you by the heart, the life, the death and miracles of every single stone, church or statue that come across on the itinerary. If it were the life, the death and the miracles of every single cat, I could be able doing it, but this is another story. Here it comes beeing your Cicerone in a little virtual tour, to discover a destination which has come to a growing success through the last few years, not only among Italian tourists but also by the people from every corner of the Globe.

“Apulia’s Athens”, “Florence of the South”, “Paradise of papier- mâché” are just some of the epithets that has over the time been able to earn Lecce, the town I live in, but mostly, the town that dwells me. The same that, since I moved in for study reasons, adopted me a little heart’s piece at time. For these reasons – I beg you – do not consider my suggestions such as an essential destination, or a must to visiting and share real time on social networks at all costs. Rather do consider them as crumbs, like those that form the path on fairy tales: crumbs that a Spiteful Crow or an Evil Witch could steal right from your sight at any moment. Do consider them an invite to get lost, not only within Lecce, but also in your own towns, the same that you might think to know and instead they’re just waiting the right moment to surprise you. Get Lost! And perhaps, in an alley, in a statue, in a writing on the wall…perhaps you’ll find yourself.

To start: history’s crumbs - Because the Baroque that Baroque which the history of Literature and Art has underestimated for long, that Baroque of which the poet and writer, Vittorio Bodini, wrote about it and the same of which Lecce is the undoubted capital…is this too: constant astonishment, constant wonder, constant artifice. (From this) the emblem of what is for us the ideal start point is Lecce’s Duomo façade: or better say, the false façade. This is, in fact, much showier than the effective main front: the latter , anyhow, is placed in a way to escape the eye of the observer who crosses the threshold of the churchyard for the first time. And, in most cases, he remains speechless.
At the centre of the scenographic false front “Stone Carnival” (cit. Bodini), we meet Sant’Oronzo’s statue, saint patron of the town since 1658; year when, according to legend he set the citizen free from the plague, but ousting Sant’Irene from her role of saint patron.

Of course that is not the only effigy you can find in the old town centre: noteworthy is doubtless the statue placed on the top of the Column and located in the same name square, the proper outdoor town’s living room. It has besides a troubled history: in fact, the first original statue (made in wood and coated with copper) was destroyed by a rocket during the saint feast day on 26th August 1737. While the citiziens were struggling picking up the ashes and the burning embers believing them as miraculous relic, a second statue was ordered from Venice where the head of the previous one was sent – unbelievably still intact. Unfortunately the ship was smashed by a storm before reaching the destination: nevertheless none of the crew members died. From the whole cargo onboard, only one thing was left: Sant’Oronzo’s head. Just in the summer of the 1739, finally came a new statue to San Cataldo, the one that still today watches over the Square, from the the top of her marble column.

Luckier that the staute, was the name of whom is depicted, so much so that when I moved here I have myself met about twenty Oronzos – whether they were from History pages or everyday life pages.

And just talking with you about two of them, Oronzo of the Past and Oronzo of the Present, I want to end up the first part of our little virtual tour. The Oronzo of the Present is Oronzo De Matteis, the “Oceans’ painter” which I had, while ago, the honour of meet and see him working in the San Giovanni di Dio Church, place where the last summer he esxposed some of his best artwork.

The Oronzo of the Past is, instead, Oronzo Mansi, mayor of th town in the 1797: during the Spring of the same year, the King Ferdinando IV of Bourbon visited Lecce and, according to “Ragguaglio” written by the Mayor, who escorted him, the King wasn’t always at the best of his affability.

One day, in fact, sick of concerts and artistic lucubrations, the King replyed to the “Majesty, this is Arco di Prato of the Mayor, with a not so sophisticated “I don’t give a shit about the Arch”: well, at the moment of King’s departure, the brave Mansi had the wit to explain the absence of people, irritated by his behavior, with these words: “Maestà, Lecce è città te l’arte: si ‘nde futte te ci rria e de ci parte!” (translation from the dialect: “Majesty, Lecce is a city of Art: she don’t give a shit of who comes and who departs!”)

On the second part: crumbs of art, culture and poetry walking around for Via Palmieri. And some gastronomic tips for the curious gourmets.. (Erica A. Montanaro)

See also the "Travel & Tourism" section: Reportage, Tips and Travel Experiences

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