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Old Apulia: The Travellers' Prospect

by Seward , Desmond

Puglia (Apulia) has suddenly become fashionable among Anglo-Saxons, an alternative to Tuscany. But to understand it properly you have to know its history, which is altogether different from that of mainstream Italy.

Here is the first general history in either English or Italian of a region whose conquerors - Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Norman, German, French and Spanish - have left superb monuments.

Travel guides list castles and cathedrals, Romanesque and Baroque architecture, but ignore all the wonderful ghosts - Emperor Frederick II, King Manfred, Raimondello del Balzo Orsini, Maria of Lecce, Il Guercio ('The Squinter'), Paolo di Ribeco (Bari's Masaniello) or the brigand hero Sergeant Romano. Nor do they tell us about the colourful life at the little feudal courts, the labour gangs' grim existence on the Tavoliere, the saints and the black magic of the Gargano, or the terrible 'Brigands War' in the 1860s, or what was the real purpose of a masseria, a trullo, an underground city or a cave church, and why these came into existence.

This book fills a very much needed gap, bringing Puglia and its people alive through using accounts by earlier travellers down the ages, and following in their footsteps - to link landscape and history.

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