The simple act of crossing this extremely interesting and little known territorial area is, in itself, an unforgettable experience.It can be crossed parallel to the coast, choosing from one of the longitudinal axes in the dense and panoramic network of roads that are located at slightly different altitudes (at 15 m above sea level, there is the old coast road; at 30 m above sea level, there is the SS 16 bis highway; at 90 m above sea level, there is the A14 super-highway; at 200 m above sea level, there is the SS 98 highway). Or, you can travel crosswise to the coastline, cutting across "from the Murgia to the sea," travelling, for example, along the ancient salt road which led from Basilicata to Barletta. Or you can choose from any of the many roads that connect the inland centres with the sea – roads that form the characteristic triangular system in which two coastal centres correspond to one inland city (Canosa "forms a triangle" with Margherita di Savoia and Barletta; Andria with Barletta and Trani; Corato with Trani and Bisceglie, and so on, all the way down to Bari).
Each of these roads offers an immediate and comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of the landscape. As you reach higher altitudes, the visual perspective widens, and from Castel del Monte, the splendid Federican building which received the title of world heritage site from UNESCO, it is possible to embrace a 360 degree view of our entire territory. As Ferdinand Gregorovius, an illustrious German historian from the 1800's said, ". . . He who looks around, embracing the beautiful Puglian countryside, splendid and irradiated by an azure Elysian sky, sees unfurled before him a truly unique theatre and, as in a mirror, sees concentrated and reflected all of the historical events of Southern Italy. Romans, Carthegians – down there one catches a glimpse of the fields of Canne, the location of the famous battle of Hannibal – Goths, Longobards, Saracens, Byzantines, Normans, the Crusaders – over there, from those coasts, they first set sail – the Hohenstaufens, the Angevins, the Aragonese, the Spanish, the French: he can see all of these apparitions pass before his eyes, one by one, and see the facts and gestures that unite them!
All around there is a truly marvelous horizon! . . ." First the natural confines can be identified (the Adriatic Sea, the Gargano, the southern Appennines, the Vulture mountain) and the orographic and naturalistic outcroppings can be distinguished (the Murgia, the Ofanto Valley, the damp zones, the flood grounds). Then one notices the extraordinary textures of the crops and the compact organisation of the vast agricultural territory, with few buildings, in which the only points of discontinuity are the farmhouses and archaeological sites, besides, of course, the compact mass of the eleven urban centres: great, white, sunny splashes lapped by the Adriatic, immersed in a sea of olive groves or surrounded by quarries and sown fields.
The only vertical elements that emerge from the cities that punctuate this large and fertile tiered tray, that only to a distracted eye seems flat and uniform, are the splendid bell-towers of the cathedrals and convents, and the smokestacks of the factories. An understanding of the history of this territory and of these communities begins to form from these stirring images. A history in which the voices of men have always been the counterpoint to the echo of myths and legends.