At the beginning of the Itria Valley (Italy), find out what a hidden gem the town of Noci really is!
Small premise: you know that situation in which you had to drive over 40 kilometres to meet a client but, at the very last second when you are already in place, you receive the classic phone call that cancel your date owing to unforeseen circumstances?
Well, that's what happened to me last week and threatened to ruin my morning! But fortunately, I always carry my camera with me and I took the opportunity to do some sightseeing to admire this town that I barely knew.
I must confess: it was an absolute surprise!
Come on then to take a ride with me discovering the small village of Noci for what I would call a real find in an area of Apulia very famous thanks to other villages as Alberobello (UNESCO World Heritage Site) or Martina Franca (the cradle of Baroque): simply put, the Itria Valley!
The village of Noci is located in the Apulia region and more precisely in the south-east area of Bari on the foothills of the Murgia. Its historical origins are not certain but there are numerous historic testimonials which would establish its foundation back to year 1000 when the villagey was under Norman rule.
Surely in the XIV century the Mother Church was built and it was dedicated to St. Mary of the nativity.
I didn’t need a history book to understand the ancient origins of this beautiful village.
Walking around the narrow streets among the old houses and the "gnostre" (typical alley closed on three sides) which, in keeping with the best south Italy villages' tradition, constitute a veritable labyrinth, I breathed history and authenticity: I felt catapulted back in time!
Some portals in stone are still excellently preserved; ancient inscriptions on some of them, seem to want to remember the historic importance of this small town.
Taking a walk through the less well-known alleys, I have locked eyes with some locals that almost looked surprised of my presence and I think I understand the motivation: Noci does not have a tourist vocation , although in recent years the town council has embarked on a journey to promote the territory with tourist and cultural events and celebrations, connected with the traditions of the location to unearth the history of the village.
Something that is impossible not to notice are the characteristic roofs made of stone slabs that progressively overlap each other that bring the trulli of Alberobello to mind.. and in fact as I said before Noci is located in the Itria Valley, the geographical area where these characteristic roofs and these traditional house are widespread.
A little curiosity: round and round through the narrow streets of the old town I always ended up coming back to the same square, namely that of the mother Church dedicated to St. Mary of the nativity!
I was certainly not arrived there by chance, as the architecture of this historic center has the same characteristics of other villages where from the main square (where the main church is usually located) unfold the alleys, from which it is possible to admire the belltower of Mother Church.
From this square I could see what is another local iconic monument, the so called "Clock Tower" with its particular architecture that just seems to want to look the Mother Church.
The colourful life of the village has its effect on the surrounding alleys with their great number of votive aedicules which are evidence of the deep devotion of the local population.
Deeper in the historic centre, many architectural detail caught my attention. It shows a strong mix of different styles due to many "additions" made over the centuries. Such as the baroque, it too very widespread in the whole Itria valley.
The beauty of the village, its authenticity.. During my trip I came across numerous churches of yesteryear.
And the beauty is I didn't seek them, I simply found them on my route.
One doesn't have to be Christians to really appreciate them because they enclose an artistic heritage of exceptional value that every art lover should appreciate regardless of his own religious faith.
The church of Santa Chiara, built in the XVII century, is very interesting.
But many other chapels adorn the historic center, in hidden alleyways which exude history at every step.
A peek at the clock, and I realize that two hours have gone by yet! I wished I could stay longer, but another business appointment was waiting for me. So, a last look to a beautiful little church, to be precise that of Santo Stefano, with the promise to coming once more to this beautiful village!
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