Monopoli has an impressive Romanesque cathedral. It has a famous Byzantine icon from the 13th century.
The marble columns were made of sheets of marble that had been cut across the grain to create a mirror image.
We went to a restaurant run by one of Antonio's friends and the dinner was excellent. The next day, Wednesday May 11, we headed out with Marco on bicycles to see the next walled town along the coast, Polignano. It is built right on the rocks.
Marco also gave us a history lesson about the area. The southern part of Italy was ruled by powerful Spanish families from around 1100 A.D. until the reunification of Italy in 1861. These families built walled towns that are the centro storicos of the modern towns. We had a great bike ride, but soon it was time to have the world's best gelato in Monopoli at the recommendation of our tour guide.
The day ended with a fabulous meal prepared by Rosa and great conversations with Antonio. Rosa made Orchietta, the traditional pasta of the region of Puglia, with turnip greens and garlic. We also had a lasagna made with zucchini and mozzarella, real parmigiana cheese, smoked salmon, and a fresh fish cooked in olive oil with parsley and lemon that was divine. Marco's sister Maria Elena joined us after she got off from work.
We finished the evening with Grappa and toasted the friend that brought us together, Julie.
The hospitality of the Mammella family was unsurpassed. We feel enriched for having met them.