I approached a visit to Puglia’s Castel del Monte with a certain coldness. Its geometric polish didn’t exactly appeal to me, nor did its apparent popularity. It is a castle meant to be seen. It is ostentatious. Above all it’s empty.
Nobody exactly knows what it was for. It’s not exactly defensive; it hasn’t a moat or other things you might expect to find in a typical fort. It has never been used as a hunting lodge, as has been speculated without any proof at all. Its marbles were looted in the 18th century. But one thing I can say: You don’t miss it poking through the forest it sits in.
We visited on a windy day. Very windy, with a few sprinkles of rain. The storm cleared the air and you could see the clouds scudding across the sky above the plain below. This is a secondary joy; you don’t have to buy a ticket to enjoy the view.
After winding around the Pentagonal castle built by Frederick II in 1240, we went inside. You can doodle around for an hour visiting the rooms that circle the inner courtyard.
There are a couple of things that stand out. The door frames, for instance.
Breccia rossa appenninica is the apparent name of the material. It’s rather inelegant, it seems to me. But like the castle itself, you don’t miss seeing it.
Then there are the columns. They’re pretty.
I see no actual use for them. These are in the corners. Odd.
I actually had fun poking around this Puglia World Heritage attraction. There is a bar and restaurant below it, the restaurant having some fun and fanciful translations of the local dishes into English.
The views are spectacular!
When to Go: Spring or Fall. Summers can be hot, but the Adriatic coast isn’t far away.
Region: Puglia: Map & Guide
Days: Day trip from Trani (seaside, recommended) or Ruvo di Puglia
Ruvo di Puglia Lodging.
Posta Santa Croce (Review). It’s where we visited from.
Wine: The area is well known for its Nero di Troia red wine.