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Altamura is a small town in the province of Bari that despite its small size is known throughout the country thanks to its bread Altamura PDO, the IGP lentil, and for the discovery of Homo neanderthalensis occurred in these areas.
The history of Altamura is very ancient, so much so that it dates back to the Neolithic age, a period in which populations of Neanderthal men settled in the area.
The city is inextricably linked to the name of Emperor Frederick II who, once arrived in the area of Altamura and found a ruined city decided to repopulate the city by asking the peasants of neighbouring countries to move to this area, giving them in exchange for privileges. The city was born, therefore, exactly like that.
You might decide to spend a weekend in Altamura or discover it in passing with one of our tours:
⇒ Walk the Camino Materano in 7 or 9 days
We have prepared a list with the things not to be missed in Altamura to fully enjoy the beauties of this charming village nestled in the Apulian Murgia. Why not decide to dedicate a day to discovering the beauties of Altamura?
And now let's start together to discover the most suggestive places in Altamura!
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is a very old church dating back to 1232 and was erected at the behest of Emperor Frederick II. The church in Gothic style, with all the pointed arches is the first and oldest monument in Altamura.
The thing that characterizes more the church is that this was built on an old pagan temple dating back to the Saracens of which it is still possible to see the remains.
As far as the architecture of the church is concerned, this is characterized by two symmetrical bell towers built, however, in different eras and which are also visible outside the city of Altamura. The interiors, instead, are more austere, composed of three naves and a wooden ceiling decorated with golden stuccoes. Particularly noteworthy is the altar at the end of the nave made of marble and where you can see a depiction of the Virgin of the Assumption.
Walking through the streets of Altamura you cannot miss the Baldassarre Palace, one of the greatest examples of civil construction in the city. It was built between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century by the Baldassarre family who also made numerous changes over the years. The palace was private property of the family until 1900, when it passed into public hands.
Currently inside the palace is an info point and a museum display on the subject of human evolution, where it is possible to admire the fossil skeleton of the Altamura Man, one of the most important finds dating back to the Neolithic period because it is the oldest Neanderthal on which it has been possible to perform palaeogenetic analyses.
Walking around Altamura you cannot miss Piazza del duomo (or Piazza Duomo): the nerve centre of the city. This square was also created in 1494 by Frederick II who decided to buy and demolish some houses in order to create a square. The square then became the main place for the weekly market of the city.
Today the square is the favourite meeting point for all citizens who love to walk along the course or eat and drink something in the bars and clubs that surround it.
On 10 May 1999, a group of geologists commissioned to carry out sedimentological research discovered thousands of footprints on the surface of Cava Pontrelli. The palaeontologist Umberto Nicosia was immediately informed of this very important discovery, and he recognised dinosaur footprints in them that could be dated around 85 million years ago. Over the years, this exceptional discovery led to the realisation of a project (dinosauridialtamura.it) to restore the area, valorise and preserve the footprints.
Once you have discovered the wonders hidden in the narrow streets of Altamura, the time has come to get to the heart of the sounds and smells of this ancient village. For this reason we have prepared a list with the things to do in Altamura that you absolutely cannot miss!
The Pulo of Altamura is one of the largest closed basins of karstic origin in the Murge area. The basin is located at 477 m above sea level and has a maximum diameter of about 500 meters. Over the years much has been speculated about the origin of the Pulo, but the most likely theory is that the pit was caused by the effect of rain on the limestone soil of the Murge. Precisely because of this karst terrain were born numerous caves that have been the home of some specimens of homo sapiens during the Neolithic period.
A truly unmissable destination for all lovers of trekking and walking!
In the center of Altamura, right inside the cathedral, you can visit the MUDIMA, that is the Diocesan Museum Matronei Altamura. The museum, created in 2016 by Monsignor Giovanni Ricchiuti, occupies the upper floors of the cathedral and aims to preserve and display artifacts and statues dating back to the Middle Ages and the later period of 1400 and 1500. Moreover, inside the museum it is possible to find and consult relics and notarial letters present in the cathedral.
Altamura is a city rich in history and culture, so what better way to visit it than strolling through the city streets and getting lost in the alleys of the area? The city offers attractions full of curiosities and excellent opportunities for every kind of visitor, young and old. In addition, you can take the opportunity to taste the delicacies that Altamura has to offer in one of the bakeries that teem in the city.
For all trekking enthusiasts, but also for those who want to challenge their limits, the materano path is the one for you. It is a wonderful path that joins the cities of Matera and Bari on foot and guess what? It passes right through Altamura! So, you have no more excuses, backpack on your shoulders and off you go. So you have no more excuses, backpack and go on a nice trip in a group or even on your own!
If you find yourself in Altamura in September, you absolutely cannot miss the festival Sui sentieri del fungo cardoncello. This is a festival in which the best chefs and the most famous local food companies come together to create delicious dishes with only one rule: the cardoncello mushroom is the protagonist!
Still in the culinary field, between the 12th and 14th of October you cannot miss Le Vie Del Pane an event that is not simply a festival, but an opportunity to promote the PDO bread symbol of the Murge and to put it in contact with all the PDO products of the other consortia. An occasion of dialogue and good food in the name of Italian culinary excellence.
As far as the religious side is concerned, on the other hand, the feast of St. Joseph (San Giuseppe) on March 19 is not to be missed by anyone from Altamura or elsewhere. For this occasion, the feast is celebrated in the cathedral and from here begins the procession that runs through all the streets of the city. During this day the town is full of stalls that keep the bread that is supposed to be blessed by the patron saint parading through the town.
The gastronomic tradition of Altamura is strictly connected to the tradition of the Murge area, therefore olive oil, orecchiette (small "ears" shaped pasta) and meat, which is often the main dish of the region, often appear.
Another product exquisitely typical of the Murgia area, but famous all over the world is the bread of Altamura PDO. In these areas you can taste this delicacy almost everywhere, but how to recognize it? The real Pane di Altamura is prepared with only 4 basic ingredients: durum wheat flour, sourdough, salt and water. At the end, the bread will have a golden aspect, characterized by the typical "overlapping", with a crust about three millimetres high and a regular and soft crumb. Obviously, its aroma is unmistakable. Bread from Altamura has a very ancient history, so much so that Pliny defined it as the "best bread in the world". In ancient times bread was kneaded privately in homes and then baked in public ovens where every family, in order to recognize its own bread, marked it. Today bread is commercialized in almost every part of Italy in the typical shapes Accavallata and Cappello di Prete and it is sold and commercialized only fresh and in loaves of bread having a minimum weight of 0,5 kg. Today the traditional bread of the Alta Murgia is a Slow Food Presidium.
A tasty and healthy product that you absolutely must try, you will not regret it!
Among the many restaurants in the center of Altamura, we recommend some that are worth trying:
Restaurant/pizzeria Binario 24, in Piazza Stazione 24. The excellent dishes as well as the excellent pizza make Binario 24 one of the best restaurants in Altamura. The deliciousness of the dishes, then, is accompanied by the excellent and wide wine list. What to say? The perfect place to spend a pleasant evening dedicated to good taste;
Il Teatro del Gusto, in Piazza Mercadante, 9. Small and elegant bistro in the heart of Altamura. In this magical place you can taste a variety of gourmet sandwiches and thousand-flavors focaccia, but also numerous first courses and quality meats. The real highlight of the restaurant is definitely the friendly staff that makes meals very pleasant;
Panificio Di Gesù, in Via Eleonora de Fonseca Pimentel 17. In this bakery just outside the historic center, it is said that the best focaccia in Altamura is served. In addition to this, in this place you can try the famous bread of Altamura and many delicious baked goods. Descriptions would be superfluous at this point, the only thing you can do is taste!
Altamura awaits you for a tour full of art and taste!