I traveled with my gang the plains of Foggia, the Land of Bari, the marina of Basilicata, I went as far as Lecce; in Ginosa, in Castellaneta, carrying out everywhere depredations and blackmail, sometimes escaping police, at other times attacking suddenly, often with ambush and insidiousness
With these words, reported in his written memoirs, Cosimo Crocco, a terrible bandit born in 1830, declared his crimes and those of his band, which reached more than 2000 units (a real army). One of the most important historical phenomena was the Terra delle Gravine, which became the undisputed crossroads of the post unitary brigandage of the South. Around the mid-nineteenth century, in fact, the Royal Prefecture of Taranto often warned all mayors of this area of the sighting of bands and legendary brigands, who tried, through ancient paths and tracks, to enter the nearby territory of Basilicata. After the Unification of Italy, the phenomenon of banditry increased dramatically. There were many reasons that pushed the bandits to give themselves to the bush: to escape the law by rebellion to the arrogance of local lords, for reasons of honour, to rebel against the established order, for hunger and despair, but there were also political and ideological reasons. Many people deserted and lost their tracks, right in the incredible Terra delle Gravine. At that time legendary bandits passed through these parts, figures that, thanks to the popular imagination, were dressed in myth: Carmine Crocco, (often spotted in Ginosa and surroundings), the brigand Laertino Chiappino, aka Francesco Perrone, a friend of Borzello, Coppolone. In these campaigns were also often seen Prichillo, aka Arcangelo Cristella di Laterza, the sergeant Romano, Pizzichicchio, Egidione and others.
From that period, nothing remains but the beautiful landscapes walked by these historical characters, who despite being terrible criminals, very often became romantic and legendary characters for the people.
We will walk on what is now called “Terra delle Gravine Regional Nature Park”, established in 2005 the Park, after the last institutional change, has an extension of 25.287 hectares included within the boundaries of the municipalities of Ginosa, Laterza, Castellaneta, Palagianello, Mottola, Palagiano, Massafra, Statte, Crispiano, Martina Franca, Montemesola, Grottaglie and San Marzano di San Giuseppe in the Taranto province, and Villa Castelli in the province of Brindisi. Among the most significant and spectacular natural elements are the “ravines” that give the name to the protected area and characterise the amphitheatre of Taranto: it is an impressive artistic incisions in the calcareous and calcarenitic terraces of the Murge plateau, which have originated from 125,000 years ago.
The presence of man in this territory has ancient origins that date back to the Bronze Age. But the importance of the rock settlements is manifested much further in time, precisely in the so-called High Middle Ages, where the so-called “rock civilization” originates with the realization of the first civil and religious structures in the ravines, readjusting, in many cases, the pre-existing Neolithic structures.
The journey that awaits us on this journey, is a journey made not only of breathtaking views and extraordinary paths, but it is above all a road along the traces of time, made of memories, deeds, legends, superstitions, ancient farms, and unique rock settlements .
We will meet at 9:00 in Piazza Nusco di Ginosa, agricultural and commercial center in a beautiful position in the Murgia Alta. We will cross all its beautiful old town to the Church of the city and the village of Rivolta. The rock village of Rivolta is characterized by dozens of cave dwellings, dug into the rock, and by rainwater collection systems with channels and bell tanks. We will then devote the afternoon to trekking in the Ginosa countryside to the Gravina di Laterza, among olive groves and almond groves with ancient dry-stone walls. After a light sack lunch (to which everyone will have to provide for himself), we will continue the excursion along the eastern edge of the gravy of Laterza, then pass from Masseria Cangiulli and the urban center of Laterza. We will reach Masseria Moretti, where our overnight stay is planned, and here our trekking will end today. Free dinner (but we will advise you on where to go to enjoy the delicacies of Terra delle Gravine!)
At 9.00 we will leave from Castellaneta to head (or from Masseria Gravina) to Palagianello along the Bari-Taranto railway line, abandoned in 1997. The route will then see us engaged between descents and ascents of the ravine of Palagianello up to the town of Palagianello dominated from the Stella Castle – Caracciolo. In the beautiful old town we will have a sack lunch, to refresh ourselves a bit.
After a short stop, we will continue the trek from Palagianello to Mottola with a visit to the medieval rock church of S. Nicola, called the Sistine Chapel of the hypogeal churches for the rich pictorial decoration. Our journey on foot will end with the arrival in Mottola (scheduled for about 17:30), a town with a beautiful landscape, and ancient Lombard and Byzantine domination.
The Price Includes
Tour guide for the whole trip, bed and breakfast, accommodation in double rooms, medical and luggage insurance.
The Price Does Not Includes
Any transfer to and from the meeting point, the packed lunches, the dinners, the return journey, admission and visit “Cantina Spagnola” (3 euros per person), entrance and visit to the rock church of San Nicola (3 euros per person ).
• End of the Tour: On the last day the end is scheduled at 17:30. The trip will end in the historic center of Mottola, where on request we can provide a transfer to the train station of Gioia Del Colle, always well connected to the city of Bari, with an additional cost to the fee.