The ancient town of Altamura lies at the heart of this Italian region and forms part of the agricultural centre between the Basilicata and Upper Murgia regions. During the 5th to the 3rd centuries BC, the settlement was surrounded by walls, and parts of these megalithic structures remain visible to this day.
Densely settled during the Bronze Age until it was sacked by the Saracens in the 10th century, Altamura is also famous for its bread-making tradition, and the local coarse-grain wheat flour bread is a popular purchase for tourists.
It’s so unique that it has its own name – “Pane di Altamura”, and rumor has it that its shelf life is amazingly long at around seven days! However, it isn’t only the bread that lasts a long time in Altamura – the town’s most famous former resident is Altamura man, a 130,000 year-old calcified man who was found nearby in a limestone cave in the 1990s. Today, his remains are exhibited at a museum in the town.
Attractions in Altamura
Lying at the heart of Altamura, the cathedral was constructed in the 13th century by Frederick II of Swabia. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the cathedral is one of only four Apulian palatine churches, boasts a Gothic portal dating back to the 1300s carved with New Testament scenes, a rose window in the traditional Apulian style, and an impressive façade with two towers. In the church itself, there are many 16th century features including a stone pulpit, a choir with 68 stone and walnut stalls, and a crib dating from 1587.
The Municipal Museum is dedicated to archaeology and is home to numerous regional artefacts dating back as far as 2500 years ago. Arranged over two floors, the museum’s exhibits cover the Hellenistic, classical, archaic, prehistoric, and paleolithic ages. Meanwhile, inside its porch, there are some original funeral inscriptions from ancient Rome, and to the building’s rear, the remains can be found from various archaeological excavations around the city.
If you’re fascinated by dinosaurs or traveling with children, this open-air museuim showcases life-size reconstructed dinosaurs from the Jurassic era who can emit noises and move thanks to the latest animatronics technology. The surrounding woods are perfect for exploring by bike or on foot, and are an ideal spot to enjoy a picnic.