Conversano is a small town just 30 km from Bari and 10 km from Polignano a Mare and represents a real surprise for the visitors who come across it because it is really full of things to do and see!
In fact, Conversano is not as famous as other towns in this area, however it is a wonderful option for those looking for less traveled itineraries and those who wish to have unique and local experiences.
Conversano is famous for its cherries; it has a countryside full of orchards, vineyards and olive groves and an important historical and artistic heritage also thanks to its past full of dominations. In fact, the Byzantines, the Lombards, the Princes of Salerno and many others pass through here up to the last: the Counts of Acquaviva di Aragona.
Let’s see what are the things to see and do in Conversano.
1. THE CASTLE
The Castle of Conversano is the landlord of the historic centre: it is an imposing building of Norman origin with four towers in the corners at the cardinal points. The history of the town has seen the face of this castle change over the centuries, slowly transforming itself from a defensive fortress into a noble residence. Inside it is possible to visit the reception rooms and the wedding chamber that belonged to Count Giangirolamo II Acquaviva d’Aragona, while the windows and balconies overlooking the square date back to the 19th century. The castle also houses the municipal art gallery.
2. THE ALLEYS OF THE HISTORICAL CENTER
From the large Piazza Castello with its imposing Castle you leave the large spaces to enter a more intimate and cozy area, in the true soul of Conversano. You walk through the beautiful alleys, the narrow streets colored by the flowers on the balconies, immersing yourself in this delicate atmosphere in small steps, because Conversano still lives at a slow pace.
3. THE CATHEDRAL OF SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
Among the narrow streets of the historic center, the beautiful Church of Santa Maria Assunta definitely does not go unnoticed. It is the Cathedral of Conversano and it has hut-shape facade and a fifteenth-century rose window. This beautiful cathedral fully reflects the Apulian Romanesque style. It was built between the 11th and 12th centuries and houses a precious fresco from the Pisan school depicting a wooden Crucifix.
4. THE MONASTERY OF SAN BENEDETTO
Behind the Cathedral of Conversano we come to the ancient Monastery of S. Benedetto. Still visible today are the remains of the ancient Romanesque cloister which leads to a pre-Romanesque crypt which preserves a fresco from 1584: the Pietà with the village of Conversano in the background.
5. THE CHERRY FESTIVAL
Every year, in spring, the spotlights are turned on in Conversano for the famous Cherry Festival. A big festival that involves the whole town to promote this exquisite local product. The inhabitants of Conversano call it “red gold” and during these days they are proud to exhibit and taste their cherries.
The Conversano cherry festival takes place on the last weekend of May or the first of June. Many activities are organized on the calendar, from product exhibition stands to many recreational activities organized in collaboration with schools and training institutions. Of course there are also concerts, plays and dances. In short, an event not to be missed, especially if you are in Puglia during this period.
6. SURROUNDINGS OF CONVERSANO
The surroundings of Conversano are perfect for long walks in nature. Beyond the luxuriant countryside, you can visit the Regional nature reserve of the lakes of Conversano and the ravine of Monsignore. The reserve hides ten karst sinkholes (in a ring around Conversano) which guard, thanks to the winter rains, small lakes at the foot of the hills. The ravine of Monsignore is a karstic incision that extends from the extreme south-eastern Murgia to the coast. You can admire the landscape made up of woods, pastures, fields and olive groves, and dotted with ancient signs of ancient settlement such as dry stone walls, ‘casedde’ and ‘specchie’.