The sea has always been a source of richness and sustenance for the coastal populations, and it has been even more important for Monopoli. A country born thanks to fishing, the construction of wooden boats, devoted to navigation and the Madonna della Madia, whose image, they say, arrived from Turkey miraculously supported by a raft made of strong wooden beams, used then to build and finish the Maria Santissima della Madia Cathedral. The event of the Madonna's arrival is celebrated every year on 16 December at 5a.m. and proposed against on 14 August. Pilgrims too would arrive from the sea direct to the Holy Land, and were taken care of by the Knights of Malta, who, from 1300 onwards, were seen as a reference point for the land, offering their hospitality-military work.
The journey will leave from Piazza Garibaldi, the ideal place for business and exchanges because of its close proximity to the port and will carry on along the street at the old gate, where the Knights' coat of arms is once again. Reaching the Carlo V Castle, you will tour the inside and pass through the Jerusalemites' Church, before coming to the Abbey of Santo Stefano, to where the Knights of Malta transferred in the 13th century and modified its defensive walls. The sea will accompany you throughout the whole experience, and if you are lucky enough to find it, you will visit the workshop of the only remaining shipwright in Monopoli, who, with his own hands, still builds boats entirely made out of wood. These are the same boats that you will find in the small ports, in blue and red. Experiencing Monopoli during this journey also means not hesitating to ask questions to the fishermen, sat there untangling and stitching up the holes in their nets, browsing the historic centre's shops and breathing the air along the sea front during the walk.
Further info: From November to March, the afternoon session is moved forward to 2pm to enjoy more daylight hours.