From natural to man-made cathedrals

From natural to man-made cathedrals

In Puglia, olive trees have always been considered nature’s equivalent to cathedrals – silhouetted monuments between heaven and earth, with their knotty trunks worn down by the rain and the wind, and hollowed out by the wrinkles of countless centuries.

They recall the work in the fields during the sun-drenched days of high summer, the harvest carried out by hand, with nets to catch the fruit, the noise of the mills, and the smell of fresh oil.

The plant is thought to have arrived on the shores of Puglia from the East, where the first historical references to olive tree cultivation can be found. Observing the plains covered by olive groves from on high, it is hard not to be enchanted by this genuine work of natural architecture, one composed solely of centuries-old olive trees – enormous green expanses that stretch right down to the blue of the sea.

Their trunks twist around themselves, some split into several parts, some curved or bent to one side; almost leaning on the ground as if to rest after all those centuries witnessing the inexorable passage of time.

And between their green canopy you catch a glimpse of another singular work of architecture. A bright white stain – a town in the coastal Murgia region that extends over three hills, the biggest of which is home to the medieval part, enclosed by its Aragonese walls: Ostuni. A hotchpotch of small, tangled streets that makes a visit to the Rione Terra quarter a compelling treasure hunt, one which only ends when you come to the 15th century cathedral. Here you will be amazed by an incredible human feat – its late Gothic facade.