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Castro

GUIDE TO PUGLIA

Perched atop a precipitous cliff, 100m above the sea, Castro looks out across the Adriatic towards Corfu and southern Albania, from where, it is said, Aeneas once arrived. Recent archaeological digs point to the probability of there having been a Temple of Athena on the site and this handily explains why the Romans called the town Castrum Minervae (Minerva being the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Athena).

The Normans took control of the town in the 12th century, elevated it to a contea and started building the impressive fortress, which, alongside the defensive walls and towers, is one of Castro’s most significant attractions. Similarly venerable is Castro’s religious architecture, which includes a 12th century cathedral with a delightful Romanesque façade, and the remains of a small 10th century Byzantine church.

Narrow roads weave around the old town centre and it’s a pleasure to stroll around, stopping off for refreshments in one of the bars or restaurants. All roads, it seems, lead to the main square and the panoramic terrazza, from where the views out to sea are superb.

Down below, Castro Marina comes alive in the summer months, with bars, restaurants and cafés opening up along the seafront. The little harbour, usually home only to the town’s small fishing fleet, welcomes impressive yachts and pleasure boats. The rocky shoreline and crystalline waters attract swimmers and sunbathers, and the lidos fill up with holidaymakers from mid-June to mid-September.

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