Animals, bandits and monks find refuge in the Laterza ravine
Like many other towns in Apulia, Laterza – in the province of Taranto – is lapped by a ravine – a “divinely fleeced place”, in art historian Cesare Brandi’s words, where “what has grown back is mold, and housebreaking. Where even stone is worn out, and feels the fatigue of still being stone.”
The Laterza ravine has steep bights that twist over some 12 kilometers; it is the second largest in Europe and is up to 200 meters deep, with sides that spread as far as 400 meters in some points. Home to a number of animal and plant species, it is a LIPU Oasis for the care of birds, who nest in the caves that dot its rocky walls.
In his journey on foot along the Via Appia, author Paolo Rumiz stopped in Laterza (you can read the whole story in a beautiful book, which we have mentioned in a previous article).
Rumiz met a woman from Laterza who took him “to the edge of the solitary, deep ravine, under a grazing, golden light and in the middle of frogs’ croaking worthy of one of Aesop’s fables. ‘There’s a nice loud current here in the winter,’ the host said on the edge of the cliff, full of Mediterranean maquis and crossed by quiet Podolica cows. ‘From here to Matera,’ she says, ‘the whole landscape is riddled by gorges and hiding places that were the prerogative of monks and bandits’” (translated from P. Rumiz, “Appia”, Feltrinelli, Milan 2016).