Monopoli in November? Most people wouldn’t even consider it. Good thing we aren’t most people, because Monopoli in November is lovely (even if many of the restaurants are closed and even if you have to avoid the rain showers).
Monopoli is a small little seaside town (population under 50K) in the region of Apulia (or Puglia in Italian) in the heel of the boot of Italy. Although tourism has increased in recent years, the town still holds quite a bit of traditional charm. In fact, it still pretty much shuts down in the middle of the afternoon for “riposo” so everyone can have a leisurely lunch — even the groceries close.
The city of Monopoli is probably most known for its old city, with its white buildings and narrow passageways.
Monopoli also has a castle. Well, it is called a castle at least — the Castle of Carlo V, to be precise. It is really more of a fortress. It was constructed back in the 1500’s. It isn’t very pretty, but it is one of the main sights of Monopoli.
And, of course, on a sunny day (which are few and far between in November) the views of the water are incredible.
But you know what we loved best about Monopoli? The Chiesa di Santa Maria del Suffragio, otherwise known as the Church of Purgatory. Built towards the end of the 17th century, this so isn’t your typical church. You know that as soon as you see the outside. The doors are covered in skeletons and there are skull and crossbones motifs on the building.
Once you enter the church, it looks like any other church. At first. But look more closely and you will see this is not your typical church. Instead, it is a church dedicated to praying for the poor souls stuck in purgatory.
But the real highlight at the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Suffragio are the “mummies.” Depending on your source, these “mummies” may be the embalmed remains of the founding members of the church and local administrators or they might just be some unlucky people with no relation to the church at all.
Only we would find a purgatory church the most interesting part of Monopoli….