, a town in the Province of Bari ; standing on the Murge Plateau, it is the home of the famous trulli and karst grottoes. Immersed in the , Putignano boasts the longest Carnival of them all, beginning December 26th () and ending on Mardi Gras with an evening parade and, finally, the “funeral” of Carnival. The origins of this Carnival go as far back as 1394, making it one of the most ancient carnivals in Europe. It was in that year that the Knights of Malta (governors of the zone at the time), brought the relics of St. Stephen into the hinterland from their original site of preservation, St. Stephen’s . In order to protect the Saint’s remains from the Saracens, they were transferred to Putignano.Upon the relics’ arrival, the peasants, who were involved in planting vines, abandoned their vineyards to follow the procession. And once the religious ceremony had concluded, the people celebrated with festive song and dance. Legend has it that a recitation in local dialect, with improvised verse and irony, gave life to their unique custom of “.” Today in Putignano, poets recite in dialect on a stage in the main piazza, alternating one with the other for hours, and coming up with their best satirical rhymes to entertain the people during Carnival.As with all the Carnivals, the town explodes with masks and papier-mache floats that parade the city streets in all their colourful magnificence. The splendid area around Putignano offers not only amazing sites to be seen by tourists, but also the prized (and delicious) gastronomic traditions of Apulian cuisine.