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Europe

Bitonto, the city in Italy with a near-perfect circle ring road


There is a small city in the south of Italy which goes by the name of Bitonto and has a near-perfect annular ring road around it.

The city of Bitonto

Bitonto is located a few kilometres west of the region’s capital, Bari. It has a population of around 55,000, which makes it a small to medium-sized town by Italian standards. The città is most famous for the production of its extra virgin olive oil hence its nickname, “the City of Olives“.

It is most probably a fantastic town with rich traditions, but that’s not the reason for its feature today. While browsing the Adriatic Coastline of Italy on Google Maps, something very unusual caught our eye: A road which is almost perfectly circle-shaped:

The map of Bitonto we made highlighting the ring road. (Click to enlarge)
Image credit: Google Maps

We first thought it must some system error producing a few weird shapes on the map, but then we zoomed in and found out that the Bitonto Ring Road (or “polygonal road” as the locals call it) does actually exist, and it’s quite fascinating. A perfectly shaped ring road, who wouldn’t love that, right?

The circle

The imaginary circle which the road runs along has a radius of about 3 kilometres (2976 meters to be exact, give or take a couple of meters) or 1.85 miles and has its centre at the main square of Bitonto. This makes the circle’s circumference 18.7 kilometres (11.62 miles).

However, you may have noticed that the actual ring road has an incredibly annoying little gap on its eastern side. It abruptly ends in the middle of olive plantations:

Image credit: Google Street View

The reason for this is not entirely clear, although it may have something to do with the minor dip in the terrain as seen below:

The annoying gap in the near-perfect ring road of Bitonto

As for some further facts about this amazing piece of roadwork:

  • It was built between 1946 and 1948 to help the olive farmers get from one field to another without having to cross the city.
  • The southern section is a single-track road, while the northern part is a two-lane road with considerable traffic.
  • It is paved all the way.

With a bit of widening here and there, it could make for a great race track. But until then, it is merely a pleasing peculiarity to look at, apart from the small gap of course.

Sources:

  • Bitonto – Wikipedia: EnglishItalian.
  • Google Maps, Google Street View
  • Our map of the Bitonto Ring Road was created utilizing the Overpass API and OpenStreetMap. (© OpenStreetMap Contributors)

Do you know of any other abnormally shaped road? Please let us know in the comments below:


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