Puglia – where coastline meets countryside
Puglia is the long strip of land, 400km from north to south, that makes up the “heel” of the Italian boot.
Puglia offers the beauty of marine grottoes and caverns, as well as turquoise seas and sandy beaches.
A centuries-long cycle of invasion deposited Germanic castles, Romanesque cathedrals and Spanish Baroque frippery (at its best in Lecce). PointyTrulli houses and whitewashed hill towns on the Salento peninsula recall Greek connections.
The most comfortable way to visit this rugged district of Italy is to fly from Rome to either Bari or Brindisi in about an hour, where you can rent a car to tour the Trulli.
• 1 – TRULLI HOUSES
Alberobello hosts the highest concentration of these particular houses.
The best TRULLI are some of Puglia’s most distinguished holiday properties.
Cylindrical, whitewashed buildings with gray conical roofs tapering out to a point or sphere, they are often adorned with painted symbols.
Most trulli have just one room but when more space was needed, a hole was simply knocked in the wall and an identical structure built next door.
Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the trulli capital.
Here the strange white buildings crowd the narrow streets, and there are trulli restaurants, shops, and even a trulli cathedral.
• 2 – COASTAL TOWNS
GALLIPOLI – The old town itself is a maze of meandering and twisting whitewashed streets, with tiny tomatoes hanging on the walls to dry, providing a sudden blaze of color alongside the fishing nets.
OTRANTO – Set in an arid, rocky and windblown landscape, with translucent seas to swim in. The port overflows with tourists in August, when Otranto’s nightlife is at its peak, and the town is most entertaining.
The Norman Duomo (founded 1080) on Via Duomo houses the bones of the martyrs. There are a 12th-century mosaic floor and a fine crypt. A castle (1485–98) built by the Aragonese at the center of town adds to Otranto’s charm and there are some fine beaches close by.
OSTUNI – One of the most stunning hilltop towns in southern Italy, with a sun-bleached old quarter and a sandy coastline 7km away.
VIESTE SUL GARGANO – For sun and sea, head for this resort on the dramatic Gargano promontory, with the option in summer of travelling onwards to the Trémiti Islands.
• 3 – BEACHES
Puglia’s coastline is the longest in Italy, boarded by the Ionian and Adriatic seas and home to some of Italy’s best beaches.
BAIA DEI TURCHI
Not far away from the white ancient city of Otranto is Baia Dei Turchi. This is a bay where the Turkish soldiers landed during the Otranto battle and which is a part of the Natural Reserve of the Alimini Lakes. This quiet beach is a heavenly place bordered by lush Mediterranean vegetation. You’ll find both free and beaches equipped with everything you need
This bay is a part of the Natural Reserve of the Alimini Lakes. This quiet beach is a heavenly place bordered by lush Mediterranean vegetation.
Great spot for scuba diving!
Between Gallipoli and Porto Cesareo, it is a natural reserve to discover along a path through broom bushes, cysts and sea lilies. The sea is a light blue light between the rocks, where to dive: Celebrate the Horse Cave, where the oldest remains of Homo sapiens in Europe and the Corvine were found.
Located in the far south of Puglia, Pescoluse is one of the region’s premier beach destinations. Celebrated as the ‘Maldives of Puglia,’ the fine white sands and azure waters are heavenly.
It’s perfect for long relaxing walks at sunrise or sunset.
• 4 – EXQUISITE FOOD
Puglia is home to some of the finest food and wine Italy has to offer: fresh and healthy.
Try fine olive oils, vegetables, meats, cheeses and orecchiette, the regional specialty pasta.
Puglia is known as the breadbasket of Italy: it produces more olive oil than all the other regions of Italy combined.
It’s famous for cime di rapa (turnip tops), fava beans, figs (fresh and dried), cotognata (a moulded jam made from quinces) and for its melons, grapes, and green cauliflower.
The most distinctive local pasta is orecchiette, ear-shaped pasta that you will still see women making in their doorways in the old part of Bari.
A local meat dish is gnummerieddi: resembling haggis, it’s made by stuffing a lamb gut with minced offal, herbs, and garlic – best grilled over an open fire.
Cheeses are a strong point, including ricotta, cacioricotta, canestrato (sheep’s-milk cheese formed in baskets) and burrata (cream encased in mozzarella, a specialty of Andria). Pair these products with the local durum-wheat bread, the most famous of which, pane di Altamura, carries the DOP seal of quality.
ORECCHIETTE CON CIME DI RAPA
• 5 – BAROQUE CAPITAL
Right in the heart of Puglia lies Lecce, an exuberant city of Baroque architecture and opulent churches
It is called the “Florence of South” and hosts beautiful Baroque buildings and wonderful churches especially Santa Croce Church, a model of “Barocco Leccese”
The flowery style of “Leccese Baroque” owed as much to the materials to hand as to the skills of the architects: the soft local sandstone could be intricately carved and then became hard with age.