A turquoise blue sea, an azure sky, fields of olive trees as far as the eye can see, immaculate white villages, welcome to Puglia. Heel of the “Italian boot”, located in the south-east of the country, the region of Puglia is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the south. Puglia was colonized by the Greeks, then alternately invaded or dominated by the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, then the Spanish. This rich historical past has left deep traces in terms of architecture, gastronomy and viticulture. So what are the must-sees to visit Puglia?
The Itria Valley, located in the center of Puglia, is better known as the trulli region. Trulli are peasant houses with conical roofs that were developed in the mid-nineteenth century. Ostuni, a lovely hilltop town, and Alberobello, a village with the largest concentration of trulli, are not to be missed. The towns of Cisternino and Martina Franca are also worth a visit.
Known as the “Florence of the South”, Lecce will charm you with its baroque architectural heritage, especially its numerous palaces and religious monuments, such as the Duomo or the splendid Basilica of Santa Croce. You will also find Roman ruins, excavated in the city center.
The Puglia Coast
With more than 800 kilometers of coastline, the region is the third in Italy for the length of its coastline, after Sardinia and Sicily (which are islands). If you like small coves, choose Promontorio del Gargano at the northern end of Puglia and if you are more into cliffs, choose Torre dell’Orso. For large stretches of fine sand and turquoise waters worthy of the Caribbean, opt for the southern end of Puglia and the beaches of Baia dei Turchi and Marina di Pescoluse. Finally, take the opportunity to visit the beautiful coastal towns of Otranto and Gallipoli, whose foundation dates back to the Hellenic period.
A fine-dining and Wine Destination
Another reason to discover Puglia is the gastronomy. Among the many local specialties, try the focaccias of Altamura, delicious flat breads baked in the oven and garnished with olive oil and herbs, but also sometimes with cheese, meat or tomatoes. Try burrata, a fresh cheese similar to mozzarella with a creamy texture. Enjoy a dish of orrechiete (ear-shaped pasta), seafood or freshly caught fish. Finally, stock up on olive oil and cured meats from the town of Martina Franca.
A gastronomic vacation would of course be incomplete without tasting the warm wines of Puglia, especially the famous primitivo, but also negroamaro or nero di troia.