Discover Puglia, one of the most fascinating regions of Southern Italy and the whole of Europe.
Puglia is the place where arts and culture are mixed together with breathtaking landscapes and the most advanced accommodations and villas of the Bel Paese.
……as a place is special, fragile and utterly unique
This is the start of your dream, here begin your unforgettable trip in Puglia……
Welcome to Puglia!
A multi-cultural, colorful, enchanting land rich in tradition, history, art, beautiful landscapes and so much more: welcome to Puglia, the “heel” of the Italian “boot”.
Kilometers and kilometers of wonderful shores and delightful sights: you can see the Albany coastline, just 80 km far, from Punta Palascìa, or enjoy the gentle touch of the finest white sand of the Salento beaches, or observe the characteristic “trulli” within the green Itria Valley. Its precious, charming cities and town will leave you breathless with their wonderful antique buildings, picturesque architectures, narrow little streets and stunning sights; the typical cuisine will delight you with unforgettable flavors, and the warmth of its people will let you experience one of the best holidays ever.
A hint of history
Puglia is the Easternmost region of Southern Italy; its position has made it suitable for a wide number of different populations that have been invading and dominating this land throughout history. Dauni, Peucetia, Messapi were the first tribes to cross the narrow stretch of sea separating Albany from Puglia, towards the 11th century BC, but the first evidences of human presence in this area have been tracked back to 400.000 years ago: that’s the age of the world-famous Altamura man discovered in 1993 in a limestone cave near the “Murge” plateau. And after the Illyrian tribes came the Greeks in the first century b.c.: the first colonies appeared in the South, where Taras (the ancient Taranto) was founded. The strategic importance of the region was perceived by the Romans too: Puglia became one of the biggest exporters towards the East from the Roman domination on.
And then came the German domination: Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor who loved Southern Italy and enhanced the cultural and economical growth of Sicily, Puglia and Campania, made this region become one of the most important in Italy for its artistic, architectural and economical value.
An incredible mixture of cultures and traditions, legacies from ancient invaders to be found everywhere (from the cathedrals and the castles to the typical cuisine), numerous and inestimable pieces of figurative art and architecture: this is what Puglia is now, and what makes it so interesting for tourists from all over the world.
Delicacies and typical products
The traditional cuisine in Puglia reflects the colorful traits of this region, and is best known for the importance that fresh products from the Earth or from the sea have in every recipe. A huge variety of spices is used, but always without covering other flavors – just enhancing them. The cooking tradition prefers the use of seasonal food – such as turnip greens, cabbages, thistles, artichokes, eggplants, legumes and so on. Therefore during spring and summer you’re more likely to find vegetables and fish, whereas during autumn and winter the most preferred dishes are legumes, pasta with sauces, soups and other “warmer” dishes.
The most famous dishes of the typical cuisine of Puglia are “orecchiette” pasta with meat sauce or turnip greens, “cavatelli” (another typical variety of pasta) with mussels, grilled octopus and rice with mussels and potatoes. Among the wide variety of typical products, do not forget to take home a bottle of olive oil from the Salento area (did you know that 70% of European olives are collected here?), a few lemons and oranges from Gargano and some delicious wines such as Salice Salentino and Gioia del colle. Bakeries will serve you “taralli”, “frise” and Altamura bread, and here you’ll find a very large production of delicious pasta – almost 80% of all the pasta delivered throughout the whole European continent! Do not forget to taste some delicious cold cuts such as “soppressata” and “capocollo”, and for dessert “pasticciotti” (made with pastry and custard) and the famous “zeppole”, delicious little cakes stuffed with custard, cherries, icing sugar or chocolate cream.
Best destinations in Puglia
Gargano is also called “the spur of the Italian boot” because of its position. This peninsula lies within the Foggia district, and is actually one of the most enchanting corners of Puglia – not only for its Natural Park, but also for the fascinating beauty of its irregular coastline rich of caves, stacks and a crystal-clear sea. If you choose to spend your holiday here during the month of May, you’ll be able to see a very famous celebration, the International Gargano Festival, with athletes, dancers and artists from all over Europe. And if you are fond of dancing and traditions, you can’t really miss the Tarantella Fest during July and August, that aims at celebrating all the variations of this peculiar traditional dance.
Within the Gargano National Park lies the pretty Vieste, where the marks of the great Frederick II of Swabia are impressive buildings and palaces, a castle and other medieval structures. Do not forget to visit the 30-meters-tall rock of Pizzomunno with all the legends about its origins, as well as all the other wonders of the seashore – such as the “architiello”, a peculiar arch originating from the erosion of a rock.
The white, wonderful Ostuni lies in the Brindisi province: every visitor is stunned by its white, dazzling houses that make it similar with some charming Greek cities such as Santorini, as well as by its limpid, transparent sea (its beach is one of the cleanest in Italy) and its architectural beauty and value. Take your time to walk and wander among the narrow little streets of the historical centre, and to breathe a fascinating atmosphere that you’ll find truly unique, among wonderful monuments and buildings such as Palazzo Ducale, the Cathedral, Libertà square, San Vito Martire church and more.
The little hamlet of Cisternino is located in the Brindisi province as well: it lies on the South-Eastern “Murgia” (a sub-region of Puglia corresponding to a rectangular karst topographic plateau) and overlooks the Itria Valley, best known for the typical Trulli. These dry-stone huts with conical roofs were once generally used as storehouses or dwellings, and are nowadays often restored and used as holiday houses. The town has been ranked as one of the 100 most beautiful hamlets in Italy: its historical centre is very well-preserved and particularly charming, and the scenario is breath-taking. Take your time to enjoy the delightful view upon the Itria valley and its magical atmosphere, and do not forget to taste some of the delicious typical products of this land.
Alberobello, located in the Itria Valley, was made famous in the world by its well-preserved, characteristic “trulli” that have been recently listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites. These peculiar buildings probably date back to the Fifteenth century, during the Reign of Naples, when the law imposed a tax on new urban buildings: the owner of this land decided to build dry stone huts that were considered “precarious” by the law and therefore weren’t taxed. Do not forget to visit the “Trullo Sovrano” that nowadays houses a little museum, theatre shows, jazz concerts and other cultural events.
The town of Polignano a Mare lies within the province of Bari, and is a perfect destination for all those who wish to spend relaxing holidays lying on wonderful beaches: the town has been receiving every year, from 2008 on, the “Blue flag” award, that certificates the high quality of water, its safety and other important environmental criteria. The ancient historical centre is really charming, with its enchanting white, bright buildings clinging to a cliff above the sea, and a wide number of evidences of the Roman domination can still be observed nowadays. The shore here offers you a lot of delightful glimpses, with caves and stacks just waiting to be discovered.
The capital of the region is Bari. Its port has always been the centre of the trade in the Adriatic sea: a wide number of merchant ships have been docking here every day since the enlargement of the port realized by the Venetians in the Thirteenth Century. The city has a rich history and therefore a rich cultural, artistic and architectural heritage: from the great Basilica di San Nicola di Bari, a wonderful evidence of Romanesque art, to the eclectic style of Fizzarotti and Atti palaces. Boardwalks allow you to take a relaxing walk in front of the sea, and if you want to freshen up you can plunge into the warm water of the Adriatic sea at Pane e Pomodoro or Torre Quetta beaches. Local delicacies include rice with potatoes and mussels, linguine with squid sauce and snails from the Murge plateau with various types of seasoning.
On the southernmost area of the Murgia plateau lies the city of Martina Franca: its position offers wonderful, breath-taking panoramas on the Itria Valley. The city is best known for its charming Baroque buildings: its historical centre is a really enchanting succession of baroque houses, churches (such as the Basilica of San Martino or the Carmine church), prestigious buildings (such as Palazzo Ducale) and the arches of the ancient doors (that were once the only access to the city centre, formerly guarded by huge walls). There really is a lot to discover within the narrow streets of Martina Franca, among some of the most beautiful evidences of the Italian baroque – and here and there a few “trulli” peep out from the wheat plantations of the area.
The Salento area is also called “the heel of Italy”: it’s the last strip of Italian land in the East. This area involves the whole province of Lecce, and is really very rich in history and peculiar traditions. Visiting Salento means getting to know its lively, friendly people, its delicious typical cuisine and its ancient culture – and then of course its remarkable landscapes and scenarios on the seashore. The ground is very fertile: grapes and olive trees flourish here, and their delicious products are exported all over the world. Its coasts are varied: from the finest white sand to huge rocky corners. Crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches are everywhere, from Gallipoli to Otranto, from Santa Maria di Leuca to Manduria.
The Easternmost district in Italy is Otranto, in the province of Lecce (Salento area). Its enchanting hamlet has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and as one of the 100 most wonderful hamlets of Italy a few years ago. Its history is really rich and ancient (the first evidences of a human presence in this area date back to the Neolithic age), and the atmosphere of its historical centre is so intense that it lets you experience all the dominations and the mixture of cultures that Otranto has known so far. A visit to this city must include the Castle of the Thirteenth Century, a true masterpiece of military architecture, the Annunziata Cathedral with its astonishing mosaic of Pantaleone, the hypogeum of Torre Pinta, probably first built in the Neolithic age, and the “grotta dei cervi” (cave of the stags) where its ancient inhabitants left traces of their life through the paintings on the walls, of really great historical value.
The beautiful Lecce, one of the most crowded cities in Salento, is also called “The Southern Florence” because of its architectural value and beauty: wonderful baroque buildings, so unique that nowadays we actually talk of “barocco leccese” to define this peculiar style. Among the astonishing evidences of the city’s magnificence, the most famous are with no doubt the Celestini Palace and the Basilica di Santa Croce nearby, as well as the Dome of Maria Santissima Assunta and the charming square where it is set, and the Rudiae, San Biagio and Napoli doors. The Roman Amphitheatre and the Castle of Charles the Fifth are really worth a visit as well, together with the Church of San Niccolò and Cataldo and the Park Tower. A wide number of interesting cultural events take place in this beautiful city: during the Miami Piano Festival the theatres of the city house a wide number of concerts, in July the “Baroque award” is conferred to all the people who particularly distinguished themselves in the fields of solidarity and communication, and the Festival of European Cinema is attended by the most important international filmmakers.