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Puglia Holidays - Travel Guide

A Fascinating Part Of Italy

Puglia is an undiscovered gem on Italy’s Adriatic and Ionian coasts, boasting rich traditions, fine food and lively cultural events that run every night during the summer. Fortified whitewashed towns perch on hilltops above silver olive groves, fertile vineyards and pristine beaches that stretch for miles along the limestone coast.

Undiscovered Italian Coastline

Puglia sits right in the heel of Italy’s boot and like other parts of the south such as Calabria, it is a hidden treasure compared with popular northern destinations including Tuscany and the Italian Lakes. Largely undiscovered by British tourists, visitors to Puglia (known locally as Apulia) can enjoy an authentic Italian experience in a region steeped in tradition and natural beauty. The region’s 800 km of coastline look much like Croatia, with limestone formations, sandy beaches and crystal blue waters, and the region comes alive in summer with a variety of cultural festivals.

The main produce of the Puglia area is olive oil and wine, with one tenth of all the wine drunk in Europe produced here. This is a result of the fantastic weather enjoyed in Puglia year round, with average summer highs of 30-35 C and little rain. Visit during the summer and you will be greeted by events and concerts every night. The area’s popular festivals celebrate a range of subjects from wine to diverse music genres, cinema, art, religion and traditional dance.

History and Heritage

Many of these local traditions run deep, as the region is rich with history stretching from before the time of the Ancient Greeks. Puglia has been ruled by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Turks, Normans and Spanish as well as others, and each left their unique stamp on the area. The coast is strewn with castles and fortifications, many of which date back to the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century, although the most unique feature of Puglia is probably the traditional conical structures known as trulli.

Trulli are cylindrical buildings with conical roofs, and they can be seen all over the region. They are usually employed as barns and storage houses, but their most striking use is when they are erected in large groups as homes and shops that are still inhabited today. The most impressive example of trulli buildings can be seen in Alberobello where entire streets are formed from terraced trulli. Each trullo is made from carved stone without mortar and there are even some used as restaurants and guesthouses.

Where to Go in Puglia

If you’re interested in beaches and natural beauty, make sure you visit the Salento peninsula. This peninsula forms the heel of Italy’s boot and is famed for its white sandy beaches and limestone geology. This area boasts pristine beaches, white cliffs and sea stacks, fascinating caves and incredibly fertile soil famous for growing some of the world’s best olives and grapes.

There are several lovely towns and cities in Puglia that offer great architecture, culture and a laid-back buzz. Brindisi is a bustling port town with a stunning cathedral and fortifications, but make sure you also visit the town of Lecce. Lecce is known as the 'Florence of the Baroque' due to its abundance of churches and impressive streets and squares, and has a pleasant atmosphere in which to wander around or sit down for coffee. Bari, on the Adriatic coast, is the region’s capital. This labyrinthine old town of winding streets features a series of impressive piazzas and historic buildings that are well worth a visit.

Finally, don’t miss the beautiful small town of Ostuni. There has been a settlement here since the Stone Age, and make sure to wear your sunglasses because the whole town is painted white or built from local white stone. It is built on a hilltop and stands out beautifully against the blue sky and green grass.

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