Puglia is Italy at its Best

Puglia, which has risen to prominence in Italy’s travel scene, has been the talk for years. The province is the heel of Italy’s boot and has been the most popular destination in the country, especially among veterans who have visited all the famous destinations from Rome to Venice.

It’s the prevailing opinion: Visit Puglia. You will find the best of Italy waiting for you.

Puglia has a unique atmosphere that is always evocative and, to put it mildly, constantly evokes emotion. Its ancient hilltop communities and maze-like historical city centers display the deep architectural influences of many conquerors throughout the millennia.

It has 500 miles of breathtaking coastline, washed by Adriatic and Ionian seas. There are also abundant seafood, endless olive tree groves, rock-wall orchards, and plenty of fruit. (Puglia, a breadbasket in Italy produces more olive oil, wine, and durum wheat than any other area).

The parade of castles, fortresses, and huge cathedrals; the warm and engaging people; and the amazing cuisine. Some even claim it has the best food in Italy, which is a bold claim for a country that is internationally renowned for its culinary excellence.

People from Puglia feel a deep connection with land and sea. They are proud of their rich history, culture, venerable cities, and abundance of locally-produced food products. Everything you eat in Puglia is locally caught, grown, and produced.

Apulia has more to offer than what is possible on a normal vacation. There are many places that you should not miss. Here’s a list of some of the most beautiful spots to bring a smile to your face and inspire wonderment in your heart.

Bari

Although Puglia’s capital is the largest city, Bari’s historic center is a slow-paced, relaxed, and genteel reflection of its noble and stately nature.

People are walking here casually down stone lanes, through canyons of impressive villas and cathedrals, and along cobbled passageways that connect to arches and cobbled passageways.

The Old Town’s ramparts are a breathtaking architectural and scenic experience that you should not miss. Bari is elegant but also communal. Every morning, Bari women gather at tables to make the city’s most famous pasta, orecchiette, or little ears.

While a procession passes by, neighbors gather in small places, in doorways, and in bars to talk about the day.

They are nibbling on their favorite pastry, the custard- or fruit-preserve-filled pasticiotto, and munching on focaccia from renowned Panificio Fiore, a Bari institution that raises focaccia to an art form.

Visitors can experience the Puglian culture at Bari, a glimpse into the traditional life in this far south corner of Italy.

Ostuni

The whitewashed Ostuni, perched on a prominent promontory, is a striking sight from afar. It’s a shining bastion that juts out of the area, the highest point illuminated by the sun of Puglia all year.

The “White City” is a cluster of white buildings that rise up the hill, becoming a dense maze of narrow lanes and alleyways.

Ostuni, a city that has been inhabited since the 2nd Century BC and was ruled by several invaders, has been white ever since the plague when the readily available lime was used to whitewash the houses.

The highlight of the town are the enormous terraces on the northeastern side of the city – an exceptional lookout point offering some of the most spectacular views in Puglia.

Avenida 40 Cafe offers a tranquil lunch on the terraces. Their Italian food is delicious.

Matera

Ghost towns in the Old West are nothing like mysterious and fascinating Matera. It is literally a rock town, rising high above the ravine.

Rock houses are built up the slopes with facades that resemble typical houses. The caves were home to people since Paleolithic times. However, Matera was abandoned in 1952 and the residents moved to Matera, a modern town.

It was the terrible poverty and poor sanitation that made it impossible to live. For decades, it was a ghost city. It was a ghost town for decades. But then, a rebirth began.

It was home to many people who started returning to open cave hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, and shops. In 1993, it was designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2019, it was named the European Capital of Culture.

No Time to Die, the latest James Bond movie, was shot here. It is today one of the most beautiful sites in Italy and the world. Although technically it is just across the border in Basilicata province, it can be reached most easily from Puglia. Bari is the nearest airport.

Alberobello

Mysterious Alberobello still remains a mystery to scholars. It has more in common than the Shire in the Lord of the Rings. Trulli, the cone-shaped houses with steep roofs made of rock, seem to belong in fairytales.

Although they can be found all over the region, the cone dwellings – more than 1,500 – are located in Alberobello. This site was designated a World Heritage Site in 1996.

While most of these shops are now tourist shops that sell trinkets, there are still some high-end jewelry stores, tea rooms and restaurants, as well as B&Bs selling upscale items. However, it is still a matter of debate where they came from.

They were constructed in the 14th century according to some scholars, while others claim they were built in the 15th century. The likely reason for their uncharacteristic architecture was taxes. Local feudal lords could avoid these taxes by building houses using readily available materials that could be quickly demolished and rebuilt as required.

No matter what the origin, Alberobello is worth the effort to stay in one. There are many trulli B&Bs. Some are modern and luxurious while others are more traditional and have old-fashioned furniture.

Gallipoli

Gallipoli is a storied island fortress that is connected to the mainland via a short causeway. It is one of Puglia’s most charming, friendly, and happy destinations.

Evenings are crowded with locals and visitors who flood the labyrinthine, medina-like, labyrinthine alleyways and lanes of the high bastions. The bright strings of lights illuminate the labyrinth, creating a lively atmosphere for people to stroll, shop, enjoy the many small restaurants, and eat gelato.

Enjoy the stunning sunsets over the Ionian Sea from the bars located along the walls.

Cocktails can be served with olives, bruschetta, and Puglia’s famous taralli, a small, crisp, bread-like snack. It was coveted for its strategic location and later became a Messapian site. Later conquerors included the Greeks, Romans, and Vandals as well as Goths and Venetians.

Gallipoli today takes it all in stride, with a relaxed style and infectious joy.

Lecce

This majestic city of palaces, with their ornate doors and wrought-iron balconies, and soaring churches – 40 in the old center of the city – is basically a living Baroque museum.

Lecce is often called “The Florence of South”, and you can walk around Lecce, almost the entire old center, completely immersed in art, architecture, culture, history, lavish opulence, and spacious squares.

It is home to a maze of narrow alleyways, charming courtyards, soaring bell towers, opulent villas, exquisite cathedrals, and the remains of a Roman amphitheater. Stone walls surround the city. There are also imposing castles.

From the façades of churches and buildings, a riot of figures, creatures, and mythological beings can be seen: dragons, griffons, and monkey-like apparitions to saints, historical heroes, and church hierarchy.

The Museo Faggiano is a fascinating museum that displays thousands of artifacts from over 2,000 years. They were discovered while digging for a solution to a plumbing issue.

Lecce is more than a museum. It’s a place to live in luxury with its many art galleries, museums, outdoor cafes, and wine bars.

Locorotondo

Many consider Locorotondo to be the most beautiful village in Puglia and one of Italy’s most beautiful, and it will blow you away with its charm.

The maze of stone lanes runs under archways, past portals, turrets, and courtyards, and between white-washed houses with black-wrought-iron balconies and red bougainvillea-draped houses.

Old Bari may be large in scale, but most of Locorotondo’s historic center is small. It is serene and beautiful, though.

The iconic Trulli can be seen from its perch high on a hill overlooking the valley of olive groves and vineyards of Itria.

This village is perfectly round, hence its name, “round place”. It’s a great place to wander around serendipitously, get lost, and enjoy the many visual delights it has to offer.

Then, you can enjoy a meal at Taverna del Duca. You can also wash it down with Locorontondo’s sparkling white wine, Primitivo, or Nero Amaro red.

Grotte di Castellano

Although it is a bit out of the main routes, the steep descent into a network of caverns is well worth the effort. Many consider the Caves of Castellano to be Italy’s most beautiful karst grotto. This is because the dissolution of the bedrock has resulted in natural features such as caves and sinkholes. The Caves of Castellano are a delight for the eyes with their colorful and intricate formations.

You will immediately descend 200 feet into a large cavern that is 120 feet high. An elevator will take you back up after the tour. There are narrow passageways that link the caves to each other.

This scene is a stunning example of nature’s intricate artistry. It features a sea of gnarly rock formations and stalagmites, as well as stalactites, stalagmites, and stalactites, in a rainbow of colors. The scene was created over time by water penetrating the surface.

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