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Puglia

From Gargano to Salento, the Puglia region is well known for its wholesome, flavourful cuisine, countryside, and infinite entertainment options. The lively, recently discovered tourist destination is awash in pleasant surprises. All you need to do is take a peek here or there to discover an extraordinary village or unrivalled view. Sweet scents and flavours blend into the colourful countryside and voices speaking in dialect wafting through winding ancient alleys in Bari, Lecce, and Foggia.

Puglia is the heel of Italy’s boot. The east side gazes out at a seemingly endless blue sea and Greece with its history spanning thousands of years. In fact, in Salento, some people still speak Griko, a dialect of Greek origins. On the other side of the heel, scirocco winds from the southern Mediterranean warmly caress the land. Puglia’s strip of land grows some of Italy’s most exquisite natural products. First on the list is Puglia’s extra virgin olive oil from ancient as well as centuries-old olive trees that still populate the region.

Puglia’s major cities are packed with museums detailing the different historic eras, such as Taranto’s national archaeological museum. But even in the region’s small towns, there are many opportunities to learn more about ancient arts and crafts. For instance, Grottaglie has a wonderful ceramics museum. Many of Puglia’s historic centres are essentially open-air museums. Consider, for instance, Lecce with its splendid baroque architecture and Roman-era theatre and Corigliano d’Otranto, home to a spectacular castle and park dedicated to philosophy.

Throughout the region, visitors can enjoy walking tours of megalithic monuments and structures. Giurdignano offers one of the finest tours that will take you back to prehistoric times.

Puglia also offers a cornucopia of culinary delights, from carefully prepared country dishes to the finest in gourmet cuisine. Salento’s olive oil, which has earned the prized PDO (protected designation of origin) label, sets the pace. This liquid of the gods dresses a wealth of recipes from fresh, homemade orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) to local beef or pork dishes and simple, tomato-covered friselle (hard, bagel-shaped bread dipped in water). Puglia’s marvellous fresh fish is justly a favourite among the region’s residents. There’s also the earth’s plentiful bounty and a terrain ideal for sheep farming, resulting in grilled lamb that’s to die for. Such dishes should always be paired with one of Puglia’s many wines that have been classified as DOC (controlled destination of origin) or the less restrictive IGT (complies with particular product specifications). For cleaning your plate – not a faux pas but a compliment in Italy – use a hearty slice of Altamura bread, recognized by Slow Food.

Pack light when you visit Puglia. When you head home, you’ll need plenty of space for this region’s many scrumptious food products: olive oil, burrata (regional soft cheese), a good bottle of Primitivo wine, taralli (bread snacks), Jordan almonds from Andria and ceramics. You can pick up these gifts in nearly every town in Puglia, from lovely Vieste and Ostuni to charming Gallipoli. Marvel in many creative, cutting-edge design items and fashions available in stores throughout the region that young people have opened. Discover Puglia’s evolving artistic and artisan scenes where traditions and innovation meet to create original interpretations.

The trulli of Alberobello, the white limestone dwellings with conical roofs, are known worldwide. But there is a vast array of other gorgeous places worth checking out. For example, the enchanting Tremiti Islands where the limpid water laps against the high, white craggy cliffs. The many dramatic castles scattered along the coastline and the inland parts provide the perfect photo op. The imposing Castel del Monte in Andria is just one example. Don’t miss the chance to traipse through Salento’s ancient olive groves. Check out Santa Maria di Leuca’s craggy coastline. The Ionian and Adriatic seas meet here, the waters carving out caves and small inlets.

If you love golf, you’ve found the right region. Puglia’s gentle, rolling hills are ideal for constructing golf courses and many are at your disposition, in particular along the coastline from Brindisi to Bari. But this is just one entry in a long list of outdoor sports that you can enjoy. Go bicycling, horseback riding or even sailing, taking advantage of the region’s many small ports. You can even hang ten. Surf spots are plentiful along the coastline as well as areas for windsurfing or kitesurfing. Nature loves and hikers will discover their natural habitat in the Gargano woods.

Surround yourself with the fresh, fragrant scents of nature. In Puglia, a world away from the din of urban centres, you will discover many farmhouses converted into relaxing spa resorts where you can soak in the pool and be pampered. In Masseria a Fasano in the Brindisi province, the excellent local grapes are used in wine therapy, a treatment that provides guests with many health and wellness benefits. If this isn’t enough, immerse yourself in the thermal baths in Castelnuovo della Daunia or Margherita di Savoia for the relaxing remedy of your dreams.

Puglia and fun are synonymous. In the summer, along the beaches and the pinewoods lining the coastline, parties and concerts are everywhere. Gallipoli’s discotheques thump with the region’s coolest musical happy hours. Salento is where the young gather, the ideal spot to cut loose and enjoy an action-filled vacation. Pulling an all-nighter is a breeze here.

All year round, eat like a king at the hundreds of food festivals in Puglia, from the north to the south. You’ll not only discover local delicacies but enjoy live music and plenty of activities for children. For the small set, another spot worth a visit is the Zoosafari animal park near Brindisi.

Many Italian Catholics devoted to Padre Pio will make a pilgrimage at least once in their lives to San Giovanni Rotondo, the home of this saint known for his stigmata and healing powers.

The patron saint of Bari, Saint Nicholas, is also well known not only in Catholic Italy but also Eastern Orthodox countries. A religious celebration is held every year in his honour. The regional capital’s cathedral is also dedicated to Saint Nicholas, who was an icon of kindness and generosity and encouraged cultural exchanges with Eastern Europe.

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puglia

Excellences of the region

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