INTRODUCTION INTO PUGLIA
The heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia, extends for around 400km from the Gargano Peninsula in the north to Santa Maria di Leuca in the south. Puglia has 6 provinces, which are: Bari, Lecce, Brindisi, Foggia, Taranto and the BAT (Barletta-Adria-Trani) province. Its 800 km of coastline, sculpted over millennia by both the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the west, is dotted with magnificent beaches. Puglia’s towns and villages are wonderful variations in their architectural styles and atmospheres.
Puglia and Frederik II are inextricably linked. Frederick II ( 1194 – 1 1250) was the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, and a member of the House of Hohenstaufen. Called by a contemporary chronicler ‘Stupor Mundi’ (the wonder of the world), by Nietzsche the first European, and by many historians the first modern ruler – Frederick established in Sicily and southern Italy something very much like a modern, centrally governed kingdom with an efficient bureaucracy. No less important is Puglia’s excellent cuisine, humble by tradition, blessed by nature. With 60 million Olive trees, providing half of Italy’s Olive Oil (340 mln Olive trees in the Europe). Puglia is not polished like Tuscany, thank goodness, Michelin stars and dinner jackets are just not what happens here. The food is incredble. Simple but everything with 100% more colour, bite and taste. Home to the Baroque town of Lecce, the fortified Gallipoli and Otranto ports, white-washed Ostuni and the other white cities. Puglia has recently attracted much attention as one of Italy’s up and coming destinations. It is chic but authentic, traditional but contemporary. Puglia is Italy’s most southeastern region and we also feel that, as do many others, Puglia is Italy’s perfect vacation destination. If you have ever wondered why Italians do not travel for their holidays, Puglia is one of the reasons. Puglia is a culinary and wine destination and a gourmand’s paradise, perhaps only Piedmont can compare and remember with 60 million olive trees, Puglia provides half of Italy's olive oil (340 mln olive trees in the Europe)
Puglia has increased it tourism by 40% in 2 years in many facets of tourism. What does this mean and why might it affect you? With Puglia being one of the hottest destinations of course we advice coming sooner rather than later and to ensure you start speaking to us as soon as possible as the lodging we really like are tiny structures. Think 5/18 Rooms.
If you have ever wondered why Italians do not travel for their holidays, Puglia is one of the reasons
Manduria and Goia del Colle, the most important areas for Primitivo
Alimini Lakes on the Adriatic coast, and Porto Selvaggio on the Ionic coast
Salento the most southernly region of Puglia and Italy, not to be missed
Beautiful Baroque city of Lecce often called the Florence of the South
Trani is a Pugliese gem. Think of a mini St Tropez, Its Norman cathedral perched above the sea
Bari “Se Parigi avesse il mare, sarebbe una piccola Bari”, (if Paris had the sea, it would be a little Bari)
Bari is Puglia’s capital and one of the South’s most prosperous cities – with incredible seafood and vibe
Castel Del Monte the 13th-century citadel with geometric design built by Frederick II” and UNESCO protected
Polignano a Mare a stunning fishing village built on rocky limestone cliffs
Taranto the Aragonese Castle ‘Castel Sant’Angelo’ and the unmissable archaeological museum
Grottaglie the biggest centre in Puglia for the production of ceramics making ceramics for the popes for 700 years
Puglia is historically & current powerhouse of winemaking in Italy: combined with Sicily makes up 35% of Italy’s wine production
Alberobello Unesco World Heritage home to the Trulli and a superb restaurant
Martina Franca, Graceful baroque buildings airy piazzas in the heart of Valle d’Itria
Valle d’Itria, which is one of the largest canyons in Europe Famous for the Trullis
Locorotondo. Officially, it is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy also known for its wine production
Ostuni the white city overlooking the ancient olive groves and sea
Otranto was Italy’s main port to the Orient for a thousand years, King Minos and St. Peter are supposed to have visited
Gallipoli (from ‘beautiful town’ in Greek) is a medieval island in the Ionian Sea, also an important fishing center
The coast of Punta Pizzo, a natural mosaic of Mediterranean marquis, wetlands and marshes
Santa Maria di Leuca, sandy beaches of Felloniche,Torre Vado and Pescoluse are some of the best swimming to be had in Italy
Tremiti Archipelago are the five islands of the Tremiti Archipelago, a tiny paradise where history and nature merge perfectly
Gargano National Park It’s one of Italy’s most beautiful areas, white limestone cliffs, calcareous grottoes, sparkling sea, ancient forests
San Giovanni Rotondo and the historic pilgrimage destination of Monte Sant’Angelo and where the venerated Padre Pio worked
Vieste and Peschici “trabucchi”, structures built by fishermen from where they cast their nets, unique to the area
Table of contents
- Salento, Puglia
- Lecce, Puglia
- Gargano National Park & Vieste, Puglia
- Trani, Bari & Castel del Monte, Puglia
- The White Cities, Puglia
- Taranto & Grottaglie, Puglia
- Manduria, Puglia
- Otranto & Gallipoli, Puglia
- Santa Maria di Leuca, Puglia
- The Weather of Puglia
Salento is the south-eastern extension of the Puglia region, also known as ‘the heel of the Italian boot’. It encompasses the entire area of the province of Lecce, a large part of the province of Brindisi and a part of that of Taranto. This area was also known as Terra d’Otranto and in ancient times it was called Messapia and even Salentina. Salento stops and starts where people deem it necessary. For Instance in wine terms now Salento covers an extraordinary broad territory that has no base on the reality of where Salento Starts and finishes. We tend to think that From Brindisi to Taranto and everything to the east is the Salento. Its a Marketing thing.
Salento is stunning, especially the coasts, remarkable landscapes, from the Alimini Lakes just north of Salento to Porto Selvaggio on the Ionic coast this whole area is covered in vine and endless olive groves… Salento’s coast has the most pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Salento has natural and architectural beauties, hospitality, atmosphere and of course, its coast. The food and the wine coupled with Lecce make for very compelling reasons for coming to Salento while your here.
Founded by Messapians and then conquered by Romans during the 3rd Century BC. At that time it was named Lupiae. Its long and noble history is certainly witnessed by the numerous buildings and churches scattered across the lovely historic centre.The city’s great artistic treasure is its architecture. Piazza St. Oronzo, the central square and the big heart of the city; Piazza Duomo, one of the most beautiful squares in Italy; the Church of Santa Croce, one of the most fascinating expressions of Baroque architecture, which took a team of craftsmen over 100 years to complete. Sigismondo Castromediano Province Museum should be visited. This museum is the oldest in Puglia with an impressive archaeological collection
Lecce is a beautiful Baroque city commonly referred to as “The Florence of the South” and one of the most important towns (95,000) of Puglia as the capital of the province of Lecce and of the sub-region Salento. Located just 11 km from the Adriatic Sea and 23 km from the Ionian Sea, Lecce lies in the middle of fertile plain surrounded by attractive countryside, seashore and small towns and all surrounded by olive trees and vines.
Lecce has a great restaurant scene and plenty of wine bars. Nightlife can be loud and late due to the University students, If you are staying in the centre, Internal and higher floor levels are advised. Lecce always has a great vibe and buzz and in summer being a university town has lots on.
Please Note: We have one of our favorite cooking experience in Lecce. If you like cooking this is something anyone should try. Just a few secrets shared will enable you to start Apuglian cooking. 1/2 day immersions to deeper more involved stays.
Gargano National Park & Vieste, Puglia
GARGANO NATIONAL PARK
Gargano National Park is located in the province of Foggia. Aside from its magnificent display of flora and the primeval forests of Quarto, Spigno and Umbra, the park takes in miracle town San Giovanni Rotonda and the historic pilgrimage destination of Monte Sant’Angelo. Seaside towns Vieste and Peschici are popular summer destinations. We are well placed for the Northern Puglia wines and San Severo and the place where Frederick II found his last breathe at the age of 56 Torremaggiore.
Vieste is a small town on a hillside above the sea. It is the capital of Gargano and has a spectacular beach and offers breathtaking water views. In summer it is bustling with all types of travellers and August is probably best avoided. The Road trip round this section of the Gargano is stunning in itself.
Trani, Bari & Castel del Monte, Puglia
Trani is a Pugliese gem. It has a sophisticated feel, like a mini Italian Saint Tropez, particularly in summer when people pack the marina-side bars. Its Norman cathedral and piazza, perched above the sea, are an unforgettable sight.
One of the main sights of Trani is the cathedral which was completed in 1143. It lies near the sea, on an open area. Although the interior has been modernized, the crypt is still in its original state.
Some 40km from Bari, Trani makes an ideal base for exploring this part of Puglia.
Bari is Puglia’s capital and one of the South’s most prosperous cities – check out the designer shops along Via Sparano da Bari. Bari has a surprising amount of charm, particularly Bari Vecchia, its increasingly chic medieval old town.
Bari’s most famous church is the Basilica di San Nicola which has the remains of St. Nicholas, also known as father Christmas. This cathedral is however not the cathedral of Bari. Bari’s cathedral is Cattedrale di San Sabino which is from the late twelfth century.
CASTEL DEL MONTE
This citadel and castle was built during the 1240s and is situated on a small hill close to the monastery of Santa Maria del Monte. It lies in the commune of Andria.
The Castle’s geometric design is unique. It is an octagonal prism with an octagonal tower at each corner. Because of its small size it was believed that the Castle was not more than a ‘hunting lodge’, but after finding signs of curtain walls it is considered to be a citadel. The Castle is acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The White Cities, Puglia
Unesco World Heritage Site Alberobello is a town famous for its many trulli. It’s an amazing and unique story.Alberobello is also painfully popular and we need to choose carefully when you come in the day to avoid the masses. The Poeta Contadino Restaurant is the only place in town to eat. Simply marvellous.
Martina Franca is located in the Valle d’Itria on top of a hill. In the 10th century this town was founded by refugees from the Arab invasion of Taranto. Stunning historic Centre with views back to Locrotondo make this part of most itineraries.
Locorotondo smack between Martina Franca and Alberobello. Officially, it is described as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. The historic part of Locorotondo is circular and perched on the top of the hill. Besides the Trulli there is another famous type of housing here: ‘Cummerse’, houses with pointed gable roofs, uncommon in Italy. You will find examples of these in the historic part of the town. The views from here are unmissable and we have a super lunch here at ‘U Curdunn’ or we take you a little further to Il Fornello de Ricci, the only Michelin star in Puglia we like, ‘Al Fornello-da Ricci’.
Ostuni is situated in the province of Brindisi. The city is also referred to as the Città Bianca (the White City) because of its white colour. At the highest point of the town you will find the cathedral from where you have an amazing view of the surroundings. The views over the Olive groves and on to the sea are spectacular. Couple the views with the history and charm of Ostuni and it certainly merits half a day.
Taranto & Grottaglie, Puglia
Taranto is a port located by the gulf of Taranto. It is also the third-largest continental city in Southern Italy. It was founded in 706 BC by the Spartans and is therefore also known as “The Spartan City”.
One of the most famous symbols of Taranto is the Ponte Girevole. The Ponte Girevole is a swing bridge that was built in 1887. When the bridge is open, the two parts of the town are disconnected.
Only 18km from Taranto, you can find the biggest centre in Puglia for the production of ceramics: Grottaglie. There is no doubt that the town’s main attraction is represented by the ceramics district, crowded by ateliers, shops and showrooms making and exposing an incredible range of ceramic goods for any use and taste. The museum of ceramics is worth visiting, as it is situated in the right wing of Castle Bishopric: a huge 14th Century building.
South from Taranto we can find the Manduria region, which is known for its Primitivo di Manduria DOC. This DOC wine is made from 100% Primitivo grapes (unlike other Primitivo wines, like Gioia del Colle Primitivo, which are blends). The level of alcohol in the Primitivo di Manduria DOC is unusually high, around 14%.
Otranto & Gallipoli, Puglia
Otranto is located in the province of Lecce by the Strait of Otranto which connects the Ionian Sea to the Adriatic Sea. Its is the cutest and most delightful of small port towns. The sea and water are just impossibly clear and blue.
The main sights of Otranto are the Castello Aragonese and the cathedral, which originates from 1088. The cathedral has a floor mosaic which can be read like an immense book or tree life. The history, sometimes brutal here is incredible, the port was deemed incredibly strategic and thus lusted after over by various peoples.
Gallipoli is a town in the province of Lecce. Gallipoli consists out of two parts: the modern and the old city.We are interested in the old. The fishing industry is very present here and you can eat like a king here. The old part is located on an island which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The name of Gallipoli comes from the Greek word Kalepolis which means: “Beautiful City”. Nowadays the city still has a Greek look because of its white houses with flat roofs. Placed at the end of the most beautiful bay, Green bay just 10 mins on this beach even out of season you can imagine what summer must be like. There is no more in place in Puglia than Gallipoli.
Sorry Gallipoli, but Otranto gets our vote if you had to choose due to its easier location and its historical significance.
Santa Maria di Leuca, Puglia
Santa Maria di Leuca sits on the southernmost tip of the Salento peninsula where the waters of the Adriatic Sea mingle and merge with those of the Ionian. A popular resort for wealthy Puglians since the early 1900s, as testified to by the eye-catching Art Nouveau villas that line the seafront, Leuca has all the necessary attributes for a quintessential Mediterranean holiday. The town’s name comes from the Greek “Leukos”, meaning light or luminous, while the appendage of Santa Maria refers specifically to the religious sanctuary built on a site high above the harbor, once home to a Temple of Minerva. Legend has it that the temple crumbled to the ground as St. Peter passed through… But Santa Maria di Leuca is also, and perhaps principally, about the sea. The sandy beaches at nearby Felloniche, Posto Vecchio, Torre Vado and Pescoluse are excellent and well equipped with lidos, bars, restaurants and other facilities, while the more dramatic stretches of coastline feature rocky cliffs pierced with around 30 Karstic grottoes. The best way to truly these fascinating geological formations is by boat and there is no shortage of local sailors ready to take you out to sea off the coast where the world ends!
Santa Maria di Leuca has an iconic lighthouse. Its where two great seas meet, super to swim here.
A total paradise at the end of the World that is Italy. No hotels of note or glam places, a delight.
The sea and beaches and rocks are perhaps the most favoured for a small passionate group of converts, RWT included. Hard to sea the love out of season but if you are about in May through October come and take a look.
The Weather of Puglia
Puglia is characterized by a typical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers, which are usually dry in most of the region. The coastal stretches, thanks to the mitigating effect of the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, also have a typically maritime climate, with less pronounced seasonal variations in temperature.
WHEN TO GO
When is the best time to visit Puglia? Well, all in all, the temperature is pleasant all across the region and allows you to have your holiday both on the coasts and in the hinterland any time in the year, depending on what holiday you are looking for. In general, we recommend visiting Puglia between March and June and September when the temperature is perfect for any kind of activities and sports. Avoid July and August, as the temperatures are simply too high to do anything but lying at the beach.