Discovering the Best Places to Visit in Puglia and Fun Things to Do in the Region
Puglia or Apulia, is a region in southern Italy that stretches from the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea. It is known for its beautiful coastline, rich history, charming villages, and delicious cuisine. Puglia offers a variety of attractions and activities for travelers who want to explore this fascinating part of Italy.
|Polignano a Mare, Italy
Things To Do in Puglia, Italy
Visit the Trulli of Alberobello
One of the most iconic sights of Puglia are the trulli, which are traditional dry stone huts with conical roofs. The trulli are concentrated in the town of Alberobello, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk around the town and admire the hundreds of trulli that have been converted into shops, restaurants, museums, and hotels. You can also visit the Trullo Sovrano, which is the largest and oldest trullo in Alberobello.
Explore the Castellana Caves
The Castellana Caves are a spectacular underground cave system that stretches for 3 km and reaches a depth of 70 m. The caves are open to visitors who can choose between two guided tours: a shorter one that lasts about an hour and covers 1 km of caves, or a longer one that lasts about two hours and covers 3 km of caves. The tours will take you through amazing formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and crystals. The highlight of the caves is the White Cave, which is considered one of the most beautiful caves in the world for its pure white color and dazzling brightness.
Relax on the Beaches of Puglia
Puglia has some of the best beaches in Italy, with clear blue water and soft sand. Whether you prefer secluded coves or lively resorts, you will find a beach that suits your taste in Puglia. Some of the most popular beaches are Polignano a Mare, Torre dell'Orso, Porto Cesareo, Gallipoli, Peschici, and Vieste. You can also enjoy water sports such as sailing, surfing, diving, and snorkeling.
Taste the Cuisine of Puglia
Puglia is famous for its cuisine, which is based on fresh and local ingredients such as olive oil, tomatoes, cheese, fish, and pasta. Some of the typical dishes of Puglia are orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) with broccoli rabe or tomato sauce, friselle (dried bread) with tomatoes and olive oil, focaccia (flatbread) with olives and herbs, burrata (creamy cheese) with prosciutto or vegetables, tiella (baked rice) with potatoes and mussels, and pasticciotto (pastry) with custard and cherry jam. You can also try some of the local wines such as Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Salice Salentino.
Discover the History and Culture of Puglia
Puglia has a rich and diverse history and culture that reflects its various influences from different civilizations such as Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Arabs, and Spaniards. You can visit some of the historical and cultural sites of Puglia such as Castel del Monte (a 13th-century castle built by Emperor Frederick II), Lecce (a baroque city known as the Florence of the South), Bari (the capital of Puglia and home to the Basilica of San Nicola), Ostuni (a white-washed hilltop town), Matera (a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its cave dwellings), and Taranto (a city with a long maritime history).
Puglia is a region that offers something for everyone: nature, art, history, culture, gastronomy, and relaxation. It is a destination that will surprise you with its beauty and charm. If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in Italy, Puglia is the place to go.
Best Places To Visit in Puglia, Italy
Puglia, or Apulia in English, is a region in southern Italy that offers a variety of attractions for travelers. From its stunning coastline to its charming towns, from its rich history to its delicious cuisine, Puglia has something for everyone. In this blog post, I will share with you some of the best places to visit in Puglia, Italy, based on my personal experience and research.
The Gargano Peninsula
The Gargano Peninsula is the spur that juts out from the heel of Italy's boot. It is a natural paradise with white limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, sandy beaches, caves, forests, and islands. The Gargano National Park covers most of the peninsula and protects its biodiversity and cultural heritage. Some of the highlights of the Gargano Peninsula are:
- Vieste: a picturesque town perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea. It has a medieval center with narrow alleys, white houses, and a castle. It also has a long sandy beach and a marina where you can take boat tours to explore the nearby sea caves.
- Peschici: another beautiful town on the coast with a whitewashed historic center and a panoramic view of the bay. It is surrounded by pine forests and has several beaches to choose from. It is also close to the Castellana Caves, a complex of underground caverns with stalactites and stalagmites.
- Monte Sant'Angelo: a hilltop town that is famous for its Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sanctuary is a pilgrimage destination since the 5th century, when the archangel Michael appeared in a cave and consecrated it as his own church. The cave is still accessible and contains a statue of the archangel and an altar.
- Tremiti Islands: a group of five islands off the coast of the Gargano Peninsula that are part of a marine reserve. They are known for their crystal-clear water, rocky coves, and diverse marine life. You can reach them by ferry from Vieste or Peschici and enjoy snorkeling, diving, hiking, or relaxing on the beach.
Alberobello is one of the most iconic places in Puglia, thanks to its unique architecture: the trulli. These are conical stone houses with white walls and grey roofs that date back to the 16th century. They were built by peasants as temporary shelters that could be easily dismantled to avoid paying taxes to the feudal lords. Today, they are protected by UNESCO and attract many tourists who want to see them up close or even stay in one of them. Alberobello has two main areas where you can find trulli: Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola. Rione Monti is more touristy and has souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars inside some of the trulli. Rione Aia Piccola is more authentic and quiet and has about 400 trulli where people still live.
Lecce is often called "the Florence of the South" because of its abundance of baroque art and architecture. The city was flourishing in the 17th century under Spanish rule and many churches, palaces, and monuments were built in this period using the local limestone that has a warm yellow color. Some of the must-see attractions in Lecce are:
- The Basilica of Santa Croce: a masterpiece of baroque style with a richly decorated façade that features statues, columns, animals, flowers, and cherubs. The interior is equally impressive with frescoes, paintings, and altars.
- The Piazza del Duomo: a square that is enclosed by elegant buildings such as the Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace, the Seminary, and the Bell Tower. The square has a harmonious atmosphere and is especially beautiful at night when it is lit up.
- The Roman Amphitheater: a remnant of Lecce's ancient past that was discovered in 1908 during some excavations. The amphitheater could hold up to 25,000 spectators who watched gladiator fights and other spectacles. Today, it is partially visible in Piazza Sant'Oronzo and sometimes hosts cultural events.
Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is a charming seaside town that is famous for its dramatic location on top of limestone cliffs that overlook the Adriatic Sea. The town has a medieval center with narrow streets, white houses, balconies with flowers, and a beautiful main square with a church and a statue of the local hero Domenico Modugno, who wrote the song "Volare". Polignano a Mare also has several beaches and coves that are accessible by stairs or paths carved into the rocks.
One of the most popular spots is Lama Monachile, a small bay with crystal-clear water and a pebble beach that is surrounded by cliffs and colorful fishing boats. Another highlight of Polignano a Mare is the Grotta Palazzese, a cave restaurant that is built inside a natural cave overlooking the sea. The restaurant offers a unique dining experience with seafood specialties and a breathtaking view.
Ostuni is a picturesque hilltop town that is known as "the White City" because of its whitewashed houses and buildings that create a stunning contrast with the blue sky and the green olive trees. Ostuni has a well-preserved historic center with narrow alleys, arches, and staircases that lead to hidden courtyards and panoramic viewpoints. Some of the landmarks of Ostuni are:
- The Cathedral: a Romanesque church that was built in the 15th century on the ruins of a previous church. The façade has a rose window, a bell tower, and a portal with sculptures and reliefs.
- The Palazzo Ducale: a Renaissance palace that was the residence of the Duke of Ostuni and now hosts cultural events and exhibitions.
- The Piazza della Libertà: a spacious square that is surrounded by elegant buildings and has a fountain in the center. The square is a popular meeting point for locals and tourists and often hosts concerts and markets.
I hope this list inspires you to explore the beauty and diversity of Puglia and discover other hidden gems along the way!
What is the best time to visit Puglia?
The best time to visit Puglia is from May to September when the weather is warm and sunny, and most attractions, festivals, and beaches are open. However, July and August can be crowded and hot, so if you prefer a quieter and cooler experience, consider traveling in May, June, or September.
What are the must-try dishes in Puglia?
Some of the must-try dishes in Puglia include orecchiette con le cime di rapa (pasta with turnip tops), burrata (a creamy cheese), taralli (savory biscuits), friselle (hard bread soaked in water and topped with tomatoes and olive oil), and fave e cicoria (fava beans and chicory). Puglia is also famous for its seafood dishes, such as grilled octopus, swordfish, and sea urchins.
How do I get around Puglia?
The easiest way to get around Puglia is by car, as public transportation can be limited and slow, especially in rural areas. You can rent a car at the airport or in one of the cities and drive on well-maintained roads that connect the main towns and attractions. Alternatively, you can take a train or a bus, but be prepared for longer travel times and less frequent schedules.
What are some off-the-beaten-path destinations in Puglia?
While Puglia has several popular tourist destinations, there are also some hidden gems that are worth exploring, such as the medieval town of Trani with its stunning cathedral and harbor, the fishing village of Gallipoli with its old walls and beaches, the archaeological site of Egnazia with its Roman ruins and museum, and the natural park of Porto Selvaggio with its hiking trails and coves.
What souvenirs can I buy in Puglia?
Puglia offers a variety of souvenirs that reflect its culture, art, and crafts, such as ceramics from Grottaglie and Cisternino, papier-mâché figurines from Lecce, olive oil from the countryside, wine from Salento, and jewelry made with red coral from Tricase. You can find these items in local markets, shops, and galleries, or directly from the producers.