If you want to discover a corner of Italy away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowd, one of the best choices that you have at your disposal is Puglia. Sometimes referred to as “the heel of the boot,” Puglia remains one of Italy’s underexplored gems.
Instead of trying to take in as many famous locales as you can in a day, take a page out of Puglia’s book and explore Italy at a slower pace. From ancestral farmland to a dazzling sandy coastline, Puglia has many of the charms that you’d come to expect on an Italian adventure.
Let’s take a saunter through the region to cover some of the areas best highlights.
Like a beautiful forgotten city stepping out of an old movie, the city of Ostuni gleams in white on a hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The ancient city is yours to explore with a maze of staircases, alleyways, and hidden nooks to lose yourself in. Roots of olive trees peek out from the red earth, with only a quick ride to the sea itself. Wander through the shops of traditional craftsmen, or take a break in an old square to sip an aperitivo and take in the sun. Known as “the White Town”, Ostuni is the perfect city to lose yourself in.
If you want to step right into an Italian fairytale, consider the Valle d’Itria. Here you’ll find Trulli, a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof. From a distance, it can look a bit like a stone beehive. This solid construction came out of the necessities of history. Peasants cleared the fields of stones to be able to grow better crops; the rocks that they gathered became their homes — the Trulli. Warm in winter, cool in summer, rent a Trulli to stay in for an authentically Puglian adventure.
The port town of Brindisi has a unique designation — it’s a UNESCO heritage site for the culture of Peace. Long viewed as a safe harbour for travelers, you can use it as a springboard to explore the region of Puglia. Brindisi is home to the United Nations Logistics base and a waypoint for Indian Mail going from Bombay to London, making it a delightful multicultural city. Enjoy some traditional Italian hospitality with a seafood dinner on the stunning waterfront.
Bari is the capital of Puglia, with a lovely old town built on a peninsula like a dramatic spar into the city. An excellent place to explore the sea, Bari has unique opportunities for diving, offering a rich variety of marine life and ancient sunken Roman ruins. After taking a dip, retire to the city for a well-earned meal. Bari specializes in orecchiette (little ears), a type of regional pasta that’s handmade and rolled. The area also offers a unique type of focaccia that is baked with olives and roasted cherry tomatoes, then brushed with fresh local olive oil.
The Faro della Palascìa lighthouse near Otranto is the easternmost point of the Italian mainland. Take a wander and imagine ancient Italians gazing off into the far reaches of the eastern Mediterranean. Originally a town of Greek origin, Otranto became a proper city during the heyday of the Roman Expire. Stroll along the sandy beaches next to the city and enjoy the turquoise waters of the Adriatic. If you enjoy nature, consider taking a jaunt over to the Alimini Beach, where you’ll find a delightful mix of forest, beach and sea to explore.
The joys of the road less traveled
Italy’s off-the-beaten-track destinations can be even more remarkable than the well-traveled areas — without the lineups and high prices. Get ready for an authentic experience exploring one of Italy’s most scenic regions.