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Puglia, the Italian heel in all its splendour

Written on : 23 August 2019
By : Melchior Burin des Roziers

Italy promises to surprise and seduce you with a secret boot: Puglia (or more precisely the heel and spur of the Italian boot). In the extreme south-east of the country, bathed by the Adriatic Sea to the west and the Ionian Sea to the east, this superb region is a must see! Puglia is 19,372 km2, half flat, half hilly and striking in its beauty. It is time to come and enjoy this Mediterranean climate, on the Apulian territory which will fascinate you with its history, culture, remarkable landscapes and coasts decorated with superb coves, beaches and creeks.

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Authentic cities and heritage

Authentic cities and heritage

In this region of Apulia, there are many beautiful cities to visit. 

Starting with the recently restored old town of Bari. Get lost in its alleys and feel the typical atmosphere of this capital city located north of Italy's heel. There is nothing like walking early in the morning among the old women sitting on their traditional frames and busy drying tomatoes and pasta. You can stroll between Ferrarese Square and Mercantile Square, visit the Basilica of San Nicola and the Swabian Castle. There is also the 4th largest theatre in Italy: Petruzzelli, which has seen many artists perform, including Frank Sinatra and Pavarotti. Of course, we always end up heading towards the ramparts to see the sea and the port. 

At the other end of Puglia, we can mention Lecce, the baroque. What a remarkable architecture! How can we miss Piazza Sant'Oronzo, its Roman amphitheatre, its column, the surrounding buildings dating from the 1920s, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie! Duomo Square is also an unmissable place in Lecce. Imagine that Santa Croce Basilica took 300 years of work! This masterpiece can be recognized by its facades richly decorated with floral motifs, fruits and mythological figures. If you are interested enough in history, there is the Museum of the City of Lecce and the Vernazza Palace which opens its doors to you, in contact with 2000 years of history. Between two visits, go for a good coffee and taste the good pastries of Café Alvino (Plaza Sant'Oronzo). 

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On the architectural side, there are also these traditional and atypical habitats called trulli (a trullo, trulli), which are mainly found on the Itria Valley side and in Alberobello. In this city, built on 2 hills, you can observe and visit these peculiar rural houses with dry stone vaulting. You can even enjoy the luxury of sleeping in the mythical Villa Magnifica, which superbly imitates these modest local houses, with an absolutely typical charm and incomparable comfort in the green landscape of the olive trees. It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful trullo ever!

A wild and bewitching nature perfect for unforgettable excursions

A wild and bewitching nature perfect for unforgettable excursions

Discover the abundant nature of the region on a magnificent hike through Apulia. Ideal for trekking: the Natural Park of Porto Selvaggio. Along the Neanderthal Trail, walk along the Ionian coast of Salento, from the top of the picturesque high cliffs and through pine forests, discovering caves and marine springs. Explore the superb caves of Capelvenere (of great paleontological value), Cavallo and Uluzzo. 

Speaking of caves, don't miss the Castellana cave, the largest in Italy. It has been in existence for 90 million years. Enter the bowels of the Earth and experience a magical experience at a depth of 60 metres with your guide. 

Also discover the Itria Valley, from Ostuni, and walk through the Torre Guaceto nature reserve and through the city of Cisternino. 

One of your hikes may take you to the Benedictine abbey of Mattinata de Monte Sacro. After walking on fairly steep mountain paths (the region is 1% mountainous), you will end up on a flat area where the ruins of this Gothic construction are located. The abbey dates back to about the year 1000 but was abandoned in the 15th century, which explains its current state. However, the place remains full of charm with what remains of walls, columns and capitals. Much of the building is still recognizable, including: the entrance gates, the abbey church and its bell tower, the dormitory cells, the refectory, the baptistery, the cisterns, the cloister, the courtyard, the stables, the warehouses, the watchtower, etc. A visit worth a while before resuming the walk through the Apulian countryside.

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Exceptional coasts and dream seaside resorts

Exceptional coasts and dream seaside resorts

Finally, the Italian heel offers you an extraordinary coastline full of charm and beauty... We hope you like it all, because it's the best! 

Gallipoli, the first seaside resort in Salento, will seduce you with its old centre and its pretty beaches, rocky or fine sand, as you wish! In the old town, you can walk around, especially along the harbour where you can see the return of fishermen, and in the old town, you will find numerous baroque churches, the cathedral of Sainte-Agathe, the 15th century Angevin castle and many palaces. Return to the beach at the end of your day to admire the superb sunset on the Ionian Sea of Gallipoli.... breathtaking!

Another interesting seaside resort: Otranto, its historical centre, its Arragonese castle and its beach. Sublime landscape! Take a walk around the Romanesque cathedral dell'Annunziata and stroll through the flowered alleys to the fortified castle. You will find everything you need, including shopping and culinary specialities. When you have finished your shopping, you are advised to take the road to the north of Otranto, a few kilometres away, to enjoy the fine sandy beaches of the Almini. Baia dei Turchi will give you the impression of being on a Caribbean beach with its long white sandy tongue, but with the charm of Italy and its lush vegetation.

Among the most beautiful beaches in Puglia, we recommend that you get to know the Baia delle Zagare, the jewel of the Gargano, with its white reefs emerging from the azure and its three beautiful beaches. The must is to discover the place in complete tranquility, i.e. out of season. But in any case, you will be amazed at all times of the year. And if you like white reefs, there is also the Bahia di Torre dell'Orso along the Adriatic coast, a stone's throw from Melendugno, or the Torre Sant'Andrea, which has no beach but offers an amazing spectacle of beauty, with its famous contrast of colours between the white rock and the turquoise water.

Have a nice holiday in Puglia! 

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