Puglia Travel Guide
Where is Puglia is located?
The Puglia region (Apulia) is located on the Adriatic coast and consists of six provinces: Bari, Brindisi, Lecce, Foggia, Barletta-Andria-Trani, and Taranto. It is the region with the greatest coastal development in Italy, covering approximately 865 km of coastline.
What to see in Puglia?
- Bari: rich gastronomy and a picture-perfect old town with the medieval basilica of San Nicola.
- Lecce: astonishing baroque churches and palaces.
- Castel del Monte: the mysterious and majestic octagonal castle built by Svevian emperor Frederick II.
- Otranto: the easternmost town in Italy, housing an awe-inspiring cathedral with one of the world’s largest medieval mosaics, and often boasting views of the Albanian mountains on the opposite side of the Otranto channel.
- Salento peninsula: awe-inspiring beaches with crystal-clear waters.
- Tremiti Islands: the only islands in the southern Adriatic sea.
- Valle d’Itria: whitewashed towns such as Martina Franca, Alberobello and Locorotondo, with iconic cone-shaped construction called trulli.
- Savelletri: luxury resorts housed within typical rural mansions called Masserie.
- Polignano and Mare: world-famous town perched on rocky cliffs overlooking the sea.
- Trani: picturesque harbor cities with marble-covered houses and an imposing Cathedral.
- Gargano peninsula: spectacular mountainous peninsula lapped by the Adriatic sea, with secluded bays and large oaks descending towards the coast.
What are the typical dishes of Puglia?
Apulian cuisine reflects the history and geography of this land, which has seen centuries of invasion and occupation by different cultures. It was influenced by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who introduced unique vegetables such as aubergines (eggplants) to Apulia; then followed the influence of the Arabs who brought with them spices such as cinnamon and rice; then came the Norman invaders who introduced new varieties of beans; finally, Angevin-Aragonese domination gave Apulian dishes a Spanish touch.
Traditional dishes vary substantially from North to South. In the north and center of the region, focaccia barese with cherry tomatoes, orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) with vegetables, “tiedda” oven-baked rice with potatoes and mussels are the most popular recipes. Raw seafood from the Adriatic sea is another specialty.
Martina Franca in the Valle d’Itria is the home of bombette, cheese-filled pork rolls that became one of Italy’s most popular street foods. Caciocavallo cheese and Altamura bread originate from the upper Murge plateau.
Typical dishes from Salento include ciceri e tria (fresh pasta strips with chickpeas and fried pasta crumbs), sagne ‘ncannulate pasta with ricotta cheese, horse meat stew, octopus “pignatta” (with tomato sauce, spicy peppers and garlic) and raw Gallipoli prawns. As for the sweets, pasticciotto leccese (a small cake filled with pastry cream and custard) is a must-try.