Benvenuti in Puglia - welcome to Puglia
Whether you have come to sightsee in the Valle d'Itria or to relax on one of Salento's pristine beaches, you still have time to sample our culture. Here in Puglia most of us live in medium to small sized towns. So we are a friendly bunch.
Go to one of our sagre food festivals. These are intensely welcoming social occasions where you are as likely to feast side by side with locals as with strangers. If you are travelling by train or by bus, start a conversation. We love to talk, and visitors are always welcome. Or get a haircut. But even if that feels too involved, try the following. It really will add value to your holiday and your experience of Puglia.
When we enter the local baker, cheeseshop, pasta shop - even the doctor's waiting room - we will typically greet everyone, wishing them a good day. The shopkeeper and their patrons will say “buongiorno” back.
Buying from any of the many daily fruit and veg stalls on the streets will leave you in awe not only of the variety of tomatoes on offer - each has its own culinary purpose - but also the incredible scent that they will have.
These aren't just any tomatoes, these are Pugliese tomatoes.
Ask for un caffè. As a non-local you will probably be asked if you want an americano or espresso. Look them in the eye. With a smile, as if surprised, say “normale”.
You'll be given a shorter, blacker and stronger than your usual espresso. Offered with some water, still or sparkling, which you should drink before (rather than after) your coffee.
Most Italians drink their coffee standing at the bar. Feel free to do the same, even if you don't understand their conversation. It's not because your Italian is bad but because they will normally be speaking in dialect.
In Puglia we usually say “buongiorno” (good day) until around 2pm, but from then you are likely to be greeted with good evening - “buona sera”, and you should say the same.
Most restaurants don't start their dinner service until 8pm. If you want to blend in like a local don't think about eating out until at least 9pm. The only people to be found eating out before are typically British and northern European visitors (including, sometimes, northern Italians).