Benvenuti in Puglia - welcome to Puglia
If you are planning a trip to Puglia, think of our region in 3 parts.
To the north there is Daunia and Gargano a lush green interior surrounded by stunning seascapes and exceptional beaches. Central Puglia with green olive groves and ferrous-red soil contained within white dry stone walls is punctuated by trulli, white conical dwellings typical of the Valle d'Itria. The Salento peninsula to the south has the Adriatic on one side and the Ionian on the other and is popular with northern Italians who come for the award winning beaches.
The Valle d'Itria is the best known and most visited part of our region, but some of our favourite destinations are elsewhere. You will find great food all across the region, but if you are coming for our beaches then those in the Valle d'Itria are the least interesting that Puglia has to offer!
Why? | the cathedral floor mosaics | the city beach | the fish restaurants | location as a base for exploring Salento
Italy's easternmost town is dominated by its Romanesque cathedral with unique 12th century floor mosaics and the Castello Aragonese. Below the old town's defensive walls sits a white sandy beach caressed by turquoise waters, within walking distance.
Take a pre or post lunch or dinner walk along the sea-front promenade to the small but thriving port.
Why? | iconic Puglia | hidden Alberobello | innovative pizza
Think of Puglia and you will probably picture Alberobello's trulli - as iconic as Polignano a Mare's Lama Monachile - and just as likely to grace the cover of the latest edition of The Lonely Planet Guide to Puglia. Alberobello, a UNESCO world heritage centre, is home to more than 1,500 of these strange circular dwellings with conical roofs, evidence of a long-forgotten past heritage.
Drawing a stream of visitors all year round tourism takes centre stage in Alberobello. Most trulli in the crowded commercialised Monti district are shops; those that are not are restaurants.
Unprepared for the crowds and the commercialisation some visitors leave feeling underwhelmed. The authenticity and charm of a long gone way of life has all but evaporated. Manage your expectations and forget the promise of a “magical” experience and you can avoid being disappointed.
No matter the time of day, if you know where to look you can still find a small, less manicured part of Alberobello hidden from the throngs of visitors.
Why? | explore the centro storico | enjoy an Aperol Spritz at Caffè Garibaldi on the Piazza della Libert
The White City rises up from the Valle d'Itria, crowning the hill it sits on. The walls and buildings of the old town gleam in the distance and can be seen as you drive along the main coastal highway.
It has a vibrant centro storico in summer, with restaurants and bars to be discovered in every alleyway twisting around and up and down the hilltop upon which the duomo sits.
Ostuni may be a favourite with visitors, but we prefer nearby Cisternino and Locorotondo, the other white cities, for an intimate old town dinner. And by the time you have visited the former, you might experience a sense of déja vu in Ostuni.
Why? | the fish market | the old town | the old town beach | Pôr do Sol | Punta della Suina - Spiaggia degli Innamorati | watching the sun set
Far from the sleepy old fishing port you find during the off-season months, Gallipoli is where the beautiful and glamorous party after a hard day taking the hot Salento sun. Especially at one of the nearby lido beach clubs.
Lido Pôr do Sol at Baia Verde is our favourite (sandy beach, clear sea and friendly staff - and a sunset to die for), but if you want something a little more rugged head to Punta della Suina for the rocky shelves and intimate, discrete coves.
The old town is a network of narrow streets and alleys, shops and restaurants. Find the basilica Cathedral of St Agatha tucked away inside. Outlined with historic courtyard houses, look out for fishermen weaving their fishing baskets.
Why? | the drive there | the lungomare | de finibus terrae | go sailing | snorkelling for your next meal | fewer visitors
The drive down the coast from Santa Cesarea Terme is one of the highlights of our region. We either go straight there or stop off en route. Leuca sits on the southernmost extreme of the heel of Italy's boot. To the Romans de finibus terrae - the end of the world.
Leuca offers a rare spectacle. From the same spot you can watch the sun rise over one sea, and set behind another. Where the two seas meet and their currents clash is given away by the churn of their colours: the turquoise blue waters of the Adriatic into the deep blue hues of the Ionian.
Despite its beauty, it is never, ever busy. Relax at one of the lidos and watch the local youth snorkelling for octopus and sea urchin.
Nearby | some of Italy's best beaches; coming back up the Ionian coast the Maldives of Salento at Pescoluse, and beyond you find Porto Cesareo, Torre Lapillo and the dunes at Punta Prosciutto. Naturists may prefer the wild and rugged Porto Selvaggio and the relaxed and liberating Spiaggia d'Ayala at Campomarino di Maruggio.
Celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass with Pope Francis at ST. Peter's Basilica after enjoying a semi-private 2 - 3 hour tour (max 10 people) of the Vatican Museums including the Raphael Rooms and The Sistine Chapel ending with a privileged entrance to St.Peter's Basilica.