Unprecedentedly Diverse Region in the South of Italy
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Puglia ranks among the most beautiful regions of Italy. Its official name is Apulia, but this is seldom used. Nestled in the heel of the boot, this area showcases a vast array of attractions. I have gathered in this article, the most outstanding tips for your tour through Puglia.
The much-loved Puglia is strikingly diverse. Consider its characteristic towns, bays, and beaches. Not to mention a relatively unknown national park that is absolutely worth the visit.
The lesser-known Gargano National Park is undeniably one of Puglia's main draws. It was rightfully given the official status of a national park in 1991. A recognition well deserved. You will be entranced by countless bays, beaches and steep cliffs adorned with hues of red, white, and yellow. What's more, the Tremiti Islands, an archipelago of five islands off the coast, add to the allure. Not to mention, the park is home to some remarkable seaside villages. A visit to Puglia would be incomplete without exploring this nature reserve on your itinerary.
Read my article on Gargano National Park
The trulli's of Alberobello are world famous. A Trullo (plural is trulli) is a limestone house with a conical roof. No cement is used. These striking white houses are sometimes adorned with primitive or Christian symbols. The trulli's are found exclusively in Puglia.
Alberobello is unequivocally the most renowned city featuring trulli's. With more than 1,000 (!) of these structures, it's no surprise that Alberobello has a deserved place on UNESCO's World Heritage list. Take into account, however, this little town is incredibly popular amongst tourists. So it's advisable to avoid the weekends and if possible, the peak season. Yet, early in the day, you can confidently stroll around and take beautiful pictures.
Read my article on Alberobello
Trulli can be seen in other locations too, where people often still reside. Moreover, these villages are often less crowded and touristy than Alberobello. Your best bet would be to visit Cisternino, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, and Ceglie Messapica.
The city of Lecce is proudly hailed as the Baroque capital of Italy. Astoundingly, the city was established by the Greeks as early as the 7th century BC. During Roman times, it was known as Lupiae. It is a fantastic city to explore and an excellent place to stay overnight.
The most significant landmarks include the commanding Basilica Santa Croce, the Palazzo dei Celestini (Celestine Palace), the priest seminary, and the cathedral. All of them originate from the 17th century and showcase the powerful Baroque style.
The Castel del Monte castle is a perfect octagon located in the municipality of Andria. The castle, which dates back to 1240, boasts an impressive amount of marble. It was most likely built for Emperor Frederick II.
The castle is shrouded in mysteries. The reason is simple, it is not feasible as a castle or a place to live. Since 1996, Castel del Monte has been on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
The municipality of Gravina in Puglia boasts a rich history. Numerous excavations have uncovered an array of attractions. These include the Cathedral of Gravina, which dates back to the 11th century. Also of note are the ruins of Frederick II's castle from the 13th century.
The 10th century rock church, San Michelle delle Grotte, carved out of tufa stone, is in the form of a basilica. It remains in use even today. Also, note the Roman bridge over the ravine. It's exceptionally photogenic. The municipality takes its name from this bridge.
Ostuni is a striking town. It's often referred to as citta bianca, the white city. Once you stride through its streets, you'll understand why. The often brightly coloured doors offer a delightful contrast. The white paint, an effective shield against the sun for centuries, is even subsidised by the government. You can wander through the town and enjoy a drink in a local bar or on a terrace. Ostuni is undeniably well worth a visit.
The cliff coast of Torre Sant'Andrea is exceptionally beautiful. You'll find towering cliffs and quaint little beaches. The picturesque Torre Sant'Andrea with its craggy coast lies about 20 kilometres southwest of Lecce, in the heel of the boot.
It can get busy, so make sure you go early in the day. The light is often beautiful for photos at this time. This is also true at sunset, although you can't see the sun set into the sea from here.
This region is the ideal spot to spend numerous nights. You can stay in one location, or as I did, sleep in several different places. There's an extensive choice of delightful hotels, cosy holiday homes and convenient apartments. You can effortlessly book these online. However, it's crucial to act promptly.
The renowned town of Matera is, in fact, not located in Puglia, but in neighbouring Basilicata. However, it's practically on the border and is certainly worth the visit. The town is best known for its ample cave dwellings and sprawling underground labyrinths. These cave dwellings, referred to as sassi, were built as far back as 7000 years ago. In the 8th century, they primarily served as shelters for friars fleeing from the Byzantine Empire.
Many still serve as cave dwellings, but you'll also find restaurants and souvenir shops. This place offers countless excursions. However, be sure to stroll through the streets of Matera, many of which are over 1,000 years old. The Strada Panoramica dei Sassi is a delightful labyrinth of streets, filled with steps that lead to the cave dwellings.
You can visit the region of Puglia with ease. You can fly straight into Bari and Brindisi, both situated at the heart of Puglia. Another excellent option would be Naples, conveniently located just about 100 kilometres from Puglia.
Please be aware that this is a popular region. It's well-liked by both foreign tourists and Italians, which can lead to the major attractions and beaches becoming quite crowded. This is particularly the case during the peak season in July and August. School holidays also tend to be busier than usual.
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