APULIA

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Known as the heel on the high-heel boot-shape of Italy, Puglia (Apulia) is part of the south eastern-most region of Italy. Unlike most of Italy, Apulia is a dryer region with rolling plains and uplands, creating the perfect atmosphere for growing grains, olives, and grapes for wine. As such, Apulia provides Italy with the largest source of wine and olive oil.

Apulia offers the perfect climate to vacation for most of the year. With warm springs, hot and dry summers, and mild autumn and winter, this Mediterranean climate is one to be enjoyed. As the least rainy region in Italy, Apulia is most popular in July and August. So if you’re looking for relaxation with a tan, on a hot white-sandy beache, July and August will be the best time to visit. From a mixture of natural and manmade sites, Apulia offers lengths of sandy beaches, nature preserves, farms, large ports, and fishing villages.

From being a region where everything from national parks to marine reserves and beaches are protected and flourishing, Apulia has a diverse landscape with something for everyone. As an added bonus, explore the off the beaten path castles, churches, and ancient ruins that will offer a more intimate experience.

Trani

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

Bike Tours: Looking to roam the Apulian countryside with ease and independence? Make a picnic and grab a bike. The region has many small roads and natural biking paths that will allow you to reach most of the monuments and cultural sites on your time, with complete freedom and independence.

Sailing, Windsurfing, and Water Sports: As one of the windiest regions of Italy, Apulia is the perfect spot to take to the water. Whether you are into sailing, or taking it up a notch with diving, surfing, kite surfing, and windsurfing, there is something here for every water sport enthusiast.

Golf: If you’re looking to be able to play golf, Apulia is the right place. Offering rolling terrain from sea to olive groves, this climate is unique and will let you test your stroke any time of the year.

Wellness Spas: If a relaxing holiday is what you’re in search of, explore the many treatments and services offered at the spas of Santa Cesarea, Torre Canne, and Margherita di Savoia, to name a few.

Cooking Class: Ever thought learning from Italian chefs would be the highlight of any vacation in Italy? Well, it is. Explore the culinary traditions of the Apulia region in Lecce. Spend half a day in the center of Lecce, for either lunch, or dinner, learning to prepare two Apulian specialties. Then, once you’ve completed your dishes, lunch or dinner will be based on the dishes prepared during the lesson. And since no Italian meal is truly complete without wine, enjoy a guided tasting with two top-wines from Salento wineries.

Molfetta

PLACES TO VISIT

Bari: A city where the old meets the new, Bari is separated by the winding streets La Citta Vecchia (old city) and the more modern plan of Citta Nuova (New City). The old city has a famous Basilica, San Nicola that holds the remains of St. Nicholas. Yes, the same saint who inspired the tale of Santa Claus. Also, make sure to visit the imposing Norman Castle. It is an excellent place to for a panoramic view of the old city and the Adriatic Sea.

Ostuni: Known as ‘The White City,’ Ostuni sits on the remains of the prehistoric town that was destroyed in the final stages of the Second Punic War. This is an ideal town for bicycling or walking the labyrinth of alleyways and cobblestone streets.

Lecce: Home to some of the best Baroque stonework you’ll see in Italy, Lecce, is a former Greek and Roman colony. Visit the church of Santa Croce, or the Palazzo del Governo where there is an entire block of Baroque façade of carvings to enjoy. Other Baroque masterpieces are the churches of Santa Chiara and the church of San Matteo.

Salento: Looking for the perfect summer triple threat? Check out Salento on the extreme southeast extension of Italy— the tip of the heel if you will.  Here you’ll find sun, sea, and calming bay breezes all in one place. Flanked by both the Ionian and Adriatic seas, Salento offers fine sandy beaches at Santa Casarea, famous caves such as Castro cave with its Grotta Romanelli, and Grotta Zinzulusa, ‘the pearl of caves.’

Don’t forget to visit Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca. Otranto, once a Magna Graecia colony, and then a Roman municipality will be sure to impress visitors with its scenery, history, and culture. Santa Maria di Leuca is one of the most popular tourist places. Known for its famous lighthouse, the large sanctuary, or Basilica, De Finibus Terrae (End of the Land), there is enough culture and history that is sure to occupy an entire trip.

Daunia and Gargano: Daunia and Gargano territories offer a wide variety of natural scenic wonders. From the sweet hills of Fortore and Ofanto River Valleys, to the Gargano National Park, Tavoliere delle Puglie tableland, and the unadulterated Tremiti archipelago.

Lecce

MUST SEES

Alberobello: If  you’re looking for quaint and charming, Alberobello is the place to visit. Akin to houses one would expect from a fairytale, houses Built in true Apulian Trulli style, or Trulli are small houses built of stone without any use of mortar. They are circular, conical-roofed and whitewashed. Their roofs, topped with peaks, have concentric rows of gray slate and looks they are painted with astrological or religious symbols. Home to over 1,000 traditional Apulian Trulli houses, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 11,000 population town offers a quaint atmosphere, and big memories sure to last a lifetime.

Tremiti Islands: Visit the Termiti Archipelago, just north of Gargano National Park and experience the century-old tales and legends the islands have to offer. The Archipelago is made up of five Tremiti islands, and is considered genuine natural heavens. If exploring the seabed and caves eroded by time, wind, and waves will quench your aquatic thirst, these islands have plenty to explore.

Trulli houses

FOOD SPECIALTIES

Orecchiette: Orecchiette is small hand-made pasta that received its name from its shape, which resembles a small ear. The traditional dish of the Apulia region is orecchiette alle cime di rapa, pasta with broccoli rabe, or literally translated to orecchiette with turnip tops. Broccoli rabe is a bitter relative of broccoli. This dish is created by boiling the pasta and broccoli rabe together, mixing it with ‘Holy Oil,’ or an extra virgin olive oil served with fresh chili, and finally a clove of garlic with anchioves (optional).

Pane di Altamura:  A round bread typically weighing over two pounds, Altamura is bread that dates back to ancient times. Known for its yellow color and after –taste of vanilla, Altamura is hearty bread that has a shelf life of about two weeks.

Friselle:  Also known as Pane dei Crociati (Crusader’s Bread), friselle was made as an alternative to flour-based breads when flour was scarce. Similar in shape to a bagel, traditionally friselle are served dipped in sea water and topped with squeezed tomatoes, olive oil, and hot peppers.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Frisella Festival: One of the many food festivals in Italy, this one is still the perfect summer holiday experience. In the summer months of July and August, different towns celebrate its native bread Frisella.

The Knife Dance: Held in Torrepaduli (Ruffano) on the day of the Patron Saint, San Rocco, in August, this century old traditional dance involves two men fighting with knives, or rather their fingers.

The Cavalcade of St. Oronzo: The end of August 25-27th are days dedicated to the Saint, San Oronzo in Ostuni. A holiday the locals look forward to marks the celebration of San Oronzo who is said to have protected the Ostuni and other cities of Terra d’Otranto from the plague. Every 26th of August, the inhabitants of Ostuni march in a procession of dressed up horses and knights and parade across the city to guard the patron papier-mâché statue.

The Sagra dei Tarallucci e Vino: Beginning every year on April 28th in Alberobello, the festival celebrates the distinctive Southern Italian snacks called taralli, as well as the smaller versions, tarallucci—as well as the wines they’re paired with. The ring-shaped crackers, similar in texture to a breadstick or a hard pretzel, can be either sweet or savory. Tarallucci made with anise seed, peperoncini (black pepper) are often served in baskets alongside wine, or before meals with antipasti (appetizers). A sweeter version, perhaps with lemon or almond, might accompany a dessert wine.