Five places to see in Apulia

Apulia is a southern region that forms the heel of the Italian boot. It is famous for the white villages, for its countryside with an ancient flavor, its wonderful beaches. One of the most famous symbols of Apulia is the Trulli, the cone-shaped stone buildings of Alberobello, which we discussed in this article.

This time we are going to discover some of its lesser-known wonders.

Ostuni

Ostuni © Perri.G

© Perri.G

Ostuni is called the white city for the color of most of its houses.

In reality, the reason is not as poetic as one might think. In fact, in the past, the town was repeatedly the victim of the plague and covering the walls with lime allowed to sanitize the area.

The town is a splendid medieval village, full of narrow streets. A maze is reminiscent of an Arab casbah.

The old city called Terra (land) to distinguish it from the more recent Marina (seaside). It offers picturesque views between alleys, steep stairways, courtyards and small squares overlooked by white houses.

At the center of the village, there is the fifteenth-century Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral, with a large rose window with 24 rays of rare beauty.

Along via Cattedrale, which divides the medieval heart of the city in two, is the former Carmelite Monastery, now home to the Museum of the pre-classical civilizations of the Southern Murgia. Here is a cast of Delia, a pregnant woman who lived 25,000 years ago.

Otranto

Otranto © Sailko

© Sailko

Otranto, also called the “Door of the East”, faces south of the Adriatic on the Canale d’Otranto, the strait between Apulia and the Balkans which takes its name. It is the most eastern city of Italy,

It is a fortress on water. The historic center, UNESCO world cultural heritage, is a treasure chest protected by the Angevin walls. All the most important civilizations have passed: Macedonians, Greeks, Turks, Romans, Byzantines. There are still very visible traces of each of them.

One of the main attractions is the Cathedral. Built in the year 1000, in Romanesque and Gothic style at the same time. It has a facade on which the baroque portal and a beautiful Renaissance rose window stands out. A splendid mosaic completely covers the pavement of the church, with representations of the Bible, sacred animals, and symbols. It is a typical example of medieval symbolism.

The castle, with its imposing figure, dominates the bay. It was built in 1491 by Ferdinand I of Aragon as a form of defense against Turkish invaders from the sea. In fine weather, it offers a breathtaking view, and you can also see the coasts of Albania 60 miles away.

Santa Maria Di Leuca

Santa Maria di Leuca © Isiwal

© Isiwal

The small town of Santa Maria di Leuca is located right on the heel of the boot, halfway between two seas, the Adriatic and the Ionian.

The small center consists of white houses that overlook a turquoise sea. The coast is high and jagged but interrupted by coves and small beaches. An authentic paradise to relax in the sun.

There are numerous caves, reachable by land or by sea, including the Devil’s cave. In antiquity, people believed that the audible noises inside were to be attributed to Satan himself.

The Sanctuary of the Madonna of Leuca is certainly a place not to be missed. Defined also “the terrestrial antechamber of Paradise”, it is the destination of numerous pilgrimages. At the foot of the beautiful Monumental Waterfall is The Pietrina’s Cross. According to legends, this is the very place where St. Peter stopped in prayer on his journey from Palestine to Rome.

Therefore, near the Sanctuary is the Lighthouse, which is about 328 feet high and is one of the highest in Italy. From the terrace, you can enjoy a unique and unforgettable view of the entire surrounding coast.

Gallipoli

Gallipoli © Colar

© Colar

 

Gallipoli is romantically defined as the pearl of the Ionian Sea and it is not difficult to guess why. Its particular conformation, the historical center clearly divided by the modern part of the city, the churches, and the ancient monuments, the winding streets, the ancient seventeenth-century bridge, and the pristine beaches, make this city incredibly unique.

Between the bridge that connects the two towns, stands the Angevin Castle placed to defend the city, completely surrounded by the sea.

Between the isle and the new village, you can admire the Greek Fountain, considered the oldest in Italy.

The majestic Cathedral of Sant’Agata is a splendid example of Apulian Baroque.

Among the narrow streets, it is easy to come across hypogeal oil mills. They are a testimony to the close bond that united the hinterland countries with the cultivation of the olive and the maritime commerce of the city.

Gallipoli is also a natural paradise. In fact, there is the coastline of Punta Pizzo, a small treasure of Mediterranean fauna and flora. The Island of Sant’ Andrea, dominated by the white lighthouse.

The long coast of Gallipoli offers coves with low rocks and wide and golden beaches. The delightful beach of Purità is the only one of the old city, sandy and welcoming with the colors of the sea that laps it. It gives one of the most photographed views of the town from the ramparts.

Porto Cesareo

Porto Cesareo © Yellow.Cat

© Yellow.Cat

If we talk about beaches we cannot forget Porto Cesareo, the Maldives of Salento. More than 10 miles of white sandy beaches and numerous small green islands that are reflected in a crystal clear and uncontaminated sea and bring to mind exotic paradises.

This natural wealth allowed, in 1997, to constitute the Marine Protected Area of Porto Cesareo, the third largest in Italy.

There are many beaches in Porto Cesareo to choose from to spend a day in total relaxation. Above all the beach that starts from the Torre Castiglione area and reaches Punta Prosciutto is an expanse of white sand with dunes up to 26 feet high. The area is rustic compared to the city center and the presence of houses is limited.

Therefore the town of Porto Cesareo is also home to a marine ecology center that controls the exploitation of fish resources and an important marine biology museum where rare species of fish can be admired.

If you want to discover the wonders of Apulia, book a tour now

Or read our guide