Overview

Introduction

Located on Italy’s heel, Puglia borders the regions of Molise, Campania and Basilicata and has coastlines along both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The landscape varies dramatically from the beautiful Gargano promontory in the north with its scenic mountains, forests of oak and beech trees and unspoilt sand beaches to the fertile Tavoliere plain. The centre gives way to the undulating plateau of Le Murge and in the extreme south the dry Salentine peninsula.

Le Murge’s landscape produces a profusion of olive groves, orchards and vineyards and is home to the famous Trulli. Alberobello has the highest concentration of Trulli houses.

Steeped in myths and legends, Puglia’s history dates back to the civilisation of Magna Grecia. Many heirlooms of this period can be found in the museum of Taranto. The region has a wealth of splendid cathedrals and ancient sites including the Castel del Monte in Andria – the most extraordinary of all Puglia’s castles; The Greek and Roman ruins of Egnasia, boasting an acropolis, amphitheatre and remains of tombs and ancient roads; The Norman Cathedral in Trani and the Baroque buildings and Roman amphitheatre of Lecce, dubbed ‘Florence of the South’.

This is a region which has much to offer and which has yet to be discovered by the majority of visitors to Italy.

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Highlights

  • UNESCO World Heritage sites: Castel del Monte (Andria); the Trulli houses of Alberobello.
  • Lecce: Dubbed ‘Florence of the South’ due to its baroque architecture, Lecce is also a great place to people watch from outside a bar sipping iced coffee with almond syrup, or go shopping along the fashionable Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
  • Museo Faggiano (Lecce): An archeological museum personally managed by the Faggiano family who discovered the ancient site below their floorboards. Uncover an amazing history spanning the last 2,000 years.
  • Festival - La Notte Bianca: The town of Lecce throws an all-night party every April, with museums, entertainment and art exhibitions lasting until dawn.
  • Alberobello: This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a dense concentration of trulli limestone houses with cone-shaped roofs built between the mid-15th and late-18th centuries. It is one of the best preserved urban areas of its type in Europe.
  • Trulli house: The majority of Trulli houses are located in the southern area of Alberobello. The name derives from the Greek ‘tholos’ meaning cupola. Built from limestone, the Trullis’ special construction techniques create an environment that serves both as protection against harsh winters and extreme heat in summer. At the top of the cupola is a stone pinnacle in the shape of a ball or cone and the main body of the building is always whitewashed. Inside and directly beneath the cupola is a quadrangled room with doors leading to the other rooms; the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. The wealthier landowners of the region often constructed two or three Trulli houses together to provide larger, more comfortable lodgings. Smaller ones were often used for the storage of agricultural products. The origin of these characteristic and unique dwellings, which were built in large numbers towards the end of the 19th century, is still unknown.
  • Molfetta, Trani and Barletta: Molfetta, the first of a trio of port towns north of Bari, has a walled medieval centre; Trani is dominated by a grand Romanesque cathedral; and Barletta has a third-century bronze colossus.
  • Pasta: The cuisine of Puglia is simple and glorious, based around the local orecchiette (ear-shaped) pasta and an abundance of vegetables.
  • Egnazia: A fascinating archaeological park which dates back the Bronze Age. A necropolis with pre-Roman tombs, painted vases known as ‘Egnazia ceramic’, an amphitheatre and forum are some of the historical discoveries from the ancient town of Gnathia.
  • Parco Nazionale del Gargano: The National Park covers a diverse landscape of beaches and lagoons to the north, a rocky, indented eastern coast and a mountainous, green heartland of oak and beech trees. A place of ancient forests, caves, shrines and intricate fishing villages.
  • Best Beaches: Some of the finest stretches of beach curl around the southernmost tip of Puglia between the charming towns of Otranto and Gallipoli.
  • Local cuisine: Puglia is predominantly an agricultural region, producing around 40% of Italy's olive oil. This agricultural nature means that the region's cuisine is home-country inspired, using the abundant local produce such as durum wheat, fava beans, artichokes and lamb. Cheeses are a particularly strong point here, and types include mozzarella di bufala (soft buffalo’s cheese), caprini (fresh goat’s cheese preserved in olive oil), faggottini (smoked cheeses of Foggia) and burrata (creamy soft cow’s cheese).
  • Festival - La Notte della Taranta: Salento’s lively and graceful folk dance – the dance of the Tarantula. Experience this age old tradition during August in the towns of Grecia Salentina, south of Lecce and Melpignano.
  • Trani: A pleasant and lively port town, Trani has a well maintained historic centre with ancient palaces and churches, narrow roads and alleyways, a Swabian Castle built in 1233, a 59m high bell tower and a colourful harbour area and promenade.
  • Otranto: Visit the C11th Cathedral with its C12th mosaic floor of the 'tree of life', intertwining Norman, Greek and Byzantine ideas of fate. The Chapel of the Dead displays a ghoulish sight of skulls and bones of martyrs neatly arranged in tall glass cases.
  • Castel del Monte: This C13th citadel and castle stands on a promontory in Andria. It was constructed for the Emperor Frederick II – its purpose is unknown as no-one actually ever lived there. A fascinating hexagonal-shaped castle which is protected as a World Heritage site.
  • Porto Cesareo: Located in the southern part of Puglia, this seaside resort is famous for its 17km of golden sand beaches. There are several well-preserved watch towers located in the area including the Cesarea, Chianca and Lapillo towers, which are definitely worth visiting. The towers recount a historic period when the Saracen raids from the sea represented an almost constant danger to the population of the Salento.

Transport

Airports

The Puglia region is served by two international airports. Bari (Karol Wojtyla) airport and Brindisi airport. 

Trains

While most of northern Italy is well connected by rail lines, southern Italy is not. You can easily get to Puglia's major cities including Bari, Lecce, and Brindis, but a rental car is recommended to visit other areas.

Useful information

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Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT + 1 hour

Currency

Euro

Language

Italian

Average flight times

2 hours 30 minutes

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Note: Map is for guidance purposes only.

Talk to our Italy expert

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni

Rosanna is the head of our Discovery Department which covers tailor made holidays to Portugal and the Azores, Italy and Sicily, Scandinavia and the new programme to Spain. She is our longest serving member of staff having joined in 1994 after completing an honours degree in French and Italian and subsequently working for a tour operator in Yorkshire. She is responsible for brochure writing, contracting accommodation, programme costing, computer inputting and generally troubleshoots where necessary. She has global knowledge of our tailor made programme.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

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