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 – the name derives from the Greek ‘tholos’ meaning cupola. The southern area of the town, where the majority of Trulli houses are located, is an important UNESCO World Heritage Site. 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.
As with all the Italian regions, Puglia has an excellent regional cuisine and is an important producer of olive oil, olives, almonds, fava beans, figs, melons, grapes and green cauliflowers. 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).
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.
Porto Cesareo, located in the southern part of Puglia, is a beautiful seaside resort, 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.