Puglia needs to be on your bucket list. This region of Italy that makes up the thin heel of Italy’s boot looks like no other part of Italy. It is wildly beautiful, with white-washed towns looking out over the crazy blue of the Adriatic on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other. Home to fields of olive trees and the largest wine growing area in all of Italy, Puglia is a mecca for foodies and oenophiles. The beaches stretch for miles on end, the history and the architecture are captivating. It is so easy to close your eyes and imagine running away to Puglia and never coming back.
10 Reasons You Need To Visit Puglia
1. The Landscape.
Puglia is gorgeous. Flanked by the Adriatic on the east coast and the Ionian on the west, Puglia has around 800 km of staggeringly beautiful coastline, with white sandy beaches and dramatic rocky cliffs.
It also has endless vineyards and olive groves, and is sprinkled with picturesque whitewashed towns and villages.
The Val d’Itria area of Puglia is filled with amazing hobbit-like cone roofed houses. They are quite magical! We stayed in one for three nights, and it was really quite special.
3. The Picturesque Little White Towns
Throughout Puglia the countryside is speckled with picturesque little white towns. They offset the colors of the land, and gleam and sparkle against the lapis lazuli ocean. The are simply exquisite!
They also are quite intricate, and form a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets that circle around, double back and lead to dead ends.
For centuries Puglia was under attack and relatively defenseless with its endless coastline, so the towns were built into mazes designed to confuse and dis-empower invaders while allowing the inhabitants a chance to escape.
|layered up for rain, cold and sunshine in Cisternino|
I fell in love with Cisternino, Locorotondo, Ostuni and old town Monopoli.
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4. The Lack Of Tourists.
|Saturday morning at Otranto cathedral|
Although Puglia is an absolute tourist’s paradise, compared to the rest of Italy it really doesn’t have many tourists.
If you have ever traveled to Florence, Venice or Rome you will know exactly what I’m talking about!
Italians, Germans and Brits know their way around the beaches, but outside of August and the end of July and beginning of September, Puglia is tourist-light.
|Lecce on a Saturday afternoon|
Any place that doesn’t have bus loads of tourists tends to have authentic food and fewer t-shirt shops.
|Piazza Duomo in Lecce, Saturday afternoon|
You also get the added bonus of standing directly in front of art and statues and great sights instead of 5 bodies deep!
5. The People
I have always found Italians to be the friendliest people anywhere, but I particularly loved the Pugliese. Everywhere we went locals wanted to chat, point out cool things to look at, welcome us to their town.
I met this darling little lady, Caterina, in Ostuni.
She lives in a teeny tiny little home on a whitewashed street, and walks everywhere every day with a cane that she hid for our photos.
We chatted for ages and she told us all about growing up in Ostuni, and living there her entire life.
What she lacked in teeth she made up for in heart. She was just adorable!
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6. The Food.
Oh lord. The food!
|Octopus salad at Miseriaenobilta in Alberobello|
Puglia is a major agricultural region, so everything you eat is local and fresh.
|Handmade Orecchetti with turnip greens in Santa Cesarea Terme, Puglia|
From handmade orriechetti to fresh seafood, to the simplest of salads, eating in Puglia is heaven. And crazy inexpensive.
|The remnants of a 15 euro order of seafood antipasti at Torre San Sabine, Puglia|
7. The Beaches.
|Sunset, Polignano A Mare, Puglia|
Puglia’s coastline gives you and endless stream of stunning beaches.
|Due Sorelle Beach, Otranto Puglia|
Whether you want white sands and an Italian Maldives experience, rocky cliffs to dive from, dramatic rocky beaches, lidos or private, isolated coves, Puglia has it all.
The water is a surreal carcophany of see thru blues – you can almost hear the colors! As far out as you swim you can see to the bottom, the water is so clean and pristine.
|Grotta Azzurra, Salento Coast Puglia|
You can take boats out to blue grotto caves and swim alone in water.
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8. The Wine
Puglia grows 17% of Italy’s wine, an annual yield larger than the entire production of Australian wines.
The most famous wines from the region are the hearty reds Primativo and Negro Amaro, and the crisp white Fiano.
While ordering bottles of wine with dinner is always fun, we particularly loved being in little local restaurants and getting liter jugs of the house wine for 4 euros! The crazy thing was the house wine was just fantastic, every single time.
9. The Olive Oil
Much of Italy’s olive oil production happens in Puglia.
Driving through the countryside you see endless olive groves, some with giant old trees up to 500 years old still standing sentry, watching over incredibly fertile land that makes nutrient rich olives that burst with flavor.
|ancient olive tree in Puglia|
A simple mixed green salad with fresh olive oil from Puglia and a sprinkle of salt can change your life forever!
10. The Easy Way Of Life
Travel in Puglia is so incredibly easy. Contrary to everything I read prior to going, the roads in Puglia are fantastic. Driving is a breeze because the roads are not only in good shape but are also well sign posted.
The people are friendly and kind, the pace of life is slower, with everything closing down for siesta from 1pm til 4pm.
The lack of cruise ships and tour buses disgorging thousands of nikon wielding tourists into the streets means that Puglia is still authentic and very affordable. Beautiful vacation rentals are very inexpensive, as are consumer goods and food and wine.
Puglia feels like a secret. A magical, mystical secret, and is the perfect place for a glorious vacation.