Puglia is a very rustic and dramatically beautiful-looking part of southern Italy. It is known for its spectacularly pretty towns, beautiful beaches, olive trees, traditional trullo houses, clifftop settlements, olive groves and clifftop settlements. Many of these are perched above the Adriatic and Ionian seas or teetering on the edge of cliffs.
Whilst each Puglian village is very different in its own way, each charming place does boast an array of characteristics which assist in making the Italian region of Apulia so unique.
Alberobello, Puglia’s most famous town and surely the most beautiful, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its traditional domed whitewash trullo houses, cobbled streets, historic town centre and countryside views all contribute to the look of a town that brings tourists from all over.
Ostuni, the region’s ‘white city’, elicits similar beauty with its whitewashed buildings. Also notable is its Gothic cathedral, olive groves and just down the coast, recipients of Blue Flag beach awards. The pretty seaside town Vieste sits atop a white cliff on the ocean, with the nearby Parco Nazionale del Gargano also brilliant for hiking.
Polignano a Mare’s limestone cliffs on the stunning Valle d'Itria coast lie in the backdrop of Italy’s most photographed beach, a pebbly cove just beside the Grotta Palazzese, a five-star hotel and restaurant set in a cave on a cliff.
Puglian towns and villages do beauty like no other.
Churches are something Puglia has in abundance. Lecce has more than 40 dotted across the city alone. Perhaps the most beautiful of these is Basilica San Nicola. San Giovanni Rotondo in Foggia, another hugely popular tourist spot, is the former home of Padre Pio.
Religion is a cornerstone of Puglian life, so a church is a must.
A Puglian village would not be complete without an excellent display of food and drink. In Puglia’s capital Bari, local nonnas handcraft orecchiette pasta. Altamura is also known for its delicious bread. Whilst many villages have their own special contribution to Italian cuisine, they also have a fantastic array of restaurants and markets showcasing fresh produce such as taralli, bombette and fresh vegetables; tomatoes, carrots, chicory and cime de rape.
The ancient city of Matera is full of history and known for its cave dwellings, while the village of Trani, about an hour north of Bari, is a sophisticated seaport with an old town, Jewish quarter and winding cobbled streets.
Locotorondo is a wonderful little town, typically awash with whitewash but notably, with staircases and iron balconies decked out in beautiful geraniums. Martina Franca is similar; you can wander the winding streets for hours without bumping into a tourist. Geraniums over iron balconies are another feature here too, and you can enjoy lazy lunches at a taverna.
Zigzagging residential streets are a Puglian mainstay.