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Why visit Puglia?
Puglia is one of the most beautiful regions in Southern Italy and recently, has started to become an increasingly popular travel destination. So, why should you visit Puglia, and what does it have to offer?
One of Puglia’s main attractions is that it’s far from the beaten path, meaning it’s the perfect place for any tourists looking for an authentic Italian experience away from the crowds of Italy’s busier cities like Rome or Venice. The lifestyle in the warm south is far slower, so residents tend to make more time for tourists and are renowned for their warmth.
One of Puglia’s main attractions is the Parco Nazionale del Gargano. Gargano is Puglia’s largest national park and is home to lush forests and a cluster of five islands, each with its own stories to tell. The sunny islands are easily accessible by local boat services, and the local forests provide plenty of beauty, especially Forestra Umbra, which is a UNESCO heritage site and home to over 2,000 species of plants!
The other national park in Puglia is the Parco Nazionale dell’Alta Murgia. Here, you can find the habitat of the less kestrel and one of the most famous castles in all of Italy: the Castel del Monte. This octagonally-shaped castle was constructed in the 1240s by King Frederick II. The castle appears on the Italian one-cent Euro coin and is thought to have been a hunting lodge or citadel. The park is also home to the Valley of Dinosaurs, a famous site where over 30,000 dinosaur footprints were discovered in 1999.
The history of Puglia is rich and complicated. It is located in a very strategic position in the Mediterranean making it a target for historical invasion. As such, the region has influences from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Normans, which you can see in its varied architecture. Apart from its rich history and national parks, another reason to visit Puglia is its beautiful towns and cities.
One of the main towns in Puglia is Lecce, a bustling town full of Baroque architecture and home to an ancient but hidden roman theatre.
Another town is Altamura which, according to legend, was founded by Antellus, a fugitive from the destroyed city of Troy. It is home to the beautiful Altamura Cathedral, the famous Altamura Man (one of the most complete Paleolithic skeletons to be discovered in Europe), the local festival of Federicus, and Pane de Altamura, its famous bread. Other wonderful towns include the white streets of Locorotondo and Ostuni and the seaside destination of Otranto and Gallipolli.
Additionally, Puglia is well known for its tasty food. It’s the most veggie-friendly part of Italy as, in the past, many locals couldn’t afford meat, so they developed new and innovative uses for vegetables. In particular, the regions offer antipasti platters of marinated and grilled vegetables, unique cheeses (such as the burrata), and orecchiette (little ears) pasta.
Puglia also produces 20% of Italy’s wine and is building a strong reputation for being a region of high-quality wines. You can visit several wineries in the area, including one run by the De Corato family near Castel del Monte.