The Dolce Vita is from coast to coast; from the Adriatic to the Ionian, between Otranto and Gallipoli. If you wish to discover the key to local artisan excellence, include a stopover in one or more of the hamlets and villages that trip along the coastline, topple on the summits of hilltops or make a splash in to the small bays and lagoons.
Stones play a monumental part in the geographical formation of Puglia from the Terra di Bari to the Salento, terraced agricultural fields meeting wide expansive wheat fields through to the underground caverns and grottoes. The stones have created palazzi, cathedrals, trulli, masserie, the ancient Menhirs, the dolmens, the tombs in the rock, the town walls, the coastal routes and so much more; representing the typical image of the Puglia paysage.
What is art? That which we see mounted upon a wall or that which is an artisan creation using the materials bestowed upon the villagers and their fore-fathers, that the lands have provided? History, art, culture and the environs contribute to the odours and atmosphere of the historic towns and villages. Is this the heart and soul of Puglia that you are searching for?
The coastline is interminable in this region, a bridge towards the Orient, a balancing board between the seas. History events of the sea have made Puglia, colossal and small, where the ports, the lighthouses, the towers, the cathedrals, the chateaux, the Turks and the Venetians all played a role in the daily toil and the fight to survive the omnipresent dangers of their historic enemies and then finally the prayers of thanks.
Saints and benevolent Virgin Marys have protected civilizations in this region and so it is once again the sea that brings heroes, legends, traditions and customs together.
There are treasures beneath the Ionian and Adriatic seas, marvelous reserves for the experts in scuba diving or those who just prefer a bit of snorkeling; 800 kilometres of coastline, a grand variety of natural reserves of fauna and vegetation, grottoes and old sunken wrecks.
Seeing the coastline from the sea offers the opportunity to visit refuge bays and secret grottoes untouchable from inland. The coastline can be wild with sandy beaches like boulevards; seen from dawn til dusk by kayak, nautical boats with a captain or for the amateur. A gratifying experience for the seafarer.
Puglia is not just about the beaches, there is so much more beyond a sandy cove or a dune to explore...
If Puglia foods are not already on your radar, they soon will be. Puglia food is not a field study, it is a series of courses, each unfolding to perform and entertain its guests; taking them through the seasons, along the water’s edge and into the valleys and landscapes.
As do the seasons change, so does the palette of colours and textures before you. Each dish could stand on its own or be accompanied in a perfect symphony with others. There is no itinerary or road map towards the perfect dining experience, you have to experience and be inspired as you pass through Puglia. Each town & village corner shop, countryside market, open-air markets, green-markets, farmers’ stands, farmsteads, offer choices to scramble your taste buds into a frenzy of delight and all that said; simplicity above all else reigns in Pugliese cooking and that in a nutshell, is the secret to the traditional dishes of the region.
Permutations of pastas, cheeses, salumis, seafood, breads and vegetables are an obsession of Puglia people, as in any other region of Italy. The Puglia people are particular about what they put in to their mouths and where is comes from and they are equally proud of their cuisine and its historical origins, heavily influenced by the populaces who have passed afore hand through their lands.
Those passionate about food and gastronomy will not rest until they’ve discovered and tasted the riches of Puglia.
The hot blooded red wines of Puglia are not to be quaffed, they demand you to linger over the black juice, roll it around in your glass and inhale its pungent bouquet before taking a respectful sip. The regions thorough bred wines such as the negramaro and primitivo grapes are seductive and alluring, where quality is mastered over quantity.
The reds seduce in the winter where the crisp whites enamor in the hot summers. The hilltop towns of the Valle d’itria have well drained clay soil and high concentrations of sunlight making them superior white wine designations with a number of DOP productions.
The hot fertile landscape of Puglia known more widely for the green gold, the extra virgin olive oil, is gaining just as much attention for its wine culture.
Thankfully the southern grape crops are no longer shipped (as was the case 20 years ago) to make the rest of Italy and some parts of France, wines more substantial, but are now retained regionally to contribute to 18% of total Italian wine production and what’s more, the region boasts no less than 25 closely protected DOC regions.
The wine folly is outgrowing production! Trying wines first hand at the wine producer is a sure way to find the wine that best suits your pallet and our region offers many occasions on which to do just that; from wine producer’s open days to bespoke tours. Hence forth, (should you not return to Puglia in haste!) on-line purchases are there to furnish your wine rack at home.
Why is Puglia so wonderful? Puglia is more than cathedrals, chateaux, baroque buildings and trulli. If we let ourselves be guided, this is an adventure into the last century, where we can discover a thousand different new aspects, sometimes stony, sometimes flat, rocky and arid, unknown water gorges spreading towards other water basins travelling deep below, protected by hills and mountains, stretched out in an effort to touch Greece, Croatia and Albania, attached solidly to Italy but running away towards the Orient; Puglia is at times an insular region, a peninsular, its beauty is sometimes a contradiction; but it is a region that you cannot help but love.
There is no anti-dote available for the attachment, the affection one feels for the very far south east of Italy. In Puglia, you never return, each time is like the first time, even if you have visited it ten or twenty times before. Because this is a magical land, that is awakening little by little, it is mysterious in character; perhaps because Puglia is feminine that it surprises us so much?
Puglia is the sea, the baroque architecture, the wines, the white washed houses, the trulli, the traditional music and much much, more. It is this that we come to discover, the treasures that still remain uncovered, awaiting us on our next journey.
When the air of summer is still young and the heat hasn’t yet taken your breath away; the Puglia outdoors is a playground for the adventurer. A number of activities; cycling, trekking, horse-back riding, kite-surfing, canoeing, climbing, diving or perhaps blue-jumping view Puglia from a diverse, sometimes from an offbeat perspective.
The 800 kilometre coastline is an oasis of vegetation sometimes inaccessible by land, but reachable by boat; skippers, hired boats, kayaks and canoes that skip along the seashore viewing the works of nature, balconies of flowers that open at night and close by day, impromptu dunes and coves for bathing with rock faces, cliffs; whilst on shore the lighthouses, mediaeval villages, old watch towers, trabucco (old fishing machinery) formulate spectacular scenery enjoyed with a peaceful, quiet lull only the seafarer can afford.
The underwater Eden of Puglia, protected marines, national parks, bays, reefs, grottoes and a wild coastline frequented by colourful marine life; is a scuba diver’s uncontaminated paradise, an ocean bed for known and hidden relics, treasures and secrets of the underworld.
Sky-diving enthusiasts seek the advantage point of the skies whilst the wind-surfer and the kite-surfer nurture the strong winds along the coast. The flat, low, warm waters provide ideal surfing conditions and the number of beaches both private and public offer a complimentary nightlife for the adrenalin hunters.
Towards the end of the lands of Italy, by bike or on foot, Puglia has regaled the cyclist, the walker, with long open roads through lanes of low stone walls, olive orchards, woodlands, boulevards of beaches and rocky cliffs; the silence only disturbed by the winds tha whistle through the olive branches. Unforgettable tours of countryside masserias, castles hanging out into the sea, rich colourful land formations, historic towns pitched on hill tops, roman and baroque churches and well... you’ll just have to discover the rest for yourselves.