the heel of Italy and region of untold secrets

the heel of Italy and region of untold secrets

Italians go to Puglia for the sea, sun and beaches. And they come for the seriously gourmand cuisine fished from the local waters and the fruit and veg harvested from the fertile fields. And, of course, the fine wines.

They also come to see handsome towns with intricately carved stonework, mysterious white hilltop villages, the curious conical ‘trullies’ (below) in the fields, the ancient cave houses known as ‘sassi’.

trullies

Grand designs

Puglia’s architecture has been shaped by invaders, from the Greeks and Romans, to Normans, Saracens, Bourbons, Swabians, Spanish, Byzantine.

Lecce (below), described as the ‘Florence of the South’ is a Baroque fantasy, a breath-takingly beautiful classical Italian town with its elaborate Santa Croce basilica, Piazza Sant’Oronzo promenade, Roman amphitheatre and arches.

lecce

The capital, Bari, has a medieval old town with a tangle of narrow streets, lopsided buildings and artisan front-rooms where you can see ladies making orecchiette, ear-shaped pasta, by hand.

Harbour towns to die for

There are several gorgeous Adriatic ports like Otranto at the tip of the heel or Vieste (top image) on the mountainous promontory ‘spur’, with their golden beaches and dramatic white tufo (limestone) rock formations.

Trani (below), once an ancient trading hub, is a delightfully eccentric port with its white cathedral perched on the seawall, where boats bob on the glistening water while you eat ices and drink unfamiliar glasses of something cool on the…

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