The Irish Post’s Mal Rogers travels to Puglia, the rustic heel of Italy’s boot…
PUGLIA, pronounced ‘Poolia’ but in reality the Italian region of Apulia, is the heel on Italy’s boot. On a map it looks like the end of the line, but for centuries this was a stepping-stone to the Holy Land.
Medieval Crusaders would stop off here while their enemies, folk like the Saracens, would try to stop them reaching omni-coveted Jerusalem. Thank goodness that’s all sorted out.
Puglia became the staging post for those great uninvited guests of the ancient world: Greeks, Phoenicians, Cretans, Normans, the Angevins. They all fetched up here, on the way to somewhere else. The region became, in effect, a staging post; the Didcot of the Mediterranean.
But now Puglia’s stand-alone charms are being recognised in their own right. Its medieval towns and cities are, by and large, still run on behalf of the locals and not the tourists, immediately giving them that hard to pin down quality, charm. Many, such as Locorotondo or Martina Franca with their bonkers baroque architecture, could be contenders for the title of most beautiful town in Italy.
The coastline is beguiling, and quite gentle — apart from the medieval watchtowers. Beaches which stretch to the southern tip of the region are lined with long strands of talc-fine sand. The weather is perfect for beach holidays — occasionally a sirocco from north…
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