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Puglia, Italy’s “It” Region | Luxury Travel Advisor

Italians have always been known to go south to the heel of Italy’s boot in summer, where the 500 miles of coastline offers sublime beaches and a dialed-down ambiance. Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford, Meryl Streep and Francis Ford Coppola have found Puglia (Apulia) the perfect escape from the frenetic pace that comes with celebrity. In the last five years, international tourism in Puglia has climbed almost 15 percent a year, bringing visitors from around the world, many of whom have already explored other parts of Italy.

Why Puglia? In a country where every one of the 20 regions is distinct from the others, this one has its own personality. About the size of Tuscany, it is completely different. Stays in cone-shaped trulli, or restored agricultural masserie, historic villas or green resorts are often experienced in the midst of the oldest olive groves in Italy, where a giant olive tree might stand in the middle of an elegant dining room. The cuisine is freshness defined: Fruits, vegetables, cheeses, fish, unusual pastas and excellent wines — most based on zero-kilometer themes. Beyond the dozens of long beaches, there are castles and caves, ceramics and sunny town squares to visit.

Though the region has much improved train service, traveling by car is more flexible and the distances between towns, beaches and historic sites are usually less than an hour and a half. Most upmarket travelers fly into Bari or Brindisi, where they rent a car or hire a…

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