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Puglia, Italy: from Magna Graecia to St. Peter

There are multiple reasons to explore the ancient Puglia region on the heel of Italy’s boot from Renaissance palaces, extraordinary seafood, mystery churches to a dictator’s folly.

9th century Centopietre (Church of 100 Stones) Patu,

This is the first of a two part series on the Puglia region – or Apulia as it was known in past days. Classic archaeological ruins, villages of feudal-era architecture, centuries old pilgrimage paths and intensely blue water show you why the Puglia region has been desired by Phoenicians to Mussolini.

One of many fortified towers that protected the valuable coastline

As the eastern most section of the Italian peninsula Puglia is on busy trade routes across the Adriatic, Ionian and seas beyond. The mercantile empire of Phoenicia established colonies followed by the Greek city-states as their influence rose in dominance. The Romans dubbed the coastal areas of Puglia “Magna Graecia” (Greater Greece) and Hellenic culture greatly influenced Roman Italy.

Puglia’s commercial significance continued even through the lengthy and often chaotic era of the feudal states before Italian unification in the latter 19th century. The proliferation of protective coastal towers, many within view of each other, do broadcast how desirable the Puglia region has been. Having the nearest (most eastern) ports on the Italian peninsula to the Middle East, tradition holds that St. Peter disembarked in Puglia on his first mission to Rome.

In a land of Palazzos


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