With its olive trees, whitewashed, hilltop towns, scorched earth and unforgiving heat, Puglia can seem closer to the melting pot of Greece than the grandeur of Rome. It’s not that the Renaissance bypassed southern Italy, but it certainly left fewer calling cards. Don’t come looking for picture-perfect art towns, formal gardens or trophy villas: the draw of Apulia, as it is known in English, is in the unexpected.
The region is stamped with many footprints – Byzantine, Arab, Balkan, Romanesque – but it is the Greek influence that is the strongest. From the place names – Monopoli, Gallipoli – to the fortified towns established more than 2,000 years ago and the ancient olive trees that twist their way across the horizon, it is easy to see how Puglia was once the gateway to the Aegean.
The region is stamped with many footprints
But don’t let its hotchpotch character deter you: this is still Italy, and full of glorious southern stereotypes. Indeed, one of the beauties of the lesser visited heel is that Puglia is not overrun with middle England. Take us as you find us, it says, and you will receive the warmest of welcomes.
Go now for a less frenzied flavour of Italy, a wealth of history, some of the country’s best seafood and, of course, sun. But don’t try to cover too much ground – the region’s attractions are spread far and wide, and the heat will get the better of you. Rather focus on a small area, and, like a true local, take it…
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