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Puglia’s Promise Beyond Primitivo

Lana Bortolot

Remote, rugged, rural and not as sexy as its Italian counterparts in Sicily, Rome or Florence, Puglia has been somewhat of a wallflower.

But perhaps not for much longer. A recent real estate story in the New York Times featured a one-story villa compound outside San Vito dei Normanni—about 15 miles west of Brindisi, a port city of just over 400,000 residents on the Adriatic coast.

Nearly 2,700 square feet—the seekly minimalist pad incorporates a cluster of trulli, those odd cone-shaped adobe-like structures that litter the countryside around Alberobello. It’s a landscape of poly-agricultural plains known more for olive oil and grain production than for luxury getaways. Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, this is, indeed, a spread for the well-heeled. And it’s a perfect representation of the region: a place that straddles rusticity and elegance.

I first visited Puglia in 2000 (stayed in a trullo—it was odd!), and have been back at least five times since. I go for the things that obviously don’t change—the Castel del Monte built in the 13th century by Emperor Frederick II, Trani’s gorgeous Romanesque cathedral on the sea, and the regionhomey food heritage. And I go for what does change: namely, Puglia’s emergence as a producer of serious wines.

That’s thanks, in large part, to a generation of young producers who want to get out from under…

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