Updated: October 26, 2016
Imagine… savouring your candle light dinner in an ancient limestone cavern gazing at the dramatic Adriatic sea, dine like nobles in an 11th century Normandy castle or a whimsical fairytale cottage. There is no other place to live out your dreams than in Unspoilt Puglia !
The Heel of Italy’s Boot, Puglia (or Apulia) is nestled on the southern tip of Italy surrounded by the emerald green water of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Plenty of Mediterranean sun, beaches, delicious food and wine, captivating attractions, and friendly locals welcome discerning visitors seeking a less travelled, relaxing, experiential learning holiday for a great value.
Bari, Puglia’s capital is an industrial city and bustling seaport for Mediterranean cruises and ferries heading to Croatia, Albania and Greece. Once deemed the Bronx of Southern Italy, Bari today welcomes visitors with its clean tree-lined streets and scenic boardwalk.
Bari Vecchia, the historic town, is an impressive maze of tight cobblestone alleys graced with piazzas, churches, shops and eateries.
Ristorante La Locanda di Federico’s horsemeat salad tossed together by Chef Cobo is outstanding. His dish of cheese balls wrapped with butter melts right in your mouth.
The Mediterranean climate makes Puglia a fabulous vacation spot for most part of the year and is perfect for agriculture. “Olive oil and table grapes are the most popular products of this land of Bari and all around the world,” says Nuccio Altieri, Vice President of Bari Province and Councillor for Culture, Tourism and Sports.
Watch Video as he highlights his region’s treasures and expounds on the agricultural and tourism products.
Dine like nobles under the stars at Goffredo restaurant housed within Corte Altavilla Relais & Charme. Corte Altavilla is perched atop a hill within the compound of Castello di Conversano in Conversano, a 45-minute train ride from Bari. Hotelier, Letizia Valenzano together with family and friends took over five years to painstaking restore part of this heritage site to a charming boutique hotel.
The hotel is a 5-minute walk from the train station, making it an ideal base for day trips to Bari, attractions in Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Valle D’Itria, Martina Franca and Grotte di Castellana. These towns are within 8 to 50 kilometres away, still intact and untouched by mass tourism and globalization. In Puglia, visitors can enjoy sumptuous food and wine and stay in a lovely 4-star accomodation at very reasonable prices.
Polignano a Mare – home of the unique cavern restaurant, Grotta Palazzese is a 15-minute drive away from Conversano. The restaurant opens from May through October. Reservation is recommended. Most properties in Polignano a Mare are built on cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Like Conversano, the town is small, the beaches and attractions are easily accessible by foot.
An hour’s train journey past vast expanse of olive groves brings visitors from Conversano to Alberobello, the village of the fascinating, ancient Trulli. The fairytale-like limestone dwellings with its conical-shaped roofs are truly a marvel of simple, ingenious architecture. Visitors will be amazed by how many products store owner, Maria Concetta Marco can cram into her tiny trullo.
Trullo – a Marvel of Simple, Ingenious Architecture
Marco and her family have been operating Trullo Antichi Sapori since 1930. Her store carries one of the widest selection of Apulian artisan products in Alberobello. A Unesco World Heritage site, the sloping streets of Alberobello’s south-eastern quarter houses over 400 trulli including a trullo-church, restaurants, gift shops and guest houses. Dining in a trulli is a wonderful, almost surreal experience.
Layered in history, Puglia’s cuisine is influenced by former colonial rulers: Spanish, Swabian, Norman, Turk and Greek. In Puglia, most locals grow their own food so the cuisine is locally inspired. Specialties include orecchiette, mini ear-shaped pasta made of durum wheat, water, salt, and served with meat ragu, broccoli, turnip or mushroom sauces.
There is also the delicious Panzerotti – a unique pizza roll made with mozzarella and tomato; the addictive Taralli, a popular sweet, savoury southern Italian pretzel-like breadstick, and authentic olive oil harvested from centuries-old groves. Puglia produces about 40% of Italy’s annual olive oil production until disease strikes the trees in 2013. Pugliese cuisine is packed with wholesome goodness derived from the natural bounty of its land.
The second largest wine producer in Italy, Puglia has a proud vinicultural heritage dating back 4,000 years. The region supplies about 17% of the country’s total production. Twenty-five of their wine labels are Italian DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata or controlled designation of origin) certified including the Primitivo di Manduria, a bold red genetically identical with California’s Zinfandel.
Watch Video: Live Your Dreams in Puglia – A culinary travel journey through the Province of Bari.
Discover an affordable and less frenzied Italy, soak up history, enjoy some of the country’s best food and wine, beaches and bask in the Mediterranean sun. In Puglia, Expect the unexpected – and let your adventure begin!
- Train travel is an inexpensive and convenient way to tour the region and meet friendly locals.
- Italian is spoken in smaller communities. If you need help, seek out the younger generation who speaks some English.
- Rail or car from Rome, about 4-5 hours
- Air or rail from major European hubs like Milan, Paris, Munich and London