Here, however, is what to do and see in Puglia, this region of Italy increasingly visited by tourists.
Southern Italy is a special land. Here, people are much more attached to all that tradition means than those who live in the north. Historically, southern Italy has served as the scene for numerous conflicts with the Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Germans, Angevins, and Bourbons.
For centuries, this region was under Spanish and feudal rule and this has led to a cultural, economic, and social stagnation, which is still felt today.
Puglia has become an increasingly popular destination among tourists. The friendly prices and the mild climate make this a good place to visit at any time of the year.
Italy's tourism is constantly flourishing precisely thanks to the numerous objectives that are on its territory. At the entrance to Puglia, your attention is inevitably drawn to the imposing olive trees, whose branches touch the ground. Some are secular and date back to ancient Rome.
Monopoly and the Castellana Grotte
Monopoli is a small town in Puglia Italy, whose natural historical beauty continues to fascinate those who come to visit it.
In the old part of the city, there are 19 medieval churches, spread on its countless alleys with cubic stone. Only a few kilometers away from Monopoli, in a location that stands out with a special geological relief, is the Castellana Grotte, with rock formations and stalactites unique in the world.
"Grotte di Castellana" was born almost 90 million years ago and is one of the most important tourist attractions in Puglia, with an inestimable value for Italy.
Bari - The old town and the Torre Guaceto nature reserve
The city of Bari is one of the most representative, largest, and most important cities, being the capital of the Apulia Puglia region. Once here, you will discover most of the city's tourist attractions in the old center of Bari.
Compact, interesting, with narrow, outdated streets, all this will take you on a thrilling route dotted with tourist attractions that will offer you a unique experience in terms of culture and way of life in southern Italy.
The open doors will urge you to see inside their homes the inhabitants socializing at a game of backgammon, and walking through the labyrinth of narrow streets, you will be greeted by the smell of freshly washed clothes hanging on the windows.
In addition, in the morning you will notice that the place becomes a real pasta factory, typical of the Puglia region, the so-called orecchiette. Of course, the dexterity of these women is impressive, so don't think that you can try it at home. If you are curious to taste them, don't be shy and buy directly from the Italian women who can't wait to praise their dishes!
One of the most important tourist attractions, especially sought after by the Orthodox, is the Church of St. Nicholas, whose relics are housed here; the church dates back to 1087 and has survived for centuries almost intact.
Then take a walk on Lungomare, which is actually the promenade area of Bari, which stretches along the Adriatic Sea - you will find it as a perfect activity for a few minutes of relaxation.
If you're still here, check out a visit to Fort San Antonio in Bari; the construction dates from 1500 and had the role of defending the city. At the request of the Duchess of Aragon, Isabella, it was rebuilt and a few secret passages were added.
Don't leave the city without checking the Petruzzelli Theater, which is the fourth largest theater in Italy. The theater is a building representative of the culture and architecture of southern Italy, which was built between 1890-1903, but still impresses today with its decorations made of gold, frescoes, or various statuettes made by famous sculptors.
If you need a snack, try a Focaccia - a kind of bread with tomatoes sprinkled in abundance with locally produced olive oil.
Gargano and Vieste promontory
Gargano, also known as the Italian Spur, is a peninsula on the Adriatic Sea in eastern Italy. Mount Calvo, in the mountainous area of the region, is covered in beech, pine, and oak forests, and the Gargano coast is considered one of the most beautiful in Italy.
The scent of pines is ubiquitous. On the beach, in the white towns thrown on the steep cliffs, on the chic and lively terraces in the area, even in the shops, you are always accompanied by this unmistakable perfume.
The most popular cities in Gargano are Rodi Garganico, Peschici, and Vieste, the latter being the most beautiful and lively of all the cities in the area.
Vieste is located at the easternmost point of the Gargano promontory. The old town is dominated by narrow streets and white houses.
The main tourist attractions in Vieste are the Svevo Castle, a defensive castle, positioned on the sea and restored in 1240 by King Frederick II, and the Cathedral dell’Assunta built in the highest area of the city of Vieste in the 11th century.
All those who visited this city returned with the memory of the beach several kilometers long, covered with fine golden sand, the incredible color of the sea, and that of the western houses.
The beautiful Tremiti Islands in Puglia, Italy
The beautiful Tremiti Islands are a very important tourist enclave, receiving thousands of visitors every year, trying to enjoy the crystal clear waters. This is why the Tremiti Islands are known as the "pearl of the Adriatic".
This incredible archipelago consists of four islands, which are the following: San Nicola, San Domino, Caprara, and Cretaccio.
- Domino Island is the largest of all with 208 hectares. Show the power and beauty of nature, which you will discover in your cliffs, fantastic caves, and its impressive green pine valleys. That is why this island is known as the "garden of paradise". Among the caves is Viole Cave, so-called because in spring these extraordinary flowers grow on their inner walls.
- San Nicolás Island is the second-largest island and where most of the population lives. It is closely linked to its historical past, the most faithful reflection is its monumental whole, which attracts attention, the old monastery and its defensive elements. In this sense, the Anjou Tower from 1294 and the Torre Della Tagliata are worth mentioning. It is also the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa Maria a Mare, built-in 1473.
- The island of Capraia is uninhabited, from its beautiful natural environment highlights an architectural work of nature, "The Architiello" a rock arch of six meters
- Cretaccio Island is the smallest of the islands and Pianosa Island is rocky and visible only when we approach. Both islands are uninhabited.
Alberobello - The city of Trulli houses
Located only 50 km away from Bari, the town of Alberobello is a land detached as if from stories, which has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage site, since 1996.
What makes it so special?
The Trulli houses, as they are known, attract tourists from all over the world, eager to find out and see with their own eyes these enchanting buildings, of immaculate white.
These houses are built with one floor, have a conical roof, are whitewashed exclusively in white, each with distinct signs on the roof, similar to hieroglyphs. Their origin is still shrouded in mystery, there are several theories about their appearance.
One of these theories states that Ferdinand I, in the 15th century, who wanted the labor force to move where he wanted, did not allow the inhabitants to build permanent houses, thus defending these clay huts that could be demolished easily.
Another theory states that this unique architectural type was brought by the Crusaders who landed in ports in the area. Whatever their origin, it is important that you can admire them throughout the Valle d'Itria, but the city of Alberobello is the only city with the most such constructions - there are no less than 1500!
So if you want to discover this fairytale land, a visit here is almost a must for those arriving in the Puglia region. In addition, most of these Trulli houses have been transformed into souvenir shops, cafes or restaurants, so that when you are here you can serve Italian food but also buy souvenirs specific to the area.
If you cross the borders of the area full of shops, you will notice that these houses are perfectly habitable and represent the place where people live their daily lives.
Polignano A Mare - Puglia Italy
Polignano a Mare is another charming place in the Puglia Region. If you decide to visit it, you can do it from Bari, on the train you take from Central Station and in only 30 minutes you will be able to admire and feel the vibe of this wonderful city, located on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.
The old town consists of narrow streets, beautifully paved with stone, where you will find churches, squares, or houses with direct entrance from the street.
You will be able to see how people usually sit with the door open and take care of their household chores, without being bothered in any way by the curious eyes of tourists.
Continue your series of discoveries with a stop at the beach, which you will undoubtedly find as a perfect place to relax, where you can linger for a few hours.
The turquoise color of the Adriatic Sea will definitely impress, although the beach is quite rocky. As a unique fact, in Polignano a Mare was born the famous artist Domenico Modugno, the author of the famous song "Volare".
You will probably be able to listen to the hit of the '50s if you enter for an exceptional culinary experience in the Grotta Palazzese Restaurant, a restaurant dug into the rock, which offers you besides typical Sicilian dishes and an impressive view over the Adriatic Sea.
The prices are not the friendliest, but if you follow the "once in a lifetime" principle, it should be tried. The location has delighted its guests for centuries, both in terms of dishes and the positioning of the tables, so that each client can enjoy the best view.
Lecce - gem of the Salento peninsula
Lecce, also called "South Florence", is a charming city, whose tourist attractions are its many buildings and monuments built in Baroque style, which have become the main feature of this city.
No less than 40 churches belonging to the Baroque style you will find in Lecce, which makes it a European capital of this architectural style.
The city of Lecce boasts a wonderful historic center but also many churches, squares, or palaces that were renovated between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.
But what impresses every connoisseur of art who arrives here is the unmistakable style of this type of baroque - Barocco leccese, as it is also called, highlighted by an accentuated ornamentation of the buildings, as you rarely find elsewhere.
What are the main tourist attractions in Lecce? Basilica di Santa Croce - with one of the most spectacular facades, Piazza Duomo or the beautiful Piazza Sant Oronzo, where you will find the remains of a Roman amphitheater, which had a capacity of no less than 25,000 spectators.
On the streets of Lecce, you will always find a friendly atmosphere, with cozy terraces where you can enjoy an authentic gelato or typical local dishes: Pasticciotto - the typical cake of Lecce or Caffè in ghiaccio con latte di mandorla - iced coffee and almond syrup.
Puglia Italy - Itria Valley
Also called the Trulli Valley, this extensive valley in the center of Puglia, with its fairytale landscape composed of white cylindrical peasant houses with hive-shaped roofs, is the first place you must visit when you arrive in the region.
Today, the fantastic Trulli have restored holiday homes for tourists, quiet and peaceful places, warm in winter and cool in the summer months.
One of the most famous houses in the Itria Valley is the Corte Bianca, which combines traditional features with contemporary style.
Another stunning authentic house in the heart of the valley is Trullo Rosanna, a secluded home with a private pool, shaded gazebo, and garden with olive and almond trees.
Ostuni - the white city
Ostuni is another city that you should put on the list of tourist attractions to visit, once you arrive in the Puglia Region.
Also nicknamed the "white city" due to the buildings entirely painted white, Ostuni rises towering above the plains on the southern coast of Italy and is about the same size as Poligrano a Mare.
For this reason, a day spent here is more than enough to discover the old center and to admire the monuments or the medieval buildings.
Among the tourist attractions in Ostuni, we mention the Column of Saint Oronzo, Ostuni City Hall, or Ostuni Cathedral. Many tourists will think that it brings with it Greek cities, such as Mykonos, for example, but with a pronounced Italian specificity.
If in winter Ostuni is a quiet city, which does not exceed 30,000 inhabitants, think that during the summer, this number actually triples due to the number of Italian and foreign tourists who come here.
In conclusion, if you love medieval cities, the labyrinth of their stations as well as the typical atmosphere of Italian bars or restaurants, Ostuni is everything you need in the Puglia Region Italy!
Puglia Italy - Matera
It is famous all over the world for its unique and old houses, dug into the rock, called Sassi. These are believed to be the first human settlements that existed on Italian territory.
Research has shown that the first excavations were made more than 9,000 years ago and the settlements were inhabited until the 1950s. People lived here under the same roof with the animals they owned. This has led to serious diseases such as malaria.
In the period immediately following, during the Second World War, the government initiated an approach that wanted to move those here to decent and modern housing.
However, the success of this initiative was not as expected, because most of them did not want to leave their settlements. After 1993, Matera entered the UNESCO world heritage site and since then it has attracted more and more tourists.
In the rural area adjacent to Matera, there are over 130 churches carved in stone, a true testimony of the current monastic culture of Byzantine, Greek and Latin origin.
In Matera, you can also visit the Ridola Museum. Numerous exhibits from various historical periods are exhibited here. In 2019, Matera will be the cultural capital of the European continent.
Otranto in Puglia Italian Region
Known as the easternmost city in Italy, charming and picturesque, the city of Otranto is a mixture of history, architecture, stunning views, outdoor restaurants, and especially white sandy beaches.
Located right on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, it has managed over time, through its strategic position, to profoundly influence history.
Among the main tourist attractions, you can visit here is Otranto Castle - whose defense towers dominate most of the city, the seafront promenade - where you can find excellent fish restaurants and Otranto Cathedral - whose mosaics date from the twelfth century.
Once here, we recommend you to look for the wonderful Alimini Beach, part of a protected marine area, with sand dunes but also with rich Mediterranean vegetation.
If you don't have time to go to this beach, the turquoise water and the fine white sand of Otranto offer you more than you can ask for.
So, let's list the 9 reasons to visit Puglia Italy
1. The beauty of Puglia, which kidnapped me from the plane, when I saw the lights of coastal cities, mirrored in the beautiful seawater. This is due to the interesting relief of the region, hills, plains, and plateau strips that go directly into the sea. No wonder the views of Puglia look so spectacular.
2. The complexity of the coastal area can make us return to the sea in Puglia for even more holidays. A holiday in the Bari area (Trani, Polignano, Mola di Bari, Monopoli, perhaps as far as Brindisi) and one much further south right on the Salento peninsula (it is said to be the most picturesque area in southeastern Italy).
3. The diversity of the surrounding cities certainly can't keep you alone on the beach. It is wonderful that in addition to water, sea, sun, Puglia offers a wide area to explore: from Alberobello with its houses as if drawn, to Ostuni, nicknamed the "white city" and to Matera, in Basilicata, which separates a fine and almost imperceptible line of drawing regional borders.
4. The beaches I see are exactly the kind I go through when I see documentaries from exotic areas. Somewhat urban, but with secluded corners, with golden sand or pebbles, according to anyone's preferences, with smooth entrances to the sea and of course, could not be otherwise, very photogenic (for example Cala Porta Vecchia in Monopoli seemed so fine that I ran out words).
5. The color of the seawater, that unreal turquoise that delights me the most and that makes me want to sink completely, just, just color me too. Again I say that this color, in Italy, only at Monterosso in the Cinque Terre I have seen it. If you are generally fascinated by the color of the water, it is worth seeing the color of the water here (different from Greece, Croatia, or France).
6. Very interesting architectural resorts. Most of them are the cities with very well preserved medieval centers, wonderful squares with all kinds of cafes and bistros for all tastes, more to the sea or to the area preferred by the locals. Something, something you will still like.
7. Unmissable tourist attractions, even on the seafront, which fit perfectly into the landscape. In Monopoli: the old port, Palazzo Martinelli, Castello Carlo, the Church of San Antonio or Piazza Garibaldi. In Polignano a Mare: Old Town, Via Traiana or Grotta Palazzesse)
8. Food, especially olives !! It is well and cheaply eaten in the south and we really like Italian food, ie pasta, pizza, piadinas, focaccia, ice cream (I think everyone knows what dream ice cream Italians have) and that long before we arrive in Italy. But what I want to tell you about olives: here I ate the best of my life. They are sold on the street just as the seeds were sold to us in the past. We took some green, fleshy and tasty olives from Polignano and ate them on the way through the streets. I don't think I'll ever forget those olives.
9. Prices !! Nor does it compare to those in northern Italy, the south is much cheaper and more accessible. From the train tickets to the coffee drunk in Bari or in the resorts to the food. I can't say how affordable it seemed to me, in addition, only in Bari did you have the voucher (that restaurant fee, the cafe, if you sat down at the table), but in the resorts no trace of him, which pleasantly surprised us.
Before the end…
The Italians have a very well developed transport network, so you won't wait too long for trains or buses. Ticket prices vary from 1 euro to 12 euros, depending on the distance.
The accommodations in Puglia are more than decent, considering the experience it offers. But, for a truly unique experience, we recommend staying at least one night in one of the Trulli Houses or accommodation in one of the typical Italian massages.
The food in the Puglia Italy region is truly DELICIOUS! The Puglia region is a rural one, with many local producers, careful that all the dishes they put on the plate are fresh and of good quality - hence the special flavor.
Besides delicious dishes, in the area, you can drink good wine and craft beer, produced locally. So much for today… We hope we have convinced you why the Puglia Region deserves to be added to the wish list for the next holiday!
All you have to do is book your tickets in advance and once you arrive at your destination, discover its charm yourself! Until next time, fly smoothly wherever your mind or airlines will be!