The exotic region of Puglia in the far south of Italy is rich in character and history. There are many sites of historic and cultural interest to explore, and fascinating customs to participate in, so much so that one visit to this diverse region is simply not enough. Here are just 10 examples of things to do in Puglia.
- 1. Visit the Trulli di Alberobello
These distinctive round houses with conical roofs are typical of the Puglia region. These structures are excellent examples of construction without mortar, a prehistoric method still used today. By using this method of building with dry stone the original inhabitants, living under the rule of Count Giangirolamo II, could avoid paying taxes on their homes.
- 2. Start your meal with traditional antipasti
The highlight of any meal in Puglia is the antipasto. It is a small starter, often involving vegetables but always delicious. Request the house antipasti if there is the option. You don’t know what you’ll be served, but there will be multiple small dishes, usually vegetarian.
Typical dishes include vegetables marinated, sometimes in olive oil, then either grilled, fried or stuffed. In the summer aubergine is commonly served, as are olives, cheese and zucchini.
- 3. Soak up the history in the Cathedral of Otranto, Otranto
This cathedral boasts a fascinating collection of historical artefacts including the bones of monks who refused to renounce their catholic faith and were massacred by Turks who besieged the city. The building also contains a mosaic floor created by a monk which portrays the garden of Eden scene, and the tree of life. There is also a crypt containing other important historical artefacts.
- 4. Sample the local wines of the region
The wine of Puglia is the product of its diverse landscape. This area is the home of half the olive oil produced in Italy. The fertile land aids the growth of the vineayrds and the land is surrounded by water on three sides allowing sea breeze from the Mediterranean to control vineyard temperatures.
Salice Salentino and Primitivo are the two most well-known wines originating from the area. Salice Salento is a palatable fruity red with undertones of anise, allspice and cinnamon. Primitivo is a much heavier, darker red with a woody aroma.
- 5. Explore the fascinating collection at the Museo Faggiano, Lecce
The archaeological discoveries made in this property occurred completely by chance. In 2001 the owner of the property had to undertake work on the house’s pipes, leading to the discovery of 5000 artefacts spanning the 2500 years the house had been in existence. On display is a sizeable selection of these finds, including items from Romans times, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Don’t miss out on viewing this stunning collection of treasures, giving visitors an incredible insight into Puglia’s history.
- 6. Relax by the coast on Vignanotica Beach
This stunningly dramatic beach on the coast of Puglia benefits from the cliffs providing shelter from the Italian sun in the afternoons. The pebbly beach can get busy in the summer months but during quieter times visitors will enjoy the complete serenity of the remarkable surroundings.
- 7. Admire the architecture of the Basilica di Santa Croce, Lecce
The Basilica of Santa Croce is one of the many Baroque buildings of Lecce. Together with the adjacent Government Palace it forms one of the most impressive monuments in the city. The Basilica features a Latin cross, with a hemispherical dome and dividing the interior are three elaborately adorned columns.
- 8. Try some traditional orecchiette
The name of this small, ear-shaped pasta literally translates to ‘little ear’. This simple pasta is a staple in Puglia. Homemade by many local families and traditionally enjoyed with either a beef ragu or perhaps a broccoli lard sauce, both equally delicious.
- 9. Visit Lecce Cathedral (Duomo di Lecce)
Lecce’s main church is the Duomo, which sits on the Piazza del Duomo. The cathedral was first built in the mid-twelfth century, though the church seen today dates mostly from the seventeenth century.
One of the two entrances to the Duomo is dedicated to the cities patron saint, Saint Orontius. Leece’s Archbishop lives in the Bishop’s palace, next to the cathedral.
- 10. Explore the Castle of Carlo V, Lecce
Castello Carlo V is a striking structure in the heart of Lecce. Just a few steps from Piazza Sant’Oronzo, it marks the point where the older historic town and the modern downtown area meet.
Although it has undergone some changes over the centuries, the structure keeps its original trapezoidal base with four massive arrowhead-shaped bastions at each corner. As different parts of the building date back to different eras, they show the various stages of the Castle’s history.
Puglia remains a fascinating and largely undiscovered region of Italy and is ripe for exploring. This is list of our favourite places to visit and things to do is only a small example of what Puglia has to offer visitors. What will you discover?