Discover Puglia – 5 Magnificent Must See Places
There are so many hidden treasures to uncover in the heel of the boot. So, trying to discover Puglia completely in ten days is an impossible undertaking. After exploring the beauty and diversity of Ostuni and Martina Franca, I was looking forward to what other wonders this varied region of Italy had in store. Between the vast and diverse coastline, the limestone plateau of the Valley of Itria and the hilly sub-region of Gargano there were more than enough sites to satisfy my curiosity.Discover #Puglia and its stunning coast, white-washed villages and one-of-a-kind Trulli Click To Tweet
Alberobello is a picturesque destination, and a must see when discovering Puglia. It is increasingly becoming a popular choice on travel itineraries. The “Trulli” of Alberobello, a world UNESCO site, are extraordinary examples of ancient building techniques. The Trulli of Alberobello, nestled in the Itria Valley, are characterized by their gray cone-shaped roofs and white walls.
These dwellings built with dry stone walls were originally temporary houses to avoid paying taxes. They did not classify as an inhabited settlement until 1797 and could be dismantled quickly if necessary. The town’s people are very friendly and will invite you into their Trulli, share with you some history behind their charming village and provide an array of souvenirs.
Le Grotte di Castellana, Discover Puglia Underground
Le Grotte di Castellana are a complex web of spectacular limestone caves, discovered in 1938, in the province of Bari in Castellana Grotte. Guided tours take you on a journey 230 feet (70 meters) below ground. The temperature is cool, and the humidity is high so dress warm. You can choose the short itinerary, less than an hour or a long visit, just under two hours.
The tour begins in the largest cave called “The Grave” and the only one which has external access. The extraordinary natural underground network is the longest in Italy. Its landscape boasts and an incredible array of stalactite and stalagmite formations in various colors. One of the most impressive caverns is the “Grotta Bianca,” an uncanny complex of delicate white alabaster stalactites.
Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte is a 13th-century fortress and castle situated in Andria in Puglia. It is a unique blend of medieval military architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It sits atop a rocky hill in the Murgia region near the Adriatic sea. It is two stories and has an unusual octagonal shape with octagonal towers at each angle. Both floors have eight rooms with vaulted ceilings, and there is an eight-sided courtyard.
Andria produces Italian DOC red and white wines and olive oils. As you are touring through the castle, you can stop in one of the rooms on the lower level and discover a taste of Puglia. Enjoy a wine tasting and sample locally made fresh bread drizzled with olive oil made in Andria.
Discover Gargano-Puglia’s Northern Peninsula and Highland
The Gargano peninsula is a sub-region in the province of Foggia in Puglia. Surrounded by a fabulous coastline dotted with charming villages and pristine beaches, it is a preferred tourist destination amongst Italians. It is home to the Umbra Forest, and two expansive salt lakes.
Vieste, Discover Puglia Beaches, and Traditions
Vieste “La Perla del Gargano” is a quite seaside town in the province of Foggia in Puglia. It juts out into the Adriatic, and its coastline is a series of small hidden beaches and grottos. There are also two expansive sandy beaches lined with bars and restaurants. Until recently, they relied on fishing and agriculture. In the last few decades, Vieste has experienced a boom in tourism transforming the sleepy town’s appearance and lifestyle.
On June 13th, there was a festival in honor of Saint Anthony. It is a splendid way to experience and discover Puglia traditions if you have the chance to participate. The entire city was out on the streets to celebrate. There was a procession from the historic center to the main “piazza.” Following the procession, there was a spectacular fireworks show at the Marina. Afterward, there was entertainment and music until midnight followed by more fireworks.
Peschici, Discover Puglia Charm, and Traditions
Peschici is a seaside resort village in Gargano in Puglia with about 4000 inhabitants. It is part of the Gargano National Park and sits on a hill 330 feet (100 meters) above the sea with breathtaking views. Like Vieste the beaches are lovely, and it has been awarded a blue flag for its water quality. The Historic Center is a web of narrow streets under beautiful arches. There are many small squares, and hidden courtyards to explore.
The Peschiciani are warm and friendly people. They will stop you in the middle of the street to strike up a conversation if you speak Italian. While talking to a woman, I discovered the Italian legend and tradition of the “scacciaguai.” It is placed outside the door of your home and is said to chase away any trouble that may come your way. A mother often gives this to her daughter when she moves away from home. A newly married couple may also receive this as a gift on their wedding day.
There is so much more to dig up in the heel of the boot that I am already planning a return visit. You can see a lot in ten days, but to discover Puglia completely requires an extended stay or multiple visits. Have you been to Puglia? What was your favorite off the beaten path find?