Visit Italy’s charming region of PugliaPosted on: 21 January 2016 by Mark O'haire
For something authentic and very Italian, well away from British tourism, Puglia offers an unforgettable and unique experience
The beautiful region of Puglia is still a well kept secret, a haven in Southern Italy; boasting quiet little villages and quaint coastal towns, stunning nature reserves and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, authentic Italian food and wine, and some of the finest accommodation in Italy.
Crystal blue sea, green countryside, intense red terrain, golden sunsets....From Porto Cesareo to Peschici, from Bari to Taranto, from Vieste to Brindisi, from Otranto to the Tremiti Islands, you can experience a multitude of emotions holidaying in Puglia all year round.
Puglia, or Apulia as it is sometimes known, is a land of extraordinary colours and wonderful variety - an undulating plateau of rich, red earth, dark green pine-forested hillsides, silvery green olive trees and lush vineyards; sparkling white labyrinths of towns' historic centres, which seem to glisten in the sun; milky white mediaeval centres with their tangles of cobbled streets and alleyways; grey and natural hues of Baroque churches; dustings of pink on villa walls; and all against a backdrop of deep, deep blue Mediterranean sea and sky.
For something authentic and very Italian, well away from British tourism; for something charming and utterly different - an unforgettable and unique experience - then Puglia is the region to choose. Here’s 10 reasons why…
Borgo Egnazia: 5-star luxury overlooking the Adriatic
Bordering the ruins of the ancient city of Egnathia to the north, the fishing village of Savelletri to the south and surrounded by acres of stunning Apulian olive groves, this new resort is positioned to become the Mediterranean’s leading spa, golf and family resorts. The 184 room property features a boutique hotel, private villas, and an Apulian village with three outdoor swimming pools, a heated indoor pool, cookery school, spa, kids club, tennis academy and four restaurants.
Masseria Cimino: award-winning boutique hotel
A 15 room boutique hotel boasting a prestigious place in this year’s Tatler’s 101 Best Hotels in the World, this 18th century farmhouse, is located within the San Domenico Golf course; a stone’s throw away from the beach. The food at Masseria Cimino is grown organically on the estate, or sourced locally. The hotel is small in size yet huge in personality, every guest is welcomed in true Italian style with warm hospitality; this is a romantic designer hideaway not to be missed.
Masseria San Domenico: The exclusive five star spa retreat
Masseria, a term mainly used in Southern Italy, refers to an ancient wine-producing farm or estate. Masseria San Domenico lies only 500 metres from the Adriatic coast, and the building itself goes back to the 15th Century, when it was used by the Knights of Malta as a watch tower. This stunning property comprises 48 rooms and suites, tastefully furnished in a traditional style with views of olives groves and orchards. The hotel is also home to one of Italy’s best Thalassotherapy spas.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Not one but three key sites to explore…
Puglia boasts a number of World Heritage sites: Castel del Monte, near the city of Bari, built by Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century. It’s a unique piece of medieval military architecture, offering stunning views of the Apulian countryside. Alberobello, ‘The Trulli town’ is another stunning site - the trulli, (small limestone dwellings), are unique to the southern region of Puglia, and are remarkable examples of drywall construction, a prehistoric building technique. Seeing them across the rolling hills looks like a scene from The Lord of the Rings! The final site caught the eye of Director Mel Gibson, as he was scouting locations to film The Passion of Christ; he set eyes on Matera in Basilicata: "I went crazy, it was so perfect," the filmmaker said. Gibson was captivated by the soft autumn light falling upon ancient stone buildings and the cave dwellings that have housed people since prehistoric times.
The White Caves of Puglia: Possibly the backdrop of Superman’s celestial home…
The Castellana caves are said to be among the deepest in the world, visitors enter by an enormous vertical tunnel, some 60 metres long. This huge gaping chasm, known as La Grave (the Deep), leads to the cave network’s central chamber – a vast passage almost 600 metres long. Lasting for two hours, the tour of this underground labyrinth is undeniably a lengthy challenge but visitors are amply rewarded by the final cavern – the breathtaking White Cave and its shimmering pure white stalactites – looming ahead like Superman’s celestial home!
Unique villages, stunning beaches: A sun-drenched coast, Santa Claus village and the home of the greatest lover of all time…
Being no more than 20 minutes from the coast, there is the constant reflection of the sea in your sunglasses. The beaches are renowned across Italy as uncrowded and rustic, whilst the villages either on the coast or inland take you back to a non-commercial world filled with tradition. Bari is the key city, once the base of the Roman Empire’s fleet for the Orient; this is also considered the home town of Santa Claus himself! Saint Nicholas, the patron saint, had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus. Just near Bari is the birthplace of the Italian singer Domenico Modugno - Polignano a Mare, which has always been considered the gateway to the Mediterranean. Today, its twelve kilometre coastline and caves dug into the rock endear it as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. The ‘white city’ of Ostuni dominates a dense territory of age-old olive groves that extend down to the sea. Its walls enclose a perfectly preserved medieval town characterised by narrow streets, steps, arches, small squares and little balconies, all painted in white lime. Located on a ledge which emerges from a deep ravine in the Murge, 245 metres above the sea is Castellaneta. Rudolph Valentino was born here in 1895 and his image is linked to love and lovers. Couples visit to admire his house and statue: taking pictures here is said to bring good luck for lovers everywhere.
The Florence of the South: One of the top cities in the world…
Quoted in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2010 as one of the Top 10 cities in the world, Lecce is found at the most south eastern tip of Italy's boot. Inside the 16th century walls of the old city the Piazza del Duomo is the place to discover the 'Barocco Leccese'.
The home of Italy’s wine and olive oil: More olive trees than you can throw a stick at and the world-famous Primitivo wine…
Lying on one of the most extensive and fertile territories of Salento, Salice Salentino boasts excellent wine and olive oil estates, for which today it has been awarded the title of Italy’s “Wine and olive oil town”. Salice Salentino is also the brand name of a prestigious DOC (controlled denomination of origin) wine.
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