Puglia, as it is known in Italian, is an enchanting region located in the southeast heel of Italy. Gateway to the east, this ancient, sun-drenched land is steeped in history and vibrant with colour, flavour and tradition. With a long tradition in agriculture Puglia's fascinating landscape features rich red soil, cornfields, rocky hills, lush fields and endless groves of 100 year old olive trees with knotted trunks which look more like sculptures than plants.
Dramatic coastlines stretch along the Adriatic sea to the east and the Ionian sea to the south west, offering a variety of scenery - fine sandy beaches, turquoise waters and quaint fishing villages.
Scattered throughout the countryside are unusual cone-shaped stone dwellings called Trulli. Whitewashed with slate dome roofs featuring mystical signs, these rural buildings are unique to Puglia and create fairy-tale scenes across the land.
Another main feature rising out of the Apulian countryside is the fortified manor house called Masseria of which there are some 2,000 across the region, varying from Mediterranean to Baroque style. Built from the 14th century by wealthy land owners, these self-sufficient fortified citadels were arranged around an inner courtyard with a wing occupied by the owner and the remainder used as farm facilities. Between the 18th and 19th century when defensive means were no longer required, Masserias were enlarged to include loggias, terraces, outer stairways and large halls. Many have now become charming guesthouses, gourmet restaurants and splendid hotels.
Tasty Apulian cuisine mainly consists of local produce such as fish, meat, wheat, tomatoes, cheese, olive oil and wine. Durum wheat, water and salt are the ingredients of Apulian Orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) to be accompanied by one of the 24 DOC (denomination of controlled origin) wines.
Apulia is a truly amazing experience, it remains unspoilt by mass tourism and visitors are warmly welcomed by the locals. You can get there in just a couple of hours with cheap Ryan Air flights to Bari and Brindisi from London Stansted.
Val d Itria
A wonderful area of Trulli, hill villages and sandy beaches
The sundrenched southern reaches of the Puglia peninsula, surrounded by seas on the east, south and western sides