Puglia was always on my mind whenever I thought of visiting Italy. There were more reasons than one to be fascinated by this quiet region in Southern Italy.
I was intrigued by the fact that it’s popular as “the heel of Italy” for the way it appears on the map. Besides, Puglia is still lesser-known and offbeat, which makes it even more appealing.
From historical sites to charming beach towns and delicious food there is much to soak up about Puglia that it’s almost impossible to do justice to its treasures in one trip.
I did my best to explore some of the best that Puglia has to offer. Here are ten reasons to visit.
1. Beguiling historic sites
If you are a history geek, you would devour the archaeological sites in Puglia.
Lecce, a city renowned as the ‘Florence of the South’, will enchant you with its elaborate baroque architecture and some intriguing excavated sites – Basilica di Santa Croce and Piazza del Duomo, Museo Faggiano and Roman Amphitheatre to name a few. Check out this fabulous guided sightseeing tour of Lecce here.
Besides Lecce, there are ancient churches and museums hidden in every nook of Puglia.
2. Delectable culinary
You simply can’t ignore food while you are exploring Puglia. Since Puglia is an agricultural land, you can savour fresh and delicious local produce on your platter. It’s an excellent excuse to indulge in wines and olives. Also, it’s a good idea to try a seafood dish or two – octopus and squid, maybe!
Also, food in Puglia is not expensive. You can have a wholesome sandwich for just 1 or 2 €, Cappuccino (regular) for 1.29 €, wine for 2 €, pasta or any full meal for 8-10 €.
3. Azure waters of the Sea
Puglia is surrounded by the sea from three sides, which makes it alluring for beach lovers. The gorgeous azure sea looks amazing. You just want to sit still and gaze at the shades of blue in the sea.
To witness the stunning waterfronts in Puglia, you must visit Bari (the capital of Puglia), which is also a great city for shopping; and Monopoli, which has a fascinating dockyard with a backdrop of old buildings.
4. The whitewashed town of Ostuni
Ostuni, with its whitewashed buildings, looks like a Greek town. It feels surreal ambling through the streets. It is known to have been rebuilt by the Greeks after being ruined by Hannibal during the Punic Wars.
I particularly loved sauntering through the quaint alleyways and admiring the pretty staircases, windows and balconies.
5. The cute Trulli of Alberobello
Alberobello is a lovely little town of Puglia, which is a UNESCO recognised world heritage site for its cone-shaped huts known as Trulli. These hut houses look unique and cute, and people actually live in them! However, some of them have been converted into souvenir shops. So, you can stop by and pick up something memorable.
Besides, it’s charming to amble through these huts, as they transport you into a fairy-tale world.
6. The vintage alleyways, back streets and the cobbled paths
Most of the towns in Puglia have mesmeric alleyways, back streets and cobbled paths that make you feel like you have slipped into another era. So, if you are a spontaneous traveller like me, you’d find yourself taking photos most of the time, wandering, sneaking into a café on impulse and just being.
7. The idyllic countryside
Puglia has an exceedingly beautiful bucolic side to it – the olive groves, the vineyards and the rolling hills.
The ideal way to soak up the countryside charm is by hiring a bicycle and riding through the unknown paths.
8. The serene Masseria stay
A Masseria is an old farmhouse in Puglia. To experience the genuine Puglian style of living, you must stay at a Masseria.
There are many cute and pretty Masserie that have been converted into guesthouses and hotels for tourists. The best part about staying at a Masseria is that you stay close to the rural Puglia, get to relish fresh food and get to interact with the locals.
9. The ‘slow and quiet life’
Puglia is a quiet region of Italy. Thus, you must immerse in its ‘do-nothing’ atmosphere, which is so evident on the streets, in the markets, in the cafes and restaurants.
People in Puglia observe siesta in the afternoons. All the shops and cafes are shut for a few hours and there’s barely a murmur. Either lay down and sleep with them or soak up the quiet streets in solitude.
10. Friendly locals
The locals in Puglia are friendly people. Though they barely speak English, they are always eager to help and extend a smile. It’s easy to pick up a bit of Italian, too – Grazie, ciao and bello.
Plan your trip to Puglia, Italy
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Tours in Puglia