Also known as "Le Puglie" in the plural form, this region contains, in fact, many souls. The “heel of Italy's boot," Apulia is a charming region that can be visited all year round and is suspended among nature, history, tradition, tastes and spirituality.
Apulia, the spur of the Italian Boot, is an enchanting region that spreads lengthwise along the sea - marvelous beaches that will delight every traveler, from the sandy Torre dell'Orso and Porto Cesario, to the rocky, boulder-encrusted Riviera of Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca. At Santa Maria di Leuca the calm and crystalline waters of the Ionian Sea mix with those of the intense and azure Adriatic. Sea lovers have multiple options in Apulia, from Gallipoli, the “Gem of Salento,” to Gargano, “Italy's Buttress,” which protrudes out into the clear sea, where one finds the the beautiful Tremiti Islands.
Nature is the protagonist again in the Murgia National Park, and in Gargano's wild Umbra forest, its salt pans and lakes. Visit the marine reserve of Torre Guaceto and the deep ravines of Laterza and wide dolines (depressions in the terrain) of Altamura characterize the hinterland of the region with their charming landscapes. For those who want to travel through history, Apulia offers a wide range of places that testify to the ancient origins of this land: from prehistory to Magna Graecia, from the Imperial Age to the Renaissance and the Baroque splendor of Lecce and of Salento. The trulli, for example those of Valle d'Itria, offer an evocative testimony to the rural past of the region. Meanwhile, numerous castles dot the coasts of the southern coast, hinting at an era when both perils and commerce landed on these shores.
For who is interested in tradition and folk music, should attend the numerous festivals and fish sagre that in summertime run throughout the region.
The provinces of Apulia are: Bari (regional capital), Brindisi, Foggia, Lecce and Taranto, Barletta-Andria-Trani.
Apulian cuisine has always been defined as “poor” for its simple ingredients; yet, it satisfies any palate. Its basic elements are three: durum wheat, vegetables and olive oil, combined with meat and fish to create original dishes with genuine and unmistakable flavors.
The hallmark of regional cooking is homemade pasta made with durum wheat or a mix of durum and soft wheat: from recchietelle (also called orecchiette) that, in its many versions, is a symbol of the region, to the famous strascinati, that once were the main course for the poorest families and are now ordered and served in the best restaurants. Then, mignuicchie, fenescecchie, troccoli, sagne ‘ncannuate, cicatadde and other original types of pasta are still made according to historic traditions.
Particularly, the combination between pasta and vegetables is unexpectedly surprising, like strascinati with cabbage and fried bacon or spaghetti with string beans, tomatoes and cacioricotta cheese. In fact, Apulia is one large, aromatic vegetable garden that boasts unparalleled flavors and colors. When combined with homemade pasta, fresh fish, or even good meat, they leave the palate with unforgettable sensations.
This region, with its 800 km (497 mi) of coast and two seas, offers a great variety of fish specialties for those who know how to appreciate it: raw, marinated, poached in delicious fish soups and even with cheese.
Those who have a sweet tooth, rather, will find lots of temptations with dried fruit, honey, mulled wine, candied fruit and chocolate. (Be sure to taste the Christmas sweetsas well, if you should be so lucky.)
Among the quality products, awarded with the labels DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin) or RGI (Regional Geographical Indication), are Altamura bread, famous for its crispness; sweet and juicy Clementine Tangerines from the Gulf of Taranto; the Bella della Daunia, a type of olive cultivated in the area of Foggia since 1400, and the famous wines and extra-virgin olive oils, all with their very own characteristics according to production area.