“Salento. The sun, the sea and the wind.”
There is no better motto to describe the wonderful south-based part of the Puglia region, a place where tradition and history are perfectly interconnected and enable the tourists to live a unique experience of hospitality, excellent food and relax.
According to touristic forecasts, this year Puglia has been confirmed as one of the most popular destinations (especially among Italians) to spend holidays, together with Sardinia and Sicily. Wondering why? Well, it is hard to enclose in just one article all the motivations that make Puglia the perfect place to spend the long-awaited vacations, but we will try to list some of them.
First of all, the geographical position: Puglia’s coastline extends for more than 800 kilometres across the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea, giving the opportunity to choose which sea to enjoy every day. Hint: checking the wind conditions before every trip is crucial to find the perfect place. Usually, when the wind causes the Adriatic to be rough, a placid Ionian can be found. Puglia is also known for its variety of beaches, satisfying the rock lovers with its beautiful caves and coves but also the white sand addicted.
Secondly, the food: with a wide variety of countryside ‘masserie’ (once they were rural places for animals and farmers) immersed in olive groves with its plenty of farm products, in Puglia you will be surrounded by delicious dishes you simply cannot miss to taste. Starting with homemade taralli and a good Primitivo, typical Puglia’s flavours that accompany every meal. Known for its invaluable hundred-and-thousand-year old olive trees that produce Puglia’s true “gold”, trying the local oil (typically on frisa, a dry baked product similar to bread) becomes a must!
Third, the artistic and historical heritage: Puglia is also a place of history and picturesque villages, where hospitality is the rule. Cities like Lecce – a baroque pearl – and Ostuni – also known as the ‘White City’ – are intact rarities which cannot be missed during a well-organised trip. Here is a list of unforgettable places to visit (obviously not an exhaustive list!).
1. Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve
The perfect place to enjoy wonderful nature and beautiful sea. Immersed in a unique ecosystem, the Reserve is ideal to spend a full day walking along the coast and exploring this oasis of peace and crystal-clear water.
Situated in the northern part of Puglia, it is a wild promontory full of beaches, villages and famous sea caves. Gargano is also a place that offers amenities such as the National Park, a UNESCO heritage site where you can find a natural shelter escaping from a blazing sun in the hottest days.
3. Lecce and Ostuni
Two of the most worth visiting cities in the region. Lecce, the main town of Salento, will enchant you with unique baroque masterpieces and its wonderful Basilica di Santa Croce and its facade, one of the most particular ones in Italy’s baroque architecture. With regards to Ostuni, the ‘White City’, try to lose yourself inside its narrow streets, visiting the most beautiful baroque churches and enjoying its vivid nightlife.
4. Alberobello and the ‘Trulli’ Valley
Another UNESCO’s world heritage which will carry you into a fairy-tale world. You will be finding yourself wondering among these dry, mortarless ancient constructions, with a truly fascinating history. Do not forget your camera to capture the view of Trulli from the top of one of the many bars offering a breathtaking view.
5. Tremiti islands: S. Nicola, S. Domino and Capraia
This archipelago will literally leave you speechless. Located in the norther part of Puglia, it is an oasis of biodiversity. There are opportunities for snorkeling and to explore the colourful seabed with an unforgettable flora and fauna.
6. Polignano a Mare: Fancy diving?
Then, Polignano is the place to go. Built on a rocky cliff, this beautiful city offers a lot to enjoy and to visit. Try to be an ‘early bird’ though, Polignano’s sea coves are much in demand!