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Puglia on the Edge of the World
Tuesday 28 June 2022
Puglia, on the Edge of the World
#WeareinPUGLIA Italy! Want to escape Ireland's rainy Summer? Pack your bags and travel to discover the stunning region of Puglia, in the heel of Italy's boot. But before you go, read below some of Puglia's highlights from our recent adventure!
For centuries storming armies used this heel of Italy as a suitable highway en route to richer spoils and looking ahead for new lands to conquer. These days, visitors treat a large part of the region in much the same way – barely touching the ground at Brindisi or Bari before speeding south to newly trendy Salento, Puglia’s far southern tip. What they are missing in between is a land of medieval hilltop towns, olive groves, vineyards and a coastline dotted with fascinating towns filled with delightful trattorias along cobblestones streets, castles, cathedrals and ancient fortifications. Enough to keep even the keenest of history lovers satisfied.
Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare, is a beautiful medieval town 20 miles south east of Bari that pushes itself right to the edge of its limestone cliffs. Polignano offers all the right ingredients for a perfect day out. Sitting above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic, it is famous for its cliff diving and outstanding ice cream aswell as its beach with crystal clear waters and tiny old town with white-washed streets. It is most famous for its greatest export the great Domenico Modugno, who wrote the massive international hit, Volare.....“Volare, oh,oh… Cantare, oh,oh,oh,oh…
Exploring Conversano, Puglia, with Concezio and Anita from Discovery Puglia.
Located just 30 kms from Bari, this ancient town is filled with history and unique charm. Famous for its Norman Castle built in 1054, Cathedral and Benadictine Monastery.
The hub of life is the Piazza della Conciliazione, also called Largo della Corte, a vast square where folks gather at tables and sit in the sun and enjoy a drink and some delicious Puglian cuisine. All around town you'll find a plethora of cafes, restaurants, wine bars and pubs, along with trendy shops to explore.
With its narrow pedestrianised streets, local cafes and trattoria, bijoux shops and of course the enchanting trulli the curious conical-roofed whitewashed structures, this unique and exceptionally pretty fairy-tale town of Alberobello is a must for anyone visiting the Puglia region.
The trulli are made of roughly worked limestone boulders collected from neighbouring fields and an absolute icon of the region. There are still some 400 trulli and 1500 residents in this not-so-everyday local neighbourhood in Rione Monti and Aja Piccola. This UNESCO World Heritage Site gives “remarkable examples of corbelled dry-stone construction, a prehistoric building technique still in use in this region”. The extent and homogeneity of these areas, the persistence of traditional building techniques, together with the fact that trulli are still inhabited make this property an exceptional Historic Urban Landscape. They are well worth a visit, especially for that iconic trulli selfie shot!
From their famous bread Pane di Altamura and Apulian focaccia to the Taralli - small rings of crispy bread dough with oil and their lightly salted Caciocavallo cheese, Puglia is a foodie's paradise.
A large portion of Puglia’s landscape is used for agriculture and the region produces 40% of Italy’s olive oil as well as being a huge producer of durum wheat. So, its no surprise that the breads and pastas on offer are some of the best in the world. With fresh fish and muscles a plenty, fresh locally grown vegetables and other local delicacies on offer in every trattoria, Apulian cuisine is a mouth watering journey of delightful flavours.
From watching the Orecchiette pasta being prepared in the alleys of Bari's Old Town to the stuffed and deep-fried panzerotti pockets filled with fresh and tasty local produce these local dishes are full of charm and flavour. For sweet treats sample some fried Pettole dough balls straight from the pan sprinkled with sugar or enjoy the savoury version with a spoonful of tomato and a sprinkling of grated cheese. Desserts are most often light and crisp pastries filled with almonds, sweetened ricotta and honey or vin cotte di fiche (a sweet fig syrup).
Soak up the atmosphere in the trattorias and study the delectable flavours on offer and you’ll be able to cook (and eat) like a local nonna in no time!
Bari Old Town
Bari Old Town, the capital of the Puglia region is an ancient city that can trace its roots back more than 2000 years. It was built by Peucetii tribe but was developed into a functioning harbour by the Romans. These days Bari is a thriving economic centre and gateway to this southern region due to its international airport and port. Its charming historic centre is surrounded by the sea on two sides and a grid of 19th century streets on the land side.
Spend the day wandering these quaint streets, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoy discovering little churches, picturesque alley ways, charming cafes and impressive squares. One of its most famous and iconic structures is the 13th century Norman-Swabian Castle which is open for visitors to explore.
Other visitor highlights include the Cathedral of San Sabino, Basilica of St. Nicholas, an important pilgrimage destination and the grand Piazza Mercantile, with its many restaurants, bars and cafés. Getting lost inside the maze of streets in old town Bari is just part of the charm so relax, soak in the atmosphere and let your Bari experience begin!
Located in the deep south, Otranto is the easternmost town in Italy with sweeping sea vistas of the Adriatic when viewed from the harbour's Torre Matta Tower. Another charming and curious historic town with its 15th-century Aragonese Castle and 11th-century Otranto Cathedral, Otranto one town not to be missed!
With a maze of mesmerising cobbled streets, this UNESCO town is filled with ancient fortifications, an old port, boutiques, bars and delightful restaurants. With its breath-taking coastline that faces the strait of Otranto, between Italy and Albania, it is the perfect place to enjoy a hike along well worn coastal paths, beaches and sea coves.
Another walk to enjoy is along the city walls and ramparts that circle their way around the town. After a day exploring the Romanesque architecture in the Cathedral of Otranto, the 12th century mosaics in the Cathedral of Otranto and the beautiful Byzantine architecture of the Church of St. Peter enjoy the spectacular sunset in the warm evenings with dinner and drinks overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
Gallipoli is a stunning town on the west coast of Puglia, known as the pearl of the Salento Peninsula. Its name means beautiful city which in Greek is 'Kalé polis'. The city is a mix of old and new, separated by a 17th century bridge. The old historic centre is located on its own island and surrounded by ancient walls. Lose yourself in the busy streets filled with souvenir shops, trattorias, craft shops and feel the essence of Apulian life surround you as you blend with the locals on your journey. In the old part of Gallipoli there is a small bay with clear waters where you can take a dip and enjoy a beautiful sunset. It´s called Seno della Purità beach.
If you like castles, one of the most iconic places to visit in Gallipoli is the Aragonese Castle built on a square base with a tower on each corner and a unique fifth tower called Torre del Rivellino. Another ancient and historic place of interest is the Greco-Roman fountain, located at the beginning of the bridge into the old city and is known to be one of the oldest fountains in Italy.
The port of Gallipoli is a must see with this impressive backdrop of the Aragonese Castle and its fishermen trading the freshest pieces of fish with eager locals. Gallipoli was an extremely rich city in the past as it was one of the largest exporters of olive oil used to light the street lamps of European Cities. Some of these mills are open to visitors such as Frantoio di Palazzo Briganti.
Simply touring the walls is one of the best plans you can have in Gallipoli. Admire the life of the locals. Stop at various bars and restaurants and try exquisite dishes while enjoying the surroundings. The city also offers also an amazing nightlife, which usually starts in the evening along the beach. Enjoy an aperitivo and drink a cocktail on the beach listening to music, a great way to end your Apulian adventure.