When Italy comes to mind, you might think of the magic of Rome, the luxurious Amalfi coast, the Italian Lake District (check out our guide to Lake Garda!), or even the beauty of the Tuscan countryside. If you believe that is all Italy has to offer, then you are missing out! For a taste of authentic Italian charm and destinations a little off the beaten path, Puglia should be next on your list.
Located in the country’s southern peninsula, Apulia, also known by the Italian name Puglia, is surrounded by gorgeous Italian waters and is divided into five individual provinces. Experience Puglia’s slower way of living through exploring the sun-soaked coastal regions coupled with historic countrysides.
Puglia boasts everything a traveler could want, a dry, warm climate perfect for traversing on bike or foot, as well as beaches on the clear blue water of the Adriatic sea. There is no wrong time to visit this region with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The swimming season begins as early as May, with temperatures peaking in August.
To fully take in the magic of the area, make sure to rent a car. The Alta Murgia National Park and Gargano National Park are two national parks in the Puglia region.
We recommend coordinating your stay with a local Puglia sagre. The sagre is a local fair that features food and drinks that are available to buy with tickets. Live music with either taranta (local folk music) or banda (the local brass band) and other street activities contribute to the carnival-like atmosphere. These fairs reach a peak during July and August.
Puglia is an incredibly tolerant and open region and is a major vacation destination for the Gay Italian population. This region of Italy alone has three annual Pride parades!
As of August sixth, 2021, travelers in Italy must show a Green Pass for entrance to indoor museums and restaurants. In September 2021, the Green Pass will also be necessary to use public transport. The pass displays proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus within the last six months, or a negative test taken within the previous 48 hours.
In the center of Puglia, graced with the iconic Trulli huts, is the quaint town of Alberobello. Alberobello takes its namesake from the trees that once covered the city, the Arboris Belli.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site features over fifteen hundred Trulli huts, most converted to shops, restaurants, and tourist accommodations. In less crowded areas of town, some Trulli huts have retained their original purpose as real homes for residents.
This unique and enchanting city, although at times a tad touristy, is worth a visit. The high season for this destination is from May to October. Still, if you visit in the morning, you can circumnavigate the initial arrival of tourist buses and masses of tourists.
To appreciate the city’s true beauty, stay in an authentic Trulli, updated to mix the tradition of a historic Trulli with modern comforts. Soak up the Italian sun poolside or relax under a shaded gazebo.
For an incredible view, park in Lago Martellotta and follow the steps up to the Piazza del Popolo, to the Belvedere Trulli lookout. You have to try a famous “Pasqualino” sandwich layered with tuna fish, capers, salami, and cheese, a tradition dating back to 1966.
Nicknamed the ‘Florence of the South,’ Lecce is an architect’s dream with historical buildings around every turn. Lecce is one of Puglia’s largest cities with more than forty churches!
The architecture of Lecce creates a city whose buildings meld together perfectly, something that other Italian cities lack. Barocco Lecces (Lecce baroque), features gargoyles and columns, expressive decor, and gremlins. The Basilica di Santa Croce is an incredible example of this style, with its stunning carved exterior and detailed pillars.
Enjoy a local iced coffee with almond milk known as a ‘Caffe leccese’. Or try a custard-filled pastry called ‘pasticiotto’. Take in the young, vibrant atmosphere of Lecce, strolling through the town alongside families and friends indulging in Lecce’s street food.
Gargano is a sub-region of Foggia in the spur of Italy. This area is overflowing with forests and fine sandy beaches, secret caves and rugged cliffs, and picturesque coves on beautiful fishing towns.
Vieste is a medieval village in the Gargano region of Foggia and is the most famous town in the area. The coastal port village of Vieste is a seaside town framed by beaches and cliff drops to azure blue waters. Meander the streets of whitewashed buildings and ornate churches at an ideal hub for eco-tourism and to relax.
Explore the National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See Puglia’s ancient Foresta Umbra teeming with abundant wildlife, Aleppo Pines, Oaks, and Beechwood trees. For a fresh fish fix, try dining at a traditional wooden fishing platform for a memorable experience! One such establishment is Trabucco da Matteo. You can watch or participate in fishing and then enjoy a fish dinner.
Puglia boasts some unique places to stay, from family farms to domed Trulli or villa-like accommodations called Country Houses. We’ve chosen several places to highlight the beauty of this region!
La Corte dell’Astore has suites equipped with whirlpool tubs and Turkish baths designed for guests who want to enjoy a pause of well-being. Alternative farm with Galápagos tortoises, Shire horses, donkeys, hawks, eagles, macaw, parrot, and more. Experts in falconry will lead the guests along a path of adventure: cycling, horse carriages, and helicopters.
This hotel features rooftop dining with the breathtaking backdrop of the majestic Basilica of Santa Croce. The Patria Palace Hotel is in the heart of Lecce, where its historic alleys open to Piazzetta Riccardi. They offer experiences like big game fishing, a tour of the region in vintage cars, visiting and tasting at a winery, or a yacht cruise.
The Pizzomunno Vieste Palace Hotel is located a few steps from the water and within walking distance of the town of Vieste. This beautiful hotel in the Gargano region has its own private beach and is an excellent destination to take in all the fantastic food, nature, and sun Vieste offers.
At Esprit Errant Travel we are European Luxury specialists! We have lived on the continent and know all the best places to go! We handcraft custom itineraries for our guests so they can really experience it like a local! Italy is one of our areas of expertise. If you are ready to experience La Dolce Vita contact us here!