From coast to coast, Italy is a country of contrasts. While the iconic capital city of Rome overflows with historical sites and modern energy, the countryside is full of quaint towns, rolling hills, and miles of coastline. For a taste of authentic Italian charm and destinations a little off the beaten path, Puglia should be next on your list. Located on the southern tip of Italy, this region is renowned for its beautiful beaches, unique food scene, and centuries-old Trulli houses.
Apulia, also known as Puglia, is surrounded by gorgeous Italian waters and is divided into five individual provinces. Puglia is less than two hours from Rome, but it feels worlds away. Notably, the area has a distinct culture and landscape that sets it apart from Italy’s other regions. Puglia is one of Italy’s most geographically diverse regions, with coastlines full of white-sand beaches contrasted with medieval towns and olive groves. Take a break from the world and experience Puglia’s slower way of living.
Puglia has a Mediterranean-like climate with hot summers and mild winters, making it a great vacation destination all year round. But, of course, the best time to visit depends on what you want to do: if you’re planning on spending time at the beach, July and August are your months. If you want to avoid the crowds, go in spring or autumn. Although there’s less tourist traffic in winter, some attractions may be closed. Indeed, there is no wrong time to visit this region.
Furthermore, the food is exquisite and revered by chefs worldwide. Locals and visitors alike can’t get enough of this rustic Italian cuisine. And while it remains relatively unknown to American travelers, Puglia has been drawing Europeans for decades. The region’s authenticity captures the quintessential Italian lifestyle.
Overall, the Italian region of Puglia has all the makings of a classic European holiday. With beautiful sun-kissed beaches, hilltop towns, and world-famous cuisine, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Puglia.
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In the center of the Puglia region is the stunning city of Alberobello. This gorgeous city is known for its historic buildings called Trulli. Trulli are whitewashed structures with characteristic conical roofs that form an impressive skyline. This UNESCO World Heritage site features over fifteen hundred Trulli huts, most converted to shops, restaurants, and tourist accommodations. Although, in less crowded areas of town, some Trulli huts have retained their original purpose as real homes for residents. To appreciate the city’s true beauty, stay in an authentic Trulli, updated to mix tradition with modern comforts.
Although at times a tad touristy, this unique and enchanting city 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.
Lecce is often referred to as the Florence of the south due to its rich culture and architecture. This old town has a lot to offer, from Baroque buildings to unique rock churches. The architecture of Lecce creates a city whose buildings meld together perfectly, something that other Italian cities lack. The gorgeous Baroque style is on full display throughout the city. Most notable of the cathedrals is Basilica di Santa Croce situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce.
Built in 1385, the iconic Basilica di Santa Croce features carvings of saints, cherubs, and other characters. Inside, you can find a wooden crucifix that dates back to the 13th century. Overall, a walk around this square will leave you speechless.
Set between crystal clear waters, rocky coastlines, and historic monuments is the city of Vieste. This small town is located on the Gargano Peninsula in Puglia, one of the most beautiful parts of southern Italy. Vieste is a popular destination for Italians as well as foreigners from all over Europe.
The old town is a historic gem, with narrow streets that wind past Baroque and Renaissance churches. The town’s narrow streets are lined with shops selling local products like olive oil, wine, and crafts. Travelers can also enjoy cliff side bars and cafes, perfect for sitting out on warm summer evenings. Overall, from fishing to sunbathing, Vieste is a place where visitors can enjoy life on the water.
There is no shortage of options when it comes to where to stay in Puglia. This region boasts some unique places, from family farms to domed Trulli. But, of course, there is something for every traveler’s needs and interests. Are you looking for farm-to-table food? Seaside views? Historic architecture?
We’ve profiled three accommodations around Puglia to help you find your perfect Italian getaway.
Nestled among the alleys of the Alberobello is La Corte dell’Astore. Corte is the perfect Italian stay, comprised of eight ancient buildings. This charming boutique hotel is in the ideal location, only a 10-minute walk to the center of Alberobello. Additionally, La Corte dell’Astore offers guests a unique animal experience. This unique hotel is also a hawkery with a small farm that houses beautiful, well-kept animals from camels to tortoises!
Each room is unique, with eight elegant, comfortable suites decorated with classic-style furniture in converted Trulli structures. Stay in the Girfalco Suite, which features a private terrace and lawn overlooking the tortoise garden. Or, try the Princess Astore Suite, with a huge bedroom, kitchen, and courtyard. This suite also boasts a fireplace stacked with plenty of wood and a large hot tub. Overall, the entire resort is designed for an immersive Italian getaway. If you like luxury, warm family hospitality, and animals, this is the place for you.
Patria Palace is a luxurious 5-star hotel in the heart of Lecce. Notably, this hotel is just a few steps away from the Basilica di Santa Croce. Over the centuries, the palace has undergone significant renovations to become an exceptional example of luxury hospitality in Puglia. The rooms are spacious and bright, with high ceilings and large windows that offer panoramic views of the city. Furthermore, guests can indulge in rooftop dining that offers breathtaking views of the city. Overall, enjoy the atmosphere of the past centuries alongside modern amenities at Patria Palace.
The Pizzomunno Vieste Palace Hotel is located on the cape of Gargano, a few steps from the sea and a few hundred meters from the town of Vieste. With its own private beach, Pizzomunno Palace Hotel is one of the top destinations for those who love the sun, good food, and pristine nature. The hotel has many luxury amenities, with two swimming pools, a sauna, and two tennis courts. Furthermore, a well-stocked bar and restaurant offer impeccable cuisine and service on the beach.
Overall, this hotel is an excellent destination to take in all the fantastic food, culture, and views Vieste offers. The Pizzomunno Vieste Palace Hotel is also the perfect base to explore the Gulf of Manfredonia.
Southern Italy has long been a popular destination for those looking to travel in the Mediterranean. But it’s not just the crystalline waters and pristine beaches that draw guests here. The beautiful architecture of Puglia, coupled with the laid-back lifestyle and exquisite cuisine, make it a luxury traveler’s dream destination.
The beauty of Puglia is that you can choose to do as much or as little as you like. If you want to get out and explore, there are plenty of wonderful things to see and do both in the towns and the countryside. Or, if you want to relax, let go of all your worries and embrace Italian living.
From ancient towns to whitewashed villages, olive groves to vineyards, and secluded coves to breathtaking cliffs, Puglia promises rich cultural experiences and deep relaxation.
Have you been to Puglia? What did you like most?
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This post was update on February 19th, 2022