My virtual suitcase is packed. Travel agenda is made. Excitement is high as I get ready to explore Puglia, Italy.
The Puglia Landscape
Exploring the Puglia region, pronounced pool-ya, is one of Italy’s hidden gems. You may also hear it called Apulia, its Italian name.
Puglia is easily identified on the map, as it runs down the east coast of the country from the Gargano Peninsula all the way into the “heel of the boot”. Puglia borders the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. Six provinces make up the Puglia region on the southeast coast of Italy.
- Gargano and Daunia – the northernmost coast of Apulia where you will find an almost deserted beach. Enjoying seafood on a stilt house on the water is the norm in Gargano.
- Imperial Apulia – Vast horizons and bold colors of a harsh, almost lunar feel. Such is the landscape of Murgia, the Imperial Apulia region where the glorious mark of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II is still felt in the dazzling architecture of Barletta, Andria and Trani.
- Bari and the Coast – Ribbons of golden sand, fishing ports and towns perched on the steep coastline. It’s the land where the wind and sea caress the walls and palaces of Bari throughout the longest seafront in Italy.
- Murgia, Gravine – Rocks and rocky formations are the absolute protagonists. Deep crevasses, underground ravines, natural caves, mid-air terraces and steep slopes shape the historical and geological beauty of the area.
- The Itria Valley – This bucolic haven is dotted by trulli – tiny limestone houses, with typical dry stonewalls surrounding vineyards and olive graves as far as the eye can see. These are the true colors of the Itria Valley.
- Salento – A border land embraced by two seas, Salento boasts miles of breathtaking coastline where white sandy beaches give way to secret coves and cliffs.
Puglia has the longest coastline of any Italian mainland region. Thus, the place to go for beach lovers. It’s a treasure trove of stunning strands, intimate rocky coves and sandy shores, from the Gargano peninsula in the north to the heel of Salento in the south.
Wish you could take home the beautiful scents of the region? You can, thanks to a local fragrance designer who captured the marine breezes in AquaPulia perfumes. Your peaceful stay in this seaside community with reminders of the beach, landscape, olive groves and history will remain fresh in your mind.
Explore Puglia’s Food + Wine
When you think of Italian cuisine, it’s the taste of homemade, fresh, and flavorful dishes that first comes to mind, right? Those recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Sauces (gravy), olive oil, breads, pasta, produce, meats and seafood – let alone the legendary wines – all made or produced in Italy. Each region creating flavor profiles unique to their traditions and landscape. As a coastal region, the fishing industry is big in Puglia with seafood an important part of everyday dining.
The Puglia region is predominantly agricultural with many of the locals continuing to produce their own food and live off the land. Forty percent of Italy’s olive oil production comes from Puglia. The Olio Intini brand has about 20 acres of olive groves between Alberobello and the Itria Valley. As a family run olive business, they have become one of the most awarded companies in the world for the premium quality of oils.
Breadmaking Exploration in Puglia, Italy
Homemade bread is another tradition in Puglia. In remote villages, communal wood-burning ovens are still used by the locals for making bread. it comes in many shapes, sizes and varieties and accompanies every meal.
This Altamura proverb contains the symbol of a city and the history of an ancient oven: the Forno Di Gesù. The Brothers Di Gesù represent the fifth generation of bakers. The recipe is always the same, now as then. The bread is baked in the oven, strictly with wood, fueled with oak wood. After the cooking time has elapsed, the oven is opened and the water vapor is allowed to flow out, so that the crust takes on its classic golden color. The crust is a typical feature of Altamura bread. It is the barrier that prevents moisture from escaping and that allows the bread to remain fresh for several days.
Family Business in Puglia
The BioOrto brand started as a family business with a focus on organic fruit and vegetables and is now found throughout Europe. Did you know these artichokes (unbloomed flowers) are one of the most ancient foods known to the human palate?
Another family legacy can be seen in the beautiful ceramics designed by local craftsmen for Ceramiche Carella Ostuni. This colorful plate represents the artists love for their home of Puglia. In the early 1970s, the Carella family realized that ceramics were more than mere kitchenware commodities. They had an innate potential to be refined furnishing elements. According to the family, crafting and selling ceramics is the best way to reveal their beloved Puglia to the world through one of its traditions.
A Favorite Pasta in Puglia: Orecchiette
Pasta in Italy is a classic dish where specific types of pasta like pappardelle, farfalle and tortellini are attached to certain cities like Tuscany, Lombardy and Bologna respectively. In Puglia, it is orecchiette – “little ear” shaped dough made from scratch by local ladies that is the star.
Traditional Puglia pasta is made with water, salt and durum wheat flour. No eggs are used. “Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa” is the recipe that they are most known for: orecchiette in a sauce made with turnip tops, garlic and olive oil. Broccoli rabe can be used in place of turnip tops if needed. The slight bitterness of the greens in this dish make it a perfect pairing for a glass of red wine from Puglia.
Explore Puglia Wine Production
Along with an abundance of olive trees, you will discover the impact of sun, soil and Mediterranean breezes that make Puglia one of the main wine producing areas of Italy. Indigenous grapes are responsible for the most unique wines in Puglia. Grape varieties like Nero di Troia, Primitivo, Bombino Nero, and Negroamaro as well as Sangiovese and Trebbiano are among the main grapes grown in the region. However, Primitivo di Manduria might be one of the best wines from Puglia. This deep red-purple wine often brings aromas of red fruits such as cherry and plum, gaining complexity with aging.
Established in 1928 and converted into a cooperative in 1932, Produttori di Manduria is one of the leading winemakers and exporters in Italy. With 400 small growers farming 900 hectares of vineyards, Manduria is the birthplace of the native Primitivo grape. In fact, in 1974, the Italian Government recognized a specific DOC appellation to the Primitivo made in Manduria. They have received significant recognition for their wines including Gambero Rosso’s Best Value Southern Italian Red for the Lirica wine.
Another interesting fact to share is that Apulia (Puglia) is the main Italian producer of rosé. It is considered to be one of the finest in the world thanks to exceptional pedoclimatic factors and a long-standing tradition of winemaking. The Puglia in Rosè Association was created to support local wineries and partners to promote these wines in the global market.
Sustainable Design in Puglia
Take home an image of Puglia on a specially designed T-shirt made by Holystic with the message of hearty and sustainable made-in-Italy luxe. When launching Holystic in 2016, its co-founders had a clear vision. They wanted to elevate T-shirts from ordinary garments into sensory T-shirts. Holystic T-shirts are made entirely of fine bamboo fiber sourced from the most pristine areas of the planet.
In addition to the excellent breathability and thermoregulation that bamboo fibers provide, all T-shirts are designed to be 100 percent biodegradable and antibacterial while protecting the skin from UV rays.
Time for a Visit to Puglia, Italy
With travel now opening, it is time to explore Puglia in person, dining on the locally grown produce and seafood fresh out of the water. Breathe in the marine scents while gazing out over the gorgeous landscape of Puglia, Italy. Learn about the history and meet the friendly and welcoming locals. You will see why this hidden gem is a must for your next trip to Italy.