Each region of Italy is immeasurable different. Puglia has different culture and traditions than the rest of Italy. Like most regions which are easily accessible from the sea Puglia was constantly inhabited since antiquity by few civilisations: the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Byzantines.
Colors of Puglia are a combination of stunning coast line, charming towns and moving history, which still impacts inhabitants. Puglia turned to be more conservative that I ever thought. The region is very catholic, so keep in mind to wear longer clothes, otherwise people might give a dirty look.
Puglia – best places to see!
I drove almost through whole Puglia. The more places I was visiting the more I was dragged in by it’s fascinating but often sad history. I’m taking you through the best places to visit on this stunning peninsula.
BARI – everything you need to know: www.freestyletraveling.com/bari-regional-capital-puglia-italy
TORRE AMARE – a small, quiet town 30 minutes from Bari by bus (No. 12 or 12/).
ALBEROBELLO – famous worldwide for Trulli and folk architecture. The road from Ostuni to Alberobello is full of olive trees. Here you can see the real old trulli – white small house with conical roofs made of grey limestones. What’s more interesting there is no linking between the limestones. Initially constructed as temporary shelters in the period when the construction of stable dwellings was highly-taxed. Their specific design was to create a shelter easy to dismantle in case of any tax control. The Trullo construction made them very dark inside and difficult to heat over the winter. In the top of each cone-shaped roof you’ll find Pinnacoli. Obviously in the past Trullo were shelters of the poorest people. But their unusual exotic shape became very popular and soon turned into a huge tourist attraction. Recently many existing Trulli have been bought and renovated by foreigners and celebrities to become luxury private properties or guesthouses. Some old inhabitants who can now afford to buy back their historic homes, start living there again.
Alebrobello nowdays remains mostly a crowded tourist attraction. Still worth seeing but be prepared for street markets and trulli heavy touristic town.
MATERA – one of the most moving places in Puglia with it’s ancient cave city called Sassi. Sassi di Matera is one of the oldest place of human settlement in Italy. First inhabitants came here 9000 years ago. Until 20th century people have been living in the caves with just small windows, no electricity and no access to running water. The place remains UNESCO heritage since 1993 and is one of the main tourist attraction in Italy. Most of the Sassi is owned by the government. In 1950’s the Italian government had to relocate a majority living in ancient caves regarding very poor conditions and spreading diseases (mostly malaria). As the region remains one of the poorest in the country, soon new people inhabited the cave dwellings. Although every tourist guide says there are no longer people living in this area some of the parts are still inhabited as you can see on my pictures (people inside, laundry hanging in front of the caves). Some sources say that this is the oldest continuously inhabited cave city in the world!
When you get to the old town in Matera – there is a Tourist Information Office. Go there and ask for a map and direction to Sassi di Matera. They will describe you everything. No cars allowed, you can only walk there or take a three-wheeled motorbike (with a driver).
CAPO d’Otranto. Lighthouse – Italy’s most easterly point, offering beautiful panoramic view of rocky coast and sparkling dark blue sea.
OTRANTO – take a walk through the charming old part of the city, hosting a great, cosy and pleasant atmosphere.
LECCE – although it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful historical towns in Puglia, except Piaza del Puomo I did not find there nothing interesting. Walking through the old city I did not experience any fragrances, food aroma, there was no atmosphere among the streets.
POLIGNANO A MARE. One of the most famous pictures of Puglia is taken in Polignano a Mare. It’s an impressive beach located among the cliffs.
MONOPOLI – a lovely town for a one day trip, mostly visited because of the sandy beaches.
OSTUNI – also called “White city” is one of the most beautiful places in Puglia. I was lucky to see local Ostuni festival, the fancy uniformed groups walking through the city, accompanied by live instrumental music. The whole city was blocked for cars. The main square was full of people celebrating the occasion. Ostuni’s Cathedral with windows remaining the traces of Gothic and Renaissance styles is something you cannot miss. On the way to Ostuni there’s plenty of fields of local olive groves, which are among the oldest in Europe and remain an important landmarks of Puglia.