Categories: Points of interest

What to see in Puglia: a guide to the heel of Italy

Visiting Apulia is an experience that will allow you to discover charming towns, beautiful villages, olive groves, farms and heavenly beaches.
This region boasts 800 kilometres of coastline, 4 UNESCO sites and a thousand-year history that has its roots in the ancient farming and seafaring civilisations of this area.
Inhabited since prehistoric times, as can be seen from the numerous dolmens and caves full of archaeological finds, in the first millennium B.C. Apulia was the land of the Japigi, a people from Illyriam divided into three tribes: Daunians (in the north), Peucetians and Massapi in the south who coexisted, not without conflict, with the Greeks living in the colonial cities such as Taras, today’s Taranto.
Later, Apulia became part of the Roman Empire and its history intertwined with that of southern Italy, with Byzantine, Lombard, Saracen and Swabian dominations and influences.
Today, Apulia is one of the most visited regions in Italy, thanks to its beaches, architectural beauty and natural parks, such as the Gargano.
The Apulian cuisine is also appreciated, simple but rich in flavour, where seafood dishes alternate with land dishes, with extra virgin olive oil as the common thread.
Let’s see what to visit in Puglia, from Gargano to Salento, passing through Imperial Puglia, Bari and the Itria Valley.

Places to see in Apulia

The Gargano and Capitanata, the northern part of Puglia

The Gargano is a mountainous promontory in the north of the region and ideally represents the ‘spur’ of the ‘heel’ of the ‘Italian boot’. Popular in summer because of its long beaches and coastline rich in sea caves, the Gargano offers attentive visitors valuable cultural and natural features. On the one hand we find the seaside villages of Vieste, Peschici and Rodi Garganico, on the other the perched villages in ancient times dedicated to the processing of raw materials from the hilly pastures and the tavoliere delle Puglie, the second largest plain in Italy. In the centre is the Umbra Forest, whose beech woods have become a Unesco heritage site, as has the Sanctuary of San Michele in Monte Sant’Angelo, a splendid medieval town, a destination for pilgrims like the nearby San Giovanni Rotondo, the city of Padre Pio. Not far from the Gargano coast is the small archipelago of the Tremiti Islands, a protected marine reserve.

The Daunian Mountains with their characteristic fortified villages mark the border between Apulia and Campania and Molise. The traditions and religious festivals are very interesting, such as the Festa del Soccorso in San Severo and the Dauno Carnival in Manfredonia.

Imperial Apulia

This part of Apulia is so called because of the traces left by Emperor Frederick II, starting with Castel del Monte, one of the region’s symbolic places and a UNESCO site.
In addition to the Castle, on an isolated hill, the towns of Trani, with its Swabian Castle and Cathedral by the sea, Barletta with its colossus and castle, Canosa with its archaeological finds and Margherita di Savoia, where a surreal landscape awaits you as you cross thin strips of land surrounded by water, sea and salt pans.

Bari, the Murge, the Cathedrals and the Itria Valley

The central part of Apulia is full of points of interest, from the great Romanesque cathedrals such as those of Bitonto, Altamura and, of course, the Basilica of San Nicola in the heart of old Bari, to the white farming villages of the Itria Valley such as Ostuni, Locorotondo, Martina Franca and Cisternino, and the beautiful seaside towns of Monopoli and Polignano a Mare.

Among the main destinations is the Unesco site Alberobello, which owes its fame above all to the ancient rural buildings called trulli. As well as in the centre of Alberobello, trulli can be found throughout the countryside of the Itria Valley, which with its olive groves, typical dry stone walls and white perched villages offers spectacular landscapes.
Other attractions are the safari zoo in Fasano with the adjoining Fasanolandia amusement park and the Castellana caves, a spectacular complex of underground cavities of karstic origin, the rock architecture of Gravina and nearby Matera (in Basilicata) and, of course, the Mediterranean landscapes of Polignano a Mare, Monopoli and Giovinazzo.

Salento, the southernmost tip of Apulia

Lu sule, lu mare, lu ientu…
sun…sea…wind
but not only:
A Baroque city called the Florence of the South, a spectacular coastline full of beaches, ancient farms hidden among the olive groves: the southernmost part of Apulia has so much to offer.
Some of the most visited places are the seaside resorts of Ugento, Otranto, Gallipoli, Santa Maria di Leuca and Pescoluse, with beautiful beaches.

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