My name is Valerio and welcome to my Puglia travel guide. I was born and raised in Taranto, the ancient Greek city founded by the Spartans on the shores of Ionian Sea, in the south of Puglia.
The incredible views of my city, which is surrounded by the sea, the blue, the warm tones of its old-part, inspired me in photographing all that beauty. I think my love of travel and photography arose from this.
Puglia is a perfect destination throughout the whole year. You can choose to travel in summertime and just relax on one of our amazing beaches, or in winter and enjoy the Christmas-time.
The festive season is particularly magical because of the wonderful decorations and the tricks of the light that many towns place.
One can also take part in our famous Carnival, with the parades of carnival floats in Massafra and Putignano, and tasting all our delicious specialities. I think this is why I love my region most from other parts of Italy, because of its ability to look different in every part of the year.
And the colours. The beautiful colours of Puglia, the infinite blue of the sky and the sea, the pure white of its villages, the red of its generous land. I believe this is the first thing you notice when you visit Puglia: the colours.
Personal Favourites of the Stunning Puglia
Puglia is the longest region of Italy. It requires a lot of time to move from north to south and explore it all. This is why I suggest choosing a single section every time to visit.
But if you have time and you rent a car (which is the best way to explore the region), then you will find such a heterogeneous land.
It goes from the Caribbean-esque beaches of Taranto, to the picturesque villages of Subappenino Dauno (i.e. the mountainous part of the region). From the high cliffs of Salento and Gargano, to the Romanesque and Baroque cathedrals, real treasures of art.
And from the quiet and white villages of Valle d’Itria, to the lively and cosmopolitan life of the county seats.
Personally, I can say that I have seen all of this beauty. All this mix of lives and places, from Vieste to Leuca, and it’s hard to say which part I love the most. But if I had to choose one, I would say the territory of Gargano.
Maybe because it’s the furthest part of the region from my city and this gives me a sense of peace. Or maybe because Peschici, Vieste and the Tremiti Islands, remind me of Greece, where the blue of the sea blends with the fresh air.
I don’t exactly know. But I always feel a particular joy when I walk and visit.
Puglia Travel Guide: Top 10 Experiences
You can really have so many wonderful experiences here, but if I have to suggest a Top 10 things to do for this Puglia travel guide, then I would say:
- Go on a boat excursion in the sea caves of Salento
- Eat the typical regional pasta, the Orecchiette
- Watch the sunset in Taranto
- See the Castel del Monte
- Walk through the white villages hunting for the FIAT ‘500s – the classic and iconic italian car, small and coloured, which is very common to see here in the tight alleys.
- Experience the Trulli of Alberobello and sleeping in one of them
- Drink a Peroni beer at the Chiringuito in Bari, a very heart-felt ritual of every citizen of the city.
- See the Santa Caterina d’Alessandria Church in Galatina with its magnificent Giottesque frescoes
- Explore and swim by the Arco di San Felice in Vieste
- Enjoy the silence and the singing of the cicadas relaxing in a masseria, surrounded by the centuries-old olive trees, tasting the delicious local food.
All these experiences will give you splendid memories and lots of beautiful photos of Puglia.
How to Spend 10 Days in Puglia
Day 1-3: Gargano & Puglia Federiciana
A couple of days in Gargano travelling along the coast and a day spent in Andria and Trani. Head to the Puglia Federiciana region and visit Castel del Monte, one of the most amazing castles you will ever see made by Frederick II of the Holy Roman Emperor, and check out the Cathedral of Trani, the Romanesque Cathedral on the sea.
Day 4-6: Bari & Taranto
A day in Bari to taste the regional dishes and do some shopping. Then move to Taranto for two days to visit the most ancient Cathedral of Puglia, the Cattedrale di San Cataldo with its baroque Cappellone.
Also visit the National Archeological Museum, one of the most important in Italy. This museum safeguards the testaments of the ancient city of Magna Graecia (the old Taranto).
Next check out the Castello Aragonese, the Renaissance fortress laid down on the sea which was the prison of the Count of Monte Cristo. Lastly, enjoy a boat excursion to observe the dolphins.
Day 7 & 8: Valle d’Itria
Moving from Taranto to the Valle d’Itria. Three days to discover the villages of Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Cisternino, Alberobello, Ceglie Messapica (you choose which ones you want to visit).
Day 9 & 10: Lecce
Finally, spend the last two days in Lecce, discovering the Baroque Art or going down until the tip of Italy’s heel and discovering the villages of Otranto, Castro, and Leuca.
This is obviously a general itinerary, but it all depends on when you want to come to Puglia. If you are going to come in summer, then you might prefer to spend more time by the sea!
Puglia Travel Guide: A Rich Historical Culture
People of Puglia are known to be really friendly, kind and passionate. Hospitality is a must for us. It’s no coincidence that two of the most important patrons of Puglia, San Nicola for Bari and San Cataldo for Taranto, are known as amanti dei forestieri (i.e. that have love of foreigners).
Our lifestyle revolves around the sense of family, friendship and relationships. The house is a place of conviviality. The sea is a fundamental point in doing things.
That’s why we are a little bit different to the rest of Italy I suppose. We are like the sea: beautiful and calm when the sun shines but sometimes strong and wild as well.
Talking about the culture, we have a lot in common with other parts of Italy, especially in the South because, in the past, we were all a unique State, the Kingdom of Naples.
That left us to communicate and build customs and traditions together, creating a land of incredible variety but rather homogeneous as a whole.
Puglia Travel Guide: Delicious Traditional Cuisine
The cuisine of Puglia is amazing. Puglia offers a lot of variety of traditional dishes, from starters to desserts, and from wine to handcrafted beers. We are famous for three types of products: baked, dairies and, obviously, fish.
Starting with main traditional pasta, you must try the orecchiette e cime di rapa, tubettini con le cozze tarantine, ciceri e tria and riso patate e cozze.
We have some delicious cheeses such as burratine, mozzarelle, caciovallo, ricotta and pecorino. While the most appreciated cold cuts are copocollo di Martina Franca and Crudo di Faeto.
Another tasty dish is fave e cicoria which is chicory with mashed fava beans. It’s especially delicious with some of our many types of breads like the Altamura and Laterza. Then more of the baked foods you should try: focaccia barese, rustico leccese, taralli, pizza etc.
Fish and seafood in Puglia are always fresh and local (in Bari you can even try them uncooked, the crudo di mare is really typical). I could spend hours listing the hundreds of dishes made with them.
Puglia is also the land of fried food and street-food here goes great! Don’t miss trying panzerotti, sgagliozze, popizze, paposce and the famous panino col polpo (bread with grilled octopus).
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Choose an area to visit: following the itinerary I suggest would be great and rather complete but it could be quite expensive as well. Choose one or two areas. For example, the Valle d’Itria, the Gargano, the Salento, the northern of Bari, the Altopiano delle Murge, Taranto or the Ravines, etc.
Absolutely rent a car. This will allow you to enjoy Puglia much better. Explore more monuments and places – not only the main ones. Don’t be afraid to visit the less-known places of Puglia too. The villages that your Puglia travel guide does not mention.
Every place and town in Puglia deserves to be visited and discovered. Each place holds some surprises that you will not expect. Remember that Puglia is an ancient land, where the time goes slowly and the traditions of the past meet the present.
This makes Puglia the perfect place to relax, forget the problems of the world, the anxieties, and enjoy the good things in life.