The big three, Roma, Firenze and Venezia, are the most visited cities in Italy but exciting alternatives await you in lesser known Southern Italy. Having never traveled south of Naples it was a new adventure to explore the south eastern area of Salento in the region of Puglia.
Puglia does not receive much, if any coverage in tour books. The small towns along the coast cling to the edge of cliffs, while thousands of olive trees stand like soldiers along the country roadways. What cannot be captured by a camera is the beyond blue color of the sky in the early mornings and the glow of the honey colored stone that were intricately carved to embellish the churches in the city of Lecce.
There are countless towns to discover in the region of Puglia like Lecce, Gallipoli, Oltrano, Bari, and Brindisi, the Unesco World Heritage sites of Alberobello or Castel del Monte. These are only a few of the many unique and welcoming towns and villages throughout Puglia.
The long history of diverse civilizations that inhabited the southern region is reflected in the architecture and the cooking traditions. The food of Puglia is based on the Mediterranean diet: fresh produce, pure olive oil and wine. Cooking classes or entire cooking holidays incorporate the products of the local wineries, olive oil farms and local farmers.
Puglia is not only art and museums. Travelers seeking an active adventure can dive in the Adriatic Sea, bike along the coastline or in the countryside or even hike in the many national parks.
I found Puglia to be a part of Italy where meeting the local tradesmen, master pastry chefs, artisans, wine growers and olive oil producers, to be the captivating part of a visit.
The region is easy to explore by car. The major cities are connected to other big cities like Rome, Naples, Florence and Milan by train. Local trains and buses reach some of the most charming villages and towns, and international flights arrive at the local airport.
Whether your family is from Puglia or you are looking to discover a new part of Italy, experience the slow life of southern Italy.