Pulgia (also knows as Apulia) is like the high heel of the boot shape of Italy. The eastern coast of the peninsula is on the Adriatic sea, while the western coast faces the sheltered Gulf of Taranto.
We only scratched the surface of this beautiful Italian region during our trip. I wish we’d been able to spend more time there in better weather. We were there in late Autumn and had some pretty wet days. We flew into Rome and drove south to Puglia, due to lack of direct flights to Puglia from Scotland.
The easiest way to reach Puglia from the UK is to fly to Bari or Brindisi, Both airports be reached with Ryanair from Stansted, while British Airways fly from Gatwick to Bari. There are also ferries to Bari from Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia and Durres in Albania. Brindisi can be reached by sea from the Greek island of Corfu and the Greek mainland at Igomenitsa. The rail journey from Bari to Rome takes around five hours.
My favourite town in Puglia was Lecce known as “Florence of the South”. There are many 17th century baroque style buildings in the city such as the Palazzo del Seminario. We were there after dark which made it seem much more romantic, although during daylight the local limestone used for construction takes on a wonderful golden glow. The city centre is dominated by the ruins of a 2nd century Roman amphitheatre.
I also really liked the town of Trani, just north of Bari, best known for its 12th century cathedral and the 13th century fort, Castello Svevo. The town has a picturesque harbour, a seafront park and a small lido. Trani has a laid back feel to it and it’s not too overrun with tourists.
One typically Puglian landscape includes the circular trulli houses with their conical stone roofs and whitewashed walls which are very cute.The trullis are concentrated in the World Heritage site around Alberobello. This building style dates from prehistoric times, retaining popularity as the design means that a fairly constant interior temperature can be maintained. Many trullis are are now let as holiday homes.
The mountainous Gargano peninsula with its steep white chalk cliffs is on the northern border of Puglia and is a national park. It’s often called either the Achilles tendon or the spur of Italy.
It is one of the few remaining areas of ancient beech and oak forest in Europe. The town of Vieste lies at the eastern end of the peninsula. Vieste is full of charming steep alleyways, with a cathedral and a castle. You can take boat trips to the nearby sea caves or over to the Tremiti Islands. On the north facing coast there are two sea lakes, Vacano and Lesina scattered with lidos.
I’d love to return to Puglia to explore the region better.
Posted : Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 11:02
Karen Bryan is the founding editor of the UK based, multi author Europe a la Carte Blog which features Europe travel tips about the best places to visit in Europe.