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The easternmost region of Italy is also known as “the heel” of the Italian boot and any look at the map of Italy will tell exactly why.
Its essentially high coastline stretches out for 800 kilometres towards the Adriatic and the landscape here begins its metamorphosis from the gentle rolling landscapes of northern Italy into an essentially Mediterranean scenery, which is more in keeping with, say, Greece than Lombardy or Tuscany.
Puglia is no less enchanting for this, however, its highlands and coast presenting impressive karst formations (grottoes and “Doline” hollows) for the visitor to explore.
Bari, the capital of Puglia is also an interesting town in its own right.
Gastronomy Puglia boasts some impressive records when it comes to cooking and cuisine. The vast majority of the fish eaten in Italy is caught off the coast of Apulia: it produces over 60% of the country’s olive oil and, even more impressively, supplies around 80% of Europe’s pasta.
Notwithstanding these records, the cuisine of Puglia is essentially simple and home based, doing away with the “fancy fads” and nouveau cuisine of some of its illustrious neighbours. It was also born out of poverty. Meat until recently was very little used, with the exception of horsemeat perhaps, whilst pasta was made without the use of eggs and vegetables were a mainstay of the diet.
History Puglia is certainly no stranger to invading hordes of armies. Its extended coastline and strategic location has long made it a magnet to opposing armies. Throughout its history, Puglia has been conquered by Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, Turks and numerous other peoples, including the Lombards, Franks and Saracens.
By the 10th century the Eastern Roman Empire has taken control, though the see sawing for power continued over the centuries.
Perhaps because of so many upheavals, the region never quite gained the prosperity of its northern neighbours, though the Bourbons who controlled it until the 18th century did improve the state of Government with building works, roads, and ports.
By 1860 Puglia had been annexed into the Kingdom of Italy. It remained a relatively underdeveloped region, however, and at the beginning of the 20th century thousands immigrated to America in search of a better life.
Culture There are interesting megalithic monuments (Dolmens and Menhirs) throughout Puglia. Canne della Battaglia and Ignazia are two great archaeological complexes. The Roman remains are noteworthy throughout the region. The Romanesque art produced magnificent architectural works, such as the cathedrals of Bari, Trani, Barletta. Molfetta, Bitonto, Ruvo di Puglia. Interesting and majestic castles in the thirteenth-century Byzantine-Arab style can be found in Bari, Gioia del Colle, Lucera and Castel del Monte. The Baroque attained great splendour and left some impressive examples, especially in Lecce. Activities In Bari, visit the Palace of the University, which includes the important Archaeological Museum with relics of the Neolithic and Bronze Age, funeral urns, ceramics and bronze from the necropolis. Lecce has the Provincial Museum, with sculptures and Roman architectural remains, and the Museum of the Arts of the Folk Traditions of Salento. Collections of coins, vases and bronzes are preserved in the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Brindisi. The National Museum of Taranto is the most important for the history of Magna Graecia. In Foggia: the Civic Museum, with the prehistoric section and an interesting paleochristian epigraph, and the Pinacoteca, which houses works of nineteenth and twentieth-century local masters.
Romantic Hotels in Puglia
- Abate Masseria & Resort
- Agriturismo Borgo San Marco
- Lama di Luna
- Masseria Alchimia
- Masseria Cimino
- Masseria Il Frantoio
- Masseria Montelauro
- Masseria Montenapoleone
- Masseria San Domenico
- Masseria Torre Coccaro
- Masseria Uccio
- Palazzo De Mori
- Relais Villa San Martino
- Tenuta Centoporte Resort Hotel
- Terra e Mare
Romantic & boutique hotels by city in Puglia
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