Travel Tuesdays: La Puglia – Apulia

Situated at the south-eastern tip of the Italian peninsula, Apulia region is known as “the heel of Italy’s boot”. Famous for its beautiful beaches, traditions, and culture, this region makes an ideal destination during both summer and winter months.

If you want to discover this region from north to south you should start with the Gargano peninsula.  Monte S.Angelo is the highest town in Gargano, 843 metres above sea level. Its three cultural treasuresb are St. Michael Archangel Cave, The Medieval Baptistery and St. Mary Major Church. The Gargano National Park offers a beautiful scenery with its forest shaded by pine, maple, ash and ilex trees.

alberobelloThe city of Bari, facing the Adriatic sea, is Apulia’s capital and an important commercial harbor for all the region. This city has  wonderful scenery overlooking both sea  and land. It also has some outstanding monuments such as the Cathedral of Saint Sabine and the Basilica of Saint Nicola. Bari is also a good starting point for a day trip to Alberobello, the small town famous for its ‘trulli’ (see picture).

Lecce - the amphitheater next to Piazza Sant Oronzo Stock Photo - 15419637Lecce is the main town of the Salento area and also called ‘The Florence of the South’because of its spectacular architecture. Among its many treasures is the famous Roman Amphitheatre and the Castle ofCharles V. Close to the castle  is one of the most important theatres in the area- the Politeama Greek Theatre. another important town of this area is Otranto, the ‘Oriental Door’. Its cathedral is an architectural masterpiece as is its famous Aragonese Castle, where recently further excavation has unearthed a moat and a draw bridge.  The baroque church ofSaint Maria dei Martiri is another noteworthy attraction and is visited by pilgrims and tourists throughout the year.

For millennia Apulia has been predominantly an agricultural region, producing around 40% of Italy’s olive oil and a large proportion of its wine. This essentially agricultural nature means that the region’s cuisine is home-country inspired, predominantly using the abundant local produce such as durum wheat, tomatoes, artichokes, fava beans, rocket, courgettes, beans, fennel, peppers, onions, beef and lamb. Friselle (crunchy, dry bread baked in a stone oven with a drop of olive oil) are one of Puglia’s most famous foods, as well as Taralli (sort of Italian pretzel); Orecchiette a homemade, ear-shaped pasta usually served with cime di rapa (broccoli rabe) and garlic; and Baccalà alla salentina, dried and salted cod sprinkled with breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese and fresh tomato baked in the oven with potatoes.

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