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Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot, is a region with a fascinating charm, it’s also known as “Le Puglie” and it brings taste, spirituality, tradition and history. This wonderful place is amazing for those who love the sea; in fact it seems that beach and sea almost dissolve into a whole, from the sandy beaches of Torre dell’Orso and Porto Cesario to the coastlines made of cliffs in Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca; here the Ionian Sea, crystal clear and calm, and the Adriatic Sea, intense blue, meet and mix. From Gallipoli to Gargano, on the mainland to the Tremiti islands, you do not really know what to choose. Another place to visit is the marine reserve of Torre Guaceto, where the nature is not lacking with its wild Umbrian forest and the National Park of the Murge, always on the inside of the deep “gravine” of Laterza and the wide “doline” of Altamura. Here, the past is not missing: you can still see the castles in defense of sea attacks and the “trulli” with their rural past; Puglia brings evidences of Ancient Greece, of the Renaissance and of the Baroque. The provinces of Puglia are: Bari (regional capital), Barletta, Andria, Trani, Brindisi, Foggia, Lecce, Taranto.
Things To See
In the region there is no shortage of things to see: San Giovanni Rotondo (Foggia), where Saint Pio from Pietralcina lived his faith, and the Capuchin monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie (where Padre Pio died in 1968) with the annexed sanctuary and the new church designed by the great architect Renzo Piano, inaugurated in 2004. Alberobello and its “trulli” are part of Unesco; the roof of “trulli” houses are particular, they are cone-shaped and are built without mortar. Part of Unesco is also Castel del Monte, built by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen in the thirteenth century. Immediately you can notice the use of the number “eight” as the main leader of the project. A pleasure to see is, finally, the five islands of Tremiti Archipelago: San Domino, San Nicola, Capraia, Pianosa and Cretaccio. It is a real miniature paradise where history and nature perfectly blend together, offering a wonderful landscape to explore.
What to Do
In Puglia the sea has to be considered the favourite destination: the Tremiti Islands with their sea bottom and caves, that cannot be missed, the thick vegetation, Santa Maria di Leuca, between the Ionian and Adriatic seas with its sea bottom that reaches 90m, where you can see a vegetation, particular for its color depending on the depth; there’s plenty of things to see. With a good sense of initiative and a good cap, Puglia offers a lot also for a bike ride: there are many routes in the Gargano Park or Murge Park, or you can follow the historical path, to discover the innumerable testaments that tell about the past of this region or just to take a tour around the town.
Many feasts, festivals and historical celebrations take place throughout the year in Puglia; the most famous are: the Carnival of Putignano, the Feast of St. Nicola in Bari and the Challenge of Barletta. Unmissable, especially for young people, the Night of Taranta in Melpignano, “pizzica” and tarantella” festival that every year, in late August, attracts prestigious guests and people from all over Europe to sing and dance under the moon and to the sound of the tambourine .
What to Taste
Puglia cuisine, that is considered “poor”, has three strengths: durum wheat, vegetables and oil. The main dish is the homemade pasta with durum wheat or a mixture of durum and soft wheat: for example, “recchietelle” (“orecchiette”), once considered a dish for the poor people, on the contrary today can be found in the best restaurants. And then “minuicchi”, “fenescecchie”, “troccoli”, “sagne ‘ncannulate”, different “cicatadde” and other original shapes of pasta processed according to ancient customs. As far as vegetables are concerned, there are the cabbage and fried bacon and spaghetti with green beans, tomatoes and “cacioricotta” cheese. There is no shortage of fresh fish, as Molise is a coastal region: raw, marinated, or in delicious soups and even with “cacio” cheese or fresh meat from the region, all with side dish of vegetables. Among the desserts, instead, there are many temptations also for gourmands, with ingredients such as dried fruit, honey, mulled wine, candied fruit and chocolate. Some of the excellences, that deserved the DOP or IGT protection, finally, we must remember Altamura bread, known for its fragrance, and the Clementina of Traranto Gulf. Don’t forget the olive grown in the area of Foggia since 1400, the famous wines and the extra-virgin olive oil, that is typical of the region.
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