Carpeted with laden olive trees and dotted with ancient settlements, Puglia surely presents Italian countryside at its most rustic and idyllic. Sprawling over the ‘heel’ of Italy’s boot, unspoilt Puglia is blessed with a vast coastline, baroque towns and its own distinct identity. If you can tear yourself away from the sparkling turquoise waters, Puglia offers a wealth of historic riches – from splendid Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello – a unique and immaculately preserved town filled with rustic trulli (rotund whitewashed huts with conical roofs).
A taste of authentic Italy
based on two sharing in a twin/double room, with a minimum of 35 passengers travelling in a specific month
April, May, June, September, October
Explore the quaint streets of Alberobello, home to the unique trulli – over 1,500 round white houses with cone-shaped roofs. The districts of Rione Monti and Aja Piccola date back to the 14th century, and are built using a prehistoric dry-stone technique. Tipped with white, these whimsical constructions create the look of a fairytale town dusted with sugar.
Another historic town with unique architecture, the tranquil town of Locorotondo is a visual delight. Seeing fewer tourists than neighbouring Alberobello, its round and ancient centre (for which the town is named) is the perfect place to explore – and to enjoy a glass of the wine which Locorotondo is also famous for. Dotted with trulli dwellings, the creamy buildings shimmer in the sun, and reveal why Locorotondo is widely considered to be one of the prettiest towns in Italy.
Once part of the Kingdom of Naples, the grandeur of Lecce is expressed by its ornately sculpted buildings. The pale hues of the limestone emit a warm glow in the sun-baked centro storico, and a closer inspection of the richly adorned façades reveals an elaborate and riotous style of baroque known as barocco leccese. Beyond the drama of its architecture, Lecce is a lovely city with a lively character, and its Roman amphitheatre reveals its more ancient past.
The ancient city of Matera is home to the Sassi grottos, which have been sheltering human inhabitants for an incredible 7,000 years. These extraordinary cave dwellings form an underground city cut into the limestone of the landscape, and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A striking octagonal tower, Castel del Monte is visible for miles around thanks to its hilltop position. To this day, however, this UNESCO World Heritage Site remains something of a mystery. Despite being part of the landscape since it was built in the 13th century, the unique geometric fortress does not appear to have had any defensive purpose.
“When you’re in Puglia, you know you couldn’t be anywhere else – it is so unique.” (Jo)
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