As you know, I just returned from a research trip to Puglia, also known as Apulia. And though I know that not everyone should or would travel to Puglia, I can definitely see this region, which is the heel of Italy’s boot, appealing to many different kind of travelers.
Here is an overview of my opinions on who Puglia would be a good fit for as well as some reasons to put the area on the top of your travel bucket list.
Who Should Travel to Puglia?
1. Those who are enjoy good quality, fresh, delicious, healthy food and tasty, robust wine.
2. Those who enjoy meandering through the countryside, seeing gnarly olive trees bordered by ancient stone walls as far as the eye can see – with an occassional rustic trullo house, or masserie dotting the landscape.
3. Those who enjoy charming ports, both small and large, with colorful fishing boats and picturesque coastline.
4. Those looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination. And those who are into slow food and slow travel.
5. Those who have visited the other areas of Italy, like Rome, Venice, Florence and Tuscany and have loved everything they have done so far, but wish to delve a bit deeper into the culture and looking for a slightly different, yet authentic experience than what they have had in the other places. I can honestly say that Puglia has a much different feel than the other more touristed parts of Italy. Not to say one is better than another. Just different.
6. Cruisers who might be visiting the area and docking at the port city of Bari, the capital city of Puglia.
7. Those who want a good mix of countryside, seaside and city life for their vacations. Traveling to Puglia, you will find it all.
What Can You Do in Puglia?
1. You can experience a wide range of food and wine excursions. In fact, you could fill an entire itinerary eating and drinking your way through Puglia, which I highly recommend (this should come as no surprise)! Fill your days doing winery tours and tastings, watching how olive oil is made at an ancient olive mill, watching mozzarella and burrata cheese being made, learning how to make fresh orecchiette pasta, touring a food market, watching the fisherman unload their catch of the day in a port city. You get the idea. Puglia is a food-lover’s paradise.
2. You can stay in a restored masseria in the middle of the Puglian countryside, surrounded by centuries old olive trees and prolific fruit trees.
3. In the summer months, you can enjoy a relaxing stay in a seaside resort and soak up the sunshine on one of the pristine sandy beaches.
4. Explore the unique history of the region. Romans, Grecian and Moorish influences abound.
5. Visit the unique cities of Alberobello – famous for its trullo houses, Ostuni, which is called the ‘white city’ and is reminiscent of Greece, and Lecce, a romantic Baroque city – dubbed the Florence of the South.
6. If churches are your thing – similarly to the spots in the North, Puglia is littered with them. Each one more beautiful than the next.
7. Spa-lovers can experience one of the best thermal spas, perched atop white craggy cliffs along the coast or opt for a more modern, luxurious experience at one of the more upscale hotels in the area where their exclusive products and wellness treatments revolve around local traditions.
8. Sports enthusiasts and adventure travelers can find fun too. There are many lovely golf-courses in the region and Puglia is very popular with cyclists as well.
Why Should you Travel to Puglia?
1. Because of the delicious food and wine available. In fact, Puglia’s cuisine, a fine example of the Mediterranean diet, is on the UNESCO World Heritage site. And they have over 26 DOC wines and some of the best extra-virgin olive oil money can buy! Pretty impressive, eh? Are you seeing a pattern here yet?
2. Because Puglia is a very affordable, budget-friendly destination.
3. Because with two airports, both the Bari airport and Brindisi airport, it’s a very easy area to get to.
4. Because it’s accessible by train. Although it is always best to rent a car for the most freedom and flexibility, you can actually experience much of Puglia by train. And the possibility of a private driver and/or guide for one day to visit a harder to reach area is definitely an option.
5. Because the Puglia region has 3 different UNESCO World Heritage sites to explore. The Trulli, Castel del Monte and the Sanctuary of Archangel Michael in Monte Sant’Angelo. The Sassi of Matera in nearby Basilicata is also on the list.
6. Because of the people. Warm, friendly, welcoming and very willing to please and share their region with you.
When Should You Travel to Puglia?
Well, of course my answer would be now! And that’s not just my travel-consultant-self-trying-to-sell-you-a-trip voice talking. There is a much bigger reason why I say to go to Puglia now.
Right now, the Puglia region is an undiscovered gem. Sure, it’s been a pretty well-known summer vacation spot for both Italians and Europeans for quite sometime. But many Americans haven’t really ventured south of Rome (with the exception of Sicily and the Amalfi coast) to discover the treasures of Puglia, yet.
But that is about to change in a very big way, I can promise you that. In fact, I know of at least five recent conferences/events that have taken place over the past few months- all in an effort to heavily promote Puglia tourism. The push is on.
And you know what will happen when word starts getting out, right? Massive amounts of tourists. And more tourists means a lot less availability, which will cause prices to increase and it will become harder and harder to find authentic, unspoiled gems in the region. Dare I say that Puglia might just be the new Tuscany in the next few years?
Another answer to the when to travel to Puglia question would be anytime. You can travel to Puglia year-round because of its temperate climate. In fact, the region is pretty dry. So, if you are looking strictly for a beach or seaside destination, May – October is the best time for you.
However, if you are more interested in the scenery, culture, food, wine and history – Puglia makes a fabulous off-season destination. The weather during my mid-November trip was sunny and warm, in the high 50’s to low 60’s during the day. The bonuses of an off-season trip are lower prices from November – April, and not competing with many other tourists.
That also translates into a much more authentic visit.
So, what are you waiting for? If you want to experience Puglia, get in touch so we can discuss how I can best help!