Pronounced ‘poo-li-ya’, the region is also known by the name Apulia, and to the football minded simply referenced as ‘the heel of the boot’. Whilst Puglia is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination, it isn’t the most popular travel destination in Italy (who, let’s face it, are spoilt for iconic travel destinations).
Puglia, however, is a majestic jewel in Italy’s armoury of envious travel destinations, and with so much to cover and tell you about, we’ve kicked off our ‘Puglia’s Finest’ 3-part blog series, starting with this blog on ’5 things you need to know about Puglia’.
- Puglia – Italian, Greek, and…Austrian
It’s not just today’s travellers that look upon Puglia with envied glances, Puglia’s location and fertile land resulted in large parts of the region’s history being invaded and colonised by both the usual and not so usual suspects.
With ownership changing hands across the Greeks, Turkish, French, and even Austrians, the marks of history can be found everywhere in Puglia. One of the most obvious influences is that of the Greeks, which is why the Romans called the Puglia region (and other parts of Southern Italy), ‘Magna Graecia’ which translates as ‘Greater Greece’. A short journey around Puglia and you’ll easily see this influence, with the beautiful white-washed walks of several towns, and you can even see some street signs in both Greek and Italian!
- Truly beautiful Trulli
That’s not a typo at the end there, Trulli (plural for Trulo), are centuries-old buildings that were primarily built as temporary structures by locals. Popular at the time due to the simplicity involved to build, they are now hugely popular amongst tourists – with some now being let as luxury accommodation, how things can change, eh?!
If you want to see these buildings, and although now slightly touristy, head to the town of Alberobello. The town itself is a Unesco World Heritage site and is steeped in history and culture, a note though that over the month of August it can get extremely busy and hot, the latter due to its position inland (this last point coming from this writer experience!).
- Home to the longest coastline in Italy
Puglia’s coastline is so long that it lies between two seas, the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea! Overall Puglia has over 800km of coastline, meaning you are really spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches (spoiler, our next blog will be on the best beaches in Italy).
Due to the long coastline, and Puglia’s history of being colonised, you will regularly spot beautiful towers along the coastline. These towers used medieval watch posts, and today are used as homes, hotels, and in some cases museums. As an iconic part of the Puglia coastline, the ‘Torre’ is the inspiration behind Borraco’s logo!
- Puglia produces more wine than the whole of Australia
Puglia isn’t as well known as other areas of Italy for producing wine. Piedmont, Umbria, and Campania might be better known for producing quality Italian wine, but Puglia is fast on the heels (no geographic pun intended) of its local wine-producing cousins.
Puglia wine is relatively new on the global scene, a guilty secret in the 1990s, wines such as Primitivo and Salento are now relatively well-known. Wines from Puglia are well-known for being strong in both alcohol and flavour, due to the local grape used called ‘Negromano’ which translates as ‘black and bitter’.
- Food, the glorious food
Historically known as Italy’s breadbasket, Puglia has a special place in Italian cuisine. You won’t need to go far in Puglia to find classic, authentic Italian food (often much cheaper than in the North of Italy). Well, known Pugliese products include Burrata, Focaccia, and Orecchiette, however, there are so many local dishes and variations to try, Puglia really is foodie heaven.
This writers favourite local dish, however, is Riso, Patate, e Cozze (Rise, Potatoes, and Mussels). This traditional dish from Bari is one to savour and particularly unique to the region, originally a peasant dish that was cooked in large batches to feed the entire family, you can find this dish throughout Puglia.