Puglia, also known as Apulia, is the most southeastern region, occupying the ‘heel’ of the ‘boot’ of Italy. Wine and food tours to Puglia visit many of the hilltop towns. Puglia has an area of 19,366 square kilometres and a population of 4 million. It borders the Italian regions of Molise to the north, Campania to the west, and Basilicata to the southwest. The capital city of the region is Bari and the provinces are: Bari, Barletta-Andria-Trani, Brindisi, Foggia, Lecce and Taranto.
Puglia is the least mountainous region of Italy, consisting of broad plains and low-lying hills. The only mountainous areas, the Gargano promontory and the Dauni mountains, do not exceed 1,150 metres and are in the north of the region. Puglia is a very hot and dry region. There are a few rivers found on the ‘Tavoliere delle Puglie’at the foot of the Gargano promontory. This area is one of the largest and most productive plains in Italy where a significant amount of both wine and olive oil is produced.
The baroque town of Lecce, in the Salento area of Puglia, is a favourite destination for visitors. Nicknamed ‘The Florence of the South’, the town is full of impressive, baroque monuments and has been built from the distinctive, ‘Lecce Stone’ which are the city’s main export. Another attraction of the region are the unique ‘Trulli’ houses. These strange, white conical houses were traditionally built without using mortar in order to avoid paying taxes. They can vary is size from a single roomed store, to a complete house formed with multiple conical rooves. Alberobello is a town made up entirely of Trulli houses. The site of hundreds of whitewashed, circular houses with conical rooves, all huddled together is extraordinary .
Puglia’s location, between two beautiful coastlines, makes it a tourist’s paradise. There are miles and miles of unspoilt beaches, spectacular cliffs and rocky coves. This, together with superb weather, beautiful towns and lovely countryside make Puglia a very popular holiday destination.
Puglia is a place where food and wine is truly locavore, reflecting maturity and ease, complexity and freedom. The quality of Apulian ingredients is in the very nature of the lush region and stems from farming and fishing techniques. Discover what Slow Food is all about as we explore and meet the best in the business.
Tasting the region
Apulian cuisine has always been defined as “poor” for its simple ingredients; yet, it satisfies any palate. Its basic elements are three: durum wheat, vegetables and olive oil, combined with meat and fish to create original dishes with genuine and unmistakable flavors.
The hallmark of regional cooking is homemade pasta made with durum wheat or a mix of durum and soft wheat: from recchietelle? (also called orecchiette) that, in its many versions, is a symbol of the region, to the famous strascinati, that once were the main course for the poorest families and are now ordered and served in the best restaurants. Then, mignuicchie, ?fenescecchie, ?troccoli, ?sagne ‘ncannuate, cicatadde? and other original types of pasta are still made according to historic traditions.
Particularly, the combination between pasta and vegetables is unexpectedly surprising, like strascinati? with cabbage and fried bacon or spaghetti with string beans, tomatoes and cacioricotta cheese. In fact, Apulia is one large, aromatic vegetable garden that boasts unparalleled flavors and colors. When combined with homemade pasta, fresh fish, or even good meat, they leave the palate with unforgettable sensations.
This region, with its 800 km of coast and two seas, offers a great variety of fish specialties for those who know how to appreciate it: raw, marinated, poached in delicious fish soups and even with cheese.