Outside of Italy, the region of Puglia isn’t well known. But ask any Italian, and chances are the region of Puglia ranks high as a vacation destination. From it’s art and history to its nature and agriculture, it has a little bit of everything. And if you’re a foodie? They’ve got some of the best cuisine in the country, thanks to their long growing season, mild climate, and extensive coastline. In fact, we think a culinary tour in Puglia is pretty much perfect!
But where is Puglia precisely? It’s located in the southeast of Italy — on the boot of the country — due east of the popular Amalfi Coast. But while the Amalfi Coast draws crowds each summer, perhaps in large part to Elizabeth Taylor helping to make the area famous decades ago, Puglia isn’t as nearly as much traveled.
In fact, it’s much more rural, with the countryside carpeted in farms and masserias, vineyards, forests, olive trees, trulli (read more about the stone houses here), as well as archaeological sites and UNESCO World Heritage sites. As for the coastline, there are over 500 miles of beach; and since it’s hugged by two seas — the Ionian and the Adriatic — the coastline varies dramatically. A long stretch of it is sandy beach, while elsewhere they have steep cliffs.
It also makes a wonderful first impression, as our Travel Coordinator Adrian Hall says. Puglia was the first place he ever visited in Italy, and it was Bari he saw first. “It was always how I’d imagined Italy to be, with the windy alleyways and ancient corridors,” Adrian said. “And after years of travel, I still think that it has the best food in all of Italy.” That’s saying quite a bit, considering how delicious the food is throughout Italy!
As Adrian points out, you can see the influence the Greeks had the cuisine too. It’s lighter than other dishes in Italy, and very much Mediterranean. As a region known for its agriculture, there is an abundance of produce, and all ingredients used are locally grown. And you truly won’t find olive oil like what you’ll find on a culinary tour in Puglia anywhere else in the world! In fact, the region produces more bread, wine, and olive oil than any other Italian region.
Plus, while the region is more remote and rural than much of Italy, it’s still accessible, due to the cities of Bari and Brindisi. It’s also a land that’s growing in recognition; after all Madonna vacationed there just this past Summer.
Ready to visit and experience it for yourself on a culinary tour in Puglia? We offer two fabulous cooking vacations that are a wonderful introduction both to the land and the food, as well as to the welcoming people of the region.
By Liz Hall
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