Is it possible to not fantasize about Italy?
For some, it’s Venice. For others, Positano or Rome. For me, it’s Puglia.
The heel of Italy has always appealed to me like no other. And, it seems that this gorgeous region is fast becoming Italy’s latest hot spot.
So, here’s a few reasons why you really need to visit Puglia… sooner, rather than later!
Puglia is a slice of real Italy.
Puglia may well be the Italy you’ve been dreaming of.
You know, the one where kids play soccer in the middle of the piazza and oldies crowd round their favourite coffee bar all morning. The one where you stroll the sidewalk enjoying your gelato, while everyone else goes about their daily routines around you.
Puglia’s a little rough around the edges. A little slow.
And, it doesn’t pander to international tourists… and that’s certainly not a bad thing!
Most of the menu’s will be in Italian only. The shop keepers won’t speak perfect English. And you won’t hear English as you walk around. If you’ve taken the time to learn some Italian, you’ll be greatly rewarded.
And all of this means…
There’s a lack of international tourists…for now.
Puglia is quickly being recognised as an up and comer, and I fear the day when Rick Steves catches on!
But right now is the perfect time to visit Puglia and enjoy the fact that it’s largely overlooked by International tourists.
You’ll get better bang for your buck.
Puglia is priced for Italians, so everything from accomodation to food and wine will be much cheaper than elsewhere in Italy.
For example, our rooms in Polignano a Mare and Gallipoli only cost €90 and €70 a night respectively, whereas the cheapest room for the rest of our time in Italy was €115.
Puglia has the most incredible beaches.
I honestly couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I first locked eyes on the beaches of Salento.
Setting foot on Punta della Suina, I couldn’t believe I was still in Italy. Did I accidentally wake up in some far flung, French Polynesian resort?
If you think the water is clear in the Amalfi Coast, wait til you come here. And, if you’re used to sandy beaches rather than pebble, you’ll feel right at home.
Visit Puglia during shoulder season and you don’t need to stress about paying for a lounger, there’s plenty of room to park your towel.
You could spend weeks exploring Puglia’s beautiful towns.
Alright, I’m going to say it: I think Puglia might just have the most charming towns in Italy.
I recommend splitting your time in Puglia between two home bases. We stayed a few nights in Polignano a Mare and a few in Gallipoli, and combining a bit of north and south Salento was perfect for us and made it easy to spend our time road tripping around.
Never Ending Voyage has a great listing of 8 of Puglia’s most charming towns, but you could probably pick a town at random and enjoy at least a few hours there. Don’t forget your camera!
The food in Puglia is amazing.
If I haven’t convinced you to visit Puglia yet, let me tell you about the food – cucina povera.
Puglia is traditionally one of the poorest regions in Italy, and this has meant that its people have developed a culinary tradition of using only what is readily accessable from their land and the ocean.
These days, cucina povera (or “poor persons food”) is a celebration of fresh, simple ingredients. Yep, just everyone’s spruiking on Masterchef!
I’m not a fan of seafood (don’t hate me!), but if you are you’ll be especially happy in Puglia. Vegetarians are also well catered for.
I love doing cooking classes when I travel, and of course Italy really is the place to do it! We spent a half day at Cook in Puglia and couldn’t have been more impressed with the experience. Stay tuned for a write up of this later.
A good meal in Italy wouldn’t be complete without wine, and Puglia certainly won’t let you down in this regard.
Puglia is actually the biggest wine producing region in Italy – I bet you thought it was Tuscany!?
Have I convinced you to Visit Puglia yet?
If you’ve fallen in love with the idea of a few lazy days in Puglia, then I have one last thing to tell you: get there before everyone else does!