Great Escapes Puglia & Matera, Italy

Puglia is a region in southern Italy, at the “heel” of the boot. Puglia is sometimes called “Apulia.” Matera, which is a UNESCO world heritage site because of the extraordinary cave dwellings, called the “Sassi.” The landscape of Puglia is mostly flatland or low rolling hills with literally millions of century-old olive trees carpeting the land as far as the eye can see. Properties are fenced by dry stone walls. There is not a stone below the olive trees. It looks like the farmers have been collecting every single fragment of the yellow-red material for centuries to construct a gigantic labyrinth of walls that dissect the landscape in every direction. The best-known areas for the first visit to Puglia are:

  • the Gargano, a spectacular coastal area, in northern Puglia,
  • the Itria river Valley (Valle d’Itria), located inland between Martina Franca and Ostuni, near Alberobello and the border of the Basilicata region,
  • the Cathedrals and Castles trail, including Trani, Barletta, Castel del Monte (north of Bari – Trani and Barletta are on the coast, Catel del Monte is inland),
  • the Salento in the most eastern part of Puglia, with a marvellous coast and the wonderful capital city, Lecce.

The towns are truly ancient, mostly early medieval, with the exception of Baroque Lecce and Martina Franca. The historical cities are very well kept, generally safe, pleasant to walk around and basic services are available everywhere (restaurants, supermarkets, internet cafe’s, banks), but maybe a little less in the small villages of Salento. The coastline to the north (the Gargano peninsula) and the south (beyond Lecce down to Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca) is very attractive. The Valle d’Itria, inland, offers the best rural landscape, dotted by “trulli,” cylindrical buildings with conical roofs often adorned with painted symbols. Credit: Madonna del Piatto for Slow Europe Travel Forums, 13 February 2018.

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https://www.barrons.com/articles/great-escapes-puglia-matera-the-unspoiled-south-of-italy-1536962529?mod=hp_minor_pos25