Local Tips for Visiting Apulia, Italy

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A day (even better, a week!) spent exploring the sparkling seas, ancient history and delectable dishes of Italy’s Apulia (Puglia) region sounds about as close to heaven as a vacation can get. We asked our local guide here how best to spend our time in the “heel of Italy’s boot” – here’s what Alessandro had to say.

Tell us why you love your part of the world, Alessandro:
Puglia is so rich in history, art, architecture, traditions, nature, wine and food. It has more than 800 km of coastline, but the distance from the Adriatic to the Ionian coast is only 50km so it’s possible to choose everyday a different beach depending on the wind and your needs. Puglia really deserves 1 or 2 weeks’ stay, but you can enjoy it even for a few hours during a cruise stop (in just one day you can visit 2 or 3 UNESCO sites among 5 in total). You can do everything in Puglia except skiing…but then again, it’s still possible to water ski!

Why did you become a guide?
I love my region and I like to meet foreign people, and to share with them the popular tourist destinations as well as the hidden treasures of Puglia.

What top 3 places do you recommend travellers not miss when visiting Apulia?
Alberobello is unique and it seems to come straight out of a fairy tale, Matera is magical and astonishing, Lecce is wonderful with the richness of its Baroque architecture.

Where should visitors go to get a great photo?
Polignano a Mare, Castel del Monte, Otranto, Porto Selvaggio, and Monks’ salt marsh with pink flamingos.

Any local food specialties visitors to Apulia should try?
The healthy and tasty food of the Mediterranean Diet (staples include: orecchiette home made pasta with rape, fave beans purè, wild chicory, extra virgin olive oil, the bread and focaccia of Altamura, etc.), Caciocavallo and mozzarella cheese, Capocollo di Martina cured meat, almond and pistachio ice cream, red Primitivo di Manduria or a Negramaro rosè wine.

Do you have a favourite local restaurant to recommend?
It changes depending on the season, but I prefer a restaurant with a nice view, an authentic and friendly hospitality, traditional cuisine, with lots of starters in order to taste several things. I’d be happy to share my current favourites with you when you visit!

What’s the best place in Apulia to celebrate a special occasion?
Enjoy the beautiful setting of Grotta del Conte, with its delicious fish-focused menu. The restaurant overlooks the blue sea, and is the perfect spot for a meal after a boat trip to admire the caves and cliffs of Castro and Santa Cesarea Terme, with some stops to enjoy a swim in the crystal clear sea.

Thanks for sharing your insights, Alessandro! If anyone is dreaming of vacation spent in southern Italy, contact Alessandro to arrange a perfect few hours or few days of exploring with a charming local guide.
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