With so many enticing European destinations, how do you decide which country to visit on your next vacation? If you’ve narrowed it down to Italy, you might be picturing the spectacular coastline, delicious Mediterranean food and wine, and incredibly warm and friendly people. But where should you base your stay? From Venice to Rome and Florence to Tuscany, how does a traveler make such a difficult decision?
If you haven’t visited Puglia, here are five reasons you should consider this region, also known as Apulia, as your next European travel destination.
Puglia is located in the “heel of Italy’s boot” in the sunny southern section of the country. It has a unique character and charm that hasn’t been spoiled by hordes of tourists. The bright blue seas, golden sands, and olive groves make up this breathtaking and unspoilt region of Italy that is as of yet mostly undiscovered by outsiders.
The people of this region are said to be the kindest in all of Italy, and I can certainly attest to that statement with the wonderful people I met there. It’s not shocking for people who live here to treat strangers like a long lost friend and a member of the family.
Food just doesn’t get much better than this. If you like good quality, mouth-watering, and healthy food and delicious, robust wine, you’ll find it in Puglia. Here food takes center stage with fresh fish, melons, tomatoes, artichokes, figs, olive oils, and, of course, lots of wine.
For centuries, Puglia has been predominantly an agricultural region, and produces around 40 percent of Italy’s olive oil and a large proportion of its wine. Puglians pride themselves on their orecchiette (shell shaped pasta), which are still made by hand. It’s typically served with homemade sauces like meat ragu or mushrooms.
Whether you’re a serious foodie, or just someone who can appreciate a good meal, Puglian food might seem like a little slice of heaven.
Puglia provides an opportunity to delve deep into the Italian culture. It provides a different, wonderfully unique experience than what you will find by visiting the most popular Italian cities, such as Rome, Venice or Florence.
Activities and Tours
Puglia offers many different opportunities for a wide variety of experiences, including winery tours and tasting, discovering how olive oil is made, taking cooking classes, learning to make fresh pasta or watching artisan cheesemakers make mozzarella cheese.
Yletour is a company owned by Ylenia Sambati who was born and raised in Puglia. Sambati exemplifies the warmth and passion of Puglian residents and has turned her love of the region into a business that offers special tours that take tourists only to places the locals go. They are based on the region’s wonderful history of culture, food, art, tradition, design and architecture, lifestyle, wine and the people.
Just a few of the tours that are offered include: foodie and wine tours, art tours (photography, ceramic worskshops, papier-maché, mosaic and writing), yoga, bicycle, Italian language immersion and olive picking.
Fill your days with any of these experiences or just by exploring local villages and interacting with the locals, going to the beach, strolling the food market or visiting the many artisan shops.
When it’s time to say goodbye, you might easily come up with 100 reasons of your own for returning to Puglia.
K.C. Dermody is a freelance writer and a Featured Contributor for Travel. She has traveled to nearly all 50 states and many countries worldwide and has a passion for imparting what she has learned from her experiences to others.
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