Puglia has something for everyone. If your dream holiday involves total relaxation on a white sand beach, or by the side of a sparkling pool, stylish surroundings and total pampering then you can choose from an ever growing selection of 5 star hotels or luxurious private villas.
Every small town has its own character but, for lovers of architecture or history, they are all worthy of note, whether your tastes run to Norman castles, Romanesque churches and Baroque cathedrals, Roman and Greek remains or medieval town centres with narrow cobblestoned streets and whitewashed houses.
For the more energetic there are water sports and championship golf courses and for nature lovers there are miles of unspoiled countryside and olive groves to walk, drive or cycle through or simply to admire from your villa or hotel window or terrace.
A foodie’s paradise… and the wine is pretty exceptional too
The freshest fish and sea food, fruit and vegetables bursting with flavour, local cheeses and salumi, fantastic pasta, bread and baked goods (Puglia produces much of Italy’s durum wheat) all add up to something pretty special.. Some of the best olive oil in Italy is produced here – a Pugliese oil recently won Best Extra Virgin Oil at a prestigious International competition. Wine Enthusiast named Puglia as one of the must visit wine destinations for 2013 and the wine, especially the red, is hard to beat.
The best beaches on the Italian mainland
With almost 1000km of coastline there are beaches to suit all tastes, from rocky coves ideal for snorkelling to long stretches of white sand. There are beach clubs with all mod cons, nature reserves, and free or private beaches with or without services. 98.7 % of beaches meet the ideal standards for water quality (statistics issued by the relevant governmental body) comparing favourably to Sardinia (1% more) and outclassing Tuscany, Campania and Liguria by a long way.
The people and culture – an authentic experience
This is the South, and the people are warm, welcoming and genuinely hospitable. In the past Puglia was inhabited or occupied by the Romans, Greeks, Normans, Venetians and Spanish amongst others – the different influences producing a rich and varied culture, peculiar to the place.
Puglia has benefited by being relative late comer to the tourism scene – you will find little here in the way of impersonal anonymous high rise hotels, or towns which live by tourism alone. The approach is very much to share what is special about the place with visitors, rather than to lay on a show for the tourists, and the way of life continues much as it always has.
Caroline Edwards is Owner of Personal Puglia.