- Coastline The shapely heel of Italy
- Coast life Trulli, madly, deeply
Located in Italy’s sunny south, Puglia has a unique character and charm, little known to outsiders; the Italians who flock here in the summer keep this laidback playground of blue sea, golden sands and olive groves strictly a family affair.
As at all good Italian get-togethers, food takes centre stage: fresh fish, melons, figs, olive oils and wines. Puglia produces almost all of the country’s – in fact Europe’s – pasta. Yet although the region may appear Italian down to its boots, the heel of Italy has a very cosmopolitan past; the Greeks, Spanish and Normans all paid visits, leaving a quirky mishmash of architectural heirlooms, from Baroque churches and Romanesque cathedrals to whitewashed villages and the traditional conical dwellings called trulli.
Do go/Don’t go
If you don’t fancy sweltering-hot weather and busy beaches, visit in early or late summer for milder conditions and the chance to bag a decent spot on the sand. Fine, sunny weather starts in spring and lasts well into autumn this far south, and sees the region at its best.
Planes There are airports at Brindisi and Bari, both with regular flights from other European cities.
Trains Puglia’s main towns and cities are connected by rail, though local services are often scenic and slow (www.trenitalia.com). Remoter areas, such as 13th-century Castel del Monte, require a car.
Automobiles Car hire is essential if you really want to explore. Chancing upon remote villages as you drive along is all part of the fun.
- Taxis Trying to hail a cab on the street won’t get you anywhere; go to a taxi rank or ask your hotel to order one for you. They are metered and levy small extra charges for luggage and for travelling after 10pm.