Torre Guaceto Beach and crystal clear oceanPuglia forms the heel of Italy’s boot, nestled between the Ionian and Adriatic seas. With over 500 miles (800 kilometers) of coastline, Puglia has long been famed for its fantastic golden beaches, secluded coves nestling beneath beautiful limestone cliffs and transparent, turquoise waters. In 2015, The Telegraph voted Puglia as the best region in Italy for a beach holiday. However, there is so much more to this amazing region of Italy than its fabulous beaches.

Inland, the countryside is dominated by gently rolling hills and wide, flat plateaus covered with ancient olive groves, vineyards, fig and citrus trees and prickly pear cacti. Medieval, white-washed villages and castles adorn the hill-tops and command stunning views over the surrounding landscape.

“Puglia is waiting for you. Let this extraordinary land captivate you.” Viaggiare In Puglia

The strategic importance of Puglia’s position in the Mediterranean Sea also means that it is a region rich in culture. Many of the most powerful civilisations in the Mediterranean have at one stage ruled over Puglia and all have left their indelible mark upon the region’s art, architecture, language and culture. Baroque, Swabian, Norman and Romanesque building stand next to each other almost in competition for your attention. Puglia boasts three UNESCO World Heritage sites; Alberobello, Castel del Monte and Monte Sant’Angelo. Although strictly speaking it is in Basilicata, the UNESCO World Heritage site at Matera is also just a short drive away. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the countryside is full of Greek and Roman archaeological ruins. However, more unexpectedly there are; an incredible number of prehistoric monuments / menhirs, an array of early cave paintings and the world’s oldest skeleton of a Neanderthal woman. Puglia is also home to one of the largest and best preserved sites of dinosaur footprints in the world!

The food and drink of the region are dominated by the wealth of Puglia’s natural (agricultural resources) and its diverse heritage. North African, Spanish, Greek, Turkish and Italian influences are all apparent in some of the “local” specialities – sometimes even in the same dish. But the stand out feature of Pugliese cuisine is the purity and freshness of the ingredients. This is sometimes unflatteringly described as “peasant” or “country style” food – in reality it is a style of cooking that is all about showing off the flavour of the seasonal ingredients. If that is “simple” food then we say “bring it on!”

wine cart and barrelsPuglia has long been one of the largest wine producing regions in Italy. It used to be referred to as “the wine cellar of Europe” because its wine was used to add structure and alcohol to other more famous wines from Tuscany, Germany and France. However, Puglian wines are now earning international respect and awards in their own right as local winemakers are harnessing the distinctive various grape varieties indigenous to this region, the hot and sunny climate and the distinctive terrain to make some exquisite and refreshingly unique wines.

“There are some exciting, compelling wines emerging from Puglia these days…destined to secure Puglia’s reputation as a source for fine wine”  – Gregory Dal Piaz (writing for Snooth.com “drink great wine”)

This is the Puglia that we want you to visit and experience. Come and see the beauty of the local towns that most guidebooks fail to mention. Be over-awed by the monumental splendour of centuries old olive trees. Meet the local people who are passionate about celebrating Puglia’s culture and are keen to share it with you. Come and taste the wonderful freshness of Puglian food and wash it down with a glass (or two!) of delicious wine made from one of Puglia’s unusual grape varieties.