Explore the labyrinthine old town and the Basilica di San Nicola.
TRANI is dominated by a glorious, bleached-out Romanesque cathedral.
Only here have trulli strayed from country to town. In the quartieri known as Monti and Aia Piccola there are whole streets of them, rising in neat terraces. The fabric of the trulli is now protected by UNESCO.
CASTEL DEL MONTE
Under Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, between 1220 and 1250, the region became a crossroads between the Roman Catholic Byzantine and Arab worlds. The emperor himself was a poet, a philosopher, and the author of a treatise on falconry. During his reign, castles were built, or repaired, all over southern Italy to defend the Kingdom of Sicily from its many enemies. But Castel del Monte, the most memorable and iconic, was not built to defend anything. Nobody ever lived here and there is no town or strategic crossroads nearby.
Lecce has been called the ‘Florence of the baroque’, more than 40 churches and at least as many noble palazzi were built or renovated here between the middle of the 17th century and the end of the 18th to create one of the most unified urban landscapes in Italy. It is a relaxed place; the locals sit outside bars such as Pasticceria Alvino in piazza Sant’Oronzo, sipping iced coffee with almond syrup (latte di mandorla, an eminently southern soft drink), or they window-shop along corso Vittorio Emanuele.
The cathedral has a 12th-century mosaic floor of the ‘tree of life’, intertwining Norman, Greek and Byzantine ideas of fate.
Ostuni is also called the White City because of the low houses and narrow streets characterized by limestone rocks. The narrow streets and staircases of the old town are filled in history but also full of local and shops that enliven the nightlife. Ostuni and its countryside house also several Masserias, ancient farmhouses typical in Southern Italy. Many were abandoned in the late 19th or 20th century, but luckily a lot of them have been snapped up, restored, and turned into wonderful accommodations.
This circular, whitewashed town has views over the trulli-peppered Valle d’Itria, and excellent wines.
There are also beatiful places like Troia, Lucera
TYPICAL FOOD FROM PUGLIA
Here are some Salentine delicacies to look for:
Frisella: A crunchy, dry bread baked in a stone oven with a drop of olive oil. Friselle are one of Puglia’s most famous, and practical, foods: They’ve been around for centuries, since the fact that they can be stored for many months made them perfect for long journeys. Dip this versatile bread in salt water for a more distinct taste and a softer consistency!
Taralli: Think of them as Italy’s answer to the pretzel. Small and circular, these crackers make for a wonderful snack… especially alongside a glass of Pugliese wine! Try them savory—made with flavors like fennel, black peppercorns or poppy seeds—or sweet, with white wine and sugar.
Pizzette: Miniature pizzas topped with fresh cherry tomatoes, pizzette are a delicious snack to enjoy from a gorgeous beach in Puglia.
Puccia: A sandwich made of pizza dough stuffed with meats, cheeses, and/or vegetables, this is another traditional on-the-go snack in Puglia.
Orecchiette: Literally meaning “small ears” in Italian, this homemade, ear-shaped pasta is usually served with cime di rapa (broccoli rabe) and garlic, or fresh tomatoes and ricotta cheese. The shape is ideal for soaking up any delicious sauce!
Sagne ‘ncannulate: long, spiraled pasta that resembles the twisting and swirling architecture in Lecce—especially when it’s served up, as per tradition, with a tomato and cheese sauce.
Baccalà alla salentina: This traditional dish of Puglia and the Salento takes dried and salted cod to the next level. It’s sprinkled with breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese and fresh tomato, then baked in the oven with potatoes to a golden crisp.
Sott’olio: “Sott’olio” describes a particularly Pugliese method for preserving produce. Local vegetables like eggplant, artichokes, onions and peppers are jarred with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, letting them keep for months at a time… and making for the perfect appetizer when they are ready!
Pasticciotto: The outside of this dessert may just look like a flaky crust. But take a bite for the surprise: a creamy custard filling, made even sweeter with black cherries!
Zeppole: Also known as “St. Joseph’s pastries, this sweet Salentine treat is served on Father’s Day throughout Italy. You can personalize your zeppole by choosing between fried, or baked, sugar-coated pastry dough… and then filling it with cream, chocolate, or even both!
Vinello: In Salento, wine isn’t just a drink served with dinner… it’s something to be celebrated! Every year on November 11, the peninsula comes together to taste the fruits of their labor for this harvest’s wine (vino novello)—and to open bottles from the previous year in honor of Saint Martin.
WINES FROM PUGLIA
Vino Aleatico di Puglia
Cacc’è mmitte di Lucera
Vino Castel del Monte
Vino di Copertino
Vino Gioia del Colle
Vino di Leverano
Vino di Lizzano
Vino di Locorotondo
Vino di Martina Franca
Vino di Matino
Vino Moscato di Trani
Vino di Nardò
Vino di Ostuni
Vino Primitivo di Manduria
Vino Rosso di Barletta
Vino Rosso di Canosa
Vino di Galatina
Vino di Squinzano
Vino Rosso di Cerignola
Vino Salice Salentino
Vino di San Severo
Vino di Ortanova