Puglia is Italy’s gem when it comes to history, archaeology and culture. The southeastern region has for many years thrived as a tourism hub with so much to offer vacationers interested in taking a step back in time and experiencing old Italy in its most authentic form. Despite its popularity among tourists, Puglia’s unmatched wealth in history and culture is not what makes it one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Below is what most people don’t realize that Puglia has up its sleeves.
1. Porto Selvaggio
Porto Selvaggio is found in Puglia’s province of Lecce. The beach itself is found along the Salento Peninsula with breathtaking crystal clear waters. In addition to the geographical beauty, Porto Selvaggio has a lot to offer in terms of history. It is actually the only place on earth where an ancient Greek dialect known as Griko is still spoken.
What to see and do
· Sunbathing and swimming
It is nothing short of a crime to visit Porto Selvaggio and not pay the beach one or two hundred visits. It is the reason why it is on this list as one of Puglia’s best kept secrets. You could also decide to experience the water by taking a boat ride or going SCUBA diving.
Some points of interest in Porto include the walled seaport of Gallipoli, Villa Tafuro and Uluzzo Bay. If you have extra time and an untamed adventurous spirit, you should also plan a visit to the various archeological sites there including the cave of the horse and sierra Cicora.
· Watch the sunset at the beach
You will never find anything to match its breathtaking beauty.
Monopoli is in the heart of Puglia given its location in the region’s capital province of Bari. The town is right next to the Adriatic Sea. Like all other Puglia gems on this list, Monopoli is a triple threat with the sandy beaches, archaeological and historical as sights as well as culture to enjoy. Below are a few things that you should not leave Monopoli without having seen.
· The beaches
The beautiful waters of the Adriatic Sea meet the mainland forming beaches that you simply must see to appreciate. The aquamarine blue waters will leave you refreshed and ready to explore more of this amazing town.
· The ancient castles
The Castle of Charles V in particular is a must visit for people with a soft spot for history and fine architecture. The building was used as a prison until the mid-sixties when it was converted into a museum and art gallery which is where you will get the best cultural experience of Monopoli. The castle of S. Stephen is also worth a visit.
· The Jerusalem Hospital
This is probably the oldest hospital not only in Italy but in the whole world dating back to 1350. The architectural marvel is full of history and is one of those places you simply can’t leave Puglia without visiting.
3. City of Ostuni
The city of Ostuni is pretty much a white fortress and one of the fewest old towns in the world that has managed to preserve its medieval layout. From a distance, all you can see is white buildings. This is not a coincidence but has a historical etiology where people lime-washed the walls of their houses in an attempt to deflect the heat from their homes. Below is more that this charming little town has to offer:
· The Archbishop’s palace is Ostuni’s highest points and is an architectural marvel.
· Beautiful beaches along the Adriatic sea
· The Saint Oronzo festival every August to celebrate the town’s patron saint.
4. Grotte di Castellana
Grotte di Castellana is a series of amazing cave formations in Itria Valley, Puglia. They date back more than ninety million years and are among the most important of all of Puglia and Italy’s natural attractions. Taking a guided tour though the cave gives visitors the opportunity to experience not only nature at its best but also history and archaeology through the fossils and cave art you will get to see.
5. Da Mimi Trabucco
The Da Mimi Trabucco is a must-see if you want to add an educational aspect to you Puglia trip. The Trabucco itself is actually a unique fishing contraption that is nothing short of genius. You will get to see how it works and as many questions as you would wish to. It is a dining experience that you will not get anywhere else. In addition to the fishing scene, Da Mimi Trabucco is full of history with the Ottaviano family name popping up more than once in the fishing, culinary and construction aspects.