What to see in Apulia (Italy)

Puglia is not only sea: there are millions of things to see. We tell you some of them, it is up to you to find the others

Puglia, the easternmost region of Italy, fascinates with its Mediterranean light, whitewashed villages, paradisiacal beaches, picturesque trulli and wonderful masserias surrounded by a sea of olive trees.

Apulia is the meeting of East and West, tradition and contemporaneity. A land bathed by two seas and at the centre of the Mediterranean that enchants any traveller. Here is what to see in Apulia.

What to see in Apulia

Bari

The capital of Apulia appears spread out on the Adriatic coast overlooking the Balkans. The city is divided between an old part on the sea and a new part, dating from the early 19th century, towards the hinterland. Bari is fascinating for its contamination of ancient and modern, sacred and profane. An air of the Orient can still be breathed in the narrow, winding streets of the old town, evoking the times when Bari was the key junction for trade with the Levant and the main port of embarkation for pilgrims bound for the Holy Land. The best way to discover Bari is on foot. So starting from the Swabian Castle, near the majestic Apulian-Romanesque cathedral, walk through the crowded alleys to the basilica of St Nicholas, one of the favourite centres of the Orthodox Church in the West.

You then arrive at the Imperatore Augusto promenade that follows the course of the ancient walls, between the old and new port, and leads to Piazza del Ferrarese. Old Bari is divided from the new city by Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, where two of the city’s most important theatres can be found: the Margherita, now a museum, and the Piccinni, temporarily closed. The other, the famous Petruzzelli theatre, faces Corso Cavour. From here starts via Sparano, the city’s most elegant street.

Gargano Peninsula

The Gargano, nicknamed the spur of Italy, coincides with the mountainous promontory in the northern part of Apulia. Semi-enclosed by the Adriatic Sea, but bounded to the west by the Tavoliere delle Puglie (Apulian Table), the Gargano peninsula includes the Gargano National Park, fascinating villages and sheer coastline.

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To discover the Gargano you can start from Manfredonia and then continue on to Mattinata, the beautiful Baia delle Zagare known for its high white cliffs and two stacks, Pugnochiuso and Vieste, a picturesque centre with narrow alleys and white houses overhanging the sea. Continue to Peschici, another white village characterised by an intricate network of alleys, steps, arches and courtyards overlooking the blue sea and the small port. Continuing up the coast, you arrive at Rodi Garganico, an ancient fishing village defined by many as the ‘garden of the Gargano’, surrounded by citrus and olive groves, which stands on a promontory overlooking the sea. Then don’t miss Margherita di Savoia and a visit to the salt pans where pink flamingos come to overwinter. Finally, trekking enthusiasts can explore the Foresta Umbra and climb up to Monte Sant’Angelo, where the Sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina is located.

Tremiti Islands

The Tremiti Islands are the only Italian archipelago in the Adriatic Sea and are located off the Gargano. The pearls of the Adriatic offer crystal-clear waters, unspoilt nature, low, sandy coastlines and sheer cliffs. The archipelago consists of five islands: San Domino, San Nicola, Capraia, Cretaccio and Pianosa. San Domino, cloaked in Aleppo pines, is the largest and most beautiful island in terms of landscape and nature. San Nicola is considered an open-air museum that bears witness to the islands’ history: towers, imposing fortifications, walls, churches and cloisters of a fortress-abbey, Santa Maria a Mare, which is of great historical and artistic interest. Capraia is a deserted island, inhabited only by a colony of seagulls. Cretaccio, little more than a rock, is a natural bridge between San Domino and San Nicola. Pianosa is the smallest island apart from the islets of Cretaccio and La Vecchia. The Tremiti Islands can be reached by ferry from Vieste, Peschici or Rodi Garganico.

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Trani and the Murge

Trani is a graceful amphitheatre of light-coloured stone overlooking the harbour. The city was an important trading port until the 16th century, but experienced its most prosperous period under Swabian rule. Frederick II granted numerous commercial and administrative privileges to the city and promoted the construction of new fortifications, including the Swabian castle that can still be admired today. Built on the model of the Crusader castles in the Holy Land, with a quadrangular plan, Trani’s pale stone castle majestically overlooks the sea. Just as the Romanesque cathedral also overlooks the sea.

If you head inland from Trani, you reach the Murge Plateau, a limestone plateau stretching between Apulia and Basilicata, as far as the Serre Salentine. Altamura is worth a visit, where you can admire the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, an example of Apulian Romanesque, built in 1232 by Emperor Frederick II of Swabia. Don’t forget to taste the world-famous Altamura bread. Continue on to Gravina in Puglia, home of the Alta Murgia National Park. The special feature here are the so-called Murgia ravines, erosive incisions up to 100 metres deep, very similar to canyons, carved by rainwater into the limestone rock.

Monopoli

Monopoli is an ancient Apulian town on the Adriatic Sea, located in the province of Bari, between Salento and the Itria Valley. The origins of Monopoli should be traced back to a mighty Messapian fortress located on the border of Peucezia, as today’s Terra di Bari was called before the conquest of the Romans. Then repopulated in the Middle Ages by exiles from the destroyed Egnatia, Monopoli is already remembered as a flourishing maritime city in the Byzantine and Norman periods. It was an Episcopal seat from the 11th century, dominated by the Venetians and Spaniards who left their mark on the Apulian city. Today, Monopoli is known for its splendid coastline where countless coves hidden among the rocks and lapped by a crystal-clear sea follow one another.

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Itria Valley

Trulli, masserias, white villages and a sea of olive trees, this is the postcard we have in mind when we think of the Itria Valley. Geographically, it is a portion of central Apulia straddling Bari, Brindisi and Taranto. It forms the southern part of the Murge plateau that gradually descends towards the Adriatic Sea and is also known as the Valley of the Trulli.

Salento

Always considered the Gateway to the East, Salento is a magical land of sea, sun and wind. It is a sub-region of southern Apulia that forms the heel of the Italian boot. Washed by the Ionian Sea to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Salento peninsula is known for the most beautiful beaches in Italy. Between the high, rocky coastline of the East and the low, sandy coastline of the West, a sea of olive trees, dry stone walls, masserias, baroque towns and thousand-year-old villages. A land dominated by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Angevins and Aragons, the Salento is a treasure trove of history, art, culture, wild nature and good food.

Taranto

Known for Ilva, Taranto is a surprise that will make you put aside all prejudices. The maze of alleyways in the centre, beneath which lie centuries-old hypogea dug into the rock, hold fascinating churches, cloisters and noble palaces. At the MArTa museum, which houses one of the most important archaeological collections in Europe, you will rediscover the history of when the Greeks landed on this land between two seas and turned it into a flourishing Mediterranean trading centre.


What to see in Apulia (Italy)
What to see in Apulia (Italy) – By Black Platinum Gold – Luxury Travel Auctions

What to see in Apulia (Italy) – By Black Platinum Gold – Luxury Travel Auctions

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