There are so many places to visit in Puglia, but if you want to get an idea of what it can offer you, we will help you. This land of a thousand faces will involve you in an all-round journey through settings of all kinds. From the paradisiacal beaches of Salento to the wild hills of the Itria Valley, passing through the green Foresta Umbra and the Tremiti archipelago, here are the 10 places to absolutely see during a holiday in Puglia .
Your tour of Puglia cannot but start from its capital: Bari . The first destination to reach in the historic center is the Basilica of San Nicola , the patron saint of the city. Magnificent example of Romanesque-Apulian architecture, in its crypt it houses the relics of the saint and is a pilgrimage destination for the Christian and Orthodox faithful: it is, in fact, one of the few Italian places of worship where the functions of both rites are celebrated .
From the Basilica of San Nicola, enter the narrow streets of Bari Vecchia , the beating heart of the city. Stroll through this maze of alleys where, especially in via Arcobasso , at the doors of the houses women armed with water, semolina and pastry boards are intent on preparing the famous “stracinet” (orecchiette). While walking on the “chianche”, the massive stones that pave the lanes of Bari Vecchia, you will come across numerous churches including the Cathedral of San Sabino . Here, every year, on 21 June (the day of the summer solstice), the sun’s rays pass through the rose window of the facade and illuminate the identical marble rose window on the floor of the nave with 18 petals: a truly unique spectacle.
Defined “the Florence of the south”, Lecce is certainly one of the most popular cities for those who decide to take a tour of Puglia. A real open-air museum, one of the most fascinating in Italy, rich in monuments and works of art from the Roman, medieval and Renaissance periods.
But it is above all the city of stylistic excess and Lecce baroque that finds its maximum expression in the Basilica of Santa Croce . Its exuberant facade is a riot of decorative patterns and ornaments unique in the world. Admire the large central rose window profiled by bay leaves and berries and, inside, the richly decorated altars and the sumptuous coffered ceiling: you will be amazed!
3. Salento peninsula
Located in the southernmost part of Puglia, Salento is one of the most popular seaside destinations for the inhabitants of the beautiful country, a popular destination for summer holidays, chosen every year by thousands of Italian and non-Italian tourists. A condensation of majestic historic buildings and paradisiacal beaches that have nothing to envy to those of the Caribbean.
The Salento peninsula is also an ideal destination for road trips : the best way to explore it is by car, so you can stop in the most suggestive places. A stop not to be missed during a trip to Salento is Santa Maria di Leuca . Located in the southernmost area of the peninsula, it is the favorite place for those who want to relax on unspoiled beaches and shores and offers incredible attractions such as the Devil ‘s Cave or the Three Doors Cave .
4. Tremiti Islands
San Domino , San Nicola , Cretaccio and Pianosa and Capraia – not to confuse the last two with the homonymous islands of the Tuscan Archipelago – are the five islands with a wild soul that make up the Tremiti . Turquoise waters, unspoiled nature and spectacular backdrops: these are the main ingredients of the only Italian archipelago in the Adriatic . Of the 5 islands, San Domino and San Nicola are the only ones inhabited; Cretaccio and Capraia can be visited on foot, while Pianosa is part of an Integral Marine Reserve and can only be visited if in possession of special authorizations.
The seabed around the islands is considered a true paradise by diving and snorkeling lovers : they are teeming with fish of all races and sizes and offer extraordinary scenarios made of underwater caves, inlets and even wrecks. Several underwater itineraries wind through the waters of the archipelago, which is a Protected Marine Reserve of the Gargano National Park , but it is around Capraia that some of the most spectacular diving spots are concentrated, such as Punta Secca and Cala dei Turchi .
Located in the province of Bari, in the Itria Valley, Alberobello is a place where it is absolutely worth stopping off during a holiday in Puglia. Because in this village of esoteric charm you can breathe a timeless atmosphere.
Trulli and Alberobello, an inseparable pair. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, these buildings form a unique agglomeration here in the world. They consist of a cylindrical base in limestone, whitewashed and surmounted by a conical roof, also in stone. The palette of colors that will open before your eyes will leave you breathless: the white of the walls and the gray of the roofs that stand out against the blue sky.