More than just the 'heel' of Italy. Apulia is a mosaic of enchanting stories and places, where ancient traditions blend with the Christianity and where bright white trulli speckle a countryside filled with olive trees and dry stone walls. Read on to discover the prettiest towns, the essential places to visit and what you can't miss on your holiday in Apulia.
The symbol of Apulia worldwide is the stunning town of Alberobello. Known as the 'city of trulli', it's home to an entire charming neighbourhood made up of these amazing, unique buildings.
The name - literally 'round place' - says it all. Locorotondo is a town in the Itria Valley laid out inside a circle. Also known as U Curdunne in the local dialect, the town centre is made up of typical buildings called cummerse, with bright white walls, and magnificent Baroque churches.
3. Castellana Caves
This underground cave complex, of karst origin, is one of the most beautiful in Italy. The caves reach a depth of 122 metres, where you can admire amazing limestone stalactites.
4. Polignano a Mare
This is the city of famous Italian singer and actor Domenico Modugno. The oldest part of Polignano a Mare, standing on the coastline in the province of Bari, rises above a rocky spur overhanging the Adriatic Sea. Dive into the water at Lama Monachile beach (also know as Cala Porto) and swim out to the sea caves.
5. Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve
Torre Guaceto, protected marine area and nature reserve, is a one-hour drive south of Bari. The reserve includes a six-kilometre stretch of coastline, where you'll be able to take in the typical Mediterranean landscape: sand dunes, small lagoons, centuries-old olive trees and, of course, the turquoise sea.
Located in the province of Brindisi, Ostuni is also known as 'the White City' thanks to its white-coloured walls and the limestone used for building. The narrow streets and numerous stairways in the historic centre are truly enchanting. At night, the town comes alive thanks to various nightclubs.
Gallipoli is definitely the coastal town that is most highly regarded by both VIPs and tourists. The 'Beautiful City' is the undisputed pearl of the Ionian Sea, with its two ports, winding streets and enchanting sea. Be sure to visit the Angevin castle and the Cathedral of Sant'Agata.
Lecce is the beating heart of the Salento region, and a quintessentially Baroque city. The bright colours of its alleyways, that slightly decadent light and the papier-mâché shops make Lecce a unique place. Make a stop at the Basilica of the Holy Cross and the castle.
9. Santa Maria di Leuca
A famous tourist spot, Santa Maria di Leuca is the southernmost town in Apulia. Marvel at its lighthouse and the monumental waterfall at the end of the aqueduct. And, of course, allow yourself time to have your breath taken away by its crystalline sea.
Otranto is the most easterly point of Italy's heel. Also known as the 'City of Martyrs', for centuries it was the bridge between East and West. Take in the turquoise waters along its beaches, where seaside tourism meets history.
11. Tremiti Islands
Usually away from the tourist hordes, San Domino, San Nicola, Capraia, Cretaccio and Pianosa are the five small islands that make up the Tremiti - veritable gems set in the Adriatic Sea. The islands boast numerous coves and are the perfect place for divers.
Bari is the capital of Apulia. The city has undergone a real renaissance in recent years after decades of neglect. Explore 'Bari Vecchia', the historical centre located on a promontory between two ports. Next, stroll along the straight avenues of the Murattiano district, the city's modern centre.
The city of Andria is one of the most evocative places in central Apulia. Its unique old town is characterised by a dense and enchanting labyrinth of narrow alleys hiding impressive and interesting monuments.
Canosa di Puglia sits on the Murgia plateau and is rich in archaeological sites bearing witness to ancient times. Its historic centre boasts impressive buildings and pleasant alleyways where you can take in picturesque views.
Cerignola is a town in the province of Foggia, perched on the hills surrounding the plain known as the Tavoliere delle Puglie. There are several religious buildings to explore, starting with the Church of St Francis of Assisi and Church of Sant'Agostino.
Mattinata is one of the treasures of the Gargano Peninsula. Admire its characteristic white houses, built using limestone from the hills, which contrast with the lush green of the surrounding pine forests and olive groves.
17. Vieste and Peschici
Together with Mattinata, Vieste and Peschici are the pearls of the Gargano Peninsula. Both towns are on the most easterly part of the Gargano promontory and look out over the turquoise sea. Peschici is romantic and relaxed, while Vieste is more popular with tourists and at times a bit crowded.
18. Gargano National Park
Gargano National Park is a verdant area situated in the middle of the Gargano Peninsula. Here, you can immerse yourself in untouched nature and discover a slice of heaven just a few kilometres from the sea.
19. San Giovanni Rotondo
San Giovanni Rotondo is unquestionably the most important spiritual centre in Apulia. The town has strong links to St Pio of Pietrelcina (commonly known as Padre Pio), where he lived for a long time until his death in 1968. You can visit the saint's remains in the shrine at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
20. Porto Cesareo
Porto Cesareo is one of the best spots for sea and nature lovers. Discover the nature reserve that is beloved by the divers who submerge themselves in its waters to marvel at the uniquely beautiful seabed.
DIDA (da EDAM)
1. Alberobello, one of the most beautiful towns in Apulia - 20 things to see in Apulia.
2. The stunning town of Ostuni with its white houses.
3. Gallipoli overlooking the Ionian Sea.
4. Lecce and its Baroque architecture are one of the wonders of the Salento region.
5. Otranto Cathedral.
6. One of the best ways to explore the blue sea in Apulia is by boat.