The most beautiful cities of Puglia
Among the regions of Italy, Puglia holds a special place. The region attracts tourists with its unusual and beautiful cities whose sights have become World Heritage sites. Famous music festivals take place here. People come to Puglia for wine tasting, buying exclusive pottery, walking through the “white” city and visiting luxurious basilicas.
The top 10 most beautiful cities in Puglia
- Lecce. Created for walking.
- Bari. The delightful capital of Puglia, which is considered among the locals the cultural capital of the south.
- Alberobello. City with amazing houses.
- Martina Franca. Puglia’s most elegant city.
- Conversano. A town with a splendid castle.
- Grottaglie. Resort town in the province of Taranta, with its beautiful weather and architecture.
- Nardo. A whole collection of Baroque architecture for art lovers.
- Ostuni. A luxurious white town with picturesque beaches.
- Brindisi. A great resort for a weekend getaway.
- Vieste. A commune set on picturesque cliffs.
Lecce – grandiose beauty.
Lecce became popular because of the monuments of architecture. They were built using “leccisa”. It is a unique stone that allows to create a special decor. Lecce is often compared to Florence, emphasizing the sophistication of the architects’ masterpieces.
You can start the promenade at the obelisk and the Arc de Triomphe. The famous tourist spot is often occupied by travelers with cameras. The reason for this is all the same stone – the construction is entirely made of lechcise. The obelisk is decorated with the coats of arms of several cities. The triumphal arch was erected in honor of Charles V, who organized the reconstruction of the castle defending the city.
Continue the walk to the Duomo Square. There are many Baroque buildings, an interesting layout, many beautiful statues. Tourists love walking around the Duomo because of the architectural ensemble, which consists of:
- The cathedral;
- the bishop’s palace;
- The palace of the theological seminary.
The cathedral is called the most significant attraction, and the square itself is a credit to Giuseppe Zimbalo. The cathedral has three naves. It was built in 1144 and underwent extensive rebuilding 5 centuries later. Piazza Sant’Oronzo and the amphitheater are almost impossible to walk past. These attractions are located in the historic center of Lecce. They are the most popular in the whole city because of their scale. The square is adorned with a statue of the patron saint who saved the city during the plague epidemic. It is also worth appreciating the beauty of the Church of the Holy Cross. The same Giuseppe Zimbalo had a hand in it. It ranks among the top most beautiful churches in the world, a masterpiece of Baroque.
The ranking of Lecce masterpieces includes the Castle of Charles V. It is famous for its 4 bastions, as well as for its artistic objects and exquisite interiors. The Baroque style of Lecce is unique and inimitable.
Bari – the capital of southern Italy
Locals consider their city the capital of the south. Many tourists begin their journey with the popular Basilica of St. Nicholas. It is interesting at least because it was built in 1089 and has survived many historical events. Even more famous is considered the Castle of Bari. You can find it in the old part of town, just next to the Basilica of St. Nicholas. This extraordinarily beautiful structure was built in 1131. He had to survive the destruction and the long reconstruction. The bastions of the castle give a good idea of how the Aragonese era was built. The elegance of the castle was given by Isabella of Aragon.
Under her, the structure was influenced by the Renaissance. If you are interested in Russian churches, be sure to visit the Church of Nicholas the Wonderworker. It is an Orthodox church that is located in the district of Carrassi. It was erected in the 20th century. The relics of St. Nicholas are located here. The church is a good demonstration of the abilities of modern Russian architects of the 20th century. Alexei Shchusev was the chief leader of the construction. The grandiose Castel del Monte is a truly great structure. The octagon with massive towers is shrouded in mystery, because no one knows exactly what it was built for. The lack of a lift gate and a moat deprive it of the title of a defensive structure. The castle has many dressing rooms, living quarters, but no warehouses, kitchen and stables. There is a suggestion based on an interesting fact: Castel del Monte has rooms that are illuminated only in summer on the first floor and twice a day on the first floor. And in the latter case, the sun illuminates the room all year round. From this scientists drew the incredible conclusion that the castle serves as a calendar and sundial. To see an example of the Apulian-Romanesque style is worth a visit to the Cathedral of Bari. The cathedral was created in the 12th century and was badly damaged by William the Evil. It was reconstructed in the 12th century.
Alberobello – the city with beautiful trulli
Trulli are houses with cone-shaped roofs. Thanks to them all Alberobello is considered a landmark of Italy. Externally, they are very similar to each other, but there is a slight difference. If you see the sign of a master, then the structure belongs to a man. If there is no sign, then it is female. The masonry roof can depict the sign of the zodiac, a religious symbol, or just a beautiful abstraction. It’s not just the famous trulli that spurs tourists to visit the city. There are the churches of St. Cosmas and St. Damian.
If it is the fanciful houses that interest you, then be sure to visit the west hill. Here are the most unusual specimens. Trulli leave a particularly strong impression at night thanks to the lighting. If you need to hide from the many tourists, look into Aya Piccola. It is not a crowded place with the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. And here you can periodically meet the world’s celebrities.
Martina Franca – a city of great beauty
Once in Martina Franca, you can immediately go to the Arch of St. Anthony. It is an ancient gate that opens the historic center to tourists. Then you can follow the angular streets and explore all the nooks and crannies in detail. Basilica of San Martino became a pearl of Baroque, and the Ducal Palace is worthy of the highest ratings. The peculiarity of the city’s architecture is the combination of styles. The architects followed an interesting tradition, creating roofs based on the Greek model.
The beauty of Martin-Frank is revealed in the music festival that takes place regularly. Listening to an Italian opera that tells the history of the city is worth a lot. Martina Franca began its life in the 10th century. The locals tried to fight the Saracen tribes. At first there were only a few settlements, but gradually they grew. It is now home to ancient villas, palaces and churches, as well as traditional trullo village houses.
Conversano – beautiful and mysterious
Conversano is home to a large castle built in the Middle Ages. It is one of the main and popular tourist attractions. It is located on a hill together with the town, occupying its highest point. The place was not chosen accidentally as it allowed the defenders to control even the approaches from the sea. The castle allows you to enjoy nice views of the city and the coast. Not far from the castle there is a square. It is always noisy, but there is a unique flavor.
The history of the building is very interesting. It appeared long before the feudal lords, when it was inhabited by the Japigi. Over the years, the castle lost its defensive value, becoming more of a mansion. It is now owned by the municipality, which allows local weddings to be celebrated. Converseano also has the Cathedral, but it is not easy to get there. It is often closed for lunch, much to the dismay of travelers. The intermission can last from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Meanwhile, the structure is very interesting. It was built in the 11th century. It is a typical Romano-Apulian style, which is characterized by a huge rosette. Inside there is a fresco from the 15th century. Not far from the cathedral there is a Benedictine monastery whose vaults hold valuable exhibits. The monastery is truly large and occupies a large space. In addition to these, there are other attractions in Converzano, as well as a beautiful beach.
Grottaglie – eternally sunny
The sun shines in Grottaglie all the time. But numerous tourists come here not only for the resort atmosphere. They love the gorges and canyons after which the city is named. The famous Cryptalerum is a whole complex of caves, which once sheltered local residents from pirates. Since the 11th century Grottaglie became a territory owned by the bishops of Taranto. Many fortifications arose and defensive walls appeared, and in the 14th century the castle and church of Matrice were built.
The beginning of the 19th century marked the abolition of serfdom, which allowed the city to enter a new stage of development. Here you can buy unique pottery, stroll through the vineyards, visit the national museum of ancient ceramics. The castle of Castello Episcopio deserves a separate mention. It is a beautifully preserved structure, which is another example of a purely Apulian style. Grottaglie is also home to monasteries, churches and squares visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Nardo – a collection of architectural masterpieces
If you don’t know where to go to find the most beautiful Baroque buildings, visit Nardo. This Apulian town is famous for the legend of the buffalo that struck the ground with its hoof, resulting in a spring of water. At various times it was ruled by the Romans, the Turks, was claimed by the Spanish, and at the end of the 19th century it passed into the possession of Italy.
The locals call the Central Square the most beautiful location. There are buildings with richly decorated arches, balconies and loggias. Statues can be seen everywhere.
The old sedilia, where the clergy used to sit, was built in the 15th century. It too was decorated with statues. The fountain in the form of a buffalo is located near the square. After only a few steps, one reaches the church of San Domenico. It was founded for the Dominican monastic order.
Puglia alone is worth a visit to Italy. There are many beautiful towns capable of captivating the heart of even the most discerning traveler. Foggia has churches, squares and the famous Archaeological Park. In Lecher is a famous Neolithic village. It would take a long time to fully appreciate all the charm of the region. But even once you visit it, you can discover something new and unforgettable.
10 reasons to visit Puglia
In the heart of the Murcia plateau is the town of Alberobello. Its quaint old historic center was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996: it consists entirely of “trulli”, the typical houses of southern and central Puglia. These structures are cylindrical in shape and topped with a cone, they are built entirely of stone, which is covered with lime on top. Often the roof is decorated with patterns and turrets of different shapes, as well as depictions of zodiacal or religious symbols. You can stay in one of these old and carefully restored buildings, which are furnished according to tradition and of course equipped with all modern conveniences.
2. Admire the Baroque monuments in Lecce
Lecce is also called “Baroque Florence”, a style which is clearly visible in all monumental buildings of the city. In the period of Counter-Reformation the art acquired new forms, and as a result, in Lecce, as in the rest of Salento, the architecture acquired new traits, which had to astonish the imagination. The Baroque period is characterized by an extreme richness and abundance in decoration, due to the influence of “plateresco” Spanish style, characterized by the imitation of “plata” (works in silver) and the use of local “Lecce stone” (also called “poor marble”). It refers to limestone rock and has a soft and pliable structure that is easy to work, hardens quickly and acquires an amber color over time. There are many Baroque buildings in Lecce, the most famous are: The Basilica of Santa Croce, a true symbol of this style, its facade looks like an “embroidered altar”; the Government Palace and the impressive Cathedral Square, considered the most beautiful in Italy, with the facades of the cathedral and the seminary overlooking it.
3. Have fun at the “Noche di Taranta” festival
“Taranta Night” is the biggest festival in Italy, it is one of the most important folk music events in Europe. It is dedicated to the revival and preservation of the traditions of folk dance – “pizzica”, the traditional music of Salento and its fusion with other musical languages: from world music to rock, from jazz to symphonic music. The event takes place in Salento, in the various municipalities of the province of Lecce and Salentine Greece. The culmination comes in August, in the town of Melpignano, the final concert is held, which attracts an audience of about one hundred and fifty thousand people. In addition, there are also a large number of concerts in which famous bands and artists take part. Each year, the final concert of the festival is entrusted to a “maestro” who must reinterpret the traditional music of Salento, masterfully combining it with the rhythms of other musical traditions.
4. Tasting Primitivo and Negroamaro wines
Negroamaro and Primitivo are two of the most popular wines in Puglia. Both vines grow in Salento. Negroamaro is of Greek origin and, as its name suggests, it produces a dark red wine with a bitter flavor and fruity notes when properly produced. Primitivo is an early varietal that makes a red wine that is drier than Negroamaro. Primitivo makes dark wines (the best known of which is DOC Primitivo di Manduria, which is ideal for traditional Mediterranean dishes) with low transparency and good structure, rich color and intense aroma. These two wines are very different from each other, but in them you can hear the typical notes of the Puglia countryside. They are also united by the warm sun, which gives the grapes a rather high sugar content, thanks to which these wines have an alcohol content of over 14% and their aroma and taste reminds of candied berries. This is especially noticeable during particularly hot seasons.
5. Buy ceramics in Grottaglia
The city of Grottaglia, also called the “city of ceramics”, is the main center where the clay art lives in a unique place – along the ravine of San Giorgio there is a whole area of potters. Here it is worth walking through the stores carved in the rock, there are more than fifty of them, some still have ancient kilns: you can see the different stages of clay processing, as well as buy traditional products. Try to buy a “kapazone” (from the dialect “kapase” – capacious), a large-sized vessel for wine or oil, or a “lu srulu”, a kind of ceramic jug in which the locals poured wine and water. There are two main traditional products: the “bianchi di Grottaglie,” pure and simple in form, devoid of any decoration, covered with white enamel, and rustic pottery painted with bright colors, the most characteristic being yellow.
6. Walk through Ostuni – the “white town”
Ostuni is known as the “white town” because of a custom that later became its trademark: houses were lime-painted to the roofs. This tradition spread in the Middle Ages during the Norman domination. In the medieval city, in fact, streets and public spaces were very narrow, and lime, derived from the geological rock of the earth, visually added more light, both to the city and to the inner rooms. Discover the charming old city, also called “Terra,” composed of many ancient white buildings built on top of each other. The center, protected by walls and Aragonese towers, is elliptical in shape, which has formed around Cathedral Street. It climbs a hill, while it is crossed by alleyways, staircases and intricate passageways. The Church of the Holy Spirit is a must visit and admire its portal, created in 1450, it has been recognized as a national monument.
7. Visit the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari
Of all the pilgrimage sites in Puglia, the most important is the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, founded at the end of the 11th century to house the relics of Saint Nicholas of Myra, of Lycia, who is revered by both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The basilica has always received a steady stream of pilgrims from all over the world, especially from Eastern Europe. There is also a Russian Orthodox chapel in the crypt of the basilica. This is a unique phenomenon. Given the large number of Orthodox pilgrims who come to Bari to visit the tomb of St. Nicholas, in 1967 the eastern chapel was ceremoniously built in the apse. A staircase leads down into the crypt, where the saint’s tomb and chapel are located. It is also worth admiring valuable works of art: the pulpit of Bishop Elia, medieval capitals, the oldest baldachin in the region, a silver altar with a bust of the saint and gold carvings from the XVII century.
8. Getting to the Tremiti Islands
The Tremiti Islands are an archipelago that includes the island of San Domenio, the island of St. Nicholas, the island of Capraia and two other cliffs, Cretaccio and Vecchia. The archipelago has been awarded the Blue Flag several times because of the exceptional purity of its water. Spend a day in the sun on the beautiful beaches of Cala Arena (the only sandy beach in the archipelago), Cala English and Cala Matano on the island of San Domenio. For diving, Punta del Diavolo and Swallow’s Cave are suitable. The transparent surface of the sea turns light green near the shore and turns dark blue in the depths, closer to San Nicolo. Here you can also hire a boat to admire the bizarre shape of the Elephant Rock or the blocks of “Stogi” that have been created by the waves of the sea or to reach the caves of Domora, the promenades and the uninhabited island of Capraia, whose coastline consists of stone arches called “arquitelli”. This is one of the most amazing places for diving in the Mediterranean Sea.
9. Descend into the Castellana Cave
One of the most impressive adventures is the walk to the picturesque Castellana Caves, an imposing complex of mountains formed by water and streams that have formed the karst rock of the mountains over thousands of years. The complex begins at Grave, a huge chasm into which light enters through a small opening, from which you can see a clear sky framed by a wreath of oak trees. In addition to Grave, it is worth admiring the stalactites, stalagmites, and precious crystals, and reaching for the white alabaster in the final cave, the White Grotto.
10. Enjoy the flavor of burrata cheese
Burrata cheese from Puglia is a fresh cheese that resembles mozzarella and is pear or spherical in shape, whitish in color, and has a soft and juicy “stracciatella” filling inside. In this case, stracciatella is one way to process fresh milk (not ice cream!). This filling is assembled into a cheese “sack” that is traditionally wrapped in a leaf. It is believed that the best burrata is made in the Murge area, in the province of Bari. It is worth a visit to Gioia del Colle or to Andria, the birthplace of this cheese, one of the most delicious dishes of Puglia. The exquisite burrata pairs perfectly with traditional wines of Puglia like Aleatico Puglia, Martina Franca and Primitivo di Manduria. Among the traditional dishes we should also mention the ravioli with burrata and porcini mushrooms, an ideal dish in winter time.