Apulia Photographs, Museums, Trulli, Transportation
Puglia, or Apulia as it is called in English, is Italy's boot heel, its southeastern most region. Gateway to and from the East, it has been conquered by legions of foreign rulers, most of whom were careful to live elsewhere. The notable exception was Frederick II (1194-1250), the last Emperor of the Hohenstaufen line. An enlightened man, he built many castles which still grace the region, along with acres and acres of vineyards and olive groves. Apulia produces one-tenth of the wine drunk in Europe; its olive oil is renowned. Traditionally both of these commodities were mainly used to dilute their finer counterparts up north, but lately the local food artisans have begun creating some first-rate oils and vintages that are available throughout the region. They perfectly complement the super-fresh seafood and vegetables that are the staples of la tavola pugliese.
If you have already toured the northern part of Italy and are looking for something equally fascinating, completely different and much less crowded, this is a wonderful area to consider. It offers at least one excellent archeological museum, a host of cathedrals dating back to the 10th century, several deserted - and thus highly atmospheric - Greek and Roman ruins, a gleaming necklace of lively fishing villages, one of Europe's largest forests, a chain of medieval hilltowns, and some of the very cleanest beaches and water in the Mediterranean. It also has its own subspecies of architecture, called barocco leccese. Characterized by extremely ornate carvings that cover the entire surface of churches and palazzi, its apex is reached in the delightful little city of Lecce.
There is one other attraction that you will see only in Apulia, and that is i trulli. Whitewashed cones made of stones held together without mortar, they are visible in almost every wheat field and olive grove, where they serve as miniature barns. But they are at their most picturesque when clustered together in the hundreds, to form a town. This is Alberobello, and it's a wonderful site you will never forget.