A Tourist Guide to Puglia: the Heel of Italy's Boot
Puglia is a region in the southern part of Italy and also called “the heel of Italy’s boot. The popularity of this beautiful region of Italy has increased rapidly by tourists during the last years. More than eighty hundred kilometers of coast surround this wonderful region of Italy from the border of the Adriatic Sea in the east to the Ionic Sea in the south east.
Many travelers discover the variety of tourist attractions which this charming region offers : the trulli, castles, cathedrals, baroque towns, olive trees, grottoes, the Sanctuary of Padre Pio, beautiful beaches, an excellent climate with plenty of sunshine and one of the most popular cuisines of the world.
The “trulli” can be considered as the symbol of Puglia and is “a must see attraction” in Puglia. The Trulli district around Alberobello is recognized by the UNESCO as part of humanity’s historic and artistic heritage. Alberobello houses a complex of about 1400 trulli and there is no other place on earth where you can visit these buildings which are completely made from stone with a cone-shaped roof. The pinnacles of these trulli are in white and grey color and formed by three overlaid rocks. These trulli look like white shaped mushroom houses and it is really amazing to walk in the center of Alberobello to watch all these beautiful houses.
The most famous architectural buildings can be found in Lecce and most are built in baroque style. Lecce is also called “the Florence of the South” and is really a crown jewel of art in Puglia. This historical city dates back from the times of the Messapi but was conquered by the Romans in the third century BC. A theatre and amphitheatre was built in the 2nd century Ad and there are still remains in the main square Piazza S. Oronzo of this beautiful baroque town in Puglia.
You can best walk through Piazza Duomo for visiting the most beautiful buildings of Lecce. The Duomo (also called Cathedral of Madonna Assunta) with its magnificient bell tower, the Bischop’s Palace and Seminary and two baroque monuments are the highlights in this square. This cathedral was originally built in 1144 but restored between 1659 and 1670 by Giuseppe Zimbalo when also the bell tower was constructed. This campanile has a height of 68 meters and represents together with the other famous buildings in this piazza the finest examples of the Lecce Baroque.
Santa Croce can be considered as the emblem of the city Lecce in Puglia. This basilica represents the triumph of the Lecce baroque. This famous building is constructed between 1549 and 1689 by Gabriele Ricardi, Francesco Antonio Zimbalo, Cesare Penna and Giuseppi Zimbablo. The façade of this basilica is impressive and decorated with animals, grotesque figures and vegetables. There are seventeen altars in this church and you certainly enjoy viewing the masterpieces from 1614 of Francesco Antonio Zimbalo: the painting of Madonna and Child and the Visitation of Mary Elizabeth.
Puglia is also a city of castles and most can be found in the inland and especially the coastal towns. The most famous one is Castel Del Monte, built by Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, near Bari in the 13th century. Its solitary position dominates the Murgia hills with a breathtaking view that embraces an enormous expanse of land stretching from Apulia to Basilicata. The structure of this castle is octagonal with eight towers which reflect purity, linearity and harmony. The castle is surrounded by olive trees, flowers and many other plants. You will be disappointed if you enter the castle because almost nothing is left there.
Puglia is also a region for believers. The Gargano (also called holly mountain) have always been a religious attraction from all countries of the world since the Middle Ages. Pilgrims came to pray into the grotto of St Michael’s sanctuary at Monte Sant Angelo where this Archangel is supposed to have appeared between 490 and 493 AC. Nowadays, the Sanctuary of Padre Pio is the most visited place in Puglia for believers. You can visit the tomb of the monk Padre Pio, who lived the last 52 years of his life in San Giovanni Rotondo. Every year, millions of pilgrims from all places of the world come to visit “the Sanctuary of Padre Pio”. Pope John Paul II declared Padre Pio “blessed” because he possesses the gift of bilocation (being at two places at the same time) and the stigmata he received when he was praying before a crucifix. You can view paintings of Padre Pio in most churches of Puglia and even other places in Southern Italy.
The Castellana Grotte is also a famous attraction in Puglia. It is the biggest one in entire Italy where you can walk a distance of 2 kilometers and view different grottoes with evocative names, for example the Monumenti Cavern, the Precipizio, the Albaster Cascade, the Duomo of Milan and the most famous one is the White Grotto. It is amazing to view the entire spectacle of stalagmites and stalactites in forms and colors which vary from ochre to reddish to pure white.
Vieste is a popular holiday resort for beach lovers. You can view the amazing beaches with rocks and the splendid seascape. The clear blue sea is really wonderful and the bright colors are breathtaking. It is also a wonderful place for a snack and eating the best ice-cream of the world.
Ostuni is also a beautiful city to visit in Puglia. It lies in a panoramic position across the three hills at the tip of the Murge. This picturesque city was founded by the Messapians but developed only from the Middle Ages and reflects a charming contrast between the pure white houses and the darker monuments of this beautiful town. The cathedral which rises on its hilltop is a Gothic building and especially beautiful for its original tripartite façade, with the central part crowned by a tympanum formed by two ogee arches and decorated with an elaborate rose window in the center. A walk along the sandy beaches of the coast of Ostuni is surely recommended.
Puglia is a wonderful destination and is still developing as a tourist attraction for travelers. Many tourists have still to discover this amazing place in southern Italy and you may not find accommodations like in Rome, Florence, Venice and some other popular places in Italy. There is no doubt this trulli region of Italy will become one of the most touristic highlights of Italy.
No matter where you are in Puglia; you are always near to a beach of sea with blue crystal clear water. Travelers visit Puglia for several reasons and it is one of these places where you find tourist attractions for everyone. However "the trulli” may be the touristic spot of Puglia; there are several others reasons to visit this Puglia : castles, cathedrals, beautiful beaches, the Sanctuary of Padre Pio, grottoes, its astonishing landscape with olive trees and a variety of plants and flowers, its local dance (pizzica pizzica), its excellent cuisine and certainly a climate with plenty of sunshine.