The local area
Puglia, the sun-drenched heel of the Italian boot, has the longest coastline in the country. Bordered by the Adriatic and Ionian seas, it feels like an island - or even a world - apart. With azure waters that rival the Amalfi, craggy clifftops and whitewashed villages, it is the place where Italians go to while away summers; the epitome of 'dolce far niente', the sweet languor of doing nothing.
From your hideaway in Puglia, you can explore the fortress island town of Gallipoli, which translates literally as 'beautiful city'. Home to charming churches and aristocratic palazzi, a labyrinth of cobbled streets wind down to a marina and wide seafront promenade, with stunning views over the crystal-clear water and centro storico (historic centre).
Just over a half hour drive away, the city of Lecce is a Baroque masterpiece. Its spider's web of streets offers a kaleidoscopic mix of vistas that have long-enchanted visitors. From the 500-year-old Porta Napoli, you can walk through time, exploring the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre, breath-taking palaces, and the dominating 17th-century cathedral in the Piazza Duomo.
Puglia's landscape is flat and wild; a sort of maquis in parts. Enjoy the natural beauty of the region in Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve, where you can spot migratory birds and relax amidst flora and fauna in the unspoilt surroundings. The nearby lakes of Laghi Alimini are picturesque and renowned for their fine white sandy beaches, swathed by pine forests.
One of the region's foodie hotspots is Otranto, where you'll find fresh seafood, orecchiette, and focaccia, in abundance. The ancient town is home to one of the oldest ports in Italy, and just 20 minutes' drive away from our private Italian hideaway, Masseria L'Olivo.
The History of Puglia
Puglia is steeped in history, oozing fascinating architecture and characterful charm. Invaded and colonised by everyone from the Greeks to the Spanish, there's a delightful diversity of style. The Normans left Romanesque churches, and the beautiful baroque buildings exude Spanish influence. There are even conical-roofed houses, from the 16th century, that can only be found in Puglia. Their origins are mysterious and unknown.
The impact of Greek colonisation, in the 8th century, can still be felt, with the Greek dialect, Griko, still spoken in the area. Mussolini's drive to increase Italian food production resulted in the agricultural Puglia we see today, swept over with wheat fields.
What to See and Do in Puglia
One of the first things that draws travellers to Puglia is the endless, glittering coast. Stretches of golden sand, secluded pebbly coves and the brilliant azure ocean all form a shoreline that rivals the Amalfi. Striking towns like Polignano a Mare clinging dramatically to limestone cliffs that jut out into the sea. Here you can enjoy the perfect day out, exploring the whitewashed old town with its beautiful churches and winding streets, before heading down to the beach to soak up the sun.
In Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve, with its woods, beaches and marine reserve, you can spot migratory birds and relax in unspoilt surroundings, while the lakes at Laghi Alimini are surrounded by pine woods and are renowned for their beauty. Our conveniently located villa in Puglia also gives you the chance to visit the area's stunning cities, from the Baroque loveliness of Lecce to the fortress island town of Gallipoli.
Some of the Best Food and Drink in Italy
For food lovers and wine connoisseurs the culinary tradition in Puglia is worth a trip in itself. Providing the rest of Italy with much of its grain, wine and seafood, Puglia prides itself on its produce and the food of this region is simply stunning.
Using only what's grown locally, such as courgettes, artichokes, lamb, tomatoes, fennel, peppers and beans (as well as much more), Puglian cookery is life-affirmingly rustic and completely irresistible. Whether you try the maccheroni al forno, ear shaped pasta shells orecchiette or the fresh cheese burrata di Andria, each dish will let you dive deeper into the culture and atmosphere of Puglia.
For those of you who prefer a quiet night in, our luxury villa in Puglia is the perfect location to relax and unwind after a busy day.