Dubbed “the new Tuscany” due to its growing popularity with foreign tourists, the southern region of Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot, is radically different from its northern counterpart, says Stanley Stewart in Condé Nast Traveller.
Located on the very edge of Europe and almost surrounded by the sea, it feels like an island – “a place unto itself” – its white “Cubist” houses reminiscent of North Africa, its maze-like cities in the back streets of Istanbul. It’s gritty, “raw-edged,” and “flooded with sealight,” and its climate is so warm that people from other parts of Italy come here to sunbathe in October. They are also drawn to its food and its “simplicity”. Apulia is for them “dolce far niente the sweet languor of doing nothing”.
Although today it is one of the poorest regions of Italy, it was once “the center of the known world”. Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Venetians and Turks came here “in search of fame and fortune”. And the memory of those days lingers in the “resounding” palaces and “barn-like” churches in its towns and in its old fortified farmhouses or massage, Many of these have been converted into luxury properties. In Salento, the region’s southernmost stretch — a “barren, bony place” where wild figs, pomegranates and “crooked” olive trees grow in abundance — ancient watchtowers look across the Adriatic towards the mountains of Albania.
On the west coast of Salento lies the beautiful town of Gallipoli, perched on a promontory “like a ship halfway to Africa”, and along the east coast lie splendid towns such as Santa Maria di Leuca, where Saint Peter is said to have landed on his way to Rome. But the “star turn” not only of Salento, but of all southern Italy is Lecce, “the Florence of the South”, a city “like a movie set” with great restaurants, contemporary art galleries and some wonderful and unusual baroque architecture.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/travel/956678/languid-charm-summers-puglia Trip of the week: the lazy charm of summer in Puglia