Apulia or just Puglia (poo-lee-ah) as they say in Italy is swiftly becoming the new go to region of Italy for the American traveler. Geographically speaking it is the heel of the boot, close to Albania and Greece. It is a long slender state which has a 500 mile coastline and adjoins the Adriatic Sea to the east, and the Ionian Sea to the south.
Bari, the capital of the region of Puglia, was settled in the first millennium BC, and is now a very industrialized city. A main sea port on the Adriatic, Bari is a key destination for a number of Mediterranean cruise ships, many of which are based in Bari. The city also features a night life district which is located near a castle built for Frederick II. The via Sparano and via Argiro are beautiful seaside shopping promenades. You can find relics of the old Santa Claus precursor at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas. Bari Vecchia or Bari Old is the place to stay, and as you may suspect is the oldest part of the city.
The Gargano peninsula to the north is the Puglia’s only mountainous area, though not actually mountainous compared to the rest of Italy, its peaks are a mere 3494 ft high. To the south of Gargano stretch vast plains. These fertile plains make Puglia a leader in Italy’s agricultural economy, particularly in the production of olives, olive oil and durum wheat.
With the back bone of Puglia’s agriculture being crop farming, the region is a veritable vegetarian’s paradise. Meat is used primarily on special occasions or very sparingly in pasta dishes. Durum wheat is used in the production of many types of hard pasta, but is also blended with regular flour to create fresh pasta with a unique mouth feel. The orecchiette or “little ears” are a great example of Puglianese pasta. Olive oil from this area is world renown, and the people of Puglia consider it a birth right to scourer the hills and plains for wild greens to anoint with local olive oil. So set your sights on Puglia, very few places are so accessible by air, land and sea.
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