- Fantastico family-run farmhouse
- Truly Puglian, outside Ostuni
- Fairy-tale village resort
- Shore-side olive groves
- Designer den
- Up-and-coming Ostuni
- Trullo to its roots
- Puglian-postcard scenery
- Refined fortress
- Sea-scented olive groves
- Spacious and gracious
- Coast-hugging Pugliese countryside
- The shapely heel of Italy
- Coast life
- Trulli, madly, deeply
Located in Italy’s sunny south, Puglia has a unique character and charm, little known to outsiders; the Italians who flock here in the summer keep this laidback playground of blue sea, golden sands and olive groves strictly a family affair.
As at all good Italian get-togethers, food takes centre stage: fresh fish, melons, figs, olive oils and wines. Puglia produces almost all of the country’s – in fact Europe’s – pasta. Yet although the region may appear Italian down to its boots, the heel of Italy has a very cosmopolitan past; the Greeks, Spanish and Normans all paid visits, leaving a quirky mishmash of architectural heirlooms, from Baroque churches and Romanesque cathedrals to whitewashed villages and the traditional conical dwellings called trulli.
Perfectly PugliaPuglia produces some 70 per cent of Italy’s olive oil. There are many different varieties, each with its own unique flavour, depending on the production method and harvest time: cold-pressed extra-virgin oils in particular develop distinctive aromas and delicate fragrances. The olive press of Il Frantolio di D’Amico Pietro near Cisternino (+39 080 444 4671; www.ilfrantolio.it) offers tours and gourmet tastings – great for wine buffs looking for a new challenge.
- Trying to hail a cab on the street won’t get you anywhere; go to a taxi rank or ask your hotel to order one for you. They are metered and levy small extra charges for luggage and for travelling after 10pm.
- Tipping culture
- A service charge is usually added to restaurant bills, but it is customary to tip an extra five or ten per cent.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Shops open early and close late, with long lunch breaks. Most close on Sundays and Monday mornings, except in resort areas. Banks also break for lunch, reopening at 3pm for an hour. Restaurants only start to fill at 9pm; nightclubs hot up around midnight.
- Packing tips
- Summer wardrobe staples – think laid-back southern style, not chi-chi Capri.
- Recommended reads
- Casa Rossa by Francesca Marciano; Heel to Toe by Charles Lister; Italian Two Easy by Rosie Gray and Ruth Rogers.
- Enjoy an abundance of sun-ripened fruit and vegetables and delicious olive oil. Definitely try the local pasta orecchiette or ‘little ears’. The region produces huge amounts of wine, too: Salice Salentino, a full-bodied red, is one of the best.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Italy: 39. Local area codes: Foggia: 0881; Bari: 080; Brindisi: 0831; Lecce: 0832; Taranto: 099. Remember, with Italy you need to leave in the 0, even when dialling from abroad.
- Do go/don't go
- If you don’t fancy sweltering-hot weather and busy beaches, visit in early or late summer for milder conditions and the chance to bag a decent spot on the sand. Fine, sunny weather starts in spring and lasts well into autumn this far south, and sees the region at its best.