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  • Coastline 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.

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.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes There are airports at Brindisi and Bari, both with regular flights from other European cities.
  • Trains Puglia’s main towns and cities are connected by rail, though local services are often scenic and slow (www.trenitalia.com). Remoter areas, such as 13th-century Castel del Monte, require a car.
  • Automobiles Car hire is essential if you really want to explore. Chancing upon remote villages as you drive along is all part of the fun.
  • Taxis 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.