Feel Dolce Vita on the East Coast of Italy!

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You loved Italy and your time in Rome, Florence and Venice.  You ventured out into Tuscany and explored the Amalfi Coast.  You would love to experience that dolce vita (sweet life) feeling again, but where to next?  Try Apulia!

Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, the region of Puglia, or Apulia as it’s known in English, is quickly becoming the next must-see destination in Italy, and for a good reason.  Full of stunning architecture, Italian dishes not found anywhere else in the country, and some of the bluest water you’ll ever see, this region is worth exploring.

Map of Italy with Apulia highlighted.

So, what else is there to love about this hidden gem that is unknown to so many Americans?

First and foremost, Apulia is quite literally a destination off the beaten path. Most Americans flock to the regions of Tuscany and Campania. However, Apulia offers an authentic Italian experience. In Apulia, you can expect to see stunning historic Italian villages, taste cuisine full of locally grown tomatoes, olives and wheat, along with some of the country’s most beautiful beaches.

So, why should Apulia be your next Italian vacation destination?  Let’s count the reasons.

Polignano a Mare, known for its cliffs and Domenico Modugno, who wrote the song Volare.


When it comes to the scenery in Apulia, it’s quintessentially Mediterranean. With the region full of cacti, olive groves, lemon trees, and vineyards, you feel like you’re in the heart of Tuscany but without the hills, winding roads, and crowds.

Apulia also has some of the most charming historic villages in Italy. With cobblestone streets, limestone piazzas, and Baroque architecture, you will feel like you’ve just stepped out of one of the classic Italian movies.  Trullis, houses with conical-shaped roofs, line the streets of Alberobello.  These houses dating back to the 15th century are completely made of stone with no mortar temporary in nature as permanent homes were forbidden to protect the look of the landscape.

Not only does Apulia have some of the most beautiful scenery in Italy, but it also has more coastline than any other region in the country. The Salentine Peninsula (the southern end of the region) sits between two turquoise seas – the Adriatic and the Ionian, so you’re never short on the choice of beaches.

Locals know the towns of Torre Dell’Orso and Otranto, the most easterly point in Italy, where they enjoy laid-back beaches. Whereas further north, secret beaches are surrounded by towering limestone cliffs with an abundance of sea caves to explore like you find in Polignano a Mare.  And with the cliffs comes cliff diving!


In Apulia, the food is unlike any other in the country. Simple dishes with Mediterranean freshness because of the abundance of fresh produce.  Dishes like orecchiette, pasta with the shape of small ears native to the area, with fresh greens, herbs, and olive oil.  Mashed fava beans with wild chicory or puff pastry filled with a combination of tomatoes, bechamel sauce, and mozzarella are common.  With so much of the area along the coast, you will find dishes like spaghetti with sea urchins and their roe or octopus with tomato sauce and potatoes.

Orecchiette Con le Cime di Rapa, ear shaped pasta with turnip tops.

And don’t forget the bread!  Round loaves of crusty bread from durum wheat flour give Altamura its claim to fame.  The focaccia Barese topped with cherry tomatoes and olives along with a bit of salt and rosemary make everyone’s mouth water.

Locorotondo, considered to be Apulia’s prettiest town, is surrounded by vineyards.


To go with their food, the wine in Apulia evolved to produce mostly robust reds, from the Negroamaro and Primitvo grapes, that rival some of the best from Australia and South America.  Ostuni is best known for its white wine and a nice rose comes fro Ottavianello.  A few sweet Muscats are also produced.

With the rich soil, hot sun, and sea breezes in the area, tasting the local wine while vacationing here is a must.


If you’re a history buff, you will love all of the things there are to see and learn in Apulia. For starters, Lecce, the capital of the Province of Lecce, has 2,000 years worth of history and an incredible Roman theater discovered by chance.

This theater, discovered in 1929,  during excavations prior to the building of the Bank of Italy. The theater is thought to have been built in the First and Second Centuries. Today, you can only see part of it, but during its time up to 5,000 people filled the theater.

Many other notable historic towns and buildings worth seeing in Apulia include Locorotondo (the prettiest historic town in Apulia, found in Bari), the Castel del Monte (built in the 1240s) sitting atop a hill in Andria, and all of the masserias (16th century fortified farmhouses) found throughout the region with many now repurposed as small hotels many of which are elegantly restored with wonderful service.


As you’ve read so far, with so much what else could make Apulia more perfect? Its Mediterranean climate, of course!

With an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, Apulia is the perfect vacation destination. Even the cooler months of December – March are warm (50 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to the rest of Europe.  And while the winter months are also its wettest, less than 1/3 of the days each month receive rainfall.

Lecce’s Roman amphitheatr.

In the spring, you can expect temperatures to range from 64-72. In the summer months of June, July, and August, the temperatures rise to the 80s, and the Fall brings temperatures of 69-77, making it the perfect time to vacation.

The summer months are the busiest in Apulia as all the locals, and many Europeans flock to the region. The best time to visit would autumn, when the temperatures are lower but still warm, and the crowds have returned home after the summer season.

Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, in a group, or with children, Apulia is the perfect destination that has it all. With stunning beaches, rich history, and some of Italy’s most breathtaking scenery, Apulia is the next up-and-coming destination, so visit this hidden gem before it gets too crowded.

Are you ready to fall in love with this area of Italy?  Call me so I can make it happen for you!

Pat Ogle-CollinsFeel Dolce Vita on the East Coast of Italy!

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