The Magic of Puglia

Growing up in New England, everyone has their favorite beach escapes from the craggy coast of Maine to Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to the Rhode Island shore. The draw of fresh seafood, great water sports, and days that seem to last forever until the sun goes down on the horizon is pure magic. The best part is exploring the nooks and crannies along the sea and finding the little seafood shack in out of the way places. These are the discoveries that make you feel like a native New Englander when you found a treasure that few know about.

In Italy, the best beach escapes are in Puglia. Just think of all of the wonderful experiences in New England and add a thousand years of beautiful architecture. Add the cultural influences of Morocco, the Moors, the Spanish, the Romans, Greeks, and the Turkish Empire, and the warmth of friendly, inviting people who want to show you their home and have you love it as much as they do. This is Puglia!

Puglia, or Apulia as it is sometimes called, is the heel of the boot of Italy. The region is long and narrow so you have a constant sense of being on the water. The diet is clean and Mediterranean. The wine is locally produced specifically to match the fare that is lighter than the meats of Tuscany or the sauces of Emilia Romagna. Puglia boasts a special kind of accommodation called a masseria, which is often family run and can best be described as summer chic. They range from rustic to the magnificent! Some are renovated farms, like the agriturismo of the north. Others are castles. But their purpose is for you to relax in a serene environment near the water.

If you want a romantic getaway, during the day you might want to go to one of the beaches lining the entire region or at night have a romantic roof-top dinner and walk the streets of Monopoli or Trani, or enjoy the nightlife in the White City of Ostuni. For families, in addition to the beach, you can visit the old town of Bari with its winding walkways or go to Castel Del Monte and see what has been called the crossroads of the Roman, Byzantine and Arab worlds in the 13th Century.

Puglia is an easy hop on a plane from most any other vacation spot in Italy but is also a destination unto itself. Next time you want to be at the shore in a different location, or you are looking to try a very different experience in the magical country of Italy, go south to Puglia. From April through October it’s the perfect place to be.

Probably no dish is associated with Puglia more than fave e cicoria. It is an antipasto or a contorni (side dish).