Author: Ben Rob
Apulia makes up the heel of the Italian boot. It is located in the southeast corner of Italy and borders the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Apulia was often invaded by both the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was ruled by many foreigners including the Byzantines, Goths, Lombards, Normans, Spaniards, and Turks. Apulia’s moment of greatest glory was in the Holy Roman Empire during the 13th Century, when majestic Romanesque cathedrals and palaces were built. This article presents the eastern and usually southern part of Apulia. A companion article presents the rest of the region including the administrative center of Bari, the largest city in southern Italy.
Trulli are truly remarkable. They are human habitations in the shape of beehives with a hole in the top to let the smoke escape. To me they resemble giant limestone teepees. These mysterious structures can be found in only one place in the world, and that is eastern Apulia. The road linking the touristy city of Alberobello and the historic town of Martina Franca with its baroque and medieval architecture is peppered with trulli. Some of them have been transformed into wineries, hardly surprising given the local vineyards.
The small town of Castellana is known for the nearby caves; Grotte di Castellana belongs to the largest network of caves in all Italy. The port of Brindisi is a short ferry ride away from Greece. You should stop by to see some historic churches, the Duomo (Cathedral), and a Roman column dating back to the Second Century.
Lecce has often been called “the Florence of the south.” Its architecture is mainly baroque. Make sure to see its historic churches and the remains of a huge Roman Amphitheatre.
Otranto is the easternmost city in all of Italy. It was already a major port in the days of the ancient Greeks. Some of the city walls are still standing. Make sure that you visit the Spanish Castello (Castle) and the Norman Catedrale (Cathedral). Then take the coastal road to Leuca with its lighthouse and marina.
Apulia’s classified foods include two Cheeses, Clementines, Olives, and four Olive Oils. Be sure to see our companion article I Love Touring Italy – Eastern Apulia for a sample menu and more information on Apulia wines as well as an in-depth examination of eastern Apulia’s tourist attractions. The choice of local wine is so great that before long you should find at least one to your liking. And there’s a fairly good chance that it will be a bargain.
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