PUGLIA TRAVEL GUIDE - PUGLIA (APULIA), SOUTHERN ITALY
It only gets better in Puglia
Puglia is in South Italy, often referred to as ‘the heel of Italy’s boot’. Flanked by the Adriatic and Ionian seas on either side, it boasts of fabulous weather, whitewashed towns, alluring emerald water beaches and irresistible Puglian cuisine. Although Bari is the capital port of this region and has its own set of historic castles, no trip to Puglia is complete without a visit to Lecce. Tucked away in the Salento sub peninsula and sometimes described as the ‘Florence of the south’, Lecce is brimming with baroque buildings and beautifully carved Lecce stone (a soft limestone) giving a warm glow to the winding alleys and cobbled streets. Lecce is a walking town and it is fascinating to see the peaceful laid back afternoons come alive by night when the city is lit up beautifully, adding a charming facet to this little town. You might run into some visually arresting papier-mâché art work as well, for which this region is very well known.
In the middle of this fairy tale atmosphere, let us take you to experience the ‘cucina povera’ (poor man’s cooking) tradition that originated mainly in southern Italy, meaning simple cuisine prepared using home grown or farm fresh local produce. Make sure you take a cooking lesson with us to understand the deep rooted food and wine culture of Puglia.
Here, at The Awaiting Table , hosted by its renowned owner himself, we provide one such great opportunity for an insight into authentic Southern Italian ways of pasta making, mediterranean style cooking, rosè tasting and learning about Extra Virgin. Apart from warm hospitality, we offer a variety of Cooking Courses for a day, a week-long cookery courses and short cooking classes in Puglia. Some even involve bicycling through the olive groves or cooking in an Italian castle. One could easily lose count of hours while working with such extraordinary flavors and age-old recipes in the very place of their origins, mingling and exchanging thoughts over them with family, friends or even strangers. It is a paradise for food enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs, to say the least. As for the others, it could undoubtedly be a bunch of memorable moments to cherish for the rest of their lives.
Here in Salento, locals love their ‘peasant life’ and cooking with an unbeatable array of vegetables and fruits in the most resourceful way. Artichokes, turnip greens, aubergines, peppers, asparagus, chicory, fennel, figs, pears and the ubiquitous tomato of various kinds grow abundantly in the fertile Salento soil. Also, let’s not forget the olives, and the variety of grapes! Primitivo and Negroamaro grapes, are native to this region. One of the most eminent and remarkable wines in the world is produced here. Some wineries are hundreds of years old, making the conventional processes of winemaking even more exclusive.
In Italy, each region has its own style of pasta. Puglia has the endearing ‘Orecchiette’– literally meaning ‘small ears’, an ear shaped pasta we usually serve with broccoli rabe or fresh cherry tomatoes. To eat a bowlful of it is pure pleasure; learning to make it is priceless. When it comes to Puglian ‘dolce’ (dessert), the beautifully brown buttery Pasticciotto will surely make you salivate.
You would not want to leave Puglia without a visit to Alberobello (a UNESCO world heritage site known for its unique conical huts called trulli) and other spectacular towns like Ostuni, Otranto, Gallipoli to name just a few. Or, you might not want to leave at all.