Puglia is sun-bleached landscapes, silver olive groves, seascapes, and hilltop and coastal towns. It is a lush, largely flat farming region, skirted by a long coast that alternates between glittering limestone precipices and long sandy beaches.
The heel of Italy juts into the Adriatic and Ionian seas and the waters of both are stunningly beatiful, veering between translucent emerald-green and dusky powder blue. Its extensive coastline beaars the marks of many conquering invaders: the Normans, the Spanish, the Turks, the Swabians and the Greeks. Yet, despite its divers influences, Puglia is authentic.
In a land where the cuisine is all-important, Puglia’s cucina povera is legendary. Olive oil, grapes, tomatoes, eggplants, artichokes, peppers, salami, mushrooms, olives and fresh seafood strain its table. Although boasting some of Italy’s best food and wines, in some places it’s rare to hear a foreign voice. But in July and August Puglia become a huge party, with sagre(festivals, usually involving food), concerts and events, and thousands of Italins tourists heading down here for their annual break.
At times Puglia feels Greek-and for good reason. This tangible legacy dates from when the Greeks founded a string of settlements along the Ionian coast in the 8th century BC. A form of Greek dialect(Griko) is still spoken in some towns southeast of Lecce. Historically, their major city was Taras(Taranto), settled by a Spartan exiles who dominated until they were defeated by the Romans in 272 BC.
The long coastline made the region vulnerable to conquest. The Normans left their fine Romanesque churches, the Swabians their fortifications and the Spanish their flamboyant baroque buildings. No one, however, knows exactly the origins of the extraordinary 16th-century, conical-roofed stone houses, the trulli, unique to Puglia.
Apart from invaders and pirates, malaria was long the greatest scourge of the south, forcing many towns to build away from the coast and into the hills.
After Mussolini’s seizure of power in 1922, the south became the frontline of his ‘Battle for Wheat’. The initiative was aimed at making Italy self-sufficient when it came to food, following the sanctions imposed on the country after its conquest of Ethiopia. Puglia is now covered in wheat fields, olive groves and fruit arbours.
Puglia is home to Italy’s most uncorrupted, braniest, least known vernacular cuisine. It has evolved from cucina povera-litteraly’cooking of the poor’ or peasant cooking, most of Italy fish is caught off the Puglian coast, 80% of Italy’s pasta is procuded here and 80% of Italy’s olive oil originates in Puglia:
Wine : previously known for quantity rather than quality, are now developing apace. The best are produced in Salento(the Salice Salentino is one of the finest reds), in the trulli area around Locorotondo(famous for tits white wine), around Cisternino(home of the fashionable heavy red Primitivo) and in the plains around Foggia and Lucera.
Oil : named the gold of Puglia an ancient and precious food as the area were is obtained
Cheese: cacioricotta scamorze e mozzarelle, mozzarella bufala, caciocavallo, canestrato pugliese, ricotta marzotica, giuncata and pecorino are some of the most famous products, well known all over the world
Capicollo : is a kind of salami obtained using many different ingredients(wine-local herbs from “macchia mediterranea”) and smoked using the wood of a threes of Balcan origin and the meat is from pigs that eat its fruits
Bread : obtained with duro wheat and winegaire is produced in big size( kg 3 ~)
Puglia has a costline about 800 km long and ---------- by area:
pebbles and white rocks up Gargano to Salento
caves between Bari and north of Lecce
white sand dunes with fantastic Pine forest between Gallipoli(LE) and Taranto
But the most beatifull seaside is the area near Lecce where we can find the most various landscape(white sand dunes-caves- sand beaches and wild pine forest).
Another unique characteristic of the peninsula salentina is the traditional dance of Pizzica or Taranta.
In the past the population used to live in the country strictly in contact with the ground and the animals, in between spiders and especially the “tarantola”. Sometimes it happened that during the harvest people would feel bad and faint. The person bitted by the spider usually got in trance and he had no reaction except to the popular music. That’s why the traditional music started to be played to exorcize people bitted by the tarantula and that’s the origin of the name.
Now a days this dance is still very present and danced, also by very young persons. In the last 10 days it has become more important tanks to the summer festival (Notte della Taranta)
promoted by the Assessorato alla Cultura.