Secrets of Puglia – Discover Unexpected Italy

June 22, 2023

Summer is here and we are in search for new destinations. If you want combination of clear mediterranean waters, great beaches but also to feel local culture, gastronomy and music this is right place for you. It is time to discover some hidden secrets of southern Adriatic coast, it is time for Puglia.

Authentic and contemporary, Puglia is a mosaic of cultures, art, nature, architecture, traditional crafts, and luscious food & wine, a unique experience across the enchanting Puglian landscapes, among authentic villages, sea caves, nature reserves
and parks, all surrounded by the Mediterranean scrub and century-old olive trees. The sense of continuity with the past and a strong Southern identity make Puglia a true “Unexpected Italy” experience. Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 850 kilometers of coastline, boundless prairies, old villages, fascinating sea caves, sunny farms, ancient olive trees, maze-like alleys and countless other genuine places make for a set-scene to wander, off the beaten track of customary destinations.

You can read more about Puglia on this free online book:

One of the best kept secrets of mediterranean is beautiful archipelago in northern shores of Puglia -Tremiti islands. The enchanting archipelago of the Tremiti Islands is considered a true paradise, thanks to its sea beds, caves, and unspoiled landscapes. The Tremiti Islands are in the Adriatic Sea, twelve nautical miles off the Gargano’s northern coast. A Marine Nature Reserve since 1989, the region’s only archipelago is made up of San Domino, the most populated and tourist of the islands; the small isle of San Nicola; the uninhabited Capraia; the islets of Cretaccio and La Vecchia; and, further out, the island of Pianosa.

The island of San Nicola is the historical heart of the Tremiti Islands. It’s dominated by the fortified towers of San Nicola and the Abbey of Santa Maria a Mare, with its mosaic floor and imposing walls. From the abbey’s elegant cloister, a panoramic trail circles the island leading to several Greek tombs. San Domino’s lighthouse is the symbol of the archipelago’s largest island, which is covered by forests of Aleppo pines.

Along the coast, rocks crumble inside sea caves accessible only by boat. Must-sees include the Grotta del Bue Marino and Punta di Ponente, where you can see the remains of a Roman ship. Capraia is just a short distance from San Domino. Uninhabited and wild, it is a paradise for scuba divers, who can enjoy breathtaking dives at Punta Secca and Cala dei Turchi.

But Puglia is more then just beautiful beaches, cliffs and sandy shores. It is place where you will find numerous medieval villages, romanesque cathedrals, churches and castles. One of the tourists favorite is Molfetta, medieval town very close to regional capital – Bari. Bell towers, defensive towers and precious archaeological finds of Neolithic age are the treasure trove of Molfetta, a charming town by the sea. Molfetta, less than 20 km north from Bari, is one of the most important fishing centre in the region. The historic centre, famous for its “fishbone shaped” alleys, is dominated by the Romanesque Duomo of San Corrado, an architectural gem of the old city with two towers, and also by the Torrione Passari, belonging to the ancient city walls, the Church of Sant’Andrea and the Diocesan Museum. Outside the old town walls, there is the Cathedral of Assunta, which contains the relics of San Corrado, the Patron Saint Molfetta.

Barletta is also one of the hidden gems of Puglia. The scene of a historical tournament (known as the ‘Challenge’) between Italian and French knights, Barletta enthrals with its castle, Palatine basilica and Impressionist masterpieces. A provincial capital, along with Andria and Trani, Barletta is located south of the Gargano promontory and the Gulf of Manfredonia.
A renowned Art City, Barletta’s important patrimony comprises elegant architecture and precious museum collections. The heart of the historical old town is the Castle, one of Southern Italy’s most beautiful Renaissance fortresses, which now houses the Civic Museum. A few steps away from here, there is the Cathedral, one of the few examples of a Palatine basilica in Puglia. Barletta is well-known for its famous challenge and visitors can go back in time by visiting the Tavern of the Challenge, a national monument located inside a 14th century palace. Just outside the historic centre, Palazzo della Marra is home to the
Pinacoteca Giuseppe De Nittis, with more than 200 paintings by Barletta’s Impressionist artist.

Margherita di Savoia Saltapns are the biggest saltpans in Europe and place that you have to discover. Guardians of “white gold,” the Margherita di Savoia Saltapns dates back thousands of years, its history reflected in its outstanding industrial archaeology and Historical Museum. The Margherita di Savoia Saltpans sit on a plateau of the Tavoliere delle Puglie overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The largest saltpans in Italy, and one of the most extensive in the entire Mediterranean basin, it’s made up of a vast expanse of still water divided into pools for the production of sea salt. In times past, this was the site of Lake Salpi. The lake’s salt deposits were exploited in the Neolithic period, and later by the Greeks and Romans.

Bisceglie is pefect for day trips on the boat where you can explore various beaches and cliffs of Puglia. Enclosed by the ancient walls, the old city offers a rich historical and architectural heritage just a few steps from the Adriatic. The ancient walls of the Aragonese age surround the historic center, made up of paved alleys and narrow streets, guarded by the Swabian castle, with three towers: here ancient noble palaces stand out, such as Palazzo Tupputi, with its refined rustication, the Abbey of Sant’Adoeno, the Church of Santa Margherita and the splendid Romanesque Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo, from the Norman era, the heart of the old city. Outside the ancient city walls, Bisceglie makes a fine show of churches, convents, palaces, villas and farmhouses, while in the countryside the testimonies of a rich past are preserved in excellent condition, such
as the Frisari, Chianca and Albarosa dolmens, the prehistoric remains of the Grotta di Santa Croce, the traces of the Via Traiana. Among the most beautiful stretches of coast in the area, Bisceglie offers an enchanting coastline, characterized by wide beaches and coves such as Cala Pantano, a wetland with a small natural inlet, or the Ripalta Caves.

Manfredonia is your gateway to Gargano peninsula. Between the sea and the land, a treasure trove of history and culture by the Gulf of Manfredonia, offering a breathtaking and unspoiled landscape. Manfredonia, 48 km away from Foggia, is located
on Gargano slopes, on the shore of the gulf. Manfred, king of Sicily, abandoned the port of the old Siponto to found this town. The beautiful Cathedral and the Swabian- Angevine fortress, dropping sheer into the sea, the seat of the National Archaeological Museum, were also designed by Manfred. Here it is possible to admire the ruins of the ancient Sipontum, together with the archaeological finds of Coppa Nevigata and Saraceno Mountain, and the fascinating Basilica Santa Maria di Siponto. Not far away from here, there is the Abbey of San Leonardo, built by Knights Templar and an important stop-off along the pilgrims’ route Via Francigena of the South.