Puglia is located in the “heel of the boot” of Italy. Surrounded on three sides by water, this area of Italy has spectacular sea views, delicious food, antique ruins and contemporary amenities. Rapidly becoming a popular destination for vacationers around the world, there is much to explore, admire and enjoy. The following five villages are among the most appealing of the many charming towns found in this region.
About eight kilometers from the coast, Ostuni shimmers in the sunlight, its white walls giving it the name “the white city.” There have been inhabitants in this area since the Stone Age with the usual shift of one ruling civilization after another layering the city with various cultural and architectural elements. The Old Town is surrounded by ancient walls within which you will find a seemingly chaotic arrangement of streets, the result of its organic construction during the Medieval period when the buildings and alleys were seemingly piled one on top of another. Visit the beautiful Gothic cathedral which was built in the 15th century and enjoy the stunning views of the countryside and sea from the viewpoint on Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle.
Considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Locorotondo is located on a hill in Valle d’Istria. Climb to the centro storico to get the best panoramic views of the countryside. As with most Italian towns, there are plenty of churches to explore. Make sure you stop by Chiesa Madre di San Giorgio, Chiesa San Rocco and Chiesa della Madonna della Greca which is built in the Romanesque style. Famous for its white wine, take time to relax at a cafe and savor a glass (or two) while enjoying the ambience of this lovely village.
Also situated on a hilltop in Valle d’Istria, Martina Franca is one of the largest towns in the area. Originally a walled city (like so many Italian towns) with twenty four towers and four gates, it has lost some of the towers but still retains most of the wall as well as the Baroque and Renaissance gates. With a plethora of charming squares, this is another village ideal for strolling around, stopping to visit one of the many churches, including the beautiful Baroque Basilica di San Martino and San Domenico Church. As with all of these villages, save time to just wander aimlessly along the labyrinthine streets, enjoying the architecture, shops and cafes.
Dating back to at least the 3rd century BC, Lecce was a Roman town and you can still visit the ruins of its immense 25000 seat amphitheater. In the 17th century, the entire town was reconstructed along Baroque lines and remains a fine example of Baroque architecture and design. Strolling around its mazelike streets you can enjoy such architectural beauties as the Basilica di Santa Croce and the Norman Church of Saints Nicolo and Cataldo, built by King Tancred of Sicily in 1180. Among many fascinating buildings, don’t miss the Castle of Charles V built around 1540. The fortresslike exterior gives way to the elegantly designed interior.
Alberobello is a village in the province of Bari and is famous as the home of the largest group of Puglia’s “trulli,” white washed limestone buildings with corbel roofs constructed solely with stones and no mortar (dry stone construction). This method of construction dates back to prehistory, however the trulli in Alberobello are believed to have been constructed around the 14th or 15th century. These unique buildings exist only in Puglia and though some are still dwellings, many have been turned into shops, restaurants and places to stay. Just wandering around Alberobello, appreciating the extraordinary trulli-lined streets is reason enough to visit this village but take the time to visit the small museum, Trullo Sovrano, as well as the Sant’Antonio Church and Casa d’Amore built in 1797.
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