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Escape to a land of contrasts on a holiday to Puglia

Rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, low-lying hills and heritage architecture – holidays in Puglia can feel like five holidays rolled into one. Puglia – Apulia in English – makes up the ‘heel’ of Italy’s boot in the south east. Bordering the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, Puglia is not as developed as the north of the country but its diverse history – influences came from the Normans, Spanish, Turks, Swabians and Greeks – and consequent varied charms mean it’s becoming increasingly popular on the tourist circuit.

Puglia – where coastline meets countryside

Whether you remain in one area or explore the whole region holidays to Puglia are rich in diversity, from the castles of Frederick || to the Salentine coast. The north is breathtakingly beautiful with Foggia’s Gargano Promontory. Tall cliffs and crashing waves are broken up by small fishing villages perfect for those looking for a touch of nature. A short boat ride away lies the Archipelago of Tremiti, 3 pristine islands that could be confused with paradise.

The capital, Bari, oozes tradition. The old town’s maze of streets and heritage of Romanesque art are extraordinary, and best represented by the Basilica of St Nicolas which is one of the most impressive in the region.

A visit to the unique area of Murge is also essential on holidays in Puglia. A vast plateau, the region’s farming history shines through here, with olive groves, wheat fields, almond groves and vineyards aplenty. The Iria Valley is a popular attraction on holidays to Puglia – it’s populated by thousands of trulli, white cone-shaped barns which make for a fairytale-like landscape. The ‘white city’ of Otsuni is also a must. Situated on a ridge overlooking an olive grove backed by blue sky, the baroque palaces weaved between white houses will be an image you’ll never forget.

A holiday to Puglia would be incomplete without experiencing its astonishing 800 km coastline – Italy’s longest. Lecce, the most-southern part of the country known as the ‘Florence of the south’, houses unique and extraordinary baroque architecture. Salento, the peninsula which extends between the Ionian and Adriatic Sea is breathtaking. While the Adriatic coast’s hidden inlets and cliffs are still largely untouched by tourists, the Ionian side is more developed, with sandy shores and tourist hubs such as Torre San Giovanni, Gallipoli and Porto Cesareo.

Food on holidays to Puglia is as rich and wholesome as the region itself. The olive oil is renowned, and is the perfect complement to Puglia’s staples, fresh seafood and vegetables. The mussels come highly recommended, as does Orecchiette pasta. Wash it down with some Salice Salentino red.

Holidays to Puglia with lastminute.com

If you’re after a slice of authentic and rustic Italy, then look no further than a holiday to Puglia. Endless architecture, walled cities, diverse landscapes and Italy’s most southern peninsula, the diversity of this fascinating region will offer a memorable holiday full of culture, history and relaxation.