Puglia Portrait: South Eastern Italy

Puglia is the heel of Italy that stretches down from the spur of the Italian boot. Littered across this region of mesmerizing landscapes and picturesque cities are Romanesque cathedrals, Gothic castles, a wealth of Baroque architecture, and rupestrian churches with Byzantine frescoes. Though always popular with Italians, Puglia has been neglected by tourists, who for many years favored Tuscany and Umbria. The region is now, however, hastily emerging from their shadow. All of a sudden, there are radio and television features; travel supplements lavish praise on its beaches and cuisine; supermarkets stock Puglian wine, olive oil, and pasta; and yet, despite all this attention, almost nothing has been written in English on Puglia since the days of Norman Douglas and the Sitwells.

This is not a holiday history or a canter through Puglia’s past, but a thoughtful look—often through the eyes of previous travelers, for Puglia’s landscape has changed remarkably little over the years—at a region inextricably intertwined with its past. We are introduced to its heroes, meet its people, and visit its shrines; we sample its food and savor its beauty.