Puglia has a wealth of architectural gems along with great food, wine, and beautiful beaches. It is one of our favorite areas of Italy and one of the places we return to again and again.
Given Puglia’s position as a stop along the route to the Holy Land for pilgrimages and crusaders, the region has a series of Romanesque churches built under the auspices of the Normans who controlled the area from 1031 to 1194. In addition, the city of Lecce contains some of the most beautiful Baroque facades in Southern Italy.
Architecture tour of Puglia (view map)
To see the best Romanesque architecture that Puglia has to offer, we recommend visiting Manfredonia, Troia, Trani, Molfetta, Ruvo di Puglia, Bitonto, and Bari. Each city contains one or more churches that offer a unique perspective on the Norman style in Puglia (get our guide to explore Puglia churches during your trip). The churches are interesting from the perspective that they combine elements pulled from both Western and Eastern (Byzantine and Islamic) architectural traditions.
Shifting from the austerity of Puglia’s romanesque churches, we highly recommend a visit to Lecce to experience its fanciful Baroque architecture. Full of movement, the architecture here demands your attention and pulls you into the action.
Where to stay and eat
There are many B&Bs and agritourismi in the area, which serve as a great base to visit the area. One of our favorites is Lama di Luna, a charming agritourismo located near Andria (the home of buratta, a fresh cheese made of mozzarella and cream). They also serve a delicious dinner with wine for 30 EUR per person.
Agritourismo: Lama di Luna
Loc. Montegrosso, 70031 Andria, Bari
In Lecce we recommend a quaint apartment/B&B that overlooks the rooftops of the city. A tip: the loft offers the best views and is sunnier and more private. Also, for dining, don’t miss Cucina Casereccia, a delightful restaurant where the chef cooks from an open kitchen that opens right into the dining area. Everything is delicious, but the the starters and pasta are incredible.
B&B: Roof Barocco Suite
Piazzetta Arte della Stampa n.13, 73100 Lecce
Restaurant: Cucina Casereccia (aka Le Zie)
Via Costadura, 19, Lecce
Closed Sunday evening and Monday
Don’t miss: Puglia’s local specialties
Each region of Italy has its unique specialties and distinct culinary tradition, and the Puglia is no different. Puglia’s regional dishes are extremely varied and include seafood, meat, and vegetables. Top dishes include capocollo a highly-regarded dried ham from Martina Franca, ciceri e tria, chickpeas and tagliatelle (delicious!), and cime di rapa (broccoli rabe).
The area is also a top area for good wines, especially Puglia’s red wines. Look for wines based on the aglianico and nero di troia (aka uva di troia) grapes. The wines have significant fruit and depth of flavor with aromas of candied fruit and violets. The regions full-bodied roses are also worth seeking out.