TOURING PUGLIA – my top 5 must do list

Puglia is the region found in the south of Italy – it is a 400km long strip of land from north to south, that makes up the heel of Italy. For centuries it was a strategic province, colonized, invaded and conquered by the invading Greeks, Romans , Normans, Swabians, Spanish and French. As a result beautiful fortresses and castles built by the Swabian King Frederick II in medieval times are a testament to the power it once held. Today the gorgeous coastline with its pristine beaches are so different to the rest of Italy, the white washed stone villages perched atop the hillsides and the boundless ancient olive trees (numbering in the 40 million plus!) dot the Puglia countryside. 
Having 2 major airports in Bari and Brindisi have opened up the region of Puglia and make a perfect starting point for any Puglia tour programme or custom tour.

WHETHER YOU WOULD LOVE TO HAVE AN APERITIVO, VISIT TRUE ARTISANS, STAY IN AUTHENTIC ITALIAN ACCOMMODATION, EXPLORE ANCIENT HILLTOP VILLAGES AND HAVE TIME TO WATCH THE WORLD GO BY WITH A CAFFE’ AND PASTICCERIA, THEN IT IS ALL POSSIBLE WHEN YOU TOUR PUGLIA WITH LUCIANA.  
FIND OUT MORE ON WHAT LUCIANA IS OFFERING FROM 2015

HERE ARE MY 5 TOP TIPS TO DO & EAT IN PUGLIA:

PictureCAFFE’ CENTONOVE in TRANI

1) LA DOLCE VITA BECKONS in TRANI:  STOP FOR A COFFEE 

Walking down one of the larger streets in Trani you will come across this great caffe’ – modern, sleek and clean however the traditional espresso or macchiato is served here in style. Try the millefoglie – delicious flaky vanilla custard slice, Italian style that is! Also the to die for bigne filled with fresh cream is a must..
Read more here on their Facebook page:


PicturePAPER MACHE’ ARTISAN in LECCE
2) PAPER MACHE’ ARTISAN in LECCE:
Heading to Lecce – the majestic Baroque town towards the very south of Italy, you will discover the traditional craft of paper mache’.
The true artisan here is Claudio Riso  who has been crafting exquisite pieces in paper mache’ for nearly 50 years. Having studied from another master this baroque tradition in Lecce is sure to carry on. This craft developed by the poor for the nobility in the 17th and 18th centuries in Lecce. It seemed to arise alongside the expert stonemasons working with the white stone of Lecce (limestone), whereas with paper mache’ the end product could imitate weightier more solid silver, bronze or marble. Themes were mainly religious with many nativity scenes created.
Read more here on TripAdvisor:
You can admire  his craft in action here in this video.

PictureMASSERIA – COUNTRY FARMHOUSE in PUGLIA
3) STAY IN A RESTORED COUNTRY
FARMHOUSE IN PUGLIA
This is THE way to experience authentic southern Italy at its best.
Found on the path less travelled and far more rewarding than staying in a hotel this is just what you need..
They are restored farmhouses usually built with a central closed courtyard and high fences around for defence in times gone by. The wealthy landowners built such large estates where they cultivated the endless olive trees, vineyards, grazing their sheep and some cattle and cultivating their crops. Often you can also find an ancient olive mill deep under ground.
Some of these masserie have been restored with modern facilities with pools and even spa areas.. What a way to explore Italy!

4) VISIT A WHITEWASHED HILLTOP VILLAGE in PUGLIA
This whitewashed village of CEGLIE MESSAPICA is in the province of BRINDISI and is where you can lose yourself wandering the alleyways, climbing the ancient medieval castle and taking photos at every turn.
I absolutely loved it here and had the most fabulous meal in Ceglie. Historically it was where a Greek settlement formed in the 7th century BC. The local people were known as the messapi who fought the Greeks who wanted to control the nearby port of Otranto.
Read how Carla Coulson Australian photographer saw Ceglie Messapica when she was there in 2014.
5) ENJOY AN APERITIVO ITALIANO IN PUGLIA – ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!
An absolute must in Italy is aperitivo time. Traditionally served at lunch time from around 11 am – 1pm and then again an aperitivo before dinner from around 6-9pm. I love my apparel spritz with Aperol bitters, Prosecco sparkling Italian wine, Soda, ice and a slice of orange. Of course in true Italian style, aperitifs are served with a delicious array of appetisers. Here in LECCE I had taralli crisp bread (recipe already in a previous blog – SEE RECIPE HERE), black olives, sorpressa salami and focaccia barese (Bari style) with tomatoes, extravirgin olive oil and oregano!