Owing to its rising reputation with international vacationers, it’s been described as “the brand new Tuscany” – however the southern area of Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot, is radically completely different from its northern counterpart, says Stanley Stewart in Condé Nast Traveller.
Perched on the very fringe of Europe and all however surrounded by the ocean, it appears like an island – “a spot aside” – its white “cubist” homes harking back to North Africa, its labyrinthine cities of the backstreets of Istanbul. It’s gritty, “uncooked edged” and “flooded with ocean mild”, and its local weather is so heat that individuals from elsewhere in Italy come right here to sunbathe in October. They’re drawn by its meals, too, and by its “simplicity”. Puglia to them is “dolce far niente – the candy languor of doing nothing”.
Though one of many poorest areas of Italy now, it was as soon as “the centre of the recognized world”. Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Venetians and Turks all got here right here “searching for fame and fortune”. And the reminiscence of these days lingers within the “echoing” palaces and “barn-like” church buildings in its cities, and in its historic fortified farmhouses, or masserie, lots of which have been remodeled into luxurious properties. In Salento, the area’s southernmost stretch – a “stark, bony place” the place wild figs, pomegranates and “contorted” olive timber develop in profusion – historic watchtowers gaze throughout the Adriatic in direction of the mountains of Albania.
On Salento’s west coast, the attractive metropolis of Gallipoli sits on a promontory “like a ship, midway to Africa”, and alongside its east coast lie superb cities akin to Santa Maria di Leuca, the place St Peter is claimed to have landed on his approach to Rome. However the “star flip” not solely of Salento however of the entire of southern Italy is Lecce, “the Florence of the south”, a metropolis “like a movie set”, with nice eating places, modern artwork galleries, and a few fantastic and weird baroque structure.