Text and pictures by – VIRGINIA STAGNI

 

 

Today is the day we start our month long tour of the heel of Italy in order to discover what can almost be defined as a small continent because of the diversity of its colors, flavors, and traditions. It’s nearly impossible for its traveler to get tired of this great region we call, Puglia, characterized by a long history filled with myths and mysteries that will turn anyone’s stay into a fruitful cultural experience for both mind and body. My experience is one that has to be shared, especially with the readers of Revolart, being as they live for culture.

 

My short tour starts in the region’s capital and ends in Leuca, and even goes into part of the unexplored region of Basilicata. In part of my journey I was accompanied by my native friends and their families who made my visit even more authentic and genuine than it would have been had I traveled alone. They guided me through my trip and opened a whole new door for me, a door filled with the inviting scents and the nuances of this land so rich and, unfortunately, overlooked by Italians. The artistic and cultural heritage of Puglia is endless and I will merely attempt to enclose all of its history and culture in these short written and photographic reportages in order to share my experience with you, the followers of Revolart.

locorotondo_vecchio

Gazes in that of the village of Locorotondo

 

I invite you to follow in my footsteps and relive part of my trip if you haven’t planned anything yet for the last part of this summer, or if in the future you plan on spending a few days there, I recommend the first few days of autumn or June (times when I’ve heard that Puglia is at the peak of its beauty).

 

lecce_rosario

Rosary Church or the Church of San Giovanni Battista, Lecce, sunset

 

The different architectural trails reflect the complex history of the region and allow the traveler to discover the most diverse traditions all meshed into one. From the Romanesque Bari art to the Baroque surroundings of Salento, from the flavors of the fruits of the Earth to those of the Sea, from the popular fetishistic and religious traditions to the engaging dances, and from the picturesque sunrises to the frgrant pink sunsets.

pescatori_gallipo

Fishermen clean mussels in the Gallipoli port

 

What do you need to relive my trip? A light suitcase with comfortable clothing and walking shoes, a good amount of money to spend purely on food, wine, and for the rental of a car, a good camera and a large dose of curiosity, skill, and resourcefulness.

luminarie

Illuminations at the Festival of the patron San Gaetano, Lizzano, Taranto

 

Either alone or with friend, Puglia will make you feel like you’re always at home. To me, it was both a cathartic journey, perfect after hectic months spent in Milan, as well as a discovery of new traditions and formae mentis different from mine. My suggestion is to adapt to the habits, the hours, and the colors of this region in order to live it to its fullest.

relax_otranto

Relax on the Otranto waterfront

 

Open your palate to the strong flavors and set aside that diet you have been on, leave it for when you get back home. Here, food is not a necessity: it is faith, a religion, and will make up half of your cultural experience in Puglia.

pasticciotto

Pasticciotto leccese (typical pasty from Lecce)

 

Once you arrive to Bari, rent a car (not before otherwise it will be impossible to move through the fantastic hinterland villages), and start driving. Follow a variety of routes, randomly (I hope mine interest you), turn on Radio Norba and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Southern heel of Italy.

bottega fabbro ostuni

Blacksmith and his shop – Ostuni

 

Now ready, set, go.

 

risciòvisi

My Revolart colleague, Camilla Abbruzzese, and I in an alternative tour of the city of Lecce

 

 

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