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Visit Puglia, Italy for Unspoiled Beauty
One of Europe's most popular countries to visit is Italy. However, I wonder how many have given thought to traveling to the relatively undiscovered and therefore unspoiled Puglia.
Now you can picture where Puglia is, you can recognize is as a land between two seas. This scenic part of Italy embraces 500 miles of beaches along the Ionian and Adriatic coastline.
Along with 15th century convents Puglia also offers 21st century resorts with distinctive wines and food.
Architecture is one of Puglia's greatest draws. Here in Puglia you will witness architecture that is Gothic, Romanesque, baroque as well as the white-washed Greek style villages that remind us that Puglia was part of the Magna Grecia and was colonized by the Greeks before being conquered by Rome.
Talking of conquerors Puglia has had many including Arabs. Normans and the Bourbons with each leaving its own mark.
For the traveler who is interested in food and wine Puglia is heading for new horizons with a home based cuisine. This cuisine has not been influenced by restaurants or great chefs but has been created mostly by women hence the term home-based cuisine.
This cuisine is based on olive oil, which is one of the regions great products. Plus of course olives as the countryside is covered with olive groves. On your travels you will be able to stop for tastings and be able to purchase some of this luscious olive oil which is now on a par with that produced in Liguria and Tuscany.
The wines produced in Puglia are in general spicy reds that are similar to a well-made California Zinfandel. And, as has the olive oil graduated to compete with top producers so have the wines which have now graduated from bulk to worldly bottling.
Now, add to your glass of wine some artisanal sheep cheeses, such as pecorino and ricotta, artichokes and mushrooms and mussels followed by some amazing ice-cream you surely will have a banquet.
Places to stay
Puglia offers its visitors a variety of hotels in every shape and size and also accommodation that will fit every budget.
For true authenticity I would suggest that you choose to stay in a masseria. A masseria is a traditional fortified farmhouse or hamlet that is often walled and gated.
II Melograno is one of the first conversions of a masseria to tourist accommodation and offers 37 rooms, a spa, an 18-hole golf course and access to the beach. Situated outside Monopoli on the Adriatic coast a double room with breakfast starts from $462.
For a less grand masseria consider staying at II Frantoio. II Frantoio is comparable to a five-star agriturismo and is known for its relaxed atmosphere. Here there are just eight rooms each named after a flower and the part of the masseria which dates back to the 19th century sits in the midst of a large olive grove.
The sea is less than ten minutes away and mountain bikes are available. The food offered here is based on products from the farm and on local food traditions. A double room and breakfast here starts at $140.
Puglia is beautiful and unspoiled so now is the time to get acquainted.