Apulia

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Apulia  is a region of Italy in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto to the south.

Its southernmost portion, known as the Salento peninsula, forms a “tacco” or heel on the boot of Italy. The region comprises 19,345 square kilometers (7,469 sq mi), and its population is about four million. It is bordered by the other Italian regions of Molise to the north, Campania to the west, and Basilicata to the southwest. Across the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, it faces Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, and Montenegro, The Apulia region extends as far north as Monte Gargano. Its capital city is Bari.

History : Apulia is one of the richest archaeological regions in Italy. It was first colonized by Mycenaean Greeks. A number of castles were built in the area by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, including Castel del Monte, sometimes called the “Crown of Apulia”. After 1282, when the island of Sicily was lost, Apulia was part of the Kingdom of Naples (confusingly known also as the Kingdom of Sicily), and remained so until the unification of Italy in the 1860s. This kingdom was independent under the House of Anjou from 1282 to 1442, then was part of Aragon until 1458, after which it was again independent under a cadet branch of the House of Trastamara until 1501. As a result of the French–Spanish war of 1501–1504, Naples again came under the rule of Aragon and the Spanish Empire from 1504 to 1714. When Barbary pirates of North Africa sacked Vieste in 1554, they took an estimated 7,000 slaves. The coast of Apulia was occupied at times by the Turks and at other times by the Venetians.

In 1861 the region became part of the Kingdom of Italy, with the new capital city at Turin. In the words of one historian, Turin was “so far away that Otranto is today closer to seventeen foreign capitals than it is to Turin”

Provinces : The region is divided into six provinces:
Metropolitan City of Bari (BA)
The famous “Trulli” of Alberobello, pictoresque old town of the capital with its vibrant nightlife, characteristic old ports.
Barletta-Andria-Trani (BT)
The majestic Castel del Monte, enchanting old towns on the Adriatic sea rich of churches and castles.
Brindisi (BR)
The “white town” of Ostuni, inland towns rich of interesting architectures, Brindisi port with ferries to Albania and Greece.
Foggia (FG)
Gargano National Park with Tremiti islands, small medieval villages on the Apennines and relevant religious sites and itinenaries.
Lecce (LE)
The impressive Baroque architectures of Lecce, small towns rich of festivals and tradictions, wonderful beaches and caves to explore, expenses of olive trees.
Taranto (TA)
Historic centre and museums of Taranto, Messapian and Greek archaeological sites and many beach resorts

Cities :
Bari — (capital) the largest city on the Adriatic Sea with an enchanting old town, Romanesque churches and many elegant buildings
2 Altamura — in the Alta Murgia National Park, famous for its Romanesque cathedral, prehistoric sites and its typical bread
3 Brindisi — elegant seafront on the Adriatic Sea, Roman age remains and two castles situated in front of the sea
4 Foggia — main centre of the plain of Tavoliere delle Puglie (Table of the Apulias), ancient Swabian imperial town
5 Lecce — called the “Florence of the South” for its magnificent baroque churches and buildings, it also has Roman theater and amphitheater
6 Martina Franca — main centre of Itria Valley with an old town characterised by typical white houses
7 Monopoli — beautiful medieval port town on the Adriatic coast
8 Ostuni — magic locality known as the “white town” for the color of its historical centre’s houses
9 Taranto — ancient Greek city with a relevant National Archaeological Museum (MArTA) and many sights of different ages

Other destinations :
Alberobello — (literally “beautiful tree”), magic village known in the world for its famous “trulli” (UNESCO World Heritage)
2 Andria — with the medieval fortress of Castel del Monte, built by Emperor Frederick II (UNESCO World Heritage)
3 Gallipoli — (meaning “beautiful city”), a fascinating old town situated on an island and sandy beach resorts
4 Monte Sant’Angelo — characteristic village situated on the Gargano promontory, with the Longobard Sanctuary of San Michele (UNESCO World Heritage)
5 Otranto — the easternmost town of Italy and one of its most beautiful villages
6 Specchia — one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, in the heart of Salento
7 Tremiti Islands — stunning archipelago in the Adriatic Sea.

Access : Coordinates: 41.008611, 16.512778 / By plane :  Bari Palese international airport has flights to international destinations including the UK, Belgium and Germany and flights to Italian destinations including Milan and Rome. From Brindisi Airport, there are flights to Switzerland and the UK as well as Italian destinations. From the UK, Ryanair flies to Bari and Brindisi from Stansted in London and Manchester. British Airways also flies to Bari with a summer schedule.

By train : Train from Rome can take about 6 hours and is usually very packed. Don’t forget to validate your ticket! By car :  The region is served by two “autostrade” (toll motorways): Autostrada A14 Italia.svg — Adriatic Motorway, links Bologna to Taranto passing through the major towns of northern and central Apulia
Autostrada A16 Italia.svg — Motorway of the Two Seas, links Naples to Canosa passing through the Apennines / For more info you can check the site of Autostrade per l’Italia.

By bus :  Autolinee Marino is a bus company who offers efficient and affordable links from the mayor cities of Apulia to different destinations in Italy and Europe, such as Frankfurt, Grenoble, Lyon, Munich, Stuttgart, Zurich and others. Miccolis lines provide connections from many towns of the region to Basilicata and Campania. This company also performs useful urban and intercity services.  By boat :  There are many ferry companies providing service several times daily from Greece (Cephalonia, Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Patras, Zante) to Bari and Brindisi.

Attractions : There are many things worth seeing in Puglia, especially the Trulli in Alberobello and other places, Trani, the old town in Bari, and the beaches of Monopoli. Other popular tourist sights are the Castellana Grotte, the Castel del Monte, the castle of Frederick II, Polignano a Mare, Ascoli Satriano, Conversano, Martina Franca, and Ostuni, the “white city”.

Santa Maria al Bagno is a small fishing village, district of Nardo, on the coastline of the Gulf of Taranto, on the west coast of the Ionian Sea. It has beautiful unspoilt beaches all along the coast. Santa Maria al Bagno is approximately 45 min travelling time by car from Brindisi and 1h 30 min from Bari. There are several food shops in the village, restaurants, pubs, bars open in summer 24h a day, a chemist, a post office, newsagent shops and a weekly market every Sunday. Lots of large supermarkets, shopping centres and fashion boutiques are in the town nearby such as Nardo, Galatina, Gallipoli and Lecce.

Activities : Take a bike tour along the coast. Apulia has an extensive network of small country lanes making it ideal for biking.
Festivals : Festivals /  Some annual events are really not to be missed, the most relevant ones are:

Notte della Taranta (Night of Tarantula),   A large itinerant festival of popular Salento music (Pizzica and Taranta) that takes place in the first half of August, culminating in a final open-air concert in the municipality of Melpignano, province of Lecce. The night of the great concert (concertone) has each year a different national-famous music director and involves more than 100.000 spectators.
A large number of minor local festivals (sagre) take place in every area of the region, especially during the summer season, representing a truly immersive way to discover local food and music.

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