Magical Puglia has a unique and captivating landscape covered with vineyards, olive groves and vegetable patches separated by charming stone walls. Puglia's sandy beaches are a big draw too. This region is also known for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the town of Alberobello filled with trulli and the Baroque city of Lecce, considered "the Florence of southern Italy".
From baroque buidings to whitewashed little towns with funny houses, from amazing sandy beaches to gorgeous countryside sceneries Puglia is an amazing destination in southernest Italy for many reasons, but the food alone is reason enough to visit. As you can imagine, this post focuses on the gastronomic delights of Puglia for foodies and wine lovers but also provides some tips on where to eat.
Our insider list of the top 10 destinations in Puglia for foodies and wine lovers
The beauty of Puglia is the variety of dishes, wines and outstanding culinary traditions. Many different rulers (from the Spanish to the French and the Turks) have influenced not just the architecture and language but also the cuisine and wines. From town to town, even just three miles apart, culinary traditions and wines can change dramatically. Interested in learning about the rich culinary tradition of this beautiful region? Here our guide to the top 10 destinations in Puglia for foodies and wine lovers planning a trip Italy.
In Gallipoli, you cannot miss the famous red shrimps in a sea salt crust served with very fruity extra virgin olive oil from Squinzano. Visit the local seafood market to taste raw shrimps, sea urchins, shellfish and local oysters. Pair them with a glass of the local white Verdeca or Malvasia Bianca or with the famous rose wine made from the Negroamaro grape.
Recommended restaurant in Gallipoli: Il Pettolino Gallipoli
Otranto and the Southern Adriatic Coast
Otranto and the Southern Adriatic coast from Castro to Santa Maria di Leuca are also fantastic places for those who love seafood. The typical dish in this area is the sea bass in sea salt crust. For sea urchins head to Porto Badisco. Near Santa Maria di Leuca you should not miss the tubettini pasta with zuppa di pesce (tomato sauce made with seafood).
Recommended restaurant in Otranto: Retro Gusto
Lecce is famous for many different things: I would say that the thing you should not miss in Lecce is the orecchiette pasta with broccoli. Other famous local dishes from Lecce that you will not find anywhere else in Puglia are: the pasta with chickpeas (ciceri e tria), the pasticciotto, a sweet made with lemon custard, and the rustico stuffed with mozzarella and tomato sauce, which is a typical dish to have as an aperitif before lunch.
Recommended restaurant in Lecce: Osteria di Lecce
Among locals, Ceglie Messapica is considered as one of the best destinations in Puglia for foodies and wine lovers. The cuisine is based on pasta, vegetables and meat: from caciocavallo cheese, to sausage, fava broad beans and vegetables. In Ceglie, you should try the famous biscotto cegliese, a secret recipe made with almond and liquor. Ceglie is near the Primitivo di Manduria area, another famous grape really worth trying. This primitivo is totally different from the Primitivo del Salento. Many producers still make this wine from 50 to 70 years old vines.
Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca
Although Puglia is not a region of steaks, Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca are for meat lovers. The local meat includes fantastic sausages (try the zampina) with veal or pork meat, the famous bombette rolls grilled at the Fornello butcher shops in Cisternino. Or the famous capocollo di Martina Franca, now a DOP certified salami similar to pancetta.
Recommended restaurant in Cisternino: Al Vecchio Fornello
Our tasty journey to the top 10 destinations in Puglia for foodies and wine lovers continues in Andria, the right place to go to if you like the very intense extra virgin olive oil and most of all burrata. This Puglia's second most famous product is one of the tastiest and creamiest fresh types of cheese in Italy. The typical cuisine from Andria also includes pasta, vegetables and meat all paired with the local wines: from Nero di Troia to Bombino.
Recommended restaurant in Andria: Anima Slow Restaurant
Altamura is a paradise for bread lovers and bread is the main reason why you should visit this little town. Everybody in Altamura owns a bakery; most of them are very ancient. The typical bread here is a certified DOP product made with durum wheat flour and local water. Also famous is the focaccia from Altamura which became the reason why a McDonald's had to close its branch in Altamura.
Recommended restaurant in Altamura: Osteria Tre Torri
Althugh located in Basilicata, Matera can definitely be part of one of the top 10 destinations in Puglia for foodies and wine lovers. This ancient town is famous for the bread, focaccia, and taralli. So if you go there do not miss trying them and accompany them with the excellent and famous red Aglianico wine.
Recommended restaurant in Matera: Trattoria i Due Sassi
Polignano a Mare and Bari
Polignano a Mare and Bari are other fantastic places to go in Puglia for foodies and wine lovers. The famous sea side town of Polignano is now a bit touristy but still it has lots of charm. In Bari, the capital of Puglia it is really worth going to the seafood market in the morning where the fishermen let you have a nice aperitif based on raw octopus and beer. Finally, the tiella, made with rice, potatoes and mussels is a typical dish from the Bari area, which is also made in the rest of the region.
Recommended restaurant in Polignano: Grotta Palazzese
The Gargano area
Our local list of the top 10 destinations in Puglia for foodies and wine lovers concludes in this lovely province on the spur of the boot where you’ll find the towns Vieste, Peschici and Rodi Garganico. What the Gargano area is really famous for among the locals is the Podolica cow, from which they make the famous caciocavallo cheese. The traditional cuisine from this area is paired with the fantastic Aglianico or Nero di Troia red wines.
Recommended restaurant in Rodi Garganico: L'Operetta Osteria di Mare
Discover the Wine & Culinary Trails of Puglia
As one of the most celebrated but often overlooked wine regions of Italy, Puglia offers visitors a true taste of Italy. The best wines of the region will be your guide on this eight-day private trip to a mysterious and enchanting corner of Italy and of the Mediterranean.
Puglia's most representative wines are reds and roses, however, the region also produces some interesting white wines from local grapes. Distinctive tastes are achieved through time-honored methods of winemaking using Moscato of Trani, Verdeca, Malvasia of Salento, Primitivo, Salice Salentino and Negroamaro grapes. These grapes can be seen growing everywhere throughout the region.
During the tour, you will stop at different vineyards and will have the chance to sample the flavors that have made this region famous and you will also discover Puglia from its historical, artistic and architectural point of view. Each producer offers different local varietals accompanied by a selection of carefully chosen appetizers made by local artisans from only the freshest ingredients. At a traditional dairy you can watch expert cheese makers create what is truly one of the world's most delicious foods, while at a bakery you'll taste some of the best breads of Southern Italy!
Thinking of Planning a Foodie Trip to Puglia?
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