Puglia, Italy: readers’ tips and recommendations (from The Telegraph, 21/12/12)

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December 22, 2012
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The full article can be found here

Go to southern Puglia and use one of the rich variety of towns as a base to make easy trips to the others. See Alberobello in the early evening when the crowds have left, visiting the region’s famous, distinctive cone-roofed trulli in the Rione Aia Piccola, where people live (away from the trulli tourist trap).

Enjoy a steak in local primitivo wine sauce in the lovely garden of Ristorante Fidelio (ristorantefidelio.com). Approach Ostuni, the white town, from the east in the morning sun to appreciate its gleaming splendour. Relish the antipasti at L’Osteria Piazzetta Cattedrale (piazzettacattedrale.it), but do book as it’s very popular. Visit Locorotondo on Sunday morning, view the plateau below, walk the peaceful ‘centro storico’ then, for contrast, watch the buzzing crowd from the public gardens.

Enjoy Castel del Monte and Lecce’s architecture and take lunch at Alle due Corti trattoria (alleduecorti.com), perhaps trying the orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) with turnip tops – surprisingly tasty.
Chris Moore, Lancashire

No trip to Puglia is complete without a visit to Ostuni, or La Città Bianca (The White Town), as it’s known locally. This is simply one of the most stunning towns in southern Italy, with its whitewashed houses set against the pink-tinged brown of the amazing cathedral. There are hints of the early Middle Ages around every corner of this steeply set city (it’s definitely a place to explore on foot).

While you’re in the region, other very unusual sights are the many fortified large estate farms (or masserie), some of which have been converted into very comfortable hotels or b & bs.
Stephen J Pegum, Herts

Twin centre

Puglia and the neighbouring region of Basilicata are closely linked, so car hire is recommended to get around a large area with plenty to see. Not to be missed are Matera (just over the border in Basilicata), the World Heritage home of the Sassi caves, and coastal Trani, with its photogenic cathedral and Templar church (Ognissanti), complete with “Da Vinci Code symbols”. Polignano a Mare is ideal for relaxing.

Strictly Puglia

Make a point of attending small festivals, which are found across the region in summer. Not only will you get to eat and drink lots of local food and wine, but, if you are lucky, you may also come across some of the area’s distinctive local music and dance (such as the tarantella), which are enjoying a revival as young musicians explore their musical heritage.
Catherine Grant, Edinburgh

Better wine

We enjoyed exploring Puglia’s wines. The region has always been a vast producer, sending cheap wine north to be made into blends or vermouth, but quality is improving. In particular look out for wines made with primitivo, aka zinfandel.
David Walker, Oxon

Summer in spring

Friends recommended Puglia, but said that they’d been in August and the heat had been extraordinary – too much – even by the standards of the Med. It’s easy to forget how far south this heel of the Italian boot is.

So we went in April and it was amazing – just lovely weather, like a perfect English summer, and plenty warm enough to sit and eat outdoors; even the poppies were already out in the fields and olive groves.
Clare Simmonds, Herts