Puglia: Another Place, Another Time

July 1, 2010 / Places
puglia11Puglia!?” is the response of our Tuscany and Sardegna destined Italian friends when we discuss our respective summer plans. “Si, Puglia” because … well, you either get it or you don’t.

Sunshine? Tick! Azure coastline? Tick! Delicious food? Ditto! But nowhere else in Italy does it feel, just briefly, that you’ve left the intrusions of the 21st century behind. Time moves slowly and people are genuinely welcoming. From fairytale trulli and semi-pagan shrines, to stout Norman fortresses and frothy, baroque palazzi (all unblemished by graffiti), its complex history and culture is vividly apparent. Even the myriad local dialects, of diverse ethnic origin, indicate that you are in an Italy completely unlike that of the more trodden paths.

puglia21Acres of gnarled, ancient olive groves thrive in seemingly barren, rocky soil. Going for a run along a meandering, rural road – the fading sunlight reflected off the red earth washing everything in rosy hues – wave to a shepherd, and be wished “Buona sera” as he cajoles his cling-clanging goats round the tomato-field, past the cacti and over the next rise.




– Contributed by Lynda Higgs, global nomad, frustrated writer, and observer of this beautiful and bewildering, fascinating and frustrating place in which she currently lives.

14 Responses to “Puglia: Another Place, Another Time”

  1. Charmain Giuliani

    We get the same from our Italian family when we tell them we are going to Sicilia, again…
    “beautiful and bewildering, fascinating and frustrating”= a soul magnet
    ……the first year we visited Sicilia, it was a toss between Sicilia and Puglia…

  2. Rick Black

    Arrrrrrgh! You have found Puglia. The region has been a well kept secret from many tourists and, therefore, not trampled by them. About the only Americans who know the region were stationed there before the US Air Force installation at San Vito Dei Normanni (BR) closed. Oh well we will still go back every couple of years to visit friends (more like family) and enjoy our “outed” secret.

  3. Dave Bristol

    Rick is right. We have been compromised. I have many fond memories of Puglia during my stay 1973 to 1979.

  4. Gian Banchero

    Please, “Acqua in bocca,” don’t say anything about any “well kept secret.” There are still many undiscovered portions of Italy that if once discovered would spell the end of their pristine nature, innocence and connection to their ancient patrimony. Anyone who’s lived for any time in small “pristine” villages know the beauty and joy of the sounds of a waking town: The shuttered fronts of stores being rolled up, church bells, singing birds, people sweeping in front of their houses (swoosh, swoosh, love that sound), the voices of people talking in near whispers, the sound of the espresso machine in the bar (how does that sound escape and travel down the street so far?), all this with almost never the horrible sound of a car; one hears only the eternal sounds of a more simple life and Mother Nature… OTHER THAN THAT, thank you Lynda for the beautiful, wonderful article, it provided me with a sweet few moments of thinking I was back home in Italy, a wonderful way to start a day!!! Oh, I smiled when I read “frustrating” above, I well know just what is meant, but frustration is part of the equation and well after the fact it makes for interesting conversation over coffee. Ne’?

  5. Puglia is such a wonderful spot! It’s beautiful, and as any Italian you mention it to will tell you, “si mangia bene in Puglia” – “one eats well in Puglia”. That is more than true! ;-)

  6. Unblemished by graffiti? Sadly not – it doesn’t matter how far south you go, graffiti is everywhere. In my town it seems to be mostly messages from lovelorn teenagers, asking forgiveness for whatever it is that they’ve done wrong. I find them quite funny, I have to say …

  7. Linda Higgs, makes Puglia sound so inviting. Her picturesque writing sounds like a submergence into an Olive Tree culture for those who are caught in a Lexus world where everything is (as my Italian nother used to say)…rush…rush…rush. For most of us whose roots are in the soil that produces olives and grapes, a periodic return to these places would be revitalizing and restful. Thanks, John B

  8. Joseph D. Spano
    Joseph D. Spano

    yes, you and your amici are wise…Puglia is incredible , from Foggia to Salento and all in between each region has it’s own wonders. You can enjoy them if you allow yourself to become Pugliese, if for only that moment in time. the Oil and wine, the bread and pasta, do it all

  9. Angela Gross

    I was in the Puglia region 10 years ago visiting my parents family.Your pictures were exactly as I saw them The olive trees the Trulli Houses and the magnificent gardens.When I met my father’s family I was treated royally what a wonderful experience.We visited Castellana Grotte which is a grotto that was discovered in 1938. I’m sure there are many such grottos but since this is where my family is I was quite impressed.I have family in Monopoli, Conversano Castellana & Mola.My cousins still make Orrechiete a mano (by hand) The food was delicious as was the fruit, wine & the olive oil made from the many olive groves.I want to go back. Maybe some day.

  10. We spent a few wonderful days in Puglia, driving across southern Italy from the Amalfi Coast. We simply had to see the trulli and eat the food this region is known for. Thank you for reminding me and bringing it all back.

  11. Roland

    Next May I will be in Italy visiting family for the first time in Taranta Peglina and Vietri di Potenza. Also going to Tuscany for the first time.
    Your article and photos makes me want to squeeze in Puglia. It just sounds like a great place to exhale. Thank you!

  12. lynda higgs

    thank you for all the wonderful comments – as an aspiring travel writer it’s always great to get feedback. Amazingly, I am reading this whilst back in Puglia, and I can say that it remains relatively undiscovered. We love it so much we’ve returned, and have made a couple of local friends who have taught us much more about this fascinating region. To those who worry about this becoming another Toscana, I suspect that only those who “get” what Italy is about will ever visit here. Buon estate a tutti!

  13. Gian Banchero

    Dear Lynda;
    Thank you for your nice July 5th response…
    “Becoming another Toscana” reminds me of an article I read a while back stating that in some Tuscan villages there are so many English children in the public schools that the Italian kids are speaking Italian with a British accent.
    For good reasons I always say acqua in bocca, in the early 1960s I was a young American cook in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at that time it had 4,000 inhabitants, hardly a car, a few restaurants serving only village fare, only the locals at the beach (all dressed modestly), the pace of life wasn’t hurried, every day the village closed for siesta and it was time for a few hours of dolce far niente. To make a long story short the movie Night of the Iguana was made in the town (actually outside of it) which put it on the map and now the “village” has just about TWO MILLION PEOPLE with high rise apartment complexes, international restaurants, bikini-and-less folks on the beaches. I mourn.
    Again, thank you Lynda… Gian B.

  14. Mandy Hauschild

    I was one of the military dependants fortunate enough to call Puglia home when my father was stationed at San Vito Air Station near Brindisi. We were there from 1977-1981 and 1983-1987. I will always consider it my home away from home and would love to win the lottery to purchase a small apartment in San Vito or a villa to go back to. We had the experience to live off base and really interact with the Italians on a daily basis. Harvested grapes and olives with our neighbors who were farmers, bought their homemade wine, and enjoyed the food, culture and everything in between. Puglia will always be where I would like to be…and will always remain in my heart!
    I hope to return to visit next summer and see all my amici! :)


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