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Escape to Puglia | Our top ten things to do in the region

Puglia captures the hearts of all who visit and for good reason. The southeastern “heel” of Italy is a treasure trove of culture, history and memorable experiences. Whether you crave sun and sand, sightseeing or simply touring the area, Puglia holidays have something to suit every taste. Knowing where to visit in Puglia is key in having the trip of a lifetime. Here at OROKO, we know that the right experiences can be the difference between a good trip and a great trip, so we are sharing our top ten tried and tested things to do in Puglia.

See the Trulli in Alberobello

Visit Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring a dense collection of 1500 white-washed conical dwellings, typical of the region. The best way to get to know this town is with a private guide. Your OROKO guide will take you through the narrow streets of the historic centre, with a visit to the “Zona de Trulli” and neighbourhoods of Aia Piccola and Monti. Be sure to snap some pictures of the wonderful panoramic view of the old town. We recommend visiting in the early morning, as the town can become quite crowded later on in the day!

Visit Puglia’s prettiest town and try their famous wine

Locorotondo is one of Puglia’s prettiest towns and its white wine is famous in Italy. The town is full of Masseria’s, family-owned farmhouses where wine is made and stored. Take a trip into a local family-run Masseria to learn more about the long tradition of vine growing in the region. Sample local friselline, a typical Pugliese, bruschetta-style hors-d'oeuvre and enjoy a private tasting of locally produced wines. Be sure to get to know your welcoming hosts who have worked in their family business for generations and have a wealth of knowledge about local wines.

Explore The Botanical Gardens of Ostuni

Ostuni is one of Puglia’s most fascinating villages and is home to the beautiful Gardens of Pomona. Located in the heart of Valle d’Itria, this botanical garden has an abundant collection of rare plant species, beautiful flower beds and a wide selection of fruit trees. Walk around this magical garden and pick fresh fruits and vegetables that will later be used by a local chef who will perform a simple but impressive cooking demonstration. Learn how to correctly prepare the fresh fruit which changes depending on the time of year and enjoy a tasting session of your creations.

Enter paradise on the white beaches of Gallipoli

Gallipoli, a charming village devoted to the art of fishing, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. Filled with Greek architecture, the old city and the ancient underground oil mills are well worth a visit before spending the remainder of your day on the magnificent beaches. The white sand and pristine blue water might trick you into believing you have left Europe and ended up on a tropical island. Plenty of beach clubs and restaurants line the coast here if you’re in the mood for some live music or just great Pugliese food.

Discover lovely Lecce with a walking tour

Known as the ‘Florence of the South’, Lecce is rich in history, culture and architecture. A private walking tour is an excellent way to see the sights and immerse yourself in the city’s atmosphere, free of the confines of a group tour. Explore the ruins of the city’s Roman–era amphitheatre, see the baroque splendours of the Piazza del Duomo, admire the Basilica di Santa Croce, and learn more about Italy’s ancient south from your experienced guide.

Learn to cook like an Italian Mama in Squinzano

It is no secret that culinary heritage is a highly important aspect of Italian culture and Puglia is no exception. Enjoy a unique cookery class in Squinzano, a short drive from Lecce, during which you will prepare four traditional Italian courses. This includes focaccia, antipasti, a second course, which is usually fish or meat and a classic Italian dessert. Afterwards, sit down together and enjoy your creations over a glass of local wine. The best part is keeping the recipes and impressing your family and friends at home!

Tour Matera in an Ape Calessino

Take a fascinating tour of the historic centre of Matera, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. This unique excursion is enjoyed from the back of a comfortable Ape Calessino. Resembling a tuk tuk, the Ape Calessino is perfect for navigating the small winding streets and alleys of the Sassi. Discover the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, Matera Cathedral and the many quaint piazzas that cover the city. Prepare yourself for a day of zipping around Matera and seeing everything there is to see in this fascinating city.

Eat at Reggia Corte Matera

Regia Corte is the perfect place from which to enjoy the picturesque view of Matera’s ancient town centre. There is always a ‘Menu of the Month’ available, which is created using only the freshest seasonal ingredients. We recommend trying the cod fillet served with candied tomatoes with a potato and prosecco cream sauce. The chic and stylish interiors are set into a series of rocky caverns, with quirky accents such as tables made of giant teacups, and iron bars in place of doors. Try to spot the many wall carvings hidden in the rock face. There is a small balcony outside which overlooks the town and surrounding mountains for breath-taking views, the perfect spot for a romantic evening.

Get lost in the Castellana Caves of Bari

Located just 40 km from Bari, the Castellana caves were discovered in 1938, although in ancient times, the caves were known and used for special rituals. A tour of the caves lasts approximately two hours, but don’t be deterred, the cool underground rock formations offer the perfect respite from the hot Italian sun. Don’t forget to bring your camera for this one; the incredible spectrum of colours that can be seen in the caves will make for stunning photos.

Snorkel Violet Caves in the Tremiti Islands

This small archipelago, composed of five tiny islands, is located North of the Gargano promontory in the Adriatic Sea. The Tremiti Islands are a protected marine reserve and as a former penal colony, they are certainly off the beaten track. This makes them an ideal location for snorkelling and diving. There are many caves, rock formations and hidden bays hosting a variety of fish, molluscs and urchins. The Violet Cave owes its name to the violets growing on the water’s edge and to the purple coloured water, due to the presence of a particular species of seaweed. Unlike anything you will have seen before, this cave makes for a one of a kind diving experience.

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