The region of Puglia is the southernmost one of Italy, and it is touched by the Mar Adriatico to the northeast and by the Mar Ionio to the south. The territory is mostly made of plains and hills.
The "Heel of Italy" begins from the Promontorio del Gargano, covered by the charming woods of the Foresta Umbra and going down to the lakes of Lesina and Varano, then quickly towards the Mar Adriatico and the Tavoliere delle Puglie, where a wide plain is located crossed by rivers and torrents. This is the most beautiful coast of Puglia, with its low and sandy beaches, where many tourists gather, like the town of Ostuni.
This sea side of the region is oppsed to the rich internal plains, where cereals, vineyards and olives are cultivated like the Aleatico and the Locorotondo.
Initially inhabited by the Apuli, the region was conquered by the Romans in the IV-III century B.C., during the wars against the Sannites and Pyrrus.
By that time, it was called Apulia and Calabria. Economically rich, thanks to its strategic position between the East and Rome, Puglia was very important during the Roman era. With the diffusion of Christianity, between the III and IV century, many dioceses were founded. Between the VII and IX century, the region was attacked by the Longobardi and the Saracens.
The history of the region then melts with the one of the Kingdom of Sicily and Puglia, founded in 1130, witness of an important cultural and material development, which led to the building of ports, fortresses and cathedrals like the one of Bitonto.
From 1264 to 1435 Puglia felt the Angi˛ domination, which led to a sensible reduction of commerce. Further regress was then felt with the Aragonesi, who reigned from 1442 to 1503. The region also suffered Turk raids, foreign occupations like the French one in 1495 and the Spanish one in 1501. Only the Borbonic dominion of the XVIII century brought some improvements in the region. Later, with the fall of the Borboni, the region was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. Today, Puglia is one of the most industrialized regions in the South, especially thanks to its ports which allow commerce with Middle East and other Mediterranean countries.
A holiday destination is the rocky Gargano, characterised by wild nature and rough cliffs and bays, where the renown centres of Rodi Garganico, Peschici, Vieste and Manfredonia are built.
In the nearby Trani, the romantic Duomo dedicated to San Nicola can be seen, while in Andria Castel del Monte is located, one of the most complex buildings of the middle ages, built in 1240 under the will of Federico II.
Bari holds the basilica di S. Nicola, one of the first great Norman cathedrals, began in 1807 and the Castle of Ruggero II.
Another interesting city is Lecce, due to the baroque style of its palaces and churches, such as the Chiesa del Rosario, masterpiece of the Zingarello in 1691, S. Croce, with the facade from Gabriele Riccardi, and the Palazzo Vescovile.
Last but not least, a visit to the region must include the Trulli di Alberobello, curious dwellings with cone roofs.