Last week we packed up the cars – and our visiting family – and took a jaunt down into the heel of Italy’s boot for a vacation in the region of Apuglia (oftentimes referred to as Puglia). Boasting a beautiful landscape, gorgeous beaches and delicious regional dishes, Apuglia is also known for its evocative stone huts called trulli – especially in the Itria valley area.
Constructed with dry stone masonry and a conical roof, these humble field structures were once used for storage and shelter – for both animals and humans. In recent years it’s become popular to restore trulli and the result is the preservation of an important piece of Apuglia’s particular history.
We decided the best way to get to know trulli was to sleep in them. So we rented a cluster of trulli that have been lovingly restored by a friendly Puglianese family who generously toured us around their property (and gifted us a bowl of some of the most beautiful figs I’ve ever seen!).
Each morning (early) I walked the nearby roads to take in the unique beauty of this remarkable region. Rich red soil, rosemary hedges and laden fruit trees … crumbling trulli, meandering stone fences and majestic olive groves. These are some of the things that were etched into my memory during those quiet mornings. But the olive trees, well they hold a special place.
The olive groves of Apuglia are perhaps the most remarkable in all of Italy. Centuries-old trees – some said to have reached a thousand – dot the landscape like twisted, green giants. Their massive girth is staggering. Picking olives here would be a thrill, but since it’s the middle of summer buying some of the local olive oil had to suffice.
Besides posing for pictures with olive trees (like crazy tourists!) we drove winding roads throughout the countryside, lounged under colorful umbrellas, played in the ocean waves and explored (and shopped in) nearby towns – including charming Alberobello and fascinating Matera, in the nearby region of Basilicata. And, of course, we kicked back for a couple of fabulous evening barbecues – always a winner with our family!
So thanks, Apuglia, for the friendly reception, fabulous vino, delectable cheeses, picturesque scenery, amazing sights and wonderful memories. Alla prossima, until next time.
Pamela Haack creates and hosts boutique-style small group tours, artists’ workshops and retreats that are a combination of the very best of Italy: the exciting and the peaceful, the popular and the secret, the talked about and the never-heard-of-before. From art experts and operettas to authentic cooking classes and ancient Etruscans, Pamela helps guests experience the spectacularly beautiful, endlessly interesting cities and countryside of Italy in an up-close and personal way – off the beaten strada.
Pamela is also the author of Top 10 Favorite Etruscan Sites. She lives with her husband, Lou, in Umbria, Italy.