Apulia - Things To Do
Apulia is considered the queen of the Italian regions. Its territory is characterized by a unique diversity, and for this reason, the region is able to offer something to everyone, regardless of their interests, making it the perfect destination for a trip to Italy.
Without a doubt, one of the main attractions of Apulia is the crystal-clear sea and its unspoiled beaches. From Gargano to Salento, Apulia boasts an infinite expanse of beaches, from those lined with limestone rocks to those featuring fine white sand.
But Apulia doesn’t have only unspoiled beaches. It also has natural parks and reserves that offer spectacular panoramas and landscapes. From the vast expanses of olive groves to the fertile reddish ground of Salento, the rural areas of the region are simply amazing.
Moreover, Apulia is famous all over the world for its food and wine. The region has a rich culinary tradition based on Mediterranean cuisine, although each area of Apulia re-elaborates the ancient recipes to create their own unique dishes.
Customs and traditions also have deep roots in Apulia. Throughout the year, there are numerous folkloristic events, sagre, and festivals that gather locals and tourists alike.
As such, when it comes to things to do in Apulia, the options are seemingly limitless.
Festivals & Events
Apulia is a region where people maintain strong bonds with their ancient roots. For this reason, throughout the year it is possible to attend numerous religious festivals, ceremonies, and processions held in honor of the spiritual patrons of each village or city.
Like all the other regions of the country, Apulia is also famous for its food festivals, called sagre in the local language. At these events, it is possible to taste all the culinary delicacies of the territory, ranging from exquisite dishes based on fish and seafood in the coastal areas to delicious salami and cheeses inland.
Among all the events, one to attend during winter is Festa di San Valentino celebrated on February 14, in Vico del Gargano. Although Valentine’s Day is celebrated on that date all over the world, the celebration in Vico has the flavor of the ancient times. Here, the statue of the saint is decorated with oranges and exhibited to the public. According to tradition, those offering one of the oranges on the statue to their better half will enjoy a special type of love for the rest of their lives.
Apart from the celebration of the saint, the municipality organizes numerous events that represent a true attraction for both adults and children.
Other events to attend in many places throughout the region are the carnivals. Among them, two that stand out are the Carnival of Putignano, held both in winter and in summer, and the Carnival of Manfredonia which happens only in February. Both carnivals are characterized by the presence of colorful floats and costumes, masks and puppets.
In Taranto, an important folkloristic and religious event is Riti della Settimana Santa, a celebration held each year in the week before Easter. During this period are held a series of events including two processions that are particularly recognized for their rituality and symbolism.
Between the 23rd and 24th of April, a beautiful event to attend in Vieste, is the Festa di San Giorgio, held in honor of the patron saint of the city. Apart from the spiritual importance, the festival attracts people from all over the world thanks to two other folkloristic events linked to the celebration. These events are Sagra della Frittata, celebrating the delicious Italian dish, and Palio a cavallo, a famous horse race held on the beach.
In May the city of Bari comes to life to celebrate its patron saint, Saint Nicholas, during a succession of events called Festa di San Nicola. This is one of the most important religious events in the region, attracting faithful from all over the world.
Another interesting event to attend in August is Festa di Sant’Oronzo, in Ostuni. The festival includes many events, including a procession with knights who escort the holy statue during the celebration.
The outdoor activities in Apulia vary from strolling along the streets of historical cities to laying on a beach, diving, or any number of other recreational activities.
Without a doubt, diving and sunbathing are the main outdoor activities in the region. There are dozens of beaches stretching along the coastline from Gargano to Salento. Many of these beaches boast splendid caves, crystalline seas, and wonderful diving or snorkeling spots.
Some of the most scenic beaches are Vignanotica in Gargano and Acquaviva di Marittima in Salento, but all beaches in the region are ideal for swimming, sunbathing and diving.
Discovering the amazing cities of the region is another great way of spending quality time outdoors in Apulia. One of the most beautiful cities to explore is Lecce, famous for its original Baroque buildings. In fact, the Baroque of Lecce is one of the most renowned artistic and architectural styles in the art of the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.
This distinctive style, however, is not present in Lecce alone. Many other towns across Salento boast Baroque edifices characterized by rich decorations and elaborate carvings and sculptures that stimulate the fantasy of the admirers.
Hiking or cycling are other great outdoor activities to do in Apulia. There are many routes that pass through characteristic coastal villages and exceptional landscapes, showing the best of the three main areas, Capitanata, Murge, and Salento.
The coastal villages and towns offer a unique perspective into Apulia’s history, showing the strong bond this region has withthe East. One of the places to see is the Cathedral of Trani, linked to the story of Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim.
Other places, such as the castle of Gallipoli, are linked to stories of past invaders. The coast is also sprinkled with numerous watchtowers and other defensive structures.
The Cathedral of Otranto and the Dome Tonti of Cerignola are two other beautiful structures to discover in the region.
There are a few ideal spots to discover in Apulia, especially for those who love bird watching and long walks in nature. Two of the most representative are the Umbra Forest, in Gargano, and Oasi Lago Salso near Manfredonia. The first is an amazing natural reserve offering the chance to observe many forms of wildlife, while the second is a protected World Wildlife Fund oasis, chosen by many exotic species of birds as a nesting place.
Moreover, the area between Manfredonia and Margherita di Savoia is rich in many species of birds, among which a beautiful colony of pink flamingos inhabits.
Throughout the region, a favorite thing to do indoors includes the many museums. The archaeological museums are probably the most representative of Apulia. One of the best is the Archaeological Museum of Bari that preserves numerous prehistoric artifacts. There is also a special collection of Greek pottery and other objects in the museum.
The National Archaeological Museum of Taranto exhibits another part of the prehistoric heritage of Apulia. The findings are dated in the Paleolithic and Iron Age, while a part of the museum is dedicated to the reconstruction of an ancient Spartan colony.
The Provincial Archaeological Museum Francesco Ribezzo in Brindisi is one of the best in Apulia. The museum features numerous exhibits, including a collection of numismatics and underwater artifacts.
Lecce is famous not only for its Baroque buildings, but also for the Provincial Archaeological Museum Sigismondo Castromediano. This is one of the oldest museums in Apulia, and it hosts numerous testimonies belonging to the Messapian and Roman civilizations. The upper floor of the museum houses a gallery where a series of Byzantine and Venetian paintings are on display.
Important from an archaeological and artistic point of view is the Civic Museum of Foggia, featuring numerous prehistoric artifacts, pottery pieces and picture galleries.
The Diocesan Museum of the Cathedral of Bari is another museum to visit in Apulia. This is an ideal museum for viewing several interesting paintings, sacred furnishings and other liturgical objects. In addition, it is also possible to admire a collection of stunning statues and a few of the apartments of the church.
The Confetti Museum in Andria is perfect to visit with children. The museum is dedicated to the art of making candies and it has several interesting sections. This museum also houses an impressive collection of documents, along with a few stamps and tools used to make candies.
The Museum of Zoology and the Museum of Science in Bari are two other interesting museums to visit. The first one houses a collection of archaeological findings and fossils, as well as models of the local and migratory animals and fauna. The second one exhibits some of the findings of the University of Bari, and it also houses a number of important documents related to the appearance of man.
Lastly, a splendid museum to visit in Apulia is the African Ethnographic Museum in Bari, which contains several findings from Ethiopia and Mozambique. One of the most interesting exhibits features a collection of musical instruments and masks.
Another popular indoor activity includes visiting the famous baths and spas. The waters at Margherita di Savoia are salty and coming from the nearby salt flats, while Santa Cesarea Terme boasts thermal waters that are rich in mineral salts.
Among the spas, one of the most famous is located in Lucera, although with many hotels and traditional farms, called masserie, that offer spa services to their guests.
Shopping in Apulia
Whether looking for high-end fashion, designer bargains or traditional handicrafts and souvenirs, Apulia is the perfect destination for those who love shopping.
Bari is the place to go for fashionable designer clothing and accessories. The historic center of the city is full of many international designer shops and local designers that create clothing of a unique Italian style.
The preferred shopping place of the locals is Puglia Outlet Village in Molfetta. The outlet gathers some of the most popular brands of fashion and sports clothing.
A posh place for Italian and international delicacies is Eataly in Bari. The shop has a unique concept and it sells only the best traditional products from the region. Inside the shop, there are also several restaurants to enjoy real Focaccia Barese and freshly cooked fish or seafood.
Apulia is famous for its splendid ceramics and terracotta jars and pots. Some of the most beautiful are crafted in Rutigliano, a lovely town where time seems to have stopped and where people are profoundly linked to the local folklore. The best time to shop for terracotta objects is during the Fiera del Fischietto di Terracotta, a fair where master artisans craft amazing whistles made of terracotta.
Other traditional objects to buy in Apulia are the wicker baskets. These splendid objects are typically crafted in Alberobello, San Severo and Trani. The baskets are made in different shapes and sizes and they are considered by many the perfect representation of mastery and simplicity.
Apulia With the Kids
Apulia has what it takes to make all children happy. From numerous amusement parks to amazing natural areas, kids will love to discover the marvels of this territory.
Probably the most attractive place to visit with kids is Zoo Safari and the amusement park Fasanolandia, located in Itria Valley, more precisely in Fasano.
The Zoo Safari is a one-of-a-kind safari route nested in the middle of an olive grove. Wild animals including tigers, lions, and bears are kept free, and the route is traversed exclusively by car. The kids will have a chance to feed the giraffes, donkeys, and zebras that will literally poke their heads into the vehicle if the window is open.
Fasanolandia amusement park is attached to the Zoo Safari and is divided into different areas that include a traditional Zoo, an area with different rides, and also a few indoor attractions.
Another amusement park to visit is Miragica, located in Molfetta. The park is open from March to November and features numerous rides, a 4D cinema, and a theater, as well as restaurants, a picnic area, and outdoor places to rest and relax.
For some summer fun, a great place to take the kids is Acquapark Egnazia in Monopoli. This is the largest water park in Southern Italy and it has numerous pools as well as several sports areas and other attractions for both children and adults.
For active kids, Indiana Adventure Park is one of the best places to go. The park is located in the province of Bari and attracts the kids with many activities, such as climbing the trees. The park has attractions for children of all ages.
Two natural places to visit with the kids are the Grotte di Castellana and Umbra Forest. The Grotte di Castellana is an incredible network of caves that is simply fascinating. Admire stunning stalactites and stalagmites, underground ponds, and polished stone pinnacles. The caves are one of the most important speleological complexes in Italy and are open all year round. Umbra Forest, on the other hand, is the perfect place to go even with the smallest children. In the heart of the forest, there is a museum exhibiting local fauna, a park decorated with wooden sculptures, and a reservation of deer.
Unique Experiences in Apulia
In such a marvelous land, living unique experiences is easy. A truly unique experience is discovering the three main UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the region, Castel del Monte, the Trulli of Alberobello, and the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangeloin Monte Sant’Angelo. All these sights are unique, and offer some insight into Apulia’s soul.
Another unique experience is that of discovering the peculiarities of the different towns, such as the white city of Ostuni.
Lastly, having dinner in a trabucco is certainly an experience to remember. A trabucco is a peculiar fishing machine made of wood, and in Italy, these ancient structures are still present along the coast of Gargano.
Some of them are still functional, while others are transformed into unique restaurants serving some of the freshest fish of the region while offering a mesmerizing sunset over the Adriatic.
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