For the Romans, Brindisi marked the end of the Appian Way; these days it’s a port city with a scenic old quarter. Tree-lined Via Roma is home to the city’s best shops and the narrow alleys of the historic centre are an explorer’s paradise. In the summer the mega-rich roll into town and moor their super-sized yachts here – have fun trying to guess who owns them! Don’t miss the fresh seafood. Fritto misto (deep-fried octopus, squid and prawns) is one of Brindisi’s specialities. If you’ve got the time, try to head further south and explore the countryside and coastline, especially the city of Lecce.
Main City Rome
Surface 328 km²
Mention Gallipoli to most Italians and they’ll rave about the delights of Baia Verde – and it’s no wonder, this large bay south of Gallipoli has gorgeous beaches and a sparkling turquoise sea. Choose between the packed (in summer) public beaches or exclusive private lidos with their regimented rows of loungers and umbrellas. To the south of the bay the beaches are accessed via a pine forest, which is a great place to picnic when it’s too hot to sunbathe. Stay until the evening and chill out as the sun sets behind Gallipoli’s old town.
In a region where home-grown produce is exceptional, Enza and Pasquale’s vegetables are something to write home about. This retired couple farm a small strip of land outside Nardò and sell their goods every Sunday at Sant’Isidoro market. Everything they grow tastes delicious, from their enormous cauliflowers in the winter to the oddly-shaped (but delicious) courgettes in the summer. They also sell dried beans, chickpeas and wild oregano, if you fancy taking a taste of Puglia home with you. Not familiar with some of the things they sell? Enza can provide cooking instructions too.
Puglia is a great place to see the Mediterranean’s underwater delights, and a favourite snorkelling spot for people in the know is Porto Selvaggio. The water here is amazingly clear and the variety of sea life amazing. Treats to look out for include starfish, shoals of anchovies and (if you’re lucky) maybe even an octopus. Porto Selvaggio is only accessible by foot (about 20 minutes from the road) and lies on the edge of a marine reserve. A freshwater spring means the water can be cool here, so outside summer you’ll need a wetsuit.