Taking a holiday in any of the wonderful hotels in Puglia will take you to the boot of Italy and into a region full of history and wonderful tradition. There are many activities that can tear you away from the beautiful beaches in order to sample the culture of this great region. Whether your interests are in history or exploring the scenic landscapes, you will find plenty to interest you.
Visiting Otranto, which is situated on the Adriatic, will reward you with the chance to see the 800-year-old Tree of Life Mosaic, which is in the Norman cathedral. It completely fills the floor of the choir and the nave and looks like a family tree. You can spend hours looking at the wonderful mix of bizarre images that are spread throughout the branches, including biblical characters like Noah and historical and legendary characters like Alexander the Great and King Arthur. They are joined by a variety of unicorns, Norse gods and dragons and it is definitely worth a visit.
In Lecce, the 17th century nobles decided to compete with the great architecture being built in the north and they commissioned their own. The resulting Baroque architecture caused the town to be labelled as the ‘Florence of the South’. There are six beautiful churches dotted around the centre of the town, which stand alongside the Roman amphitheatre, the triumphal arch and wonderful squares and courtyards. The most beautiful of the Baroque churches is the 16th Century Basilica of Santa Croce, with its mermaids, wolves and carved cherubs.
If your lucky number is eight you should definitely pay a visit to the 13th Century Castel del Monte, as the building is an homage to the figure eight! It has octagons everywhere and was built by the Roman Emperor Frederick II. It is a unique piece of military architecture and is one of the two World Heritage sites in the region.
For those with an interest in the archaeological history of the region, a visit to The Museum of Egnazia is to be recommended. It is set inside the ancient walls of Gnathia and has eleven pavilions, which contain many archaeological treasures.
For a quiet beach with a hidden secret you could visit the area around Casalabate and San Cataldo. The beach is to be found by following an unpaved track just past Torre Rinalda where you will find an unspoilt paradise, which is usually quiet. For diving fans a secret can be found 50 metres out from the beach, where there is a wrecked ship that was sunk by the British Navy in 1941.
The Gravina and Alta Murgia national park is another great place to visit when staying in the hotels in Puglia around this region. The ancient medieval town perches beside one of the ravines that define this landscape, and the nearby Alta Murgia national park, with its protected plateau, is a great place for a ramble.
Another beautiful natural park is to be found in the Salento area. The Porto Selvaggio Nature Reserve is a protected area of wild pinewood that leads to a picturesque creek edged with white rocks. There are several trekking paths, which lead to such delights as the Uluzzo Tower and the Grotta del Cavallo.
Whether you prefer to spend your time staying on site in the hotels in Puglia, delving into the history of the region, or exploring the landscape, you will find plenty to occupy you in this beautiful part of Italy.