Explore Puglia as your
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When you invest so much time choosing the perfect wedding destination, it is interesting, if you have time, to learn something of its history and appreciate the local culture.
Puglia’s history stretches back over 3,000 years and is a long story of invasion from foreign powers, from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, French, Spanish and Nazis in World War II.
Despite this succession of rulers – some good, some bad ¬– Puglia has absorbed their diverse influences and emerged as a strong, vibrant region with a real heart.
Here are a few of the places you and your wedding guests might like to explore to gain a real feel for the true Puglia and its history.
Set on top of a hillside, Ostuni is also known as the ‘White City’ because every building here has been whitewashed since the 17th-century. It is thought that a plague was cured here by the disinfectant in the limewash paint and ever since the houses have been painted white. Now, the local government, keen to preserve the city’s feel, ensures all houses are painted every two years and helps to pay for the work to be carried out.
The old town of Ostuni is a maze of winding streets, narrow alleys, staircases and houses on different levels all connected by arches, making it feel like it’s one big structure. At every turn you may meet a dead end and, rumour has it, it was built this way to confuse its invading enemies.
Climb to the top and you’ll have the most amazing views of the olive trees in the Valle D’Itria and the electric blue Adriatic Sea. The 15th-century Gothic-style cathedral with its majestic circular rose window is lovely and from here you can stop in one of the pretty trattorias for lunch, a gelato, a café con leche or glass of local wine. There are also shops here with local artisans selling artefacts and souvenirs.
You could also take a guided tour of a nearby olive farm and learn about the process of creating the world’s best olive oil – don’t forget to buy some to take home. Try to make time to visit the beaches which are just 8km away. They are some of the prettiest in the region, including Pilone, Lido Morelli, Torre Beach Pozelle and Quarto di Monte.
A town that has experienced the benefit of outsider influence, is Lecce. Often labelled the ‘Florence of the South’, this charming city is famed for its extravagantly decorated Baroque monuments and buildings constructed in the 17th century.
The historical centre, the churches and squares, like the Basilica of the Sant Croce and the outstanding Piazza del Duomo are stunning. There are over 100 churches and bell towers here, and in 1929 a magnificent Roman amphitheatre was discovered, which is believed to have been erected during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. Take a tour of the well-preserved remains and step back into Lecce’s history.
If you have time, visit the pretty coastal village of Otranto, a 40-minute drive away. It was a thriving port in Roman times and today you can sit and watch the fishing boats come into the harbour or take a swim in the turquoise seas.
If you are having your honeymoon in Italy and just want to stay somewhere with lots of character, that’s quiet and off the beaten track, then the historic fishing village of Monopoli would be a great place to base yourselves.
Start discovering this pretty village with a guided walk through the labyrinth of streets in the old town. Take in the Basilica of the Madonna della Madia, which is said to date back to 1107, the 16th-century castle of the Spanish King Charles V, which until 1969 was used as a prison, and walk along the promenade to view the old seafront fortifications which hold witness to many historic events. End by taking in the beautiful views of the beach and watch the fishermen bring in their trawl, as they have done for hundreds of years.
This pretty village is ideally situated to explore the more famous beach at Polignano and the historic towns of Ostuni and Alberobello. It is also 45 minutes from both Bari and Brindisi which are also cities worth exploring too.