Isolated for centuries by poor communications, this 200-mile-long peninsula edged by the waters of the Adriatic Sea (the heel of Italy’s “boot”) has now emerged as a deservedly popular destination. Puglia has much to offer, including romantic country house hotels called masseria (fortified medieval farms), spectacular countryside dotted with trulli (the conical stone houses that are the region’s trademark), outstanding food and wine, magnificent beaches and, in Martina Franca and Lecce, some of the most exquisite baroque architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. Puglia has an authentically rustic character unlike that of any other part of Italy. July and August are perfect for a beach vacation. For those more interested in touring, May-June and September-October are better.

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